Whether you’re trying to avoid catching a cold or the flu has already hit you hard, these simple tips will help to get you feeling better faster by strengthening your immune system and preventing the spread of illness.
1. Wash Your Hands!
This really cannot be stated enough, so we’re going to list it again.
2. Wash Your Hands!
After you’ve touched anything that may have been contaminated by a sick person (ie: anything at the doctor’s office, pharmacy, in a public restroom, or really any public place) be sure to wash your hands.
Add germ-killing essential oils to your soap to increase it’s effectiveness.
Remember, good washing includes using warm water and soap. Scrub for at least 30 seconds and be thorough. Make sure to wash the fronts and backs of both hands, as well as between fingers and under your nails.
3. Dry Your Hands, Too
Any germs that survive the hand-washing process will stick around much longer on wet hands than they would on dry ones. Furthermore, having damp hands when the air is chilly saps the heat from your skin, forcing your body to work that much harder to keep warm.
So wash your hands often, but also remember to dry them well afterward.
4. “Better” Hand Sanitizer
Forget “kills 99.9% of germs.” Take it up to 111.11% by adding anti-microbial essential oils to your hand sanitizer.
Also, you may want to try this Homemade Hand Sanitizer recipe made by Jill at The Prarie Homestead.
Remember to take this stuff with you everywhere you go and use it often. Germs love hands, especially those which frequently and absently touch their owners face…
(which brings us to:)
5. Avoid Touching Your Face
Think this doesn’t apply to you? Think again! According to Susan Ince on prevention.com, adults touch their faces on average about once every 4 minutes. That’s approximately 400 times per day, assuming that you sleep for 8 hours (which of course you do, right?)
Eye-rubbing, nose-wiping, lip-touching, and even nail-biting basically give germs a free ride directly into your mucus membranes and respiratory system. So watch yourself carefully and if you discover that you are indeed a face-toucher, find a way to control those hands!
Fun fact: The Metro Blue Line in Los Angeles, California carries lots of germs too! However it only makes about 150 round-trips per day and it isn’t free. (Bet you’ll never look at hands the same way again!)
6. Get Out of the House
Sure, it may be tempting to hide in your home when you’re not at work. However, this type of behavior isn’t as conducive to your health as you might initially think.
Despite the obvious danger of catching a flu bug from one of your friends or relatives, positive social interactions improve your mental state, stave off depression, and thus indirectly contribute to the health of your immune system.
7. Be Aware of “Carriers”
So we’ve covered the fact that you have to leave the house and be social if you want to be healthy. However, once you’re in the danger zone, it is important to be aware of “carriers.”
Remember that just because the people around you don’t have symptoms, that doesn’t mean that they don’t have a virus. During cold and flu season, over 8% of healthy-looking individuals are carriers and can still unknowingly transfer their infectious passengers to you if you aren’t careful. Remember your hand sanitizer and always practice good cold and flu season habits!
8. Keep Surfaces Clean
Viruses like influenza can survive for up to 8 hours on surfaces outside of the human body, so be sure to clean diligently during cold and flu season.
Disinfectant wipes are great in a pinch, especially when you don’t have access to other cleaning tools (such as at work or in other public places.)
Alternately, you may want to make your own sanitizing spray. It’s quick and easy. Simply add 30 drops of anti-microbial essential oils to an 8 ounce spray bottle filled almost to the top with water and remember to shake well before each use.
(Germ-fighting knowledge is germ-fighting power! Study up on these 10 Worst Germ Hot Spots on prevention.com and have your sanitizing tools at the ready.)
9. Find Time to Relax
Scientists have proven that taking time out from your busy schedule to calm your mind, reduce stress and consequently improve your quantity and quality of sleep will improve your chances of repelling cold and flu bugs by up to 50%.
Whether you choose to take a yoga class, meditate by yourself in a quiet room, or sit in your garden for an hour and talk to the plants; find time to relax. Your immune system will thank you!
While exploring the topic of relaxation, we came across Qigong, “an ancient Chinese health care system that integrates physical postures, breathing techniques and focused intention” to simultaneously lower stress levels, heighten focus, and improve overall health. According to a recent study of the art’s practitioners, performing Qigong at least once per week can reduce the occurrence of respiratory infections by up to 70%!
(For more information on Qigong or to find a teacher in your area, visit NQA.org.)
11. Exercise & Weight-Loss
While this point is actually two, we went ahead and combined it into one to keep things concise. After all, the two go hand-in-hand; and by now you’ve probably heard it everywhere and in every context imaginable. Seeing as how the immune system is interwoven with every other part of the body (and all of those other imaginable contexts) it should come as no surprise to see it here.
Exercise equals weight-loss equals better health.
Blood flows better through a fit and active body, thus immune cells circulate better under these circumstances. If you’re carrying extra weight and you live a sedentary lifestyle, you will get sick more often than you would at your ideal weight. The recommended dose: At least 30 minutes per day of vigorous exercise.
