Preventive Care, Self-care
It’s official: cold and flu season is upon us. The risk of these viruses coupled with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic provides all the more reason to keep your immune system in tip-top shape! Here’s a refresher on the simple habits you can incorporate into your routine to feel healthy and happy this winter season.
Vaccinations against both COVID-19 and the flu are our best form of protection against severe illness. The CDC now recommends that all adults, 16 years of age and older, receive a COVID-19 booster shot. Boosters are recommended at least 6 months after completing the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine series and 2 months after completing the Johnson & Johnson single dose. Yearly flu vaccination is also recommended as vaccines may be updated from one year to the next to help protect against the latest strains. Both the COVID-19 and flu vaccines have been proven safe and effective for those who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying to conceive.
In addition to protecting against COVID-19, wearing a face mask over your mouth and nose can help reduce the spread of other respiratory viruses. Wearing a proper mask covering over your nose and mouth can prevent respiratory droplets from getting out into the atmosphere and infecting others. The CDC has a helpful guide to determining which masks are most effective and how to make sure they fit properly.
Eating a well-balanced diet full of vitamins and minerals can help to support your immune system so it can be better prepared to fight off germs. Certain vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, vitamin D, and zinc are the most effective in helping ward off infections. Citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruits, as well as vegetables like broccoli and Brussel sprouts, are all great sources of Vitamin C. Good sources of vitamin D include eggs and oily fish like salmon. Meat, poultry, and legumes are also great natural sources of zinc.
Humidifiers can provide a variety of health benefits during the cold, dry winter months. By adding moisture to the air, humidifiers can help to alleviate cold or allergy symptoms like a runny nose or sinus congestion. They can also provide much-needed nourishment for your skin and help prevent chapping.
Sleep is essential to allowing our bodies and minds to recharge every night. In fact, did you know that as you sleep your body produces proteins, known as cytokines, that can help fight infections and inflammation? Practicing good sleep hygiene by going to bed at the same time each night and limiting technology use an hour or two before bed can help to ensure better sleep.
By now, we likely all are aware of the benefits of handwashing in preventing germs from entering our bodies. The CDC recommends washing for at least 20 seconds, or to the tune of “Happy Birthday”. You could also sing to the chorus of your favorite pop hit. Songs like “Truth Hurts” by Lizzo or “Love on Top” by Beyonce, and many more, provide the perfect timing and make the process a little more fun!
Experts agree that 30 minutes of moderate cardio each day can help support our immune system. Exercise helps to increase white blood cell counts and ward off infections. Of course, if you are sick, it’s best to rest and allow your body to recover before engaging in any strenuous activity.
One of the most germ-filled objects in your home is likely your cell phone, because it’s picking up all of the germs that you are throughout the day. In fact, researchers at the University of Arizona found it may be 10 times dirtier than a toilet seat – yikes! Using a special phone cleaning wipe or a UV light can help to kill germs.
With a busy holiday schedule and year-end deadlines to meet, it’s easy to feel stressed during winter months. That stress can decrease our immune system’s ability to fight off infection. If you feel tensions rising, make sure to set aside time for yourself for whatever helps you to relax – yoga, meditation, reading, or catching up with a friend!
Beyond caring for our own health, we can care for others around us by staying home if we’re sick and avoiding social gatherings.
While we hope you’re busy spending the season with friends and loved ones, your Axia Women’s Health care team is always here, if and when you need us.