Gill South: Step 1: Dump the gorilla

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Gill South is determined to keep the common cold at bay throughout the chilly weeks ahead.

Because life is rather crammed, I get sick a lot. Photo / Thinkstock
Because life is rather crammed, I get sick a lot. Photo / Thinkstock

I'm not one to moan, but most of my friends can tell you that I spend a lot of my time during the winter cancelling arrangements because I am sick or, as I like to describe it, feel "like a gorilla is leaning on my shoulders". I have been getting bad, achy colds every winter since I was in my late 20s and they seem to be getting more protracted and less easy to recover from as I hit my prime.

Let's just say, if I were a Jane Austen heroine, I'd be spending a hell of a lot of time taking the waters in Bath.

Not that I'm a wispy, pale-looking thing. I look amazingly healthy, which is slightly annoying. And it's no wonder. I am a paragon of virtue. Doctors are very impressed with me. I walk most days, I'm a light drinker, have a very healthy diet - although perhaps eat slightly too much cake - and usually attend yoga classes, although recently have had a spell off them.

Lifestyle is probably my bugbear. I work as a journalist from home, writing pretty well non-stop during school hours and often in the evenings. I am doing post-graduate research - a part-time Masters in Philosophy - and have two sporty boys aged 8 and 9 who always have a game on somewhere far, far away.

Because life is rather crammed, I get sick a lot. I jumped at the chance of writing a wellness column because this is the year I would like to be well. I like to think of it as a journey to wellness and I'm afraid you're coming on it with me. I am hoping there are other women out there like me, with high-stress lifestyles and low immune systems, who want some sound advice too.

My aim for the rest of winter and into spring is to throw everything at this ol' bod (and mind) - I will be knocking on the doors of meditation experts, breathing specialists, yoga gurus, hypnotherapists, acupuncturists, personal trainers - anyone I am recommended, basically. Please send in any suggestions you think might help but don't make me go for a colonic irrigation - that sounds like no fun at all.

As a first step my blood is being tested for everything under the sun by GP Kerry Lamb of the Mt Eden Holistic Medical Centre. Kerry specialises in lifestyle and nutrition.

She also took one look at me and told me my breathing was off - apparently at times of stress we forget to breathe - so I have made my first appointment with breathing specialist Tania Clifton-Smith, co-author of Breathing Matters: A New Zealand Guide.

Meanwhile, as we trudge through winter, I am fighting another cold. I recognise the itchy eyes and while I don't yet feel the gorilla leaning on my shoulders, a monkey certainly is. Let the battle begin ...

* See holisticmedicalcentre.co.nz, or call (09) 632 1900.

- NZ Herald

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