Getting sick over the holidays can be the absolute worst time to get sick, but it tends to be the time of the year when most people do. There are a number of reasons for this, but mostly it has to do with the weather and a combination of other factors, like increased travel and seasonal allergies. During the holidays, the cold weather itself can pose a number of risks to health. For instance, when you blast the heat inside, it can decrease the moisture levels in the home, which can result in nasal dryness and nose bleeds. Not only that, but the cold can make it easier for germs to travel around. Here are eleven easy and effective ways to prevent getting sick over the holidays.
1. Wash Your Hands
Your first line of defense to avoid sickness is washing your hands. Germs can stay on surfaces long after we first make contact (up to 72 hours), so washing your hands is the best way to prevent colds and flu viruses . When you wash your hands, do it thoroughly. Use soap and water and scrub for a minimum of 20 seconds. When you’re not near a sink, a hand sanitizer that’s at least 60% alcohol is a good substitute.
2. Saline Spray
In addition to washing your hands, washing out your sinuses (also known as nasal irrigation) with a saline spray is a great way to help prevent sickness, since viruses enter the body primarily through our nose. If you are looking for a more intense nasal cleansing — try a neti-pot.
3. Don’t Skimp on Sleep
It’s easy during this time of year not get the appropriate amount of shut eye your body needs to function properly. But for the sake of your health, make the time. Catching those zzz’s helps your body recuperate and boosts your immune system, which in part helps stave off a cold. So, shoot for at least 7 hours.
4. Think Positive
Don’t underestimate the power of the placebo effect. In other words — if you think you are not going to get sick, chances are you will not. This is backed by science. Studies have even found that just thinking that a vitamin or cold medicine will work for you dramatically ups your chances of feeling better.
5. Create a Barrier
With stale air and close quarters, airplanes are a breeding ground for bacteria and viruses. But don’t worry, a simple solution is to switch on your overhead air vent to the highest setting, and aim it downward on your face. The air helps to push those germ particles away and build a barrier to help keep you cold-free.
6. Get Moving
If you are really wanting to stay healthy this holiday season, get up and move. Exercise stimulates white blood cell production, which helps the body fight viruses and bacteria. Plus, the move you move, the less guilty you will feel about splurging on your favorite holiday foods. So win, win!
7. Stay hydrated
Drinking plenty of water is critical during the holiday season, which most doctors call the flu season. If you want to avoid flu viruses from really taking their toll, it is important to keep your body totally hydrated. Water will flush viruses out of your body and will make sure that your body is strong enough to take on any viruses that do push through. Also, if you do get sick, staying hydrated will minimize a lot of your symptoms.
8. Keep a schedule
Stress is one of the number one contributors when it comes to getting the flu. So, if you want to stay healthy this holiday season, and enjoy yourself, it is important to minimize your stress. The best way to do this is to keep an organized schedule. The last thing you want is for your stress levels to get too high, which could weaken your immune system. So, make sure to stay stress free this holiday season.
9. Cover Your Nose and Mouth
It’s one of the best ways to keep from spreading germs. If you can, cough or sneeze into a tissue, then throw it out promptly. If you’re empty-handed, don’t cough into your hand. You’ll just smear germs on the next thing you touch. Instead, cough into the crook of your elbow.
Cold germs can live on surfaces for hours if someone in your family is sick, use a household disinfectant to wipe down high-traffic spots: computers, phones, doorknobs, tabletops, toys, and remotes. Or make your own by mixing 1/4 cup bleach with 1 gallon of warm water.
11. Go Disposable
Cold and flu germs can cling to fabric. So when someone in your house is sick, replace hand towels and dishrags with paper towels. Remove water glasses and add paper cups in the bathroom, too.
Sources: WebMD and Wall St. CheatSheet,
Mark on your calendar:
- The length of time a person who is sick with a cold or flu contagious.
- One thing you should limit (eating wise) and one thing you should be sure to consume to prevent getting sick.