Last winter's flu season was the worst the country has seen since four decades ago.
“We lost 80,000 people last year to the flu,” Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
To avoid another year like this, it's important each and every one of us is mindful of these 10 simple tricks.
1. Get your daily dose of vitamin D
Cold winters aren't the best time to get a healthy dose of vitamin D, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't consider supplements or enriching your diet.
Research has shown that people with vitamin D deficiency are more susceptible to catching a cold or the flu than people with normal levels of the nutrient.
If you choose to get it the more natural way, eggs, mushrooms, fortified milk, and seafood are all great sources of vitamin D.
2. Get a massage
If you need a good excuse to treat yourself to a massage, here's one.
To boost your immune system, it helps to increase blood circulation throughout your body, giving your cells more oxygen and blood.
Besides, a gentle massage is a great relaxer and gives you more energy as the days get shorter.
3. Don't leave the house with wet hair
"Dry your hair before you leave the house, you're going to catch a cold!"
You've probably heard something like the sentence above before, and there's actually some truth to it.
Of course, a cold rush of wind isn't going to make you have to call in sick to work tomorrow. The only way you can catch a cold or the flu is by coming in contact with a virus or bacteria.
That being said, feeling cold and wet may lower your immune system, making you more susceptible to getting sick.
4. Drink lots of liquids
Don't forget to keep hydrated all winter!
It's hard when you're not sweating as much, but your body still needs to flush out toxins.
Some more benefits to drinking water during the cold season is to hydrate your skin, help with digestion, and help you lose weight.
Research has found that people who have been under a lot of stress for long periods of time are more likely to catch a cold when exposed to the virus compared to people with milder stress.
The reality is that long-term stress wreaks havoc on your immune system, making you much more susceptible to germs.
Stress is not a light switch that you can turn on and off, it's going to take time to get in the right frame of mind.
Exercise, meditation, a new hobby, emotional support, and a balanced nutrition can help play a role in de-stressing and having a more positive mindset.
6. Keep cleanliness in mind
If your eyes were a microscope, you wouldn't even think about going outside. Fortunately, we don't have such great vision, but it's important that we keep a few things in mind these following months.
First, clean your hands with soap and warm water as often as you can, especially right after you come home from being outside.
You'll want to avoid sanitizers and antibacterial soaps as much as possible, since these cleaners may weaken your body's natural defenses.
Don't forget to clean your phone as much as possible, since studies have found your mobile phone to be dirtier than your toilet.
7. Be mindful of your breaths
This one sounds strange, but you're going to be glad you know this trick.
When walking past someone who is sneezing or coughing, hold your breath.
You don't want to get lightheaded, but give yourself at least a few meters of space between you and the potentially contagious person before you breathe in a cold or flu virus.
8. Exercise and sweat it out
As mentioned before, increasing your circulation allows for more oxygen and blood to reach your cells.
Exercise is another way to get your heart pumping. Working out a few times a week helps to detoxify your body and de-stress.
If you have the chance to go in a steam room or hot sauna, take it!
9. Adjust to a sleep schedule
Sleep is more important than you think when it comes to fighting off viruses.
Limit your screen time and caffeine-intake before you go to bed to get a quality night's rest.
Adhering to a sleep schedule also helps to get those seven to eight hours of sleep you need to start the day off right.
10. Be mindful of the things you eat
Again, it all comes back to strengthening your immune system.
Avoid foods like sugar and processed and refined foods. Instead, add more vegetables and fruits in your diet to get you prepared for this year's cold and flu season.
Stock up on soups, natural fruit juices, decaffeinated tea (ginger), tomatoes, and garlic!