Oh, Halloween is over? Cough, cough, sniffle, sniffle- darn it, here comes cold and flu season again! Well, this year is going to be different, because you’re taking those dang germs on headfirst. With the right planning and a few key changes, you can help boost your immunity and dodge those germs from Thanksgiving dinner to Christmas recitals and all the way through kissing people at midnight on New Years. Here’s how to get a running start in the race against winter viruses.
Remember What Kindergarten Taught You:
Wash your hands. We mean it! Not just after using the restroom- although that’s the best way to avoid intestinal monsters- but after being out in public, shaking hands, or using public facilities. According to doctors, twenty seconds of scrubbing with antibacterial soap and warm water is still the best defense against picking up germs, so only rely on alcohol washes and instant sanitizers when you have no other choice.
Feed Your Immune Systems:
Your body has a natural way to fight against bacteria and viruses, but when your system is stressed, tired, or exhausted from already battling illnesses, it needs some extra help. Restore your body’s defenses by choosing a diet full of immune boosters. Strawberries are extremely high in vitamin C, which has been repeatedly proven to knock out viruses; while the humble mushroom is packed to the gills with chemical compounds that increase your white blood cell count and help your whole system battle down diseases.
Hit the Snooze Button:
The holidays tend to blow in a storm of parties and events that can wreak havoc on your sleep schedule, and that’s bad news. A lack of sleep can smack your immune system around, increase your chances of making poor eating choices, and just generally leave you out in the cold, waiting for a virus to attack. On nights where you’ve got nothing scheduled, aim for at least seven hours of sleep- eight if you can manage. If you’re having trouble getting to sleep, try to avoid all electronic devices (put down the phone and turn off the TV) for an hour before bedtime; studies have shown the light from these devices can be disruptive to the brainwaves that make you sleepy.
Get Some Exercise:
Several studies have shown that people with a regular exercise schedule tend to get sick less often. On the other hand, gyms can turn into a bacterial playground during cold and flu season. While fall weather lasts, get outside for your workouts- walk, run, or bike outdoors as often as you can. If you are an avowed gym rat, be sure to wipe down all equipment with an antibacterial wipe or spray before use- and use it on public items like lockers and scales, as well!
While nothing provides a foolproof defense against the cold and flu beasties, getting your body prepped for battle just makes sense. By making good hygiene, food, sleep, and exercise decisions, you’ll give yourself the best chance of surviving the season sniffle-free!