When it comes to staying healthy this fall and winter, there are two lines of defense: keep most germs from getting in and squash the germs that get through. The first part you probably have down: wash hands regularly, disinfect common surfaces, and cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing. The second part is more likely a whole other story.
To stay ahead in the constant battle of colds, flu, and viruses, your body needs all of its resources—sleep, water, exercise, a positive mindset, and vitamins and minerals. In other words, to take care of the flu, you have to take care of yourself first.
Get plenty of rest.
Scratch that, get enough rest. Chances are, you’ve been cheating yourself of the right amount of shut-eye for years. Adults need eight hours of sleep each night on average, so make a point to limit caffeine use to the morning hours, avoid huge meals before bed, and power down your devices at least 45 minutes before turning in. If you can sleep until you are easily roused, all the better.
Drink water. Lots of it.
Staying hydrated is the only way to ensure toxins and waste are flushed out of the body as quickly as possible. Since about 60% of your body is made of water, it’s important to keep it topped off. Proper hydration plays a vital role in transporting nutrients, keeping mucous membranes soft, regulating temperature, and helps you digest everything you eat for the next step.
Eat your vegetables.
And fruits. And proteins. And whole grains. Eating the right kinds of foods is vital to make sure your body—more specifically, your immune system—has the tools it needs to fight whatever comes knocking. Soups are a great way to deliver tons of nutritional value—plus needed water!—while also soothing sore throats, tender bellies, and soft spirits.
We know it’s hard to think about going for a walk when even polar bears would rather hunker down and sleep, but when you strengthen your body, your immune system gets a boost too. Studies show that moderate exercise can decrease the number of colds you get each year, so lace up when you can, as consistently as you can.
A good attitude can go a long way to making sure colds and viruses don’t get the best of you, and it’s also what will empower you to take better care of yourself, and others, in the long run. Manage stress with time to yourself, yoga, exercise, and surround yourself with people and things that make you happy.
Colds and viruses don’t just show up when it gets chilly outside; we’re just more prone to get them when we spend more time indoors, stress out about holiday management, eat poorly, and slow down our exercise routines. Use the above tips to tackle whatever illness comes your way. When you take care of yourself properly, you may find that you not only feel better faster but also better than ever.