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6 Tips for Staying Healthy Through Flu Season

December 3, 2015 at 10:08 pm

I got my flu shot… I’ll be fine right? Unfortunately, the flu vaccine is not 100% effective. According to WebMD, the dominant flu strain last season was different from the strains included in the vaccine. This year, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says the flu vaccine should be more effective. We’re keeping our fingers crossed! Also, not everyone can get a flu shot. The CDC has recommendations for who should and should not get the flu shot.

Staying healthy through flu season isn’t easy – especially for those of us who are around people and children all day like teachers, nurses, and office workers. Like anything else in medicine, it’s all about prevention! Be proactive this winter and prepare your immune system f season! 

1. Dress appropriately. The facts is, you’re going to lose heat from any uninsulated part of your body. During the cold months, you want to dress in multiple layers of loose fitting clothing, covering your entire body – yes, even your legs. Wearing gloves when your hands are cold doesn’t necessarily make you warmer. Your hands are cold because your body is cold, and is neglecting your hands in order to heat your organs. So first and foremost, layer up! Don’t neglect the rest though. Your neck, head, and ears are full of blood vessels that are close to your skin, so cover them up with a scarf and hat. Your feet are another great place heat escapes from, so make sure you have on dry socks and warm shoes.

2. Stay sanitized. Wash your hands regularly and always use a paper towel to turn off the sink and when opening the bathroom door to leave. If you don’t have access to soap and water, use hand sanitizer. If you want a more natural option, check out these DIY hand sanitizer recipes. The Centers for Disease Control says washing your hands reduces respiratory illnesses in the general population by 16-21%.

3. Eat, sleep, repeat. For the most part, you get out of your body what you put into it. Our bodies thank us for eating a well balanced diet and getting enough sleep – especially during flu season. When you are tired and undernourished, your body is more vulnerable to illnesses. How much sleep should you be getting? The National Sleep Foundation gives Sleep duration recommendations for all age groups. Follow these simple tips to keep your body in tip top shape to fight illnesses like the flu:

  • Eat well balanced meals – foods high in vitamin C
  • Eat at least 7 servings of fruits and vegetables a day
  • Drink at least 8-10 glasses of water a day
  • Eat lots of garlic – it contains allicin, which fights infection and bacteria
  • Drink less alcohol!

4. Carry your own pens. We know opening doors and shaking hands spread bacteria and viruses around like wild  fire; but do you ever think twice about signing the check at your favorite restaurant or borrowing a pen from a bank teller? Carry your own pens – in your purse, pockets, and car – to lessen your chances of coming in contact with harmful germs.

5. Keep it moving. Regular exercise can help keep your immune system strong. The stronger your immune system is, the better your body can fight off illness. This can stop you from getting sick and lower the number of days you are sick. Just don’t overdo it – too much exercise can weaken your immune system, especially if you’re already ill.

6. Be kind to yourself. Stress is a bummer – but did you know it can actually make you sick? The American Psychological Association has found through many studies that stress does in fact weaken the immune system. Don’t bottle your emotions up, keep a strong social support system, stay positive, and if you really want to treat yourself, get a massage! Massages are known to boost your serotonin and dopamine helping to increase your mood while lowering stress. Plus, who doesn’t like a good massage?

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