So, it’s winter. The days are short, dark, and cold. And flu season is officially back in full swing. Here are a few easy tricks to improve your odds of staying well this winter.
Say Yes to the Flu Shot
Worried that the flu shot will cause you to get the flu? Don’t be. Even though it’s normal to feel a bit rundown in the day or two after getting a flu shot, it’s nothing compared to catching the actual flu. A few minutes of discomfort are well worth the benefits. The flu is much worse than the side effects from the vaccine. Getting a flu shot not only reduces your risk of getting the flu, it also decreases the chances of being hospitalized if you do become ill. It’s also a good thing to do for the other people in your life: you don’t want to risk putting children or seniors at risk if you do get the flu.
Double Down on Handwashing
Washing your hands is one of your best defenses against all the viruses that go around. While alcohol-based hand sanitizers are good in a pinch, you’re much better off washing your hands with good old soap and water. Make sure you teach your kids to wash their hands with soap and water for at least 30 seconds. Kids are exposed to lots of germs at school, so handwashing should be the first thing they do when they get home.
Keep Up Your Workouts
It’s hard enough to resist couch potato tendencies in the summer—it’s even worse in the fall and winter, when it’s cold and dark! Boost your immune system by keeping up your regular exercise habits. This will make you better able to fight off the cold and flu viruses around you. Exercise is also a great help to stay in an upbeat mood even when the sky turns gray. Crisp fall days are a pleasant setting for a nice outdoor walk, and raking leaves is good exercise, too.
Fight Hunger the Healthy Way
There are so many great treats to love in the fall, like candy apples and cider doughnuts. Enjoy these treats (in moderation, of course), but don’t ignore the season’s healthier foods. Seasonal produce like apples, pumpkin, and squash really pack a nutritional punch and can be the basis of lots of satisfying dishes. Squashes provide tons of nutrients like beta-carotene, and sweet potatoes are also packed with vitamin C. Beets are high in minerals like magnesium and phosphorus, and eggplant is a great source of phytonutrients. Mother Nature gave us all the foods we need to stay healthy all through fall and winter.
Set Aside Enough Time for Sleep
Do you really need a good reason to go to bed early? The shorter and colder days during fall and winter are probably making you sleepy. That’s nature’s way of telling you to get more rest. Don’t fight it. Your body is telling you to sleep for a reason. Getting more sleep will strengthen your immune system and make it easier to keep illness at bay.
Paying extra attention to your habits during autumn will help to make sure you and your family can stay healthy all season long.