Last updated on January 4th, 2022 at 08:52 pm
We have all kinds of routines, but among the most mundane and annoying are those routines that comes with cold and flu season. Yes, every year without fail, families everywhere find themselves worrying that their daily lives will be disrupted by a runny nose, a persistent cough, or a fever that keeps kids out of school and parents home from work. And so, in desperation, every family looks for that magical health solution: what can they do to stay healthy this year?
While there’s no surefire way to prevent colds and flus, there are many simple steps you can take to make yourself and your family less susceptible. These five behaviors can all improve your odds of avoiding illness, or at least make it less severe if you do fall ill.
Whole Family Health Tips
Get Your Flu Shot
The first and most important thing you can do to protect yourself against illness each winter is get your flu shot every year. Though the flu shot doesn’t protect against all strains of flu, it does offer significant protection – and it’s a myth that the flu shot can cause the flu. What some people mistake for a mild flu following their shot is routine immune activation, which means your body is reacting exactly as it’s supposed to. Besides, feeling poorly for a day or two after the flu shot is still a lot better than actually getting the flu.
Watch Your Diet
During the winter, we tend to hunker down and seek comfort foods, a nutrition issue that’s only compounded by the lack of fresh, healthy food during the winter months. You need those nutrients to fuel your immune system, though, so it’s important to pay attention to your diet during cold and flu season. You might consider trying an anti-inflammatory diet, since such diets can improve immune function, or just focus on getting extra fruits and vegetables; frozen fruits can be added to oatmeal and vegetables mixes into a warm and hearty stew.
If you’re getting a nutritionally complete diet, most doctors will tell you to skip the supplements, but as we’ve noted, many people miss out on key vitamins and minerals during the winter months. We’re also more likely to suffer from vitamin D deficiency during the winter because we stay inside more and don’t get enough sun exposure. Given those facts, it’s worth looking at your family’s diet and identifying any areas in which you may be falling short. Then, choose high quality supplements like those from Nordic Naturals to fill any gaps in your diet.
Just as there’s a misconception that the flu shot can cause the flu, many people believe that being out in the cold can make you sick, especially if your hair is wet or there’s some other extenuating circumstance. In reality, though, the cold has very little to do with whether or not you fall ill, and spending more time outside could actually be protective because you’re less likely to exchange germs with your companions since there’s better ventilation.
More importantly for your immune system, though, is continuing to exercise during the winter. Exercise is important to overall health and proper immune function, so don’t take the cold as an excuse to stay inside under a blanket – keep moving! (Also read: Snow & Cold Weather Workouts You Can Do Today)
Maintain Hand Hygiene
We’ve all been talking about the importance of hand hygiene for over a year now, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, but washing your hands regularly is important all the time. Don’t worry about using antibacterial gel or soaps, though; regular soap is just as effective at fighting germs and won’t fuel antibiotic resistance among bacteria. So, how often should you wash your hands? The best rule of thumb is to wash your hands more often than seems necessary. They’ll get dry, but you’ll just have to invest in a good hydrating lotion to combat that.
Almost everyone will get a cold or two during the winter months, but with proper precautions (and if your kids aren’t in daycare or preschool, which virtually guarantees your whole household will get sick), you can keep things to a minimum. For most people, at least, a cold is more of an annoyance than a worry, and will pass almost as quickly as it came on.
With these whole family health tips, you and your loved ones can improve your odds when it comes to fighting off those nasty germs!