The weather outside is… confusing to say the least. But, with temperatures in the mid-fifties here on the east coast, you would think that most people could avoid the yearly cold and flu bug. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t seem to be in the cards. So, we here at the Science Hub got together and gathered the best ways to avoid getting sick this holiday season!
1. Get your flu shot!
We know, you’ve heard it from all of your doctors, and all of the radio stations. Heck, it’s plastered all over all of the big name stores. But, honestly, for the young and the elderly, the flu shot is the way to go (especially for school aged kids – as school is a breeding ground for all manner of sickness!). It doesn’t prevent common colds, but it goes a long way to preventing the far worse flu virus.
2. Reduce the stress!
This isn’t just an excuse to take more time off for the holidays. Stress has been medically proven to hinder your immune system (you know, that thing that NATURALLY keeps you from getting sick?). The more stress you take on, the worse off you get, as it can lead to sleepless nights, increased heart rate and blood pressure, decreased eating (or increase unhealthy eating – which is just as bad.), and a laundry list of other things that can further hurt your natural immunity. So take some time to unwind!
3. Wash your hands!
As scientists, we know the importance of a clean environment. But, you would be shocked to know just how many germs you can get on your hands from the most unusual places – not just the bathroom. It’s important that you wash your hands, not because we’re all germ-o-phobes, but because it greatly reduces the number of germs you introduce to your body.
4. Make sure to get ALL of your vitamins
We’re all busy. Especially during the holiday season. So busy in fact that we don’t even realize we’re not getting all of the nutrients we need to stay healthy. There are plenty of supplements out there to not only pick up what you don’t get from your normal diet, but to also help keep your immune system on high alert in the colder winter months. But, if you want to know what you really need, see a doctor!
5. Get plenty of sleep
I’m looking at you, workaholics, last-minute-procrastinators, and night owls! Doesn’t matter if you’re young or old, your body works the same way; sleep is the body’s natural recovery period. This is literally the time when your internal battery is recharged, your mind is refreshed, and your muscles are given a much needed break. Getting less than the recommended hours of sleep can seriously undermine your immune system. Have you ever stayed up really late and felt TERRIBLE the next morning? It’s because you’ve taken away that time your body needs to fix and recharge itself.
6. Drink plenty of tea
And we don’t mean that store bought sugar water. Hot tea. Green or black. Not only is hot tea fantastic in the winter months to warm the body and soothe the throat (some even help manage stress or other nasty ailments all year round!), it is packed full of antioxidants! These are natural vitamins that are great for a better functioning immune system!
7. Get your ducts and filters cleaned
This isn’t just a spring clean thing. All year, your ducts work hard to bring cool and warm air throughout your home. But, what you don’t know is that it’s also a breeding ground for dust and bacteria that causes anything from allergies to full blown colds. Make sure to have your ducts and filters checked and cleaned twice a year to avoid the seasonal bugs!
8. Keep your home comfy
How could this possibly keep you healthy this winter? Simple; when your home is too dry, it causes mucus to build up and drain in your throat. That is the beginnings of most colds – not just bacteria. Keeping your home warm, but not stifling, helps keep some of the moisture in the air. Unfortunately, sometime, even that doesn’t help. So, a humidifier is the way to go! Be careful that you keep it clean, though. Bacteria can easily build up in a humidifier, making it much easier to get sick.
9. Apples and oranges
Your mom used to tell you that an apple a day would keep the doctor away; well it wasn’t just a cute little rhyme to get you to eat more fruits! Apples are really high in the same antioxidant that tea has, making it a super fruit for fighting colds. Speaking of super fruits; oranges are the best source of the cold fighting vitamin C. Vitamin C is the best things for boosting your immune system, and they’re really tasty.
10. Work out
I know it may seem like we’re just touching base on all of those things you hear every time you see your doctor, but there is a reason they say it. These things actually work to keep you healthy all year long. Exercise is no exception. We know it stinks trying to make it to a gym in the winter months, but this is when it’s the most important. Cardio alone helps to increase respiratory function, cardiovascular health, and metabolism. Not only that but exercise increases the endorphins in your system, decreasing stress and making you happy!