A Simple Guide for Managing Mold and Mycotoxin Exposures During the Holidays
The holidays are upon us, and for many, it is a time of festivities that includes a lot of interaction with colleagues, friends and family. In the spirit of the season, many want to give and receive…hugs! Unfortunately, what used to be a joyful exchange of caring, often represents a moment of dread to Mycotoxin-Sensitive Individuals (MSI’s- a new term I’ve coined- think we can make it an accepted medical term in the future?). The well-intentioned hug giver has no comprehension that their affectionate spirit may kickoff an evening full of brain fog, stomachaches, sinus symptoms, headaches, and even a loss of sleep. Desperate to avoid symptom overload, many MSI’s will back away from physical contact, creating feelings of rejection that are ill-understood, regardless of their attempts at an explanation. Often, in order to avoid awkward social situations, MSI’s will avoid gatherings, public places, etc. altogether during the holidays. But, instead of solving the problem, social avoidance creates a sense of isolation that isn’t conducive to a healthy, happy holiday season.
Let’s face the facts, people who are not mycotoxin sensitive really have no frame of reference for understanding the drive toward symptom avoidance that MSI’s struggle with during the holiday season. MSIs who try to explain the situation are thought to have mental problems, or that their symptoms are “all in their heads”. For others, well-meaning friends and family while trying to be considerate, will make matters worse by calling attention to and explaining their “mold condition” to anyone and everyone that will listen—truly not helpful.
The awkwardness experienced by mycotoxin-sensitive adults is often magnified for adolescents suffering with the same symptoms. For an adolescent, managing the anxiety and depression that frequently accompanies mycotoxin sensitivity is difficult enough, but add the stress of unclear social expectations, and holidays can quickly feel overwhelming. Thus, taking the time to create a plan of action that empowers MSI’s with a few tools to manage their environment can bring feelings of joy back to the holiday season.
Mold-Sensitive Holiday Preparation 101
Practically, what can you do to enjoy the holiday season and not feel like you’re navigating a mine field of physical, political and social challenges? To quote Marie Forleo, a prominent entrepreneur who has helped many achieve their dreams:
“Nothing in life is that complicated. You can do whatever you set your mind to if you just roll up your sleeves, get in there, and do it. Everything is figureoutable.”
So, in the spirit of “figuring it out,” I like to start with preparation. Stress significantly increases reactivity. Being prepared and gathering the tools that enable you to successfully navigate the various scenarios that present themselves helps a lot. Below are just a few suggestions that can help you glide through the holiday season with less socially awkward moments and better health:
- Carry a small spray bottle of premixed EC3 Mold Solution Concentrate with you to social outings. You can even make a small travel-size spray bottle that will fit into a purse or a backpack. That way, when you find yourself in situations where you encounter individuals that have mycotoxins on their clothing, you can step aside and spray yourself with it when necessary. EC3 is composed of citrus enzymes that will breakdown mold spores and mycotoxins, decreasing reactivity.
- Use CitriDrops Nasal Spray to rapidly clear exposures from your nasal passages before mycotoxins can reach your sinuses. Inhalation is the number one way people are exposed to mycotoxins in indoor spaces. Proactively clearing mold spores you’re your nose can have a dramatic positive impact on your health, especially in settings where mold counts are elevated.
- Take the initiative in social interactions BEFORE situations can get awkward. Telling people that you’re happy to see them with a broad smile and touching them gently on the arm or offering a handshake while quickly saying that you’re not hugging people because your immune system has been a little under the weather can help prevent a feeling of being overwhelmed by mycotoxin or chemical scent exposures. If individuals bring you gifts, or other items, you can frequently mitigate reactivity by using your CitriDrops Nasal Spray and by keeping plastic bags and a larger spray bottle of EC3 Mold Solution Spray in your vehicle that you can use to spray the items down. This will not only prevent reactivity, but will protect your vehicle from contamination.
- Finally, have an exit plan. If the environment is overwhelming, it is always a good idea to have an established plan for how and why to leave before you get there. This is where the explanation of feeling a bit tired or having another appointment to attend can be helpful. I find that those excuses tend to go over without argument or hard feelings, whereas many individuals do not respond well to hearing that they have a mold or mycotoxin issue in their environment. That isn’t to say that you shouldn’t address the environmental issue at some point in the future; it is a matter of how and when you mention it. Choosing the right moment can make a big difference in making your concerns heard and understood in a manner that is kind and helpful.
Hosting Events in Your Home With Mycotoxin Avoidance in Mind
Another mycotoxin-avoidance tactic altogether is choosing to host social engagements in your home. Having family and friends come to you can be more relaxing in the sense that you know your environment is clean, but can induce anxiety over concerns about what other people might bring into your home from their homes or workplace. Again, remember everything is “figureoutable” and with a little bit of creativity and some preparation, you can calmly work through any situation.
- Set the stage by cleaning your home with EC3 and fogging the area. This gets everything clean, fresh, and mold-free before guest arrive.
- Remove dust with a good HEPA vacuum. This is also helpful for mold management, because mold needs organic material to attach to in order to grow. Get rid of the dust, and mold counts lower too.
- Create a warm, welcoming zone at the entrance of your home that provides a location to leave coats and remove outdoor shoes. This helps everyone feel at home and comfortable immediately. Containing coats and shoes to a limited space also makes it easier to clean-up any unwelcome mold or mycotoxins after the guests have left. Depending on the situation or event, you can include a message in your invite that lets people know that you are a shoeless home and that you encourage people to wear their favorite festive socks or bring their favorite indoor slippers. You can even make it a highlight of your event by offering a contest for the best festive socks or slippers. (Think in lieu of the ugly sweater contest). While this doesn’t preclude an encounter with mold or mycotoxins from someone’s home, it does remove the likelihood of exposure from their daily travels or work location.
- Place EC3 candles in festive decorative arrangements and having them burning to create a warm holiday glow. This lowers mycotoxin content in the air by 80%–making your event truly merry!
- Keep your Air Purification systems quietly running in the location of the event. This can facilitate higher air quality and prevent the spread of spores to other areas of your home. Consider even bringing an extra unit from another location in your home to the scene to help increase the air exchange rate.
A few simple precautions can also go along ways to keep your holiday event truly joyous and festive.
- Keep your event contained to one central area that is easy to clean-up afterwards.
- Keep bedroom doors closed and strictly off limits to guests of any age or stage so that your sleep space remains the clean safe sanctuary it needs to be for restorative sleep. If there are little ones that need a place to play or rest, evaluate your home for the best location to meet their needs without compromising your family’s need to be able to retreat to a clean, safe sleep space.
- At the end of the evening, once the guests have gone, fogging the area with EC3 can dramatically decrease the risk of mold and mycotoxins spreading throughout your home. This doesn’t need to be a deep cleaning process, just misting the area can make a significant difference for lowering the risk until you can take the time to properly clean the area.
- Remove the outer clothing that you wore during the event and promptly launder it with EC3 Laundry Additive.
- Finally, enjoy a good shower, being certain to wash your nasal passages and follow your bedtime routine, reflecting with gratitude on an event well done!
I wish you and yours the happiest of holidays! Keep watch for next week’s article where we’ll address tips and tricks to help you physically maintain abundant energy and enthusiasm throughout the holiday season.