By Adrian Sparrow
Winter is coming, and so are fever, sniffles, muscle aches, and more. Safeguard yourself against common winter illnesses, and be prepared in advance if you do wind up catching the flu. Nothing can completely mitigate the risk of getting sick, but these tips will help you stay healthy when the weather outside is frightful.
Polish your handwashing habits to prevent colds and flu. Clean your hands every time you eat, sneeze, cough, touch your face or use the restroom. Wash your hands for 20 seconds while using antibacterial soap and warm water (as hot as you can tolerate). Viruses can survive on surfaces outside the human body anywhere from a few seconds to several days. Clean your kitchen and other common surfaces with disinfectants and don’t share cups or utensils.
A nutritious diet is key to staying healthy. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables as well as whole grain and protein sources. Keep yourself hydrated by regularly drinking water. During the winter months, when the days are short and there’s less sunlight, getting enough vitamin D can be difficult. You may need to add vitamin D supplements to your diet or eat more fish, mushrooms, and egg yolks.
Stay active throughout the winter months to support a healthy immune system. Even if it’s too cold for a regular 30-minute walk, there are plenty of other ways to get your heart pumping: Yoga, weightlifting, martial arts, and rollerskating are great indoor activities to try, as well as sports made for winter: ice skating, hockey, skiing, and a good old-fashioned snowball fight with friends.
When you’re sick, you won’t want to go shopping. While you’re healthy, make sure your medicine cabinet is free of expired medications and includes fever and pain relief, decongestants, antihistamines and cough medicine, alongside things like cough drops and vitamin supplements. Make sure you have a thermometer with a good battery, as well as backup batteries, tissues, herbal teas, chicken soup and juice or other hydrating drinks with electrolytes.
Losing out on sleep can make you feel like you’re getting sick, which makes it harder to recognize when you do have an illness. Poor sleep can also strain your immune system, which means your body can’t fight off viruses and infections as needed. If you do get sick, take time off to rest and recuperate, and avoid spreading disease to others. Get a regular 7-9 hours of sleep every night and avoid using electronics before bed whenever possible.