You’re more likely to catch a nasty bug during the winter than any other time of year. However, there are some things you can do to protect yourself from germs. These tips aren’t a guarantee that you’ll stay healthy all winter long, but they’ll decrease your odds of coming down with a cold or the flu – and if you do get sick, you’ll probably recover more quickly.
1. Get plenty of sleep.
Tempted to stay up late? Don’t. Getting eight hours of sleep every night is one of the best things you can do for your immune system. When your body is rested, you’re able to fight off bugs better.
2. Stay away from sugar.
Comfort foods taste especially good in the winter, but if sweets are your weakness, you might want to watch your intake. Sugar suppresses your immune system, which makes you more likely to get sick. Alcohol has a similar effect. If you can’t give up your sweet treats and cocktails completely, try to indulge only once a week.
3. Increase your vitamin D intake.
Most people become deficient in vitamin D during the winter. This is bad news, because your vitamin D levels are directly linked to the health of your immune system. It’s usually best to get your nutrients from food, but during the winter, you might want to take a vitamin D supplement, too.
4. Wash your hands frequently.
It’s easy to pick up germs on your hands when you go out. And if you eat or touch your face without washing your hands first, you’re giving those germs a direct path into your body. Get into the habit of washing your hands with warm water and soap frequently throughout the day.
5. Avoid smoking.
Need another reason to quit smoking? Here it is: cigarette smoke weakens your immune system, making you more vulnerable to winter bugs. Smoking also makes you more likely to get lung infections. The bottom line: just quit.
6. Get some exercise.
Working out does more than just keep your body healthy. It also keeps your immune system strong. A moderate amount of daily exercise can keep you feeling good all winter long – just make sure not to push yourself too hard, as that can have the opposite effect.
7. Make time to relax.
Feeling stressed? Take a break and breathe deeply or meditate. Stress affects your body as well as your mind, and one of its side effects is lowering your immunity. You’ll be both healthier and happier if you take regular breaks to recharge.