Flu season is coming up fast, and some of us may have already experienced some symptoms. In the wake of COVID-19 vaccinations and improved healthcare outlooks to treat the illness, many large-scale venues have reopened. This not only means more chances of exposure to COVID-19, but also more chances of exposure to cold and flu illnesses. So how can you prepare for flu season and stay healthy? Here are a few tips that will help you protect yourself and your family.
8 Tips to Prepare for Flu Season
What is Flu Season Anyway?
First of all, what is flu season? Why is there a season where influenza viruses (and cold viruses) are more prevalent? Understanding what causes this to happen can help us prepare for flu season.
Flu season occurs all over the world during the coldest months. For the United States, it runs from October until May. This includes relatively mild climates, like those in the South. Despite this chilly trend, it’s a common misconception that cold temperatures cause the cold or flu. Going outside without a coat isn’t going to make you catch a cold or flu virus any faster.
There are a few reasons why flu season exists. These factors are more complicated than they may seem, and pinning down the exact reasons why flu season exists can be complex. In general, evidence suggests that some of the following reasons are to blame for flu season:
- People are indoors more, in closer contact, during colder seasons, even if the temperatures are relatively mild.
- Viruses transmit faster and easier in colder temperatures and in low humidity.
- The start of schools in many areas coincides with the start of flu season, leading to faster transmission.
- Sunlight is weaker and people are outdoors less during colder months, leading to less vitamin D and melatonin absorption, which can affect the immune system.
So how can you prepare for flu season? The best ways are to support your immune system, and reduce the chance of contact with viruses. Here’s how.
1. Stay Hydrated
Staying hydrated is one of the easiest things you can do to support your immune system. Your body needs water for many important functions. Without enough water, your body will struggle to perform these functions, which puts more pressure on it. This makes it harder to fight off flu viruses. Train your brain to drink more water and you can prepare for flu season and stay healthier.
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Exercising regularly has huge benefits for your overall health, and it’s good for your immune system. Getting outside and getting a bit of extra sunlight may be the best form of exercise during flu season, but hitting the gym, pool, or exercising at home will also help.
3. Get a Flu Shot
A flu shot is one of the best ways to prepare for flu season. A flu shot gives your immune system a huge boost by inoculating you against the most common types of the flu.
4. Wear a Mask Indoors
When wearing a mask in close-contact areas was the norm during 2020, you may have noticed that you didn’t get sick as much with other cold or flu viruses. Wearing a mask indoors, especially in crowded areas like buses, trains, and stores, can give you another line of defense against airborne viruses.
5. Reduce Surface Contact
Flu viruses transmit from person to person, but they can also live on surfaces. Wash your hands frequently and avoid touching surfaces that many other people touch. Consider carrying hand sanitizer with you, so you can fend off viruses and germs on-the-go.
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6. Get Your Vitamins
Your body needs vitamins and minerals to regulate your mood, metabolism, energy, and immune system. Though fruits and leafy vegetables can be harder to come by during the winter season, try to get them where you can.
7. Reduce Stress
Stress wreaks havoc on your body in ways that we don’t yet completely understand. Sustained levels of stress decrease the body’s white blood cells, which are essential in fighting off infections.
8. Sleep In
When you get more sleep, you’ll have less stress and your body will be better able to fight infections in other ways. Get to bed early and don’t feel guilty about sleeping in, so you can rest your brain and keep up your health.
Remember these tips to help you prepare for flu season and stay healthy. When you boost your immune system and keep away from viruses, your body will thank you!