Tips You’ve Never Heard for Avoiding the Flu

“Wash your hands!” “Cover your mouth!” “Drink some OJ!” Yeah, yeah. We get it. We’ve heard it all a thousand times before from the corners of the playground to our mother’s voice down the hall (if I listen closely, I can still hear the echo). Well, sometimes we take all the right steps – scrub up like we are about to perform open-heart surgery, adopt OJ and chicken noodle soup as our sole diet, bathe in hand sanitizer – and we still get sick. Well, lo and behold, there are some different precautions we all could be taking, and none of them are as bad as wearing socks to bed or rubbing gooey Vicks Vapor Rub on our chests.

Eat healthy – our first defense against any illness is always going to be the fuel we put into our bodies. Eating junk will not only make us feel like junk – it will also make it harder for our immune systems to fight effectively and make us more susceptible to the bugs that bounce from person to person.

Avoid the dishwasher – dishwashers are great. They save us time and frustration. Gone, it seems, are the days that chills would snake themselves up our spine because our forearm met with some unknown floater, a remnant of dinner two nights ago, in grey dishwater. However, when flu season looms, it may be time to bring back the old ways. Washing dishes by hand is a great way to sanitize, stay healthy, and keep the place clean and free of germs. My mother swears the only reason she never got sick when I was a kid was because she was constantly relegated to “dish duty”.

Sanitize doorknobs – these microbial playgrounds are often forgotten. It’s an unfortunate catch-22 that the surfaces we handle the most often appear the most polished because of that constant contact. Therefore, they are often ignored when it comes to cleaning. Making sure to take time to sanitize the things we have our hands on the most; knobs, handles, phones, keyboards, steering wheels, etc. will help to keep the germs at bay.

Carry a pen – one thing we often handle and don’t think twice about is a pen. You need one to fill out a deposit slip, sign a receipt, or initial documents. We don’t think to carry one with us because there is always one there. However, in times of flu, it may be a good idea to start carrying your own. You have no idea who else thought Bertucci’s sounded like a great idea for lunch this afternoon.

Juice it – ok, so you’ve wanted to try juicing ever since your neighbor bragged to you at the corner market about her new juicer and raved about how great she feels. When you went online to check it out, the thing seemed like an overpriced monster and you made excuses like how impossible it looked to keep clean and where on earth would you store it?! Well, now is your chance to bite the bullet and get one. When the best way to mix up your Vitamin-C intake is “pulp” or “no pulp”, you know you’re in a nutrient rut. Juicers allow you to get a little creative and boost your immune system while you do it.

Hit the massage table – Yes! I said it! Take the opportunity to pamper yourself! The days are getting shorter, the weather is getting colder, and a season of snow and ice is waiting for us just around the corner. It’s terrible. As a native New Englander, I feel your pain. So, do yourself a favor and book a massage. Not only will you feel great and it will help you to relax – the increased circulation will help to assist your immune system and help you from getting sick.

Avoid the booze, unless it’s on your hands – not only can booze have a negative impact on your immune system, helping you to contract illness or causing them to stick around longer, booze also does a number on your REM sleep cycle which means you won’t be getting the deep rest your body really needs to fight off intruders. However, using vodka in a pinch to sanitize something is not unheard of and it actually does a good job. Just keep it out of your belly!

Emergen-Z – maybe you’ve heard of Emergen-C or Airborne – supplements that help to boost your Vitamin C intake in order to keep your system healthy. You dissolve the tablets in a little water and sip it down – good for close quarters with strangers when the likelihood of getting sick is increased such as airplanes, trains, busses, movie theaters, your overly-crowded office, you name it. They work well and the taste isn’t too unbearable. Now, there is such a thing as “Emergen-Z”. This supplement is basically the same concept, although it is designed to help you sleep, too, which we all know will only help the healing process.

Reinvent your nightly routine – while we are on the subject of sleep, it’s only appropriate to make a real point about how important of an asset a good night’s sleep is to keeping our systems healthy and functioning well. If you are on your phone or tablet right before bed, if you let yourself get distracted with things that take you way past your bedtime, if you have a habit of snacking late into the evening, maybe it’s time to rethink your routine to make it more peaceful and sleep-inducing. Your body with thank you for the extra rest.

And for goodness’ sake – get your flu shot!

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