Winter is here and, per usual, it's brought lower temperatures and an increased chance you'll catch a cold. While we can't guarantee you'll stay 100% healthy all season, we can provide plenty of tips for staying healthy and lowering your chances of picking up an inconvenient illness.
Let's get started so you can begin your journey toward a healthier winter.
Wash Your Hands Regularly
This one's simple and incredibly effective. Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you can easily spread germs on your hands when you touch contaminated surfaces or objects and then touch your mouth, nose or eyes. That's why it's so essential for you to wash your hands regularly throughout the day.
It's especially important to wash your hands after blowing your nose, sneezing or coughing, using the toilet or touching garbage.
But placing your hands under a running faucet isn't enough. The CDC advises you to wash them with soap for at least 20 seconds (or, if it helps, that's the length of time it takes to sing the "Happy Birthday" song twice).
Don't Forget Hand Sanitizer
Washing your hands is important, but if you aren't able to on the go, having hand sanitizer helps too. Fortunately, it's very easy to purchase travel-sized hand sanitizer that can easily slip into your pocket or bag. Plenty of communal spaces — from gas stations to stores — also make hand sanitizer available to customers looking to kill germs they've picked up while out and about.
Get Plenty of Sleep
The idea of sleeping through those cold winter days certainly sounds appealing, but it can actually help you stay healthy too. Mayo Clinic states that poor health in adults is linked to receiving fewer than 7 hours of sleep in a night.
For those ages 13 to 18, Mayo Clinic recommends 8-10 hours of sleep per 24 hours, and for those 19 and up, 7 or more hours per night.
On cold days, you likely want something warm to drink, but don't lose sight of the value of consuming water daily. Drinking water regularly helps you maintain a normal temperature and encourages your body to rid itself of waste, according to the CDC.
When possible, try to choose water over overly sugary alternatives. And if you haven't already, consider getting a water bottle you can fill up regularly throughout the day.
The holidays, more traffic, shorter days, icy roads, snow — all ingredients for increased stress. And while stress is pretty unavoidable sometimes, too much of it can do real harm to your body.
Per Mayo Clinic, it's easier for the body to get sick after stress has lowered the immune system. Additional effects of stress include fatigue, headaches, chest pain, stomach issues and sleep problems (and we already covered how important sleep is).
To better manage stress, remember to eat healthy, exercise and practice relaxation techniques, such as yoga or meditation.
Finally, embrace the winter season — it's not all bad, right? Find joy in the simple pleasures, like building a snowman or enjoying a cozy night by the fireplace. A positive attitude can do wonders for your physical, mental and emotional well-being.
Practice Healthy Habits Year-Round
All of these tips can help you this winter, but they work in spring and beyond as well. Germs never rest, so make sure you're defending yourself against them. Also, don't hesitate to reach out to AFBA for assistance managing your health and well-being.