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Category Archives: wellness

Hacks for Seasonal Suffering

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Woman With Hay Fever Allergy From Flowers

I have had allergies since I was a kid, and they are not fun.  A runny nose, itchy eyes and ears, a scratchy throat, bloody noses, sneezing, and wheezing—I had it all.  As an adult, I have improved to the point where I no longer suffer from them regularly, but I can’t really explain why.  My husband still has frequent flare ups.  We have both run the gamut of remedies from antihistamines and decongestants to allergy shots.  Even after I had shots, I had lots of issues as a young woman. (Living on a dirt road didn’t help.) Though I had suffered since I was a child, I had no idea that one of the symptoms of hay fever is fatigue.  Between that and antihistamines, it’s no wonder I was a sleepyhead.

Over the years, I have had all kinds of recommendations from friends and medical professionals.  Some are preventative. Others are remedy oriented. I am not a medical professional, and I am not here to prevent, treat, or cure allergies.  These are things that I have tried, as a long time sufferer from seasonal discomfort. I pass them on to you merely from my personal experience and encourage you to do your research.  All things do not work for all people.  But here are some ideas that may make a difference in supporting management of symptoms.

  1. Keep the windows closed all the time, especially at night. The widespread installation of air conditioning in homes and cars has made this suggestion much more realistic than it was in past years.  I know we are tempted to open our windows in the spring when we have been cooped up all winter and want to smell the fresh breezes, but this may play havoc with your allergies. If you live on a dirt road or if it is windy, it is even more important. If you must open your windows on occasion, at least keep them closed at night.  The damp, night air has proven detrimental to both my husband and me, as became really apparent in our camping years. We resist the temptation to turn off the air conditioning and open the windows at night, and we breathe easier.
  2. Don’t spend a lot of time outside when the pollen count is high. Now unless you’re a hermit, you can’t avoid going outside, but hanging out for hours in the great out of doors when the pollen count is high is asking for trouble. Weather forecasters usually let you know when things are especially bad, so stay tuned to your favorite weather resource.  If you are responsible for the yard work, and you don’t want to hire a service, wear a mask when doing things like mowing, weed whipping, or leaf/grass blowing. My husband always wears a mask when he is working outside.
  3. Don’t hang your sheets on the line to dry. Despite the convenience of home dryers, many are tempted to save money by hanging their sheets outside to dry.  We love that fresh air smell.  But that fresh air smell isn’t good for your allergies.  This recommendation was given to me by my GP years ago.  Wet sheets attract pollen.  That is not what you need when you lie down to sleep.  Use the dryer.
  4. Fighting the dust is an ongoing battle, but vacuuming and dusting can help, especially in the bedroom.  Keep things as clean as you can by vacuuming and dusting regularly, as well as changing furnace filters. Assign allergy producing tasks to a family member who does not suffer from allergies or hire someone to clean. If you have to do it, wear a mask while cleaning dusty areas. If you are doing a big project like cleaning a basement or sorting through old books, take breaks and get away from the area for some deep breaths.
  5. No pets. – This is hard, and I would venture to say most of us don’t follow it. I didn’t have a pet growing up, but both my siblings had dogs so they were in the house.  When my kids were growing up we had a cat—the worst!  Cat hair everywhere.  If you are going to have pets, you just have to keep up with the vacuuming and dusting even more.  If you do have a pet, avoid having your pet sleep with you.
  6. Change to plant-based cleaning products. – Many people with allergies are allergic and/or sensitive to smells of all types—perfumes, chemicals, soaps, etc. Numerous cleaning products contain fragrances that are not good for anyone’s health, let alone an allergy sufferer. Countless products contain skin and respiratory irritants. (See ewg.org.) We want to use natural products, but “natural” does NOT always mean natural.  Choose plant-based, essential oil-infused products or make your own.  There are several companies on the market that sell fragrance-free, safe cleaning products, and there are lots of recipes on Pinterest for making your own. Do your homework and find safe products.
  7. Shower and shampoo. Some doctors recommend showering in the evening so you are not carrying the pollens attracted to your skin during the day into your bed at night. If you don’t want to shampoo your hair every day, consider wearing a hat when you are outside.  This is not only good for lessening pollen attracted to your hair; it’s also good for keeping your skin safe from sun damage.
  8. Change your clothes and shoes. After working or sitting outside, change your clothes so the pollen you have carried in doesn’t deposit on your furniture. Wear different shoes in the house than you wear outside.
  9. Personal care products. Personal care products, like cleaning products, contain fragrances and toxins that are often linked to allergies. Products like gel and hair spray attract pollen to your head. [droz.com]
  10. Be proactive and preventative with doctor prescribed or recommended meds. My GP recommended that if you take any kind of OTC allergy remedy, you need to take it BEFORE you start having symptoms. So if you don’t take it all year round, you probably need to think about it again when the season comes around and take it until the season is over, which is generally considered to be at the first hard frost.
  11. Try essential oils. I like to run my diffuser using Lemon, Lavender, and Peppermint oil. It provides a refreshing aroma.  I also like to inhale scents like peppermint or a eucalyptus blend, which may support the respiratory system. Diluted essential oils may be rubbed on topically to provide an invigorating lift to your day.
  12. Get adequate sleep. We know allergies can make you tired so it is important that you don’t skimp on sleep even when daylight makes it hard to get to bed on time. Stick to a regular sleep schedule, and you’ll feel a lot better.

