How to Stay Healthy During Cold and Flu Season

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Cold medicine

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The leaves have fallen, the air is getting chillier, and people everywhere are starting to prepare for the upcoming holiday season. But as we approach "the most wonderful time of the year," we are often affronted with the anything-but-wonderful side effects that the colder fall and winter months bring.

Runny noses, congestion, sniffles, sore throats, nagging coughs, fevers, chills, and aches and pains - it can only mean one thing. Cold and flu season has officially arrived and is here to stay for the next few months.

In order to stay healthy throughout the changing seasons, use these tips to help beat off any bug that comes your way!

Lather, Rinse, Repeat

Hand washing

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It may seem like common sense, but most of us don't wash our hands enough. Washing your hands is the first line of defense against invading pathogens, and simply scrubbing up with soap and water for about twenty seconds is one of the most effective ways to kill germs and prevent the spread of diseases.

Master the art of hand-washing and make sure to scrub the back of your hands, up to your wrists, between your fingers, and under your nails. Also, always cleanse your hands before eating to avoid directly ingesting bacteria and viruses that cause colds and flus.

Buying fragrant hand soap in a scent that you like can serve as a useful incentive to wash your hands more often. Not only will you be killing germs and protecting yourself from getting sick, but you'll smell great too!

Hands Off!

Girl with hands on face

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In order to protect yourself from coming down with a cold or the flu, make it a habit to keep your hands off of your face. Bacteria and viruses get into our systems through the moist mucous membranes of our eyes, nose, and mouth. By frequently touching your face, you are expediting their germy journey into your body by giving them easy access to these entryways. Frequent hand washing and avoidance of hand-face contact go, well, hand-in-hand when it comes to preventing illness.

Avoid rubbing your eyes, biting your nails, and touching your face in general. Practice good posture when sitting down and avoid leaning on your elbow while using your hand to support your face. We frequently assume this position when sitting in class, studying, or spending time on the computer, and often fail to realize how much we subconsciously touch our faces. Make an effort to take note of your habits to better protect yourself from getting sick.

As a side note, keeping your hands off your face will also do wonders for your skin by preventing the spread of dirt, oil, and bacteria that can clog pores and cause breakouts.

Disinfect to Protect

Hand holding phone

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Did you know that it is likely that your cell phone harbors around ten times more bacteria than most toilet seats in public bathrooms? Yuck!

But think about it - when was the last time you cleaned your phone? For some easy infection protection, take a minute to wipe down your phone and other commonly used objects - like your laptop and steering wheel - that we often don't think about cleaning.

When you have a roommate in college, you share more than just a common living space: germs are easily spread when living in such close proximity to other people. In order to protect yourself from catching and spreading sicknesses, use disinfecting wipes to clean off commonly touched surfaces, especially door handles, sink and toilet handles, and shared appliances such as microwaves and mini-fridges.

There's no need to become a germaphobe, but using a little extra precautionary measures can really help prevent you from getting sick when colds and flus run rampant.

Nourish Your Body

Quinoa and veggies

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Getting proper nutrition is essential for your well-being all of the time, but eating healthily is especially important for protecting yourself from colds and flus. All types of cells in our bodies, including those involved in the immune response, need essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to function efficiently. Making poor dietary choices can undermine the potency of your immune system and make you more susceptible to feeling run down.

Eat plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables to benefit from their powerful antioxidants that strengthen your natural defenses. Certain foods, like garlic and honey, have antibacterial properties and may also supply additional immunity support for fending off colds and flus.

Snooze It or Lose It!

Sleeping woman

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We often underestimate the importance of sleep, but when it comes to staying healthy, getting enough shut eye will keep your immune system in tip-top shape.

Sleep deprivation impairs immune system functioning by inhibiting the production of different types of T cells, specialized white blood cells with a variety of functions, like stimulating antibody production, which safeguard our bodies from foreign invaders.

Lack of sleep also decreases the effectiveness of vaccinations. So, without proper sleep, we lose the added protection that flu shots and other immunizations provide. Getting enough sleep and sticking to a routine that corresponds with our circadian rhythm (our bodies' natural cycle of sleep and wakefulness) has also been shown to intensify the effects of a specific gene that helps fight off infection. Needless to say, catch up on some extra rest so you don't end up catching a cold!

What Do You Think?

Are you dreading or looking forward to the impending colder weather? What measures do you take to prevent against colds and flus? Comment below and let me know!

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