By Josepha Castro
The days are long and the weather is cold. This means more pumpkin things to consume and boots to wear. It also means that cold and flu season is upon us. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), it is estimated that an average 111 million workdays are missed yearly because of some form of illness. I know you and I don’t want to become part of that statistic. So what can be done?
- Get the Flu Vaccine: The yearly vaccine is recommended by health professionals and highly recommended for very young child and older adults. That being said, you are by no means required to get one. It is a preventative method, but not the only one. For more information check out: http://www.flu.gov/
- Wash Your Hands and Cover Your Mouth: It is very important to always wash your hands, especially during this season. A good way to thoroughly wash your hands is by using soap and warm water, using friction, and singing the ABC's twice. That is sure to get rid of those microbes chilling on your hand. Another way is to always cover your mouth when sneezing and coughing. This keeps everyone else from getting your sickness. I love to share, just not my germs. These simple actions go a very long way in avoiding the cold and flu.
- Get Regular Sleep: This is very important because when we sleep our body gets rid of toxins. Sleep will kick those pesky cold and flu bugs’ butts. Now that I am in nursing school, I’ve learned the importance of scheduling my sleep time. It may seem a bit absurd, but it works. Even though I schedule sleep time, I do not always follow my schedule to a T. There is always room for flexibility.
- Eat Healthy: I know this hard to do with the holiday flavors in full swing, but this is something we need to do every day. Healthy food contains nutrients that power our cells. Protein is king when preventing and repairing our bodies from sickness. Try a nice, hot bowl of homemade soup. Homemade soups are naturally packed with vitamins, minerals, and protein. The ingredients in soup contain little armies ready for your cells to deploy and keep you healthy.
- Drink Plenty of Water: If you are anything like me, your water drinking habits are really just non-existent. Let’s face it together, put down the Diet Coke or Coffee, and pick up a bottle of water. Use fruits to spice it up and drink it up. Find a bottle that will meet your everyday needs. After much trial and error, I found my perfect water bottle and am lost without it! Keeping hydrated makes your skin pretty and keeps those cold and flu critters away. Hydration is the key!
- Reduce Stress: We live in a fast paced world and often forget to self-care. Reducing stress is a key factor in lessening your chances of catching a bug. When we are stressed, our immune system is compromised. Make sure to take some time for yourself. I know we all live busy lives and barely have any “me” time, but there are small things you can do. Find something you enjoy and make time for it. This will greatly reduce your chances of getting sick any time of the year. My favorite de-stressors are painting and singing in the car. Here are some tricks for de-stressing, courtesy of The Huffington Post: huffingtonpost.com
Those are just a few examples of how to keep your body in its healthiest form. What are some things you do?
These examples are by no means a cure for the common cold or the flu. This is just advice to keep us at a maximum point in our health, so our bodies are better prepared in fighting those little invaders. Always, consult with your doctor on what is best for you.