by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
Last December/January, I caught the worst cough I can remember and I don’t want to go through that ever again. I lost my voice to laryngitis for a few days, the painful, phlegmy coughing kept me and everyone in my household up at night, and it took about three weeks for the nastiness to clear out of my system.
Flu, short for influenza, is a viral illness that tends to flare up in the winter months and to involve many people in the community at the same time. Flu symptoms include: fever (38.3 to 40 degrees Celsius or 101 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit), chills, body aches, headache, pain when you move your eyes, fatigue, weakness, runny nose, sneezing, coughing, etc. It usually lasts for about 10 days and then everything will be back to normal, but the flu can also lead to more serious and dangerous complications for some.
Having a cold or flu or cough is not fun to say the least so I’ve come up with a list of home-spa-inspired suggestions that will help us all stay healthy this season.
20 things you can do to prevent, avoid, or at least minimize the flu this year:
- Immune System: Fortify your immune system and keep up your resistance to infections by eating a healthy and nutritious diet, exercising regularly and getting plenty of good quality sleep year-round.
- Avoid exposure: If you can at all help it, (easier said than done, I know), avoid contact with people who are showing flu symptoms.
- Vitamin C: Take Vitamin C supplements daily, (I like the chewable kind), and eat foods that have a high vitamin C content.
- Vitamin D: Boost your Vitamin D intake during the dark, winter months.
- Echinacea: Take Echinacea capsules or drink Echinacea tea. Echinacea is a popular healing herb that boosts the immune system, has antiviral properties and helps prevent the onset of colds.
- Zinc: Take Zinc Lozenges at the onset of a cold. This mineral is often used to reduce the length and severity of cold symptoms. Foods that contain zinc include: eggs, meat, seafood and whole grains.
- Panax Ginseng: Take Panax Ginseng supplements during the winter and especially at the onset of a cold. You will find Ginseng in products like ColdFX.
- Garlic: Eat fresh garlic (like on toast or in a salad dressing) at the onset of flu symptoms.
- Oil of Oregano: Take drops of oil of oregano to boost your immune system.
- Hydrate: Drink lots of liquids throughout the day. Choose hot tea with lemon and honey, water, orange juice, and apple juice.
- Soup: Eating a bowl of comforting chicken noodle soup may be just the recipe to alleviate your cold symptoms.
- Clean Hands: Wash your hands regularly and keep your hands away from your nose, eyes and mouth. Also, use a tissue or your upper arm when you cough or sneeze.
- Exercise: Sometimes exercising just as you are starting to feel a cold or flu coming on, may be a good idea; however, do not exercise if you have phlegmy congestion below the neck.
- Relax: Managing your stress will go a long way to keep illness at bay.
- Sauna: Sitting in a sauna for a few minutes may help flush out your cold symptoms.
- Room Sprays: Use room sprays made with essential oils like: basil, bay, benzoin, bergamot, black pepper, cajeput, citronella, coriander, eucalyptus, frankincense, ginger, grapefruit, helichrysum, juniper, lavandin, lavender, lemon, lime, marjoram, myrtle, niaouli, orange, oregano, peppermint, petitgrain, pine, rosemary, tea tree, and thyme (wow that’s a long list) to freshen the space, disinfect surfaces, help breathing and foster sleep.
- Stop smoking: You may think now isn’t the time to quit smoking altogether, but many years ago, my father went off on a fishing trip and came home with the most miserable cold and after that, he never smoked his pipe again. Quitting smoking will only increase your health in the long run.
- Flu Shot: Consider getting a flu shot early in the season.
- Stay Home: If you’re feeling sick, stay home and rest. Your co-workers and the people that you would otherwise meet when you walk down the street, would appreciate it.
- Sleep: Get lots of rest and do your best to sleep well at night.
I hope these suggestions and recommendations help keep you and your family healthy this winter. If you have any other ideas, please leave a comment and share your wisdom.
by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
Growing up in a Ukrainian-speaking household, we used the word “Shlaf-frock” for bathrobe or housecoat. Up until about 5 minutes ago when I used Google Translate, I always thought the Ukrainians borrowed this lovely word from the Germans because I knew “Schlaf” meant “sleep” in German and I believed “frock” meant dress. I thought it was a clever word and I always got a warm and fuzzy feeling every time I said it.
Well, as it turns out, I have been wrong on a few counts all of these years. First, the Ukrainians took the word “szlafrok” from the Polish language and on top of that, Ukrainians in Ukraine (according to my friend) don’t even know that word at all anymore — they use “hhalat,” as do the Russians — and “szla” doesn’t mean sleep in Polish — it means “precious.” Confused yet? I am.
Regardless of my befuddled etymology, I’m still sticking with good old Shlaf-frock because it’s fun to say.
