The weather is getting colder, the days are getting shorter, and that only means one thing. Winter and flu season are right around the corner. To be prepared for the impending sickness that is bound to take over your household, there are a few different activities you can complete to be better prepared and stay healthy.
Get the Flu Shot. Influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by a virus. Some people, mostly older people, young children, and people with certain health conditions, are at higher risk of serious flu complications. Getting the routine flu shot every year, most commonly between late fall through early spring, can reduce your risk of severe flu complications. If you’ve been putting off getting your COVID-19 booster, you’re in luck! The CDC has approved getting multiple vaccines at once so you can receive a COVID-19 booster at the same time as a flu shot.
Teach Your Kids. If you have kids, you’ve probably seen them play with shared toys, put their hands in their mouths, and then continue to play with their toys. If your children are old enough, teach them to wash their hands after play, before eating, and throughout the day. There are ways to make handwashing fun! Try singing a song with your child for 20 seconds to show them how long they should wash up. This is a great reminder for adults too!
Clean and Disinfect Surfaces. Regularly clean and disinfect high-traffic areas like on/off switches, handles, and remote controls, as viruses can live on surfaces for up to 48 hours. If you use a disinfectant spray like Lysol, make sure you’re reading the instructions to ensure you’re actually killing germs. Using Lysol as an example, you need to hold the spray 6 to 8 inches away from an object, spray for three to four seconds, and then let air dry for at least three minutes before touching it.
Stay Consistent with Sleep. A lack of sleep has been proven to impair immune function. Getting at least 7 hours of sleep can improve immune function and help fight common illnesses and recover. Try a sleep routine if you’ve always struggled to get enough sleep! This could mean setting a bedtime, staying off your phone for 30 minutes before, turning down the lights, or making yourself a cup of decaffeinated tea.
Stay Hydrated. Drinking water throughout the day is essential for good health, even if you’re not sick. According to the American Heart Association, drinking fluids helps your body circulate blood, enabling cells to help fight off viruses faster. Odds are, you’re probably not drinking enough water. Try keeping a filled water bottle next to your workstation or replacing your typical mealtime drink with water.
Increase Fruits and Vegetables. Fueling your body with nutrient-dense foods like fruits and vegetables can help keep your immune system strong. While no one superfood will drastically improve your immune system, consistently eating a balanced plate of fruits, vegetables, protein, and whole wheat can help you feel better and possibly recover faster from being sick. Find ways to increase your fruits and vegetables. For snacks, try a sliced apple or carrots and dip. During mealtime, add a side of veggies or a small salad. A few tweaks to your daily diet can increase your nutrients and make you feel better.
Even if you do all the above, you could still get the flu or any other illness floating around. The best thing you can do for yourself and the people around you is to stay home if you’re sick. While this isn’t always possible for people depending on work and childcare responsibilities, resting can help you recover faster and keep others from getting sick.
Here’s something you can do to get started and prep for flu season, schedule your flu shot today! Southwest Health is hosting a vaccine clinic every Monday and Saturday in October. You can get your flu shot and your COVID booster too! To make an appointment for your flu shot or to get a COVID booster and flu shot during the same appointment, contact the Platteville Clinic at (608) 348-4330.