Cold and flu season is nearly upon us, and some of us might be feeling more anxiety about it than usual. There’s almost no escaping the colder months of the year without catching a cold, the flu or some other upper-respiratory infection. It doesn’t take long for the runny nose, sore throat, foggy brain and general feeling of malaise to overwhelm you. Before you know it, you’re spending the day in bed, drinking fluids and trying to push through.
While it might seem impossible to avoid catching something this fall season, there’s a lot you can do to protect yourself against the germs and contagions out to harass your immune system. This year especially, during a time when COVID-19 is ever-present, it’s important to take appropriate steps to protect your health. Below are a few practical tips.
Boost your immune system
Your best line of defense against seasonal illness is to boost your immune system. The better equipped your body is to fight back against germs and pathogens, the better shot you’ve got at making it through the season unscathed. Here are a few tips for boosting your immune system and safeguarding yourself from the inside out.
- Exercise regularly and cycle your workout types
- Maintain a healthy diet that’s high in vital nutrients
- Get a good night’s sleep (6-8 hours, uninterrupted a night)
- Take vitamins and supplements to aid in immunity
- Get a flu shot and schedule a health checkup with your doctor
While there’s no surefire way to prevent a cold, flu or COVID-19, giving your body a fighting chance is one of the best things you can do for it this season.
Take proper precautions
Boosting your immune system is only the beginning! To keep your body healthy and strong, do everything you can to avoid exposure to germs and pathogens. This is especially important right now, since minimizing exposure to COVID-19 is proven as the most effective way to keep yourself safe during the pandemic. Try some of these tips.
- Wear a mask in public places and avoid close contact with people
- Wash your hands often, scrubbing for at least 30 seconds
- Avoid touching your face, eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
- Avoid unnecessary travel and keep a distance of six feet in public
- Stay away from individuals who are sick or exhibit symptoms of illness
The more you can do to avoid exposure to pathogens and illness-causing germs, the better off you’ll be. These are good habits to practice all season long—and in general, no matter the season!
What to do if you start feeling ill
Germs, bacteria and viruses are tenacious little buggers and can cause trouble for you, even if you’re doing your best to avoid them. Kids can bring them home from school. They can live on surfaces. Really, it’s impossible to be 100% safe from germs.
If you start to feel ill, it’s important to take decisive action and shift gears to a reactive approach to dealing with sickness. Here’s what to do.
- Don’t go to work or school and avoid going into public if you feel ill
- Monitor your symptoms every few hours to see if they get worse
- Track your symptoms and record how you’re feeling day after day
- Stay hydrated with water and herbal teas
- Schedule an in-person or telehealth checkup with your doctor
The earlier you catch and begin to treat an illness, the quicker you can get over it and the more manageable your symptoms will be. This is especially important for the flu and COVID-19, which can have severe, lasting effects on your health.
General tips for staying well this season
Looking for even more practical advice for maintaining your health during the fall and winter seasons? Outside of direct health and wellness precautions, there are a few other steps you can take to boost immunity and improve your chances at avoiding illness. Here’s what to focus on outside of the normal tips.
- Mental health is linked to physical wellness; take time out to relax and recharge
- Give your house a good deep clean, including washing sheets and blankets
- Change the air filter and clean the vents throughout your home
- Keep a bottle of hand sanitizer with you in your car or purse
It’s easy to let your health take a backseat to the everyday hustle and bustle of your busy life, but this season, it’s more important than ever to make it one of your top priorities. No one wants to be stuck in bed with the flu—or worse! Follow these practical tips to keep yourself healthy and out of harm’s way during this year’s cold and flu season.