Well, it’s that time of year again. Cold & flu season is in full swing and while hiding inside and avoiding people until the season passes might seem like a tempting option, it’s obviously not a practical or even realistic one. However, the good news is that there are a number of relatively simple steps you can take that will help to greatly reduce your risk of getting sick this season. Here are some of our favourites:
- GET THE FLU SHOT: Getting a flu shot is the number one thing that you can do to avoid getting the flu. Contrary to popular belief, the flu shot isn’t a live vaccine so it won’t give you the flu. Because it’s available for FREE from a variety of sources including doctor’s offices, pharmacies and local public health clinics, there’s absolutely no reason not to get one.
- WASH YOUR HANDS: Cold and flu viruses can live on surfaces like door handles, keyboards, elevator buttons and shopping carts for up to 48 hours. To avoid getting sick, be sure to wash your hands regularly with warm water and soap. An alcohol-based hand sanitizer is also effective at killing cold and flu viruses and since you won’t always have access to soap and water, keeping a small bottle on hand is also a good idea.
- AVOID SICK PEOPLE/SHAKING HANDS: Cold and flu viruses can also be passed from person to person. To reduce the likelihood of this happening, try to avoid those who are sick. While this might not always be possible, you can still reduce your risk by not shaking hands or sharing drinking glasses or eating utensils with sick people (even family members).
- AVIOD TOUCHING YOUR FACE: Did you know that, on average, we touch our face roughly 15 times every hour? Every time you touch your face, you could be exposing yourself to viruses and infections. This is especially true if you aren’t washing your hands regularly or thoroughly enough. To avoid getting sick, pay attention to how often you touch your face and then simply try to avoid doing so as much as possible.
- KEEP SURFACES CLEAN: As indicated above, viruses can remain on surfaces for up to 48 hours. By keeping your home and workspace clean, you can protect yourself and others. Be sure to use disinfecting products, especially if you’re living or working with someone who is sick.
- STOP SMOKING: We all know there are a number of health benefits associated with quitting smoking. Well, here’s another one. Smokers are much more likely to catch a cold than non-smokers because smoking irritates the respiratory tract, which puts you at a greater risk of getting sick.
- EAT HEALTHY DIET: A healthy, balanced diet provides a wide variety of benefits including strengthen your immune system and keeping your body functioning at its best. Obviously, this can help reduce your likelihood of getting sick.
- GET REGULAR EXERCISE: Among other things, exercise helps strengthen your immune system and makes your body more resilient. So, if you’re not already exercising regularly, now is a good time to start. Just bear in mind that working out too much can weaken your immune system, so be sure to find the balance that’s right for you and stick to it.
- GET PLENTY OF SLEEP: Not getting enough sleep not only makes it harder for us to function properly and be productive, it also weakens our immune system and increases our likelihood of getting sick. Most healthy adults should try to get between seven and eight hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. If you’re not getting this much sleep, you could be putting yourself at risk.