Flu season is upon us. It depends, of course, on where in the world you live, but for most of us February is one of those months with major temperatures changes from one day to the next. Even if we dress appropriately, a weakened immune system will always be sensitive to these shifts and react in a way that will ruin our personal plans or work schedules.
Therefore, measures must be taken. Besides getting your flu shot and maintaining a high level of personal hygiene at all times, the best line of defense consists of a handful of healthy habits you should practice all throughout the year, but especially during flu season:
Get lots of sleep – probably the most overlooked habit of them all, sleep is essential for a strong immune system and an overall positive disposition and increased productivity. According to the U.S. Institute of Health, during sleep, blood and heart vessels are being repaired, the hormonal balance is being regulated and many more other processes occur that help your system fight back infections and stay functional and healthy. As tempting as it may be to binge-watch a tv show until 3 AM or finish that amazing new mystery novel, make sure you get at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
Incorporate workouts in your daily routine – while rest is essential in maintaining a healthy immune system, physical activity also plays an important role. You don’t have to strain yourself, but something even as simple and light as a stroll in the park or a pilates session at your local gym can be very beneficial. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, exercise flushes the bacteria out of your lungs, thus reducing the risk of getting an airborne illness. Also, it causes your white blood cells to circulate more rapidly so that your system can detect illnesses faster.
Drink lots of tea – this may just be one of the most relaxing habits – besides sleep of course. National Geographic reports that naturally occurring chemicals in tea called alkylamines help your immune system fight off infection. The amazing thing about tea is that it comes in a huge variety of flavors, so just pick one and start sipping!
Go out and soak up some sun – vitamin D, provided by the sun, is an immunity supercharger, so take advantage of the next sunny day you get.
Indulge in some chicken soup – besides being a delicious comfort food dish, the soup has an anti-inflammatory effect, says a University of Nebraska Medical Center study. This is due to the chicken and vegetables mixed in it. The same ingredients have been found to help relieve cold symptoms, by slowing the migration of white blood cells into the upper respiratory tract, according to the UCLA Student Wellness Commission.