Staying Healthy During Flu Season (and a Global Pandemic)
Here we are again, entering another winter season and the excitement of the upcoming holidays. This time of year also has the not-so-pleasant association of being cold and flu season and, for the past 2 years, has occurred over the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the risk of getting sick more pronounced this time of year, it is especially prudent to take measures to improve one's wellness in order to enjoy a happy and healthy holiday season with friends and family.
Vaccinations are usually a hot topic during this season, as every year people are encouraged to get their flu vaccine. But for almost a year now, “getting vaccinated” has also been associated with getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccinations, both for the flu and COVID-19, are important for controlling the spread of viral infections and protecting yourself and those close to you from serious illness.
While getting vaccinated is a very effective way to reduce your risk of getting sick, no vaccine is 100% effective and for some, getting vaccinated is not a safe option. Therefore, it’s important to continue practicing other precautions and healthy habits to boost your natural immune system and keep yourself and others safe.
- Eat a healthy diet and drink plenty of water. Providing your body with the building blocks it needs to support a strong immune system will make it more resilient against getting sick.
- Get plenty of sleep. In order to function at its best, our body needs rest to recover, manage stress, and maintain a well-functioning immune system.
- Exercise. Physical activity has been shown to influence our immune response, such as reducing inflammatory processes. Exercise also strengthens our cardiovascular system, reducing one’s risk for respiratory infections.
- Manage your other health conditions. There are many medical conditions that have been shown to increase one’s risk for more severe symptoms of COVID-19. Make sure you are following your physician’s guidelines for managing your conditions.
- If you are sick, stay home. It seems like this would be an obvious one, but with the pressures of work and social obligations, sometimes it’s difficult to allow ourselves a day or two to just rest and recover.
- Consider continuing to social distance and wear a mask. Remember, no vaccine is 100% effective and there have been many break-through cases of COVID-19, (although these cases thankfully tend to have milder symptoms). Also keep in mind that someone who is asymptomatic can still get someone else sick. Continuing to err on the side of caution during flu season and while COVID cases remain high can help reduce the risk of getting yourself or someone else sick.
Many of these recommendations are good habits to practice all the time, not just during cold and flu season or during a global pandemic. With COVID-19 continuing to spread and the long, cold winter upon us, what better time to start getting healthier and supporting our immune system? By providing the body with a variety of defenses, including vaccinations and a healthy lifestyle, we can make it through this difficult time stronger, healthier, and together.