Friday, August 31, 2012

14 days to a sneeze free home- Day 13

Achoo!  The weed pollen count is high in my area today, and I can tell it.

Did you know that when you first begin to tackle an allergy-producing home keeping problem that you are most likely to stir up the very allergen that you are trying to clean away?  This is true for dust, pollen, and molds.  Yet, there is no way to get effective relief unless you do the clean-up. So, take proper precautions as you go.  As we've talked about, using masks, wearing gloves, insuring proper ventilation while you are cleaning and choosing cleaning products that don't irritate your respiratory system can help you tackle allergens without succumbing to them.

When cleaning a bathroom, you can close the door to separate it from the rest of the house, cover the vents,  and open a window.  This will help keep from spreading stirred up mold into other rooms.  Be sure, though, to keep adequate ventilation for yourself as you clean.

A box of baking soda placed in a closet can help absorb extra moisture and unpleasant smells.  This will help your closet stay smelling fresh.  Some people use sticks of chalk for the same reason.  You can keep it in an open container or tie it up in cheesecloth and hang it, much as you would hang a sachet.  Below, you can see how Martha Stewart has tied chalk in a bundle and hung it by a simple ribbon.

The holidays are coming.  Most of us will be digging out treasured decorating items, holiday china, ornaments, and the like.  This means we will be opening containers in which dust and other allergens have collected and also that we may be tracking to and from dusty storage areas.  Here's where getting to the dust quickly will keep us from getting sick. Who wants to go through the holidays sneezing and wheezing?  Start now, in September, to give the storage areas you will be working in a thorough dusting and sweeping.  Be prepared as you open boxes to wipe items and to clean out the tubs they are in.

Be prepared to do some extra dusting and vacuuming during September and October.  A little extra elbow grease while pollen counts are high might be paid off in feeling well.  Plus, your house will be in good shape for the holidays.

It's unrealistic to think that you will ever achieve a totally allergen free residence.  Even if you cleaned 24/7, you wouldn't be able to eradicate every spore, every grain of pollen, or every dust mite from the air.  (Neither would you be able to eliminate every germ.)  These things are a part of life.  We need to cultivate good health in the hope that our bodies will learn to deal with allergens.  However, we can help our immune systems by cleaning away the excess, thus reducing our exposure.  Cleanliness, not fanatic avoidance, is what we're after.  For those of us with allergies, we may need to pay more attention to cleanliness than people who are not bothered by such.  However, obsessing will only stress our bodies and make things worse in the long run.  Balance!        


Monday, August 20, 2012

14 Days to a Sneeze Free Home -- Day 12

The English translation of this painting's name: Wanderer Above the Fog.  It would have made a good photo to go with my last post about dealing with brain fog.  :)

At this time of year, you may be going off to college or sending off a son or daughter.  Or, you might be a young single or couple moving into a first apartment.  As fun as these beginning are, it's important to put in a little effort to keep a dorm room or first apartment sneeze free.

Dorm rooms and first apartments often are in older buildings.  They are full of young and active people who are in and out all day and who can track in pollens.  They are occupied by people in a time of life when cleaning is, understandably, lower on the priority scale than a number of other things.  They have a high turnover of occupancy and are often being painted, sprayed, or remodeled.  These are the very things that make our first homes away from home so charming.  Yet, the effect of these things can make those with allergies suffer.

Two allergens that love dorms and small apartments are molds and dust.   Here are some ways to keep these allergens down:

1) Do your laundry frequently.
2)  Sweep and dust out closets before unpacking for the first time and then several times during the year.
3)  Use a well-ventilated laundry hamper.
4)  If you have a bath in your room, keep it clean and well-ventilated.
5)  Consider protective allergy covers for a previously used dorm mattress.   
6)  Consider a HEPA allergy filter but know that it won't take the place of elbow grease in keeping your space sneeze free.
7)  Request a smoke free room.
8)  Wash your towels frequently.  Don't let wet towels build up.
9)  Keep sports clothing and equipment dry and clean.
10)  Know what allergy/asthma meds you need, as well as when and how to use them, and store them in a safe, easy to get to space.
11)  If you can, avoid storing things that you don't immediately need in your dorm room, such as off season clothes and shoes or big boxes of keepsakes.  Keep what you do store as dust and mold free as possible.  If you go to school far away from home, you may need to store more things. 
12) Don't feel weird about keeping your spaces clean.  You may have to pay more attention to this than most students/young professionals.  But, a little time spent in preventative measures can save you time in the infirmary.


Saturday, August 18, 2012

A Sneeze Free Home

The irony:  If you have allergies, then cleaning your home, keeping your car clean, and keeping whatever work spaces you have -- in or out of the home -- tidy will help you feel better.   Yet, if you have allergies, you are likely to have low energy, foggy brain or allergy medicine fog, and just a general malaise.  Thus, you can get in a cycle of not feeling well enough to clean just at the time you need to clean most. 
So, what's an allergy sufferer to do? One first step is to confront the brain fog or medicine brain.  The brain fog can occur with any chronic illness.  Likewise, many people find that antihistamines and the like cause a spacey feeling.  In either case, the allergy picture can leave a woman feeling less than her best. In some ways, the brain fog of allergy is like a low level headache, and you may even feel that it "hurts" to think.  The following are some ways that might help in coping with that all too familiar dull or spacey feeling. 

