We’re well into fall and the kids are in school every day with hundreds of their friends. If you haven’t been hit by the bug yet, you are lucky. For most families, the inevitable cold makes its way into the home shortly after the first bell of the year has rung. All those coughs and sneezes remind parents everywhere that cold and flu season is here. If you haven’t landed in bed yet don’t despair, you can fight to stay healthy with these 5 tips that help you boost your immune system.
1. Wash Your Hands & Everything Else
Everybody knows that keeping your hands good and clean reduces your risk of picking up other people’s germs, but don’t stop there. Now is the time to focus on keeping your home and work area tidy and disinfected. If you don’t have time to sweep the floors and get into the nooks and crannies every day, focus on the high-traffic areas of your home and around your workspace. Think doorknobs (anything with a handle), countertops, and keyboards. There are a number of cleaners that kill germs, bacteria and viruses. Set disinfecting wipes out on the counter as a reminder to wash things down regularly. Don’t forget to use the hand sanitizer after you are done!
2. Don’t Touch Your Face
How many times a day do you touch your face? Do you wash your hands before you rub your eyes or pick your nose? Every time? Both adults and children tend to unconsciously touch their face hundreds of times a day and each time they do is an opportunity for a virus to get in and wreak havoc on their health. Start paying attention to how you handle your face now and try to break the habit before flu season is fully underway.
3. Sleep & Relax
It may sound counterintuitive when the pressure is on to keep things squeaky clean, but sleep deprivation and stress lower your immune system and make you more susceptible to falling ill. Seven to ten hours of sleep a night are recommended for adults. Kids and teens should sleep even longer.
Does back-to-school have your nerves tied in knots? Try meditating or taking a yoga class to help you find your calm. If that sounds like too much to commit to, consider checking out a meditation app like Headspace and Calm. They make relaxation easy and you can find your zen in just five minutes!
4. Keep Moving
People tend to slow down when the weather turns cold, but exercise is essential to maintaining your health. Enlist a workout buddy or get the kids involved and head to a local community center or gym where you can stay dry and play a game of basketball or go for a swim and get wet. There are plenty of indoor courts to get your tennis game on and RecTennis has fall and winter after school programs that will have you looking forward to getting sweaty in no time at all.
5. Take Your Vitamins
Is your diet perfectly balanced? It’s almost impossible to know. Taking a daily supplement helps support your body’s unpredictable needs. Multi-vitamins shouldn’t replace your efforts to eat healthily. Try to plan ahead and prepare balanced meals. Vitamin C is especially important this time of year, if you are unsure of how much you take in through the foods you eat each day, consider taking a vitamin C supplement.
Flu season doesn’t have to ruin your ability to enjoy the beauty of the Pacific Northwest fall and winter. Take some extra time to take care of yourself and you have a good chance of staying healthy through the upcoming months. Eat well, stay up on your rest, and talk to your family physician about the flu shot as an additional option for protecting you and your entire crew.