The past year has opened our eyes in terms of taking steps to avoid illness. We are constantly doing our best to stay healthy, and those efforts have only been amplified due to the current pandemic. However, life is unpredictable, and flu season is still a threat that we need to be aware of. According to the CDC, between 3% and 11% of the U.S. population will be affected by the flu every year. Here are a few proactive measures that you can take to protect yourself:
1. Take Social Precautions
The current covid-19 pandemic has taught us all a lot about protecting ourselves while out in public. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are an important measure to take when going out in public. While hand sanitizer is now widely available at most establishments, it can be beneficial to carry your own. You can find options containing other natural elements like aloe and essential oils that are easier on the skin.
One precaution to take, especially if you are experiencing symptoms, is social distancing. The less people you interact with, the less of a chance you have of being exposed to someone who is carrying the flu. If you are the one who’s sick, it is important to protect others by not increasing their risk of exposure. Limiting social contact can be mentally taxing, and it can be easy to find yourself feeling sad and lonely. Utilizing resources made for virtual socialization, such as sites that sync up a movie to watch with a friend from afar, can make a big difference in how you feel while distancing yourself.
2. Boost Your Immune System
Sleep seems like a thoughtless activity, but the length and quality of your sleep can have a large impact on your defense against illness. While most people are concerned with not getting enough sleep, sleeping for too long can also inhibit your immune system.
Oversleeping can lead to poor quality sleep, and quality matters just as much as quantity when it comes to rest. To ensure that you’re sleeping in a way that supports your health and immunity, it helps to establish a routine with a set bedtime and a set wake-up time.
Your daily diet is another factor to be mindful of when it comes to supporting your immune system. Whole and unprocessed foods, especially fruits and vegetables, should be your first consideration when meal planning. Incorporating more greens into your diet can have many health benefits and, especially during the flu season, it can prepare your body to take on the virus.
3. Stock Up Ahead of Time
Making sure your medicine cabinet and your cleaning closet are stocked with supplies is both a proactive and reactive measure to take during the flu season. Having things to make you comfortable, treat your symptoms, and keep germs from spreading to others in your household will make the process of going through the flu significantly easier on yourself.
One of the most important things that you’ll want to have access to is symptom treatment. Take an inventory of what you already have and what has expired so you know what you need. If you’re already symptomatic, and don’t have energy to get out to the pharmacy, you can use an online service to deliver over the counter medications to your home. The flu can impact a number of bodily functions, so you might consider having medicine and natural supplements to treat pain, cough, congestion, sore throat, and anything else that you can predict might pop-up. The quicker you can treat your symptoms, the less you will have to suffer with them.
4. Understand the Flu
The flu, or influenza, can have many different presentations in both symptoms and strains. Understanding the common signs of the flu, can lessen the fear surrounding it, and help you to prepare for it.
The flu can have a range of different symptoms, so being knowledgeable about them can help you identify what is maybe a mild cold, or something more serious. Coughing, a sore throat, and sinus congestion can have a number of different viral causes. However, the flu might cause body aches, intense fatigue, and even gastrointestinal distress. Another detail to know about influenza and its symptoms, is that you can spread it to other people one day prior to even showing symptoms.
5. Set-up a Support System
Having friends and family to check in on you is beneficial to your comfort and safety. They can help you with advice, supplies, or provide mental relief by breaking your focus from your illness. Even if you don’t live near your close friends and family, you can set up a video call with someone once or twice a day to have someone check on you.
Child-care is especially important to plan prior to catching the flu. Even if you are a stay-at-home parent without care plans established, you might not have the energy necessary to look after your kids. If you have school aged children, you may not be able to pick them up or drop them off safely while ill or on medication. Have an emergency care plan, or utilize resources that let you look for child care on short-notice.
When it comes to our work and productivity, it can become demoralizing when we are sick and not able to meet certain standards. Stress can have a poor impact on our immune system, and can hurt our ability to recover. If you come up with a plan with your co-workers to either halt or share workloads when someone is sick, it can ease the worry you have about staying out of work while you’re under the weather.
As we continue to deal with a global pandemic, it is important to stay mindful of the more common threats we face. Flu season can bring challenges both mental and physical, but being prepared makes the day-to-day worries easier to deal with. You can use your existing knowledge on safety measures, as well as educate yourself further to ensure you are ready in case of the flu.