With colder temperatures on the horizon, are you prepared for cold and flu season? If you worry about keeping your family healthy, preparing for flu season can feel overwhelming and a little scary. Rest assured, you can be proactive in fighting the virus by following these healthy habits.
1. Get the flu vaccine
The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone six months of age and older. It takes about two weeks for immunity to develop, so make sure the entire family is vaccinated by the end of October before flu season is in full swing.
2. Wash your hands frequently
Washing your hands is the best way to prevent the spread of infection and illness. You should wash your hands after going to the bathroom, after changing your baby’s diaper, before eating and throughout the day. It’s also important to teach your children to wash with enough soap and friction to clean their hands. Make it fun by teaching them to sing “Happy Birthday” while they are washing to ensure they wash long enough. Also, remind them to keep their hands away from their eyes, nose and mouth, as these are easy methods of entry for bacteria. Many young children with loose teeth will frequently have their fingers in their mouth to wiggle loose teeth with unclean hands and end up getting sick.
3. Eat a healthy diet
Eating a well-balanced and colorful diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables provides nutrients that help keep your immune system strong; aim to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables a day to meet the recommended guidelines. If your kids don’t like eating vegetables, find creative ways to sneak veggies into their diet. Try adding spinach to their smoothies or having zucchini noodles for dinner.
4. Get plenty of rest
Research shows that lack of sleep can lead to diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. Your immunity may also be compromised if you aren’t getting 7-8 hours of sleep. Why risk it? Don’t forget to turn off all of your technology at least 30 minutes before bed to help you sleep better – that includes your TV! If you have a baby that wakes up to eat several times during the night, plan to get a short nap in during the day (we know that’s not always possible, but it’s worth a try!).
5. Exercise most days
Did you know that getting 45 minutes of moderate activity several times a week can cut down your chances of getting sick? It can also reduce the duration of your cold symptoms. Don’t exercise if you already have the flu or a fever – it could leave you feeling more tired than you already are. To prevent the spread of germs, make sure you wash your hands after you exercise, especially if you go to the gym.
Cold and flu season can be stressful, but with these preventative tips, you’ll be better equipped to make it through. You’ll also be less likely to get sick, and if you do, your recovery time will be faster. Taking an active approach in doing your part to stay healthy will give you more confidence to successfully make it through flu season.
Looking for more tips on avoiding the flu? Learn more about what you can do to prevent and care for the flu with our Flu Toolkit.