As the weather starts to change and get cooler, so do viruses! They come out of their summer hibernation and begin to look for warmer hosts, like our bodies! With the start of school and spending more time indoors in inclement weather, passing those viruses along to one another becomes more likely too.
There are several ways you can minimize your chances of picking up a cold or flu virus, with just a little more self-care and effort.
Wash Your Hands!
Your mother has probably been saying to this to you for as long as you can remember, but it’s true! The single best way to avoid catching a cold or flu virus is to wash your hands regularly, with soap and hot water. You can’t help touching surfaces that might have a virus laying around but if you then go and touch your face, you could be on your way to a sneezy good time. Your nose, mouth and eyes are where they get in most easily and if you’re a nail biter, you need to get that habit under control!
Cold and flu viruses can remain active on hard surfaces for up to 24 hours (less on soft surfaces like fabric or clothes), so it’s not hard to imagine picking one up! If you can’t wash your hands at some point, make sure you have sanitizer handy so you can eliminate most of the germs!
Get a Flu Shot!
No, the flu shot does not give you the flu. But when you live in a society, there is something called ‘herd immunity’: if most people got the flu shot, less people would get the flu. There are some among us who cannot get the shot—young babies, immunocompromised adults and others; they would be protected by the herd!
By getting the shot, you are doing your bit to leverage the effects of herd immunity and protecting yourself at the same time. Remember that the flu shot only takes effect about two weeks after you get it, so don’t wait too long after those first leaves start falling to the ground!
Get Enough Sleep!
People who are sleep deprived tend to be more susceptible to viruses as their immunity is down a little. It’s not just about how much sleep, either. The quality of the sleep matters too! And if you do get sick, a lack of sleep over an extended period of time can make it much harder for you to recover quickly. Getting 7-8 hours for most adults is ideal, so if you’ve been whooping it up all summer, it’s time to get back to basics and put yourself on a sleep schedule. Your body will thank you for it!
Get Some Exercise!
Staying active is a great way to ward off cold and flu viruses. How? Your body’s immune system—which fights the viruses—gets a boost when you are active and fit. No need to gear up for a marathon to get the positive effects of exercise, either. Just moderate, regular activity will go a long way to keeping you sniffle free this coming cold and flu season.
None of these tips are difficult to manage or do: it’s just a matter of consistency and putting yourself first. Self-care isn’t a bad word: it’s essential!