Cold and Flu Season Is Arriving… How to Avoid These Viral Illnesses

COVID-19 will never be far from our minds. We’ve heard about it every day for the past nine months. And it doesn’t appear to be going away any time soon. 

But even if the pandemic did not exist, cold and flu season would be right on our doorsteps. 

We’ve gotten used to protecting ourselves from a viral disease. Mainly through social distancing and mask wearing. So we’re already on the road to practicing how to avoid colds and the flu, which are also respiratory illnesses. 

Today I want to stress the importance of keeping our guard up this fall and winter. Here are some ways we can do that and remain as healthy as possible.

Inside and outside your home 

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds. Some people like to see the “Happy Birthday” song twice while they’re doing this rather than counting the seconds. Do a thorough job each time, washing between your fingers, the backs of your hands and under your nails. Water temperature is not as important as the act of scrubbing. Use an alcohol-based sanitizing gel if no soap is available.
  • Limit your contact with people outside your home. Even if they appear to be healthy, they may be infected but aren’t displaying any symptoms yet. Don’t shake hands with them or hug them.
  • Stay away from people you know are sick. They should be in their own home, but that’s not always the case. If you have to be around people who are ill, try to keep your distance. Then wash your hands and clothes as soon as you return home.
  • Wear a mask covering your nose and mouth when you are out in public places.
  • Avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes, especially before washing your hands. Germs spread very quickly this way.
  • When you cough or sneeze, use a tissue and dispose of it properly and quickly. Coughs and sneezes are two of the main ways viruses spread so easily.
  • Get enough sleep to keep yourself strong. And drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.
  • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, avoiding processed foods and too much sugar.
  • Don’t share food, drinks and personal items with others.
  • Get plenty of exercise. Aim for about 30 minutes per day when possible.
  • Avoid large gatherings. If you do have to be in a group of people, practice physical distancing of at least six feet.
  • Keep frequently-touched surfaces in your home clean and disinfected. Pay special attention to surfaces on which food is prepared.
  • Manage your stress level. This is much easier said than done for some people. Try to keep your thoughts positive and don’t spend too much time engrossed in the news, which is dominated by negative information.
  • A vast majority of medical professionals recommend getting a flu shot. That’s something you need to decide for yourself if it’s right for you and your family.
  • If you feel sick, stay home. Resting at home is the best thing for you, and it’s certainly the best for other people who you might have otherwise come into contact with.  

In the workplace

If you work at a business that is currently open, practice those same habits in the workplace.

Find out what safety precautions your employer is taking to keep you and other employees healthy.

If you’re concerned your employer is not doing enough, take it upon yourself to clean and disinfect surfaces you and others need to touch. Including doorknobs, light switches, keyboards and phones.

If you start to feel sick at work, go home. And if someone else appears to be ill, suggest they do the same.

Unless you live in a bubble, it is impossible to avoid every germ floating around out there. But taking care of your body and doing the right things to avoid those germs will give you a much better chance of staying healthy during the upcoming cold and flu season.

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