1)  See a doctor to assess causes of brain fog.  Don't entirely self-diagnose.  There are many causes for this feeling, and you don't want to assume it's just your allergies when it might be due to some other treatable cause.  Once you have a diagnosis in hand, don't keep worrying about your brain fog and don't keep analyzing it.   Focusing on it too much can make it worse.    
2)  On the other hand, be aware of what triggers brain fog for you and keep track of the timing. 
3)  A tip from a Lupus support group :  When running errands, use your cell phone to take a video of where your car is in the parking lot.  Be sure to use a landmark in the photo, such as a particular lamp post, a shot of the shop or mall in the background, etc.  Refer to the pictures to find your car easily.
4)  Find your personal balance between accepting that you might not be able to do all that you would like to do when your allergies are acting up and yet realizing that you can accomplish some things. 
5)  Keep a list of household chores that can be done in short segments.  Break larger chores down into smaller steps and list these smaller steps, as well.  Set a timer and do the first on your list.  Then, tackle the second, etc.  Take breaks when you need to.  
6)  Watch your thinking.  It's easy to let our thinking slip into the negative on days when we don't feel well.  It's also easy to over think or brood when we are not as physically active as usual. Likewise, we can become frustrated with ourselves and also project our frustrations outward to others.  A downward spiral of thinking can sap what energy you do have.  Faithful thinking and focusing on your blessings can increase your stores of energy, even when you are otherwise ill.
7)  Make rest time productive.  Keep a list of quiet activities that you don't normally have time to enjoy (again broken into short, doable steps), and pick something to do when you don't feel up to your regular schedule.  Even if you can't do heavy activity, you might be able to sew, read, listen to soothing music, write a letter, paint, read uplifting blogs, watch a movie or show you've been wanting to, etc.  Catch up on a little sleep or just rest quietly.  Have some extra prayer time.  Now, is not the time to mindlessly surf the web, mindlessly watch TV, etc.  If you just fritter your rest time, you might find yourself feeling more anxious and more foggy than if you actively select an activity that will refresh you.
9)  Take a few minutes of extra planning.  When you are feeling your best, you may be able to instantly decide what the highest priorities for your day are.  When you are feeling a dull, allergy induced headache, you may be more indecisive.  You may not feel like checking your calendar or to do list, but this is just the time when these tools can be the most valuable.  Choose something and stick with it until it's done or until you've accomplished whatever intermediary steps you've established.  Then go on to something else. Having routines in place can help you when you don't have the focus to decide on the spot.
10) Unless you are so ill that you do need to rest in bed, try to accomplish a few things.  It's so much more pleasant to reach the end of the day and to be able to think that some things got done than to have wasted a whole day.  Even small investments in making your home pleasant, clean, and sneeze free will pay off later on. 
11)  Taking a walk in fresh air might help, or, if your allergies are forcing you to stay inside, doing little bits of exercise throughout the day can boost your mental and physical well-being.  Stretch from time to time or take some deep breaths.  If you're not up to your normal exercise routine, try taking a few minutes here and there to move about and get your oxygen going.
12)  One days when you are the most ill, you will likely lack as much motivation as you usually have.  Even things you enjoy doing might seem daunting.  Sometimes, you may need to take a "just do it" attitude.  Once you dig in to a chore, you might find that you have more motivation and more momentum.  Likewise, if you are feeling too tired to exercise, you might find that your energy flows more freely once you get started.  Even if you don't ramp up to full speed, you will probably find the strength and the will to accomplish more than you thought possible. If you get your day started well and you still can't find any "oomph", that could be a sign that you do need more rest.
13) As best as you can, keep your personal spaces -- bedroom and bathroom -- and your kitchen tidy and your appearance fresh and neat.  These things can give you more energy to branch out to other tasks.   
14)  Pray for strength and clarity.  Pray for the wisdom to know when to push through and get things done and when to step back and rest. 
15)  Do what you can to support your health on a daily basis.  Often, we think about this when our body is weak, and it cries out for a healthy diet, rest, and exercise.  For optimum health and mental clarity, however, we have to work on our health consistently. 
16)  On a really bad day, set just three important goals.  If you get them done, set three more.  Don't overwhelm yourself with a long, long to-do list.   If you're having trouble deciding which three to do, just do your best.  Sometimes, these three goals will present themselves:  Perhaps, your children are at a class, and you must pick them up.  You can even set goals by the hour.  In the next hour, I will accomplish this________.  If I finish and have more time, I will do this:  _________,  Be thankful for everything that you do get done.