With the official arrival of winter also comes sniffles, sneezes, coughs, sore throats, colds and the flu, unfortunately. When the cold weather keeps many of us in close proximity indoors, the spread of germs is rapid and constant, making it fairly easy to get sick. Adding to that, holiday excess, travel and packed schedules can run us down and waken our immune system at fighting off infection.
The good news is that winter doesn’t always have to result in feeling under the weather. Although no methods are foolproof, there are actions that can help keep you healthier this winter. Done together, and consistently, these efforts can reduce your risk of being derailed with a cold or flu.
According to medical and wellness experts, here is how to prevent getting sick this winter:
- Get a flu shot – Sounds like a no-brainer, but many people skip this important immunization and therefore needlessly expose themselves to influenza annually. While strains vary, the flu is always lousy, so why risk it? Getting this shot is the most important step you can take to prevent the flu.
- Wash your hands – We know, you’ve heard this ad nauseum. But the truth is, it works. That’s why doctors and nurses do it all the time. Use regular soap and water, and scrub for 20 seconds to get rid of germs. If possible, wash after shaking hands and touching common-use spaces like doorknobs, the handrail on the escalator, ATMs, the office microwave, etc.
- Use hand sanitizer – When you can’t get to soap and water, hand sanitizer is another good option to kill cold and flu germs. Keep some in your office, purse, car, etc.
- Keep your hands off – Touching your eyes, nose and mouth is a common way for germs to sneak in, and we do it so often that we don’t realize it. Do your best to be aware of bringing your hands to your face, and then try to minimize it.
- Sleep – Might be easier said than done, but lack of shut-eye weakens your immune system and makes you more susceptible to illness. Aim to go to bed earlier when you can, as every little bit helps. And catch a quick nap when possible to supplement your ZZZs.
- Eat healthy – Of course, this is a 24/7/365 tip for quality of life, but eating fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean meats and low-fat dairy products keeps all your body’s systems humming along nicely and in prime position to fight an attack. Eat regular meals and don’t skip or simply snack all day long.
- Stay hydrated – Many of us are often dehydrated and don’t realize it, which is another hit to our immunity. Choose water often, and keep a bottle with you. Remember caffeinated beverages, like coffee, tea and soda, along with alcohol, are diuretics and do not rehydrate.
- Exercise – Another recommendation that really should be a lifelong habit, regular exercise strengthens your immune system. You don’t have to do grueling workouts daily, but even just walking helps. At the gym, bring your own yoga mat, wipe down all equipment, don’t touch the water fountain with your mouth and wear shoes in the shower.
- Reduce stress – Stress hormones weaken your immune system, so seek ways to relax through yoga, meditation, massage and more. Get together with friends and laugh, and cultivate an attitude of gratefulness.
- Enjoy some fresh air – Bundle up and get outside, even just for a short time, or crack the window in the car or at home so that you’re not breathing in stale air constantly.
Use these tips above to keep from getting sick this winter. Stay Fueled!