And did you know that putting on a bathrobe is one of the most relaxing things you can do at the end of a long and stressful day? Don’t believe me? I invite you to go and put your bathrobe on right now and see for yourself. Just take it off the hook on your bathroom door, drape it over your shoulders, stick your arms in and tie the belt in a loose bow. Go on. I’ll wait.
There you are!
Well? How do you feel now? Better? I thought so.
There’s something about a bathrobe that lets your body know that it’s time to relax and unwind and get ready for a good night’s sleep.
It’s no wonder that bathrobes are a big feature in all of the spas. Where else are you encouraged to walk around in your bathrobe and slippers in the middle of the day?
The History of Bathrobes
Funnily enough, bathrobes can be traced all the way back to the togas of ancient Rome. In the days of yore before indoor plumbing caught on, it was customary for people to head to the local bathhouses to get wet and clean. I guess bathing suits hadn’t been invented yet and they needed something that could maintain some semblance of modesty in a public space and be slipped on and off easily at poolside.
Time travel to Asia in the 1800’s and you’ll see a resemblance between the silk kimono and our stylish bathrobes of today.
Bathrobes make excellent gifts any time of year
If you’re looking for gift ideas for friends and family, why not wrap your loved ones in bathrobes this season. Summer or winter, rain or shine, young or old, man or woman — everyone likes a nice bathrobe to wear morning or night.
Bathrobes are unique in the world of fashion because they are equally regal and luxurious on the one hand (maybe that’s why the Polish call them “precious”) and cozy and informal on the other.
When you picture a bathrobe, do you see a white, thick one made of terry cloth or do you remember the loud orange velour one with the busy jungle pattern from your high school days or maybe you had a pink fuzzy one with flower appliqués? I personally have a soft spot for tacky and ugly bathrobes because those bathrobes are the ones that are most loved by the people who wear them.
I had a red, wool plaid one in high school which wasn’t very practical but it looked nice and made me feel like I was living in LL Beanland. I also had a thin peach one that became thinner and thinner every time I washed it. Later, I had a white terry towel one with a pink collar. Now I have a purple polar fleece polyester knit that my mom made for me. Of course I also have a lots of waffle ones for my spa guests to wear during our Homespunspa Mobile Spa appointments.
In any case, regardless of everyone’s tastes and personality, I’m sure there’s a nice bathrobe or shlaf-frock out there for everyone on your list. Just make sure they don’t feel scratchy to the touch and can absorb excess moisture from the skin after a bath, shower or day at the beach. That’s all I ask. Otherwise, go to town.
Oh and please send me pictures of your favourite bathrobes. I would love to add them to this blog post.
By Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
Photo by Maria Koropecky, Centennial Park, 2006.
I’m lucky enough to live down the street from a lovely park that I don’t visit nearly often enough. Centennial Park is filled with grand trees and all kinds of plant life. There’s also a creek that trickles along the western perimeter. I like to walk along the path and take it all in step by step. Over the years, I’ve seen eagles and woodpeckers and even an iguana but have yet to see the notorious owls that live there too. I love this photo I took on one of my walks because it reminds me of the height of the trees in my neck of the woods.
Each time I go, my mood brightens and I feel more relaxed. Going to the park just perks me up.
If you have a chance before winter comes, take a walk in the park and enjoy the show.
Let your senses guide you.
- Sight – Obviously, the colours during this time of year are brilliant. Mother nature’s autumnal palette includes: apricot, cherry, chestnut, chocolate, cinnamon, honey, peach, pea green, plum, saffron and wine. (Yes, I picked these foodie colours on purpose because they make great home spa ingredients :>). Yesterday, I noticed a tree whose bark had an aubergine hue and the emerald moss on top just made it pop.
- Hearing – As you walk along the forest path, take a moment and listen to what’s going on around you. I like to hear the crunch of the leaves under my feet or the squishy sound my shoes make as I step through mud. Of course the chirping and fluttering birds also add to the ambiance. Sometimes I just stop and listen to wind rustling through the trees or the water flowing downstream. I’ve also heard the trees creaking as if they’re talking to each other. The whole effect is quiet and noisy at the same time.
- Taste – I had to think about this one for a second but then it occurred to me — yes, there is a way to taste your way through the forest if you’re so inclined — but unless you know what you’re doing, I wouldn’t recommend it. Still you can find and collect all kinds of treats like nuts, herbs, flowers, berries, mushrooms, and rainwater. And they all happen to be excellent home spa ingredients, too.
- Smell – This one is easy. Walking into a forest, particularly after a rainfall, is aromatherapy at its finest. Just close your eyes and breathe it in. The piny-scented fresh air will do wonders for your spirit.
- Touch – I usually keep my hands in my pockets as I walk in the woods because I don’t want to disturb the wildlife. Every now and then, though, I just have to reach out and put my hand on a tree. The texture of the bark just speaks to me. Maybe next time I’ll go all out and give the tree a big hug too.