If you felt like shedding a tear thinking about those six more weeks of winter when Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, you’re in good company.
It’s the dog days of winter. And for folks living in parts of the country that get cold it’s starting to feel like this season will never end.
One of the main reasons this winter has felt unending is the terrible flu bug sweeping the nation. It caught many folks off guard… especially those who got a flu shot. A mutated virus made the shot-in-the-dark vaccine fall on its face.
And the season isn’t over yet.
Flu season generally runs from October through March or April. But some years it has even extended into May. And this very well may turn out to be one of those years.
7 things you can do to protect yourself this flu season
But you don’t have to barricade yourself in your house to avoid getting sick. These seven simple flu season hacks can help you get through this killer flu season without a sniffle.
1. Embrace the basics:
Those tried and true tricks for avoiding getting a cold or the flu are more important now… in the middle of a bad flu season… than ever. This isn’t the time to get complacent.
That means you need to keep washing your hands frequently. Cough and sneeze into your elbow or a tissue. Be sure to get enough exercise and sleep. And whenever you’ve been out in public avoid touching your face, eyes or mouth until you’ve had a chance to wash your hands.
The basics are still your best first defense against the flu.
2. Wear gloves outside:
Surfaces which get touched all day long such as handrails, elevator buttons and door knobs are petri dishes in disguise. They’re virtual breeding grounds for whatever bugs are making the rounds, including the flu virus.
To put an extra layer of protection between you and the flu be sure to wear your gloves whenever you’re venturing out. For the most protection, wear a pair you can throw in the wash occasionally.
Once the weather is too warm for gloves, whenever possible avoid pressing buttons or grasping things like railings with your bare hands. Use a paper towel or tissue or let someone else do the pushing.
3. Carry natural hand sanitizer:
There’s no need to douse yourself in hand sanitizers all year round. Most of the time old-fashioned soap and warm water are your best choice. But while this flu season is still going strong a natural hand sanitizer you can use when you’re away from home is a good investment.
You’ll find natural hand sanitizers made with plant-based ingredients online and in many brick and mortar stores. One we like is Honest Hand Sanitizer Spray.
Or you can make your own using…
- a quarter cup of aloe vera gel
- a teaspoon of a plant derived glycerin
- a tablespoon of rubbing alcohol
- 10 to 20 drops of tea tree, lavender or peppermint essential oils
All three oils have powerful antimicrobial and antiviral properties.
When you can’t get to a sink to wash up thoroughly, massage a few drops of your favorite natural hand sanitizer into your palms for an effective barrier against the flu bug.
4. Bump up the blueberries:
Hopefully, you’ve already making blueberries a regular item on your menu. After all, thanks to their antioxidant power they are one of the healthiest foods on the planet. But now that it’s flu season if you haven’t been regularly eating blueberries it’s time to change that.
There’s a ton of great reasons to be eating more blueberries from better blood sugar control to reducing your risk of cancer. But one of the often overlooked benefits of blueberries is the powerful support they give your immune system.
Eating more blueberries can help make your body much more prepared to fight off the flu if you’re exposed.
5. Expand your cleaning routine:
Most people give the kitchen, and maybe the bathroom, a quick wipe-down before bed. They save the deeper cleaning for the weekend when they have more time.
Under normal circumstances, that’s just fine. In fact, regularly over cleaning can reduce your ability to fight bugs in the end. But during flu season, it’s a good idea to expand your cleaning routine.
Make sure you’re cleaning the most commonly touched surfaces several times a week. This includes doorknobs, keyboards, remotes, telephones and light switches. These spots are often overlooked completely, but a flu virus can live on them for up to 24 hours.
6. Take teatime:
According to a study published in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, sipping on a cup of delicious green tea can help with more than just relaxation. The flavonoids in the tea, catechins and theanine, can also help protect you from the flu.
The study volunteers were all healthcare workers. Which means they’re frequently exposed to the virus during flu season. But the lucky folks who got the green tea extracts were far less likely to come down with a case of the flu than the people in the placebo group were.
And if it worked for people who are exposed regularly, imagine how well it could protect you on your weekly trip to the grocery store.
7. Rinse your sinuses:
The Allergy Asthma and Immunology Center of Alaska recommends a nasal saline rinse to prevent germs from being able to settle in and make you sick. If you think you’ve been exposed to the flu virus, a quick rinse could keep you healthy.
You can buy saline rinse kits at the drugstore with a premixed solution or you can make your own at home and use a bulb syringe. A quick internet search will give you plenty of recipes.
Just follow the directions and always use distilled or boiled water. And don’t overdo it. Rinsing once a day when you have been around someone who is sick is plenty.
Flu season isn’t over yet so don’t let down your guard. Use these seven flu season hacks to stay healthy until spring.