How To Avoid Getting Sick This Winter
Every year I take the first week of January off to relax, regroup and get ready for the year ahead. It was lovely and relaxing and I didn't do much of anything besides hang out with my family, play board games, watch movies and sleep in. And then I went back to work...or as I now call it "The Plague Zone". Literally half of my office is sick right now. The sounds of sniffling, sneezing and coughing reverberate and bounce off the walls. Couple that with the fact that there is a nasty stomach bug going around as well and...you can imagine my horror. I very rarely get sick during the winter save stomach flu -which for some reason I seem to get a 48 hour strain of every winter- but haven't so far (Thank God!), and the occasional sinus infection, which due to my chronic sinusitis is to be expected. But colds and flu? Not so much. There are a few tips and tricks I've learned over the years that help stave off colds and flu during the winter season.
Don't Use Your Hand to Cover Your Cough
It should go without saying that if you are coughing you should cover your mouth. But since I sat on a train yesterday where seven people were hacking and coughing and three of those people did not cover their mouths...I will say it.. COVER YOUR MOUTH WHEN COUGHING. Please! For all that is good and holy. Not only is it just flat out rude, but it just continues the cycle of people getting sick. The other part of this? DON'T USE YOUR HANDS TO COVER YOUR MOUTH. I'm using all caps again to signify how serious I am about this. Think about it? Someone has a cold and coughs. They cover their mouths - great. But now all of those germs are on their hands. Which they then use to touch a doorknob, a phone, a pen... My mother taught me to cough into the crook of my arm. This keeps my hands free of the germs my cough produces.
It's important to drink water anyway, but especially in the winter months. We spend more time indoors in heating and it can dry out the nasal passages. Which can actually make you more prone to catching colds. This also helps if you suffer from sinusitis. In the winter I increase my water intake by a couple of glasses.
Drink Green Tea
While green tea will not help get rid of any germs of viruses in your system, studies have shown that the antioxidants in green tea stimulates the immune system and can help with many cold and flu like symptoms. Drinking 2-3 cups of green tea a day has shown to have positive effects on the immune system overall.
Wash Your Hands
Again- this is another thing that should go without saying, but I have seen far too many adults use the restroom without doing this, touch their noses without doing this ...seriously. We are not children and I feel like this is something pretty basic that all of us should have mastered by now. Wash your hands. When you go to the restroom, when you touch you nose but also when you come from outside. Two things my mother used to make us do the moment we came home: take off our shoes and wash our hands. Doctors say time and again that the number one way to prevent illnesses from spreading is for people to simply wash their hands more often. I wash mine when I come indoors from outside after commuting and touching train poles and door handles. I wash them before every meal and a couple of times a day I wash them just because. We touch sooo many surfaces in our daily lives and literally every single one of them has bacteria crawling all over them. Also- the three second rule is a myth - I thought I'd throw that out there as well. Have I sufficiently freaked you out? Good!
Don't Touch or Rub Your Eyes - or Nose
One of the fastest ways to get sick is to touch an item or surface that has the norovirus or some other virus on it and then touch your eyes or nose. In fact - that is actually the way most people get sick in the first place. This was a tough one for me because I have sensitive eyes. I get blepharitis in the winter- which is irritation around the lash line- which can make my eyes super itchy and sensitive. Try getting in the habit of not touching your eyes, or if you absolutely need to touch or rub them, wash your hands before doing so. The same goes for touching your nose!
Get Some Sleep
Next to water, sleep is the golden elixir of health. Being sleep-deprived or run down can weaken your immune system and make you extra vulnerable to catching cold and flu virus. It can be hard to get enough sleep when we lead busy lives, but try going to sleep a bit earlier. I have been doing that the last few days just to give my immune system a bit more of a fighting chance. 7-8 hours is the recommended amount for adults and I try to at least hit 7.
Well- at least the items that you touch on a daily basis. And high traffic areas in your home, like doorknobs. Every morning I wipe down my desk and keyboard with a disinfectant wipe. Airborne viruses land on objects and can live their for some time. Also make sure you are wiping down your cellphone! Think about how much bacteria is on that thing. And your skin will also thank you for it, since breakouts often occur from holding a bacteria-laden phone against your cheek!
Honey + Lemon
So let's say you've done all of the above and still find yourself feeling like you're coming down with something. A friend of mine told me me to try this years ago and this little trick works wonders. Hot water, lemon and honey. Drink it. All Day Long. When I feel myself getting a little tickle in my throat this is what I make and it works wonders. The honey soothes the throat and has antibacterial properties, the lemon is high in Vitamin C and the hot water is a vehicle for both, but also is very soothing.
This one I almost didn't add since I can see it being a bit controversial but it works for me and since we are all adults here I trust that you all can make your own informed decisions about if you want to try this or not. Vitamin C is amazing at helping boost the immune system. But the problem is that our bodies cannot retain Vitamin C for very long. Most of it comes out in our urine. So while you may eat an orange a day it may not be much help in staving off a cold. This trick I learned years ago and it does in fact work. But you can only do it for 24 hours. Anything longer than that is dangerous since your body would be getting too much vitamin C. So what is this secret trick, you ask? I take one vitamin C supplement every 4-6 hours for 24 hours. And what it does is give my immune system a super boost if you will. This is also what tablets like "Airborne" (which is just a really high dose of vitamin c). I do this in conjunction with the Honey Lemon water and I feel like a new woman.
What are some of your tips & tricks to avoid getting sick? Let us know in the comments!