Most of these are common sense remedies, but it always helps to review.  I hope something on this list will help you find relief when your symptoms have got you down. My prayer is that all of you will be able to find relief and enjoy the summer.

Choosing the Right Exercise Plan

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When the New Year rolled around and I chose the word WELLNESS as my #onelittleword for 2018, I had to decide how I was going to get back to exercising for my physical wellness.  I had been limited to exercise in the previous six months due to an injury and surgery.  But let’s be honest—I had fallen off the exercise track before my injury.

Over the years I have tried lots of options.  I have a treadmill, stationary bike, an exercise ball, and free weights in my home.  I have had gym memberships and a personal trainer.  I have joined Jazzercise and gone to yoga classes.  I have tried videos in my living room and walking outside. All of it.  But consistency is hard.  We go through seasons in life when one method works better than another; however, physical fitness is important, especially as one gets older.  There is no more time to procrastinate. It’s use it or lose it!  Even my mother-in-law, who is well into her 89th year, attends classes at her independent living facility.  These classes do not have the same intensity as a young person’s workout.  The goal is motion.  They say, “Motion is lotion.”

The thing I have learned is that all of these exercise methods have advantages and disadvantages when it comes to type of movement, cost, times offered, and social aspects.  I believe when it is time to re-evaluate your exercise plan, writing a pros and cons list can help you choose the best option.  So, here are some things to consider.

  • What amount of money can you afford to spend on a monthly basis? (Now, before you answer, consider that you are investing in your health and are likely saving money you would spend for medical treatment if you are not in good health.)
  • How convenient is the location? Is it on your way home from work, close to your home, accessible on weekends?
  • How convenient are the times? Are there classes at set times; is it open 24/7? Is it really going to work with your schedule?
  • What kind of coaching is available? Are there trainers available, is there an added cost for trainers, or is it teacher-led?
  • Are you self-motivated? Do you have knowledge of fitness so you can exercise without injuries, or do you need guidance?
  • How important is social interaction? Do you have a friend to go with you; do you prefer to be alone? Do you like classes and large groups? Even if you are working out alone, are you comfortable having other people working out along with you?
  • Do you have accountability? A partner? A spouse? Someone?
  • Does the workout plan offer all aspects: cardio, strength, flexibility?
  • Do you have any physical limitations that eliminate some forms of exercise?

What is the variety of workout options? Here’s a few I’ve tried.

  1. A gym has many options—lots of equipment choices, on-site staff to assist, availability because they are open frequently. Some centers also offer classes, both exercise and wellness. Some facilities have a pool.
  2. Jazzercise classes focus on cardio but also offer strength and flexibility as a part of their routines. Zumba offers similar classes, I believe; however, I’ve not tried those.
  3. Yoga can help with stress, flexibility, core strength, and even cardio.
  4. A home gym – Will you use it? Can you afford to purchase equipment? Do you have the space? How does the cost compare with memberships over time?
  5. Video – There are many internet sites offering subscriptions these days—yoga, dancing, and probably others. There are also free videos on YouTube. Are you motivated to workout at home? Do you have space? A designated time?
  6. I know there are others I haven’t experienced. Swimming, karate, kick-boxing, organized sports.  What will work for you?

As I made my own list of pros and cons, it changed my decision about my 2018 choice.  For me, in this season of life, the best choice was a membership at a local community fitness center.  I did not choose the one closest to my home, which was less expensive, because it did not have extended hours and is closed at my prime work out time.  It offers some level of social interaction, even if I attend alone, and I am a social creature.  I also have a couple of friends who are already members. It has a gym and organized classes at various times of day. And as the “parent” fitness center, I can still attend the one closer to my home if I find it more convenient at times.  The advantages were worth the cost.

Though I have enjoyed both yoga and Jazzercise in the past—and they were the right choices then, the fitness center is right for me now.

I have gotten back on track with physical fitness in 2018, and I am motivated to continue to strengthen my body after recent surgery.  By thinking through this decision and weighing my options, I have been more successful than when I just choose something impulsively.  And as I have tried various machines and routines at the center, I have been more motivated to complement those with things I do at home on the days I do not travel to the gym. I have also realized my limitations and given myself permission to go slowly.  I will not regain all of my strength in a short time.  This must be a lifestyle for now and the future.

Though physical fitness is only one aspect of my goals in choosing the word “wellness,” I am happy to have made a strong start to my year.  This was the area where I felt weakest, so it feels good to have made this decision and stuck with it.

I hope my journey inspires you to start exercising if you don’t already.  Get out a pencil and paper, find out what’s available to you locally, and start making that list of pros and cons.  Find something that works for you now, and then stick with.  Put it on your schedule as a non-negotiable.  And if you can, find an accountability partner.  You’re on your way!

Happy Exercising!

 

 

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