The terrible part about winter isn’t the season itself, it’s how long it lasts. 18 degree days with blowing snow and strong winds are no one’s idea of a pleasant day, but that’s kind of what’s supposed to happen in mid-January. By the time March rolls around, though, I bet 40% of people on the street would gladly trade the naming rights of their firstborn for an earlier spring. (I have no evidence to support this.)
Winter is terrible, and long, and cold, and terrible, but even as the clocks change and the temperatures warm incrementally, we’re not out of the woods quite yet. Winter still has one vicious trick up its sleeve to inflict maximum misery on us all: the cold and its vicious little cousin, the flu.
With one of the worst flu seasons in recent years in the rearview mirror, those of us who weren’t afflicted by the virus let out a huge sigh of relief. But, as is our reality in 2018, things took a turn for the worse as the flu looks to be restocking and prepping for round two.
For my money, the only thing worse than a frigid, seemingly-ceaseless winter is capping it all off with a nice tall glass of sick. So, in light of mother nature trolling us a little longer, here are some ways to avoid the flu, and the much more common cold:
KEEP THOSE SINUSES CLEAN AND CLEAR
Being congested is an absolute nightmare. Somehow, through the “miracle” of science and biology we can be clogged and yet still have snot dripping out of our noses. It’s devastating. To keep those sinuses clean and clear, let’s fire up the humidifier (damper air is harder for viruses to live in) or get a good old-fashioned steam inhalation going. We can either boil a pot of water, put a towel over our heads, and hover over it (please be careful), or we can run a hot shower and turn our bathrooms into makeshift steam rooms.
Neti pots and nasal rinses are also all the rage these days as they irrigate and clear our nasal passages, but be warned: they involve pouring/squirting water through our sinuses. It’s weird. It works, but it’s weird.
STAY CLEAN AND CONTAINED
We don’t need to quarantine ourselves (unless we’re already starting to feel sick) but we need to be cognizant that we’re exposing ourselves and others to bacteria and germs all the time. Let’s make sure we wash our hands consistently, especially after getting into work or getting home, try to avoid touching our faces (do you know where those hands have been?!), and please, for the love of all that is good, cough and sneeze into a tissue or an elbow (preferably our own)! We’re taught to cover our mouths when we cough/sneeze, but how many people do we make contact with throughout the day? Let’s do them a solid and keep our germs to ourselves.
TAKE CARE OF THAT BODY
Shocker alert: exercise is good! Getting our blood flow up keeps our bodies working efficiently, which allows them to fight against any malicious viruses that may looking for a way in. On top of that, getting a nice sweat going (steam rooms and saunas are godsends) is a good way to rid our bodies of the badness. (Bonus tip: this works for hangovers, too.)
Also, our bodies need sleep to stay healthy so let’s make sure to get as much of it as possible. We don’t need to shut off our social lives, but depriving ourselves of sleep will leave us susceptible to sickness, and we don’t want that.
There are many ways we can try to ensure we stay healthy – let’s not forget the magic of grandma’s chicken soup – but if something comes along that even the soup can’t cure, let’s get to a doctor ASAP.
Until next time - gesundheit!