8 Tips to Stay Healthy During the Cold, Flu and Covid Season
The cold weather is here, and so is another round of the cold and flu season during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Influenza, cold-weather respiratory infections and Covid-19 symptoms are not always easy to differentiate, but luckily the protective measures are transferable.
Below are some of the best ways you can protect yourself and those around you.
1. Keep your immune system healthy
Your first line of defence is to live a healthy lifestyle all year round, not just when you start to feel the cold weather approaching. To keep your body in good function and your immunity strong, you should consume a diet high in fruits and vegetables, exercise regularly, avoid smoking and only drink alcohol in modern amounts.
2. Wash your hands often
Washing hands prevents illnesses and the spread of infections to others. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), properly washing your hands reduces respiratory illnesses, like colds, in the general population by 16-21% and reduces the number of people who get sick with the intestinal flu by 23-40%.
3. Cover your mouth
Germs easily spread through air droplets that get propelled onto different surfaces and picked up through human contact.
Covering your nose and mouth (with a tissue or the inside of your sleeve) when you cough or sneeze limits the transmission of bacteria that lead to infection and illness. Always dispose of tissues immediately and keep your hands clean.
4. Avoid touching your face & stop chewing your nails
For some people, frequently touching the eyes, nose, and mouth or fingernail biting is a subconscious habit that can have more downsides than you’d think. Even if you are good about washing your hands, your fingernails collect germs and bacteria, giving them a direct line to your insides and causing unwanted disturbances that can make you extremely sick. This is your reminder to always be conscious of what your hands are touching!
5. Stay at home when you are sick
If you suspect you have the flu and are feverish, you should stay home for a minimum of 24 hours after the fever has passed. Although not all flu cases are accompanied by a fever, take note that you are most contagious during the first 3 days of symptom onset.
Viruses spread like wildfire when in group settings. So, if you’re feeling unwell, choose to stay home and prevent the spread to your colleagues, friends and/or classmates.
6. Laundry on hot
The clothes you wear out all day carry many germs that you later bring into your home.
To kill off this bacteria, it’s best practice to wash your clothes on the hot cycle and put what you can in the dryer. Adding bleach to your whites and colour-safe bleach for all other garments will help eliminate leftover germs. Do your best to pour dirty items directly into the machine and wash your hands after handling them.
7. Get your sleep
Prioritize your sleep and protect your health. A lack of sleep over time reduces the amount of infection-fighting antibodies and cells produced in the body that are needed to fight off infections. In contrast, having regular good quality sleep strengthens your immune system and has many other health benefits!
8. Minimize your stress
Prolonged stress can weaken the immune system and lead to ongoing colds and other infections. When faced with stress, our bodies cope in different ways, and no part of our body is immune to it. The human configuration functions as a working system, connecting all of its components, mental to physical. That is why mental stress presents as physical symptoms over time. Noting when you feel stressed and taking the necessary steps to relieve yourself will help prevent sickness, soothe your mind, and allow your body to feel better.
This winter, stay informed and stay protected. Taking the necessary steps to prevent the spread of germs and maintaining your mental and physical well-being all year round will keep your immune system strong and help you stay healthy this season—and every season.
- “Show Me the Science – Why Wash Your Hands?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10 Sept. 2020, https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/why-handwashing.html.
- “Kill More Germs When You Do Laundry.” WebMD, WebMD, https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/ss/slideshow-hiding-laundry#:~:text=To%20kill%20the%20germs%20in,kill%20any%20viruses%20or%20bacteria.
- “Healthy Habits to Help Protect against Flu.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 26 Aug. 2021, https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/actions-prevent-flu.htm.
- “How Sleep Affects Immunity.” Sleep Foundation, 22 Apr. 2022, https://www.sleepfoundation.org/physical-health/how-sleep-affects-immunity.
- “Stay Home When You Are Sick.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 31 Aug. 2020, https://www.cdc.gov/flu/business/stay-home-when-sick.htm.
- “Self-Care Strategies to Stay Healthy for Holiday Season.” The Charlotte Post, vol. 47, no. 14, Charlotte Post Publishing Co., 10 Dec. 2020, p. 4B.
- Kotula, Rudolf, and Md. “10 Tips for Staying Healthy during Cold and Flu Season.” Nebraska Methodist Health System, 9 Feb. 2022, https://bestcare.org/news/20220209/10-tips-staying-healthy-during-cold-and-flu-season.