When you or a family member is in need of extra care, it is important to take all the necessary precautions to avoid getting sick. With cold and flu season right around the corner, now is the time to be extra careful. Taking care of yourself is the first step to being there for your family; from getting the right amount of sleep to prioritizing nutrition and exercise, here is how to stay healthy even when it seems like everyone around you is getting sick.
Tip #1: Get the Flu Shot
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, everyone over the age of six months should receive a yearly flu vaccine. The flu shot lowers your risk of influenza by 50-60%, and since the virus evolves, it is important that you get vaccinated every year—preferably before the end of October. When you get the shot, you provide your immune system with the opportunity to produce the antibodies that will protect you from viruses.
To find a vaccine location near you, visit https://vaccinefinder.org.
Tip #2: Exercise Proper Hygiene
This includes washing your hands with hot water and antibacterial soap often, as well as cleaning surfaces—at home and at work—and other high-traffic areas or frequently used objects (i.e., remotes, phones, door handles, etc.) with disinfecting spray or wipes. Also, avoid touching your face, as your eyes and nose grant germs easy access to your body. Keep a bottle of hand sanitizer nearby for those moments when you are unable to immediately wash your hands after coming into contact with potential germs.
Tip #3: Prioritize Sleep
When there is a lot to do, sleep is often the first thing to go. However, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services states that adults need seven to eight hours of quality sleep on a regular schedule each night. Getting proper sleep not only gives your body a much-needed rest, but it also protects your mental health, physical health, quality of life, and safety.
Tip #4: Get Moving!
There are many benefits of consistent exercise and giving your immune system a boost is no exception. According to the American Council on Exercise, research has established a link between moderate, regular exercise and a strong immune system. Even if you are experiencing symptoms of a common cold with no fever, low-impact exercise such as walking is probably safe (and may be a welcome breath of fresh air). However, you should avoid intensive exercise until a few days after symptoms have disappeared, and if there are any symptoms or signs of the flu, allow for at least two weeks before resuming training.
Tip #5: Fuel Your Body Right
As the days get cooler and shorter, it can be tempting to want to warm up with comfort food that tastes great but may not be so good for our bodies. While you should treat yourself occasionally, good nutrition—which includes a diet full of foods such as fruits, vegetables, and lean protein—can help you to reach and maintain a healthy weight, reduce your risk of chronic diseases (like heart disease and cancer), and promote your overall well-being.
While none of these tips can guarantee that you will not get sick, taking the right precautions will undoubtedly keep you and your family healthier this cold and flu season.