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Our Top Tips for Surviving Flu SeasonPublished:
It’s the most wonderful time of the year — if you’re a doctor who loves treating influenza. The Centers for Disease Control marks October as the start of flu season,and things really start to pick up in December. And February’s actually the month with the most flu activity. Is it love in the air — or is it a virus?
There’s something particularly cruel about this being the time of year you’re most likely to be struck down by the flu, with its body aches, oscillation between chills and sweat (who doesn’t love that?), fever, congestion, and headache. Just UGH. As if all that wasn’t enough, flu season cozies up to the holiday season. It’s like influenza sees stores putting out the Halloween decorations and starts to get hyped up.
And that means you could have flu symptoms hit right when you’re supposed to be turning in your year-end projects at work, hitting your friend’s cocktail party, and then hopping on a plane to go visit family the next day. Not ideal.
Don’t worry. While we can’t say we’ve got a 100% effective way to avoid the flu like the pseudo-plague it is, we definitely have some tips to help you keep yourself healthy.
Tip #1: Get the flu shot (seriously, just do it)
The flu shot isn’t completely effective. But the CDC says it does slash your risk of getting the flu by as much as 60%. And with flu shots offered at pretty much every pharmacy for pretty much no money, why not cut your risk of getting super sick in half? It’ll probably take you all of 15 minutes to get the shot.
Even if you don’t want to get the flu shot for yourself, consider it for others. If more people get vaccinated against this year’s flu, fewer people will be walking around spreading the virus. And that protects populations that are particularly hard hit by it, like the elderly and young kids. While the flu might be a literal headache for you, you’ll bounce back. For them, it can be life-threatening.
Tip #2: Wash your hands
Yeah, super simple. You’re probably rolling your eyes at hearing this advice again (seriously, again?!). Like, if you didn’t pick it up in kindergarten, what’s going to change now? But we’re including this totally non-novel tip because it’s one of the most effective things you can do to keep yourself healthy and to prevent spreading the flu virus. Let us repeat, just lathering up when you have the chance is one of THE biggest things you can do to protect your health during flu season. So, you know, just do it.
You probably have the basics covered, like washing your hands after you’re used the bathroom (we hope). But ‘tis the season to clean your hands AFAP (as frequently as possible). Wash your hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds when you get home from any public place, after you cough or sneeze, before you prepare food, or whenever else the craving for a good scrub-a-dub strikes.
Tip #3: Take care of yourself
The busyness of this time of year makes it easy to skip your workouts and skimp on sleep. And all the holiday gatherings will definitely tempt you with some less-than-healthful food options. But do your best to stick to your guns. Keeping your healthy habits in place is one of your best defenses against getting sick.
When your schedule fills up during the holidays, preparation is paramount. Mark your workouts on your calendar in advance and don’t let other plans that crop up later keep you from them. And carve out some time over the weekend to meal prep so you can eat right even if your week is jam-packed.
And, for goodness’ sake, if you do get sick, STAY. HOME. Not only does this prevent you from being that person in the office that everyone is kind of ticked at because you got everyone sick, but it’s the right thing for your body. When you’ve got the flu virus, rest is key.
Tip #4: Keep your distance
The flu is a virus that spreads (get ready for a little grossness) through the droplets people emit when they sneeze or cough. And those droplets can project through the air up to six feet. Ew. We’re not saying you need to be rude, but if someone in your office is sick, keeping a bit of a perimeter from them can help you stay healthy.
And humans aren’t the only thing that can carry the flu virus. If someone’s sick and they cough on their hand, then touch a doorknob, a phone, a keyboard, a coffee pot handle — you name it — and you touch it after them, all those delightful virus germs have a chance to cling to you. Nice. You might look like a weirdo sanitizing things before you touch them, but you’ll be laughing all the way to the not-doctor’s office when everyone else gets sick.
Flu season is here— but you don’t have to resign yourself to rolling the dice on catching this virus. Whip out these tips and skip the sickness this winter.