How Not to Catch a Cold This Winter

Cold and flu season has begun. People everywhere are coughing and sneezing and wishing they were home in bed with their heating pad and a cup of tea. While that would certainly help reduce the spread of nasty viruses and bacteria, as long as people have obligations that require them to keep going despite feeling yucky, we’ll continue to be around them and work hard to not catch whatever bug they’re carrying.

Here are some tips to help you get through the winter months with your health intact:

Wash your hands often

Woman applying liquid soap

According to WebMD, “approximately 80% of infectious diseases are transmitted by touch.” That makes your hands the biggest culprits when it comes to getting sick.

The proper way to wash your hands is to use soap and water and scrub them for twenty seconds. If possible, use the paper towel that you dry them with to turn off the water and to push the bathroom door open when you leave. The less you touch, the lower your chances that you’re going to pick something up that could make you sick.

Don’t think you’re safe from getting sick if you just wash your hands after having contact with someone that’s ill either. Someone who doesn’t have the symptoms can be a carrier. Also, you have no idea who has touched the door handles, ink pens at the bank and any other public property.

Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth

Since hands are the biggest carriers of anything that is infectious, it’s best to keep them away from any area that can easily transport the bug into your body. That means that you should do your best to keep your hands and fingers away from your eyes, nose and mouth if you want to stay healthy.

It can be difficult to stop habits such as rubbing your eyes or resting your hands on your face, but if you make a conscious effort it will pay off. If your nose itches, grab a tissue. If there’s something in your teeth, grab a toothpick instead of using your fingernail.

Limit contact with those that are sick

Group of Friends Having Cold

Of course it goes without saying, but do your best to avoid anyone who is coughing, sneezing or complaining of not feeling well. It can be uncomfortable to tell someone you want to keep your distance, but it’s more uncomfortable than to come down with a cold yourself.

So often, people go to work sick because they either don’t get paid time off or have work they “have” to get done. Before you know it, the whole office is sick. Admittedly, sometimes it can’t be helped. The world doesn’t stop just because someone isn’t feeling well. So, if you have coworkers that come in despite being ill, try to keep a distance. And, if you find yourself in this position, at least be mindful of others and give them space so they stay healthy.

Keep your stress level in check

Many research studies suggest that thoughts and attitudes play a huge role in how well a person’s immune system functions. One such study published in Life Sciences in 1989 found that when your body is stressed, it affects your body’s response to inflammation and infection.

So, if you keep your stress and anxiety levels lower, you’ll benefit from a stronger immune system. One of the best ways to do this is to stay positive. Focus on the things in your life that you’re thankful for as opposed to the things that sap your energy, like worrying about things you have no control over.

Eat nutritiously

Another way to keep your immune system functioning at top levels so you don’t come down with the cold that’s going around is to eat a healthy diet. Stick to lean proteins like fish, lean beef, turkey and chicken. Choose complex carbohydrates like brown rice, wheat bread and sweet potatoes.

Eat as many fruits and vegetables as you can. Try to get as many different colors into your diet as possible by choosing items that represent different colors of the rainbow. Look for blues (blueberries and blackberries), reds (radishes and apples), greens (lettuce, spinach and cucumbers) and yellows (squash and peppers).

The worst thing you can do for your body is feed it a bunch of junk when you’re trying to stay healthy. So, do your best to avoid high quantities of fried foods, sugary treats and salty snacks.


Woman Walking on ice

When you take part in regular exercise, you do more for your body than just make it look good. You promote its health and make it more resistant to illness and disease.

Try to get in at least thirty minutes of activity a day. You don’t have to get it in all at once, either. Walk around the block a time or two when you have a break at work. Park as far away from the front door as possible so you have to walk extra steps. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Every little bit adds up.

Take a multi-vitamin

While you should try to get in as many of your vitamins, minerals and nutrients through the food you eat, it isn’t always possible. So, most doctors recommend that you supplement your diet by taking a multi-vitamin. When you’re choosing one to take, try to get one that doesn’t have over 100% of any recommended daily allowances. Any of the excess water soluble vitamins will just be excreted in your urine and it’s unhealthy to get more of the fat soluble ones than you need.

Get enough sleep

Nothing runs you down like when you don’t get enough shut-eye. Whether you’re working late or partying late, if you don’t get an adequate amount of rest, your body can’t renew and rejuvenate itself.

Aim for seven to eight hours of sleep a night. If, for whatever reason, your schedule doesn’t allow it, try to get a cat-nap in at lunch time. The longer you burn the candle at both ends, the more you compromise your immune system, making you susceptible to getting sick.

If you follow these guidelines, you’ve got a great shot at spending winter happy and healthy. Why be sick and miserable if you don’t have to be? And, most the time, you don’t have to be.

About the author

Christina DeBusk

Changing careers mid-life from law enforcement to writing, Christina spends her days helping others enrich their businesses and personal lives one word at a time.

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