Staying healthy in the winter is always challenging. There are always plenty of coughs, colds, and stomach bugs doing the rounds, and most of us succumb at least once. When we have children, things get even more difficult. Once our kids are at school, bugs spread like wildfire. They seem to bring a cough or cold back most weeks, and many children seem to spend most of the season with a runny nose. It can feel as though you are just passing illnesses around your household for the whole season and that as soon as you’ve gotten over one bug, something else is brought home from school.
This year, as well as all of the usual winter colds and flu, we’ve got something else to contend with. COVID-19 is still very much here and looks almost certain to be with us for the winter season, at least. None of us knows how bad it is going to be, how many people might be infected, or how serious it could get in the winter, when immune systems are low, and people are already struggling.
We do know that COVID-19 is typically less severe among children. But, not always. Some children have been more severely affected, and even if your kids were to be asymptomatic, you wouldn’t want them to spread the virus to anyone who might be more vulnerable (yourself included).
The very best thing that you can do for your family and more extended circle is to do what you can to stay fit and healthy, to avoid illness, and to keep your immune system topped up. So, how do you fight all of the germs that are moving around the population? What can you do to keep yourself and your family healthy over the coming months?
Get Plenty of Rest
Sleep is your body’s chance to recover from the day before and prepare for the day ahead. Your body needs this break to reset itself. Regularly not getting enough sleep can mean that you are never running at 100%, which can cause your immune system to suffer. Minor colds can become more serious and harder to fight off, and your immune system will give in to illness more easily if it just hasn’t got the energy to fight.
Day to day, make sure you have a good sleep routine and that you are getting enough rest. If you do start to feel ill, while it can be tempting to battle through and carry on normally, this will mean that you are more likely to infect other people and that your illness is more prolonged. When your body needs extra rest, give it.
Stay Home if You Are Sick
Most of us are guilty of going into work or sending the kids to school when we’re ill. We almost feel guilty about taking time off if we don’t absolutely 100% need to.
It’s never really a good idea. Even with a small sniffle, your immune response is affected. Your immune system is already busy, and so will find it much harder fighting off other bugs. This is one of the reasons that winter sicknesses tend to follow each other.
At the moment, staying at home when you are sick, no matter how minor your symptoms are, is more important than ever, for both your own health and that of others.
Wash Your Hands
If there’s one thing that you should do to stay healthy, it is quite simply washing your hands. Bacteria and viruses live on the surfaces that we touch. They get on our skin, and when we touch our faces (which most of us do far more often than we think), they enter our bodies and make us ill.
Hopefully, over the last few months, you’ve gotten into good habits, washing your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds with hot water and soap, and using hand sanitizer when you are out and about. However, complacency can easily set in. Check-in on your handwashing habits, make sure your kids are doing it well and remind yourself if you need to.
Practice Social Distancing
Social distancing is our greatest defense against COVID-19 right now, but it will also protect you from colds and coughs, the flu, and stomach bugs. Quite simply, the closer you are to people, the more likely you are to give them your illnesses, and receive theirs, even if no one has symptoms.
However, when social distancing is not possible, wearing a mask is recommended. As not all masks are as effective, you will need to make sure yours has an extra barrier for protection. For example, the antiviral face mask by Sonovia adds that extra barrier that allows you to wear it in crowded spaces and indoor settings, for children and adults. Plus they have adjustable sides and a nose wire to help them conform to your face perfectly.
Your diet plays a crucial role when it comes to staying fit and healthy. A diet filled with vitamins and minerals will boost your immune system, your energy levels, and your mood, helping you to stay at your best all year round. Try these immune-boosting foods for a healthy, happy winter.
Find Ways to Manage Stress
Stress can affect you, physically and mentally. When you are stressed and feel low, you are far more likely to get sick, and you’ll have a harder time getting better.
Winter can be a stressful time, with the pressure that the holidays bring. So, try to keep stress and tension at bay. Give yourself a break when you need it, treat yourself, and talk about any worries that you might have.
When the weather is bad, we don’t always feel like exercising. But, while you might want to swap your outdoor runs for home workouts and gym sessions, exercise can boost your immune system and circulation, improve your mood and help you to fight stress.
There’s a lot of conflicting advice about whether we get colds because we are cold, but there is evidence to suggest that keeping warm helps our immune systems to work at their best. Keeping warm will certainly help you to feel better. Dress in layers, and make sure you wear a waterproof coat and shoes when the weather is bad.
Keep Your Home Clean
You might be very good at keeping your distance and avoiding touch points when you are out, but what about at home? Bugs can live on some surfaces for days, and even pillows and bedding can be dangerous. Keep your home clean, use antibacterial sprays, and wash textiles and clothes regularly.
Add a Supplement
If you drink lots of water and eat a healthy diet, you should be getting everything that you need. However, a vitamin supplement still won’t hurt and will give you a boost if there’s anything that you are missing.
The truth is, as hard as it can seem to stay healthy over the winter, the secrets to a healthy season aren’t secrets at all. Most of them are common sense, and often all that you need to do is stay sensible. That said, while you can minimize the risks, and you might be able to keep any colds that you have minor, you probably can’t avoid them altogether. So, if you do get sick, remember to rest, and see a doctor if you need to.