12. Cut back on sweets
Sugar is to white bloods cells what Kryptonite is to Superman – it saps their infection-fighting super powers, thus rendering your immune system defenseless. Much like the Man of Steel, your cells recover once the processed sugar leaves your blood stream, however it takes several hours for this to occur. Also, a measly six tablespoons of sugar (3 servings of soda) is enough to render your white blood cells useless for an entire 24 hour period.
Interested to know what else sugar is doing inside your body? Read more about how cutting back or eliminating this one food from your diet can massively improve your health in our 10 Convincing Reasons You Need To Quit Sugar, Right Now!
13. Drink Enough Water
While most of us were raised with the knowledge that the best way to get over being sick is to drink plenty of fluids, it is also important to note that staying hydrated is a critical part of maintaining a healthy immune system to prevent illness, too.
Use this Hydration Calculator to find out how much water your body needs per day to keep the cold and flu bugs away.
14. Get Plenty of Rest
Countless studies have taught us that getting 7 hours of sleep or less per night is detrimental to your health both short- and long-term. This lack of rest robs your brain and body of much-needed recuperation time, compromising your immune system and making you three times more likely to get sick than if you were to get eight hours or more.
Furthermore, when your mind is tired it can be much harder to focus than when you’re well-rested. Lack of focus may result in forgetting to wash your hands or it may mean that you lose track of your face-touching. (Who doesn’t rub their eyes when they’re sleepy?)
The bottom line is: If you want to be well, you have to sleep.
“I’m not the world’s best sleeper,” you say? Not a problem! Try some of these 11 Natural Sleep Remedies That Really Work, compiled and tested by genuine (former) insomniacs.
15. Take a Sick Day
If you know that you’re coming down with a bad bug, here are three good reasons to take a sick day:
- First, you need to rest so your body can focus on destroying its microscopic invaders;
- Second, most of the remedies and practices in this guide are easier done at home than at work;
- And third, it’s a good idea to minimize contact with other people. This will not only prevent your illness from spreading, it will also minimize your chances of catching a second bug from another sick individual while your immune system is already struggling.
Remember, most employers won’t give you too much trouble if you tell them that you need a day or two off so as to avoid infecting the entire office (bosses included) with influenza!
16. Mind Your Toothbrush
When you or someone in your household is sick, viruses will linger on personal care items like toothbrushes. From there they can easily spread to neighboring toothbrushes as well as any other items they touch. For this reason, you will want to be careful to keep these items separated to avoid spreading illness between family members.
17. Use Essential Oils for Natural Health
Try out these 10 Tips and Tricks for Using Essential Oils to Help You Survive Cold & Flu Season to learn about which oils are the best for prevention and healing, as well as some clever ways to put them to work around your home and office!
18. Eat Foods that Boost the Immune System
Get the jump on cold and flu season this year by fortifying your immune system with foods high in vitamins A, B2, B6, C, D, and E, as well as Zinc and Selenium – all important nutrients for cold and flu prevention. Adding these 14 foods to your diet will help to shield your body against infection.
19. Know What Herbs to Take to Stay Healthy
Cold and Flu prevention is a huge market, no matter what part of the world you live in. Vitamins and supplements purported to stave off and treat infection line the shelves of markets and pharmacies, all promising some statistical result meant to sell their product.
With so many to choose from, it can be difficult to pick the right remedy – especially if you’re already not feeling well. Check out this detailed article: 15 Herbal Remedies to Help You Survive Cold and Flu Season which features 15 potent herbs with historically-confirmed and scientifically-backed cold-and-flu-fighting power to help you in your quest for wellness.
20. Get These Cold- & Flu-Fighting Gadgets!
Essential Oil Diffuser
To take full advantage of all of the great essential oils in our 10 Tips and Tricks for Using Essential Oils to Help You Survive Cold & Flu Season, you’ll definitely want to use an essential oil diffuser. If you don’t already own one, take a look at this article where we review five of the best rated on Amazon to remove some of the guesswork and help you find your perfect diffuser!
Dry air is your enemy during the colder months. Help your body to preserve much-needed hydration by investing in a single-room humidifier like this Honeywell model available from Amazon.com.
The Neti Pot
This handy little device is used to cleanse foreign materials from the nasal cavity using a saline rinse. Recommended use for Neti pot cleansing is twice per day.
Neti Pots may be purchased at your local health food store or pharmacy. Alternately, you can order one here.
Natural health gadgets aren’t just for cold and flu prevention. Be sure to check out our list of the Top 10 Must-Have Gadgets, Tools & Gizmos Every Natural Health Enthusiast Needs!
This is part 1 of our 5 part series: “The Ultimate Guide To Beating Cold & Flu With The Power Of Nature“. To check out the rest of this series, use the links below:
- Part 1: 20 Natural Tips to Help You Stay Healthy During Cold & Flu Season
- Part 2: 10 Tips and Tricks for Using Essential Oils to Help You Survive Cold & Flu Season
- Part 3: 15 Herbal Remedies to Help You Survive Cold and Flu Season
- Part 4: 13 Foods to Help You Beat the Flu and Feel Better Faster
- Part 5: 14 Foods to Boost Your Immune System for Cold & Flu Season