O.K., so winter isn’t ALWAYS ugly. At times, it can even be downright delightful. Yet the mere mention of the word makes many of us break out in a feverish sweat.
How do you stay healthy with everything that’s going around? There are no guarantees you’ll make it to May unscathed by cold, flu, or diarrhea. But here are some tried and true steps (and some even scientifically proven) to boost your immune system. With these 8 tips and a dose of luck, you’ll feel fit and fine until the grass goes green again.
- Drink water: In case you’ve forgotten the ugly truth, winter is dry. Staying hydrated is even more important now. Plus, it’s rule number one in helping keep off those extra winter pounds.
- Wash, wash, wash your hands: the simplest of all things is among the most important—for you and everyone around you. Sure, winter is tough on skin, so pack some good moisturizer wherever you go. Or at least pack hand sanitizer, so you can rid your hands of germs many times each day.
- Get your ZZZZs: Sleep is vastly underrated. And not just for teenagers. Not getting enough sleep makes you vulnerable to illness. Studies also link it to weight gain and heart disease! Sleep is like recharging your batteries. Don’t get enough, and you’re asking for trouble. And if you’re feeling a little run down, get a little extra rest.
- Stress less: Easy to say, right? Well, since stress reduces our body’s ability to fight off illness, what if you actually make a plan to address stress? Such a plan would include things like more work/life balance. Finding at least one night a week for a little “me time”. Stir in some healthy exercise because that ALWAYS helps. In fact, some regular yoga might really do the trick. As will some simple deep and controlled breathing exercises to refocus your mind and lessen your stress whenever you need it most.
- Eat Healthy-ish: Telling yourself you’ll never again make a poor food choice is setting yourself up for failure. Instead, make room for some simple and easy steps that will help you boost your immune response and stay well. Add a couple daily servings of fruits and vegetables. Try a meatless Monday (or pick a day to go veggie for 24 hours). Just say no to fast food. Make a new healthy recipe once each week. Read food labels to reduce sugar and salt and unnecessary additives. And eat real food you make yourself instead of processed stuff from packages.
- Don’t smoke: Smoking seriously weakens your immune system.
- Cut out added sugars. All of ‘em: The stuff goes by many aliases (some of which are cane juice, corn syrup, honey, barley malt, and just about anything ending in the letters “ose” like glucose, sucrose, dextrose, and fructose). Look at the ingredients on your food labels. If any of the first three is any form of sugar, just put that item back on the shelf – every time. Your future self will thank you.
- If you do end up getting sick: Get some extra rest. Consider staying home from work, so you don’t pass it along to all your co-workers. And call your doctor.