Cold and flu season peaks during winter when everyone is gathered together indoors. You need to do what you can to stay healthy, aside from doing the obvious, like washing your hands often and covering your mouth when you cough.
Keep reading to learn our winter health tips this season.
Get Your Flu Shot
If you have not yet received your flu shot, it’s not too late. The CDC recommends everyone over the age of 6 months should be vaccinated. The 2019-20 has an effectiveness rate of about 45% in preventing seasonal influenza.
It takes two weeks to build an immune response to protect you from the virus. It is the best way to prevent the flu and, even if you do catch it, the amount of time you’ll be sick will be shortened.
Increase your Vitamin D Intake
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that is essential for strong, healthy bones, absorption of calcium, and muscle function. It’s estimated that over 50% of Americans are deficient in Vitamin D. It is not naturally occurring in many foods, so processed foods are often fortified with it.
Signs of a deficiency are muscle weakness and pain, fatigue, frequent illnesses, and depression. However, this often is not enough. A doctor can take your blood and tell you if your levels are low. As Vitamin D is “activated” by sunlight, so your levels are typically lower during the winter months.
Some foods high in Vitamin D are:
- Mushrooms, like portabella, white button, and crimini
- Milk and orange juice
- Cereal and oats
- Fatty fish, like salmon, trout, herring, tuna, sardines, and cod liver oil
In addition to these foods, you may need to take a Vitamin D supplement. Take it in the morning with a meal and get at least 20 minutes of sunlight per day.
Vitamin D is just one crucial nutrient you need to be and stay healthy this cold and flu season. A healthy, properly nourished body will get better faster.
Working out isn’t just important for your physical health; it impacts your mental health too. So, if the cold weather has interrupted your typical exercise routine, it’s time to adopt an indoor regimen.
You can still run or jog outdoors; just make sure you wear moisture-wicking clothes and layer up. Protect your hands, feet, and face from the bitter air.
An excellent way to find an indoor exercise routine is by using fitness apps like FitOn or look for videos on YouTube. Look for bodyweight exercises if you do not have any equipment. Or, try a new practice like yoga.
Use a Light Therapy Box
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of mood disorder that changes along with the seasons. It’s most commonly associated with the “winter blues.” The depression and mood changes that come with it are profound.
The symptoms of SAD typically begin around mid-fall and until late spring. The feelings can start as mild depression and worsen as winter drags on. Some signs of SAD are:
- Appetite or weight changes
- Constant depression
- Lack of interest in hobbies or activities
- Trouble concentrating
- Feelings of hopelessness or guilt
- Thoughts of suicide
- Trouble sleeping or oversleeping
This condition should be evaluated and treated by a medical professional. It can have negative consequences on your overall health and hurt immune function. Mental health professionals often recommend light therapy.
Light therapy boxes are designed to mimic outdoor light. They emit little UV light, which can damage the eyes and skin. Using a light therapy box for around 20 to 30 minutes per day could help alleviate some of your SAD symptoms.
Eat Well and Stay Hydrated
The winter season is full of holidays and reasons to indulge in hearty, comfort meals. While it’s good to indulge every once in a while, you still need to maintain a healthy diet. Make sure your diet has enough Vitamin D and C and is rich in zinc and iron.
These are critical for good immune function. While you do not sweat as much in winter, you still need to stay hydrated.
Stop the Spread
Colds and cases of the flu are difficult to distinguish from the symptoms of the ongoing pandemic of COVID-19. You should still practice social distancing, proper hygiene, and wearing a mask outside your home even if you aren’t sick.
If you do fall ill with a mild upper respiratory illness, do not brush it off. Get a COVID test as soon as you safely can and self-isolate for two weeks.
Practice Self Care
Taking care of yourself by exercising, eating right, getting enough light is excellent for your health, but you may still be stressed out. Developing a self-care routine is a great way to destress and stay healthy. Part of your self-care practice may include:
- Sort through your wardrobe and donate unworn items
- Use a beauty mask
- Drinking your morning coffee with no distractions
- Light some seasonal scented candles
- Make baked goods or comfort foods
Ultimately, self-care is what you make of it and can be practiced however you like.
Winter Health Tips to Follow This Cold and Flu Season
We hope these winter health tips help you stay healthy and safe during the cold and flu season this year. Simple acts like getting the flu vaccine, getting enough Vitamin D, exercising, and taking care of yourself overall will help you.
If you have any more tips, feel free to share them with us! Check out the rest of our blog for more health and wellness posts.