Flu

Winter is upon us and the season of sickness always seems to bring a round or two of sneezing, sniffling and snot-making into the home. While you can’t prevent yourself from catching colds and the flu entirely ever winter, taking a few smart precautions will help to keep you healthy and vibrant, even when everyone else is choked down on illness and lying low.

1. Start now. A healthy winter season starts in the fall, with a promise to yourself to de-stress whenever you start to feel pressure, and to eat a nourishing diet of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains. If you let your body become run into the ground with never-ending holiday obligations and winter stress, your immune system will be less able to handle any invaders such as the flu virus. The same logic applies to your healthy diet: if your body is lacking in basic vitamins and nutrients because you’ve been snacking on sugar cookies and cheese cubes for three days straight, you won’t be able to combat the cold and flu bugs that inevitably arise. A healthy lifestyle is the first defense against winter colds and flu.

2. Wash your hands! Washing your hands before eating is a no-brainer, yet sometimes we can forget to do so in the holiday hubbub of cocktail hors-d’oeuvres and unexpected parties. While carrying a small bottle of anti-bacterial gel can be handy in a pinch, for true cleanliness on your mitts, you need good old-fashioned soap and water. Get in the habit of washing your hands before meals at restaurants, before snacks at home and throughout the day periodically.

3. Keep your keyboard clean. Quick: when was the last time that you disinfected your computer keyboard? If it wasn’t in the last week, your desk station could be harboring infective bacteria or viruses that are just waiting to jump through your face and into your body. Clean your keyboard and your entire desk at least once a week with disinfecting spray or wipes to keep the bugs at bay.

4. Boost your immune system with vitamin C. Anytime you start to feel the slightest bit under the weather, or when you are heading to a destination primed for catching colds or the flu (including schools, hospitals, airports or other places with large crowds), get a jump on the illness invaders by taking a large dose of vitamin C. This essential nutrient amps up your immune system function, making it easier to stay healthy in a sea of sick.

5. Think positive. Isn’t it funny how some people appear to never get sick, while others seem to sniffle and sneeze their way through every winter? Resolve to be the type of person that repels sickness and believe it or not, you will be. We might not want to admit it to ourselves, but getting sick has some advantages: you can miss work and rest in bed with no remorse, you receive caring attention from other human beings and you can watch junk movies all day long without reprimanding yourself. If you tend to get sick all the time, ask yourself what might be missing from your life that is making the downtime seem so appealing to your brain and body. Resolve to give yourself a break before the universe makes you take one in the form of a long sickness.

Image: Robert Couse-Baker