The temperature dropping is a sure sign that the winter is on its way. Jack Frost is blowing his ice wherever he flies, and not just on the roof and the car: on you! Immunity is the magic word of the season and there are plenty of us stocking up on tissues, antibacterial hand gel and wipes. Viruses thrive in the warmth, but it’s somewhere we like to stay when it’s bitter outside. Without a properly built immune system, the bugs in the air are going to be setting up camp right inside you. This leads to colds, infections and even flu, and you need to avoid these to keep healthy over the colder months. When you forget your antibacterial gel, and think it doesn’t matter, think again. When you venture out into the world, every doorknob you touch is a zone filled with germs and other bacteria from other people who don’t bother with washing their hands. Every winter, infections in the air, on train handles, elevator buttons and doorknobs put millions out of action and into bed for weeks on end. The sick days that are taken cost businesses money right in the lead up to Christmas and for those who are immunocompromised, they can end up in hospital with the latest and greatest flu strains.
So, what can you do about it? While you can’t work on washing the hands of other people or handing out the tissues, you can work on your own immune system so that your body has the capability of holding off bugs. If you don’t have health insurance or know much about Medicare Supplemental, you need to swiftly do your research and get to know what you need to keep you covered if you end up in hospital this winter. There are ways you can get your immunity up before and during the cold season, and we’ve got nine of the best ways you can take care of yourself and make it through unscathed.
Get Your Shots.
When you go for a flu shot, you’re not just protecting yourself. The influenza vaccine can reduce your risk of contracting the flu by up to 60%, and if you are one of the unlucky ones who does develop flu, the symptoms are less severe and don’t knock you out as much. If you are over the age of 6 months, asthmatic, pregnant or elderly, you should be making an appointment with your primary care physician to get the shot. You can read more comprehensive information here about the flu shot and the reasons you should be looking into getting it, but you should make an informed decision, too. If it’s going to get you through the season without much incident, it’s definitely worth looking into!
Pack Your Pens.
Do you find at the office that people ask you to borrow a pen fairly often? If you’re handing out pens that you use, chew on and carry to other people, how do you know those people are washing their hands, not chewing on the pens or stashing it in the same pocket as a used tissue? You don’t. You have zero control over what happens to your stationery when it leaves your possession with someone else. Cold and flu germs are passed around so easily through hand to hand contact, and pens shared around among friends – while nice – isn’t the best way to avoid germs. Keeping a supply of pens that you use for yourself as well as a small supply of things that you are happy to share is a good way of avoiding passing on those germs. Always use your own pens instead of borrowing off of someone else, and keep your supply separate to others. Take a look at this list of other common places you can find germs, so that you know what to avoid.
Hand Sanitizer Is Your Friend.
We’ve mentioned antibacterial hand gel, and there’s a good reason for it. It isn’t always possible to wash your hands every moment of the day, but keeping hand sanitizer on your person at all times is going to make a difference. When used correctly, you can get rid of germs effectively and have fewer cases of colds and other viruses simply by using it while out in public. Keep a bottle in your bag, and encourage your partner and kids to keep some in theirs at all times. Anything you can do to reduce exposure to germs is a way to get through the winter without woe.
It’s well known that loneliness, sadness and depression can lower the immune system. If you are suffering with any of these, you need to join a club or get out there with your regular group of friends more often. Happier, more social people tend to produce more flu-fighting antibodies, as cited by this research. Most people have heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), but not that sadness can affect your immune system. It’s important to feel good on the inside and you are far less likely to pick up viruses with your body not under stress. Stress has a lot to answer for, and you’re far likely to look after your health if you feel happier.
Multivitamins Are Candy
Your body needs to be given the best chance it can to fight infections and viruses. Taking the right combination of vitamins every day can really boost your natural immunity. You could be lacking in certain vitamins and not know it, especially if your diet is not the best it could be. Make sure you take any multivitamins with a meal to promote absorption, and always take it with a glass of water. Don’t forget: multivitamins can be taken alongside a balanced diet to help you boost the vitamins you’re already getting.
Exercise Isn’t Just For The Summer
Health isn’t always about washing your hands and avoiding the elevator buttons. You need to keep your body moving and part of that means maintaining the exercise regime you cultivated during the warmer months of the year. If you are heading out for a run or to the gym for a minimum of half an hour a day, you are promoting the health of your own heart. It’s not just about cardio, either, when slower and more deliberate movement such as the Chinese art of Tai Chi can help regulate your breathing and boost your system.
Sleep For Longer
It’s a welcome idea, to have a lay in a bit more than once a week. However, this isn’t always a possibility for you. Instead, work on heading to bed slightly earlier each evening so you can get a minimum of seven to eight hours a night. It doesn’t matter how many extra vitamins you take, how much you wash your hands or how often you exercise if your body is simply too tired to maintain the protections you are putting in place. A tired and worn out body is one that won’t be ready to fight off infection or cold, instead, it stays vulnerable to it.
If you aren’t an avid watcher of the nightly news, you need to start making a point of watching for the latest CDC outbreak reports when it comes to viruses and flu. There is a flu map which is updated weekly on the CDC website, and you can keep an eye on the local area. It could make a difference for you if you are making plans to head out and be social. If you see that there is an outbreak close to you, it could help you to change your plans from a night out at the movies to one inside the house – just get your friends to bring the snacks on their way!
You should already be eating a balanced diet full of natural vitamins and minerals. Plenty of Vitamin C and D can be found in these sources, so up your intake and make sure you are eating enough of what you need. Having a balanced diet can build your immune system enough that what could be a flu just stays as a common cold, and it’s important to keep your diet healthy and balanced year around. It’s important that you know you are doing more for yourself than simply popping painkillers to fight off something that isn’t there.
Fighting off flu and cold in the winter months can be simply miserable. While you’re building your body up to fight off infections, make sure your house is primed and ready for the season, too. Get thick rugs laid down, the radiators bled and ready for the heating to flow through them, and get the house insulated. A house that is treated for mould and damp is one that can keep out those winter chills. Everything you do in your home in preparation for the cold weather is enough to keep your body fighting off those pesky bugs, every single time.