Don’t Want to Get Sick This Flu Season? Here’s How.

Stay Healthy Year-Round with this Cheat Sheet

Hanna Kim - December 14, 2018

We’re about a month into the cold and flu season, and if you’re lucky, you’ve avoided catching your co-worker’s bug. However, it’s not so much luck that prevents you from getting sick, but your daily habits. A few healthy lifestyle changes can help keep your immune system strong so that you’re less likely to get sick from any germs that come flying your way in a sneeze or handshake.

Get a Flu Shot

It’s not too late. A 5-minute visit to a drugstore like Walgreens or CVS can protect you from having to call in from work for the next week or two. Even if you are strong and healthy, a flu shot helps protect others in your community like the elderly and those who have compromised immune systems.

Sleep Until You’re Rested

Most adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night to feel well-rested. Fad trends like Uberman, where you take a few 30-minute naps a day may seem appealing but are unrealistic and likely dangerous for your health and sanity. Lack of sleep lowers your body’s immune defenses and can even make you a danger on your commute to work. It’s better to be productive and happy for 15 hours a day rather thank cranky and tired for 20.

Use Natural Remedies

Food is the best medicine for a healthy immune system. Make sure to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C, antioxidants, and zinc. Supplements for these essential nutrients can also be helpful when you feel the first signs of a cold like swollen lymph nodes or scratchy throat.

Find Ways to Manage Stress

Stress seems to be a growing reason for more Americans calling in sick each year, and science explains why. When we’re stressed, our bodies produce more cortisol according to clinical immunologist, Leonard Calabrese, DO. Dr. Calabrese shares that in the short-term, cortisol boosts your immunity by limiting inflammation, but over time, your body gets used to the new levels of cortisol, so those with chronic stress can end up with more inflammation. Stress also reduces your white blood cell count, reducing your body’s means to fight off infection.

Many experts agree mindfulness and meditation are a great way to combat stress in our lives. Try combining mindfulness with the outdoors in the Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing. This relaxing practice has many benefits including a boost for your immune system. Workplaces that offer chair massage and yoga classes are more likely to have more happy, stress-free, productive employees as well.

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