Self-care is important at all times of year, but never more so than in the flu season. The increased prevalence of viral illnesses at this time of year mean misery for many of us. But there are plenty of ways to proactively take care of yourself this winter.
Prevention is better than cure - minimise your risk of becoming ill
Staying healthy is, obviously, preferable to coming down with a cold or the flu. There are several things you can do to reduce your risk of contracting a virus this winter.
- Get vaccinated - This is the best flu prevention strategy for many. Check if it's a suitable option for you here, or speak to your doctor.
- Maintain good hygiene - Viruses can live on surfaces for several hours. Wash your hands frequently, use hand-sanitiser when out in public, and avoid touching your face as much as possible.
- Keep your stress levels down - Get plenty of sleep. Keep your alcohol intake within recommended limits. Try meditation, as little as ten minutes a day can help significantly reduce stress.
- Try supplements - Dietary supplements won't prevent you catching a virus, but they may reduce the duration and severity of symptoms if taken regularly. Vitamin C, echinacea, vitamin D, and garlic have all had mixed results in scientific trials, but could be useful.
Watch this video on Top 5 Ways to Prevent the Flu or a Cold this Season
Self-care for when illness strikes
Sometimes, all the preventative measure still won't be enough. If you do pick up a bug this winter, use these tips to get back to fighting fit as soon as possible.
- Keep warm and get plenty of rest - Curling up on the sofa with a blanket and your favourite film is a great way to indulge yourself when you feel unwell.
- Stay hydrated - Lots of warm drinks, including soups, will soothe a sore throat. And, staying hydrated is essentially to help your body fight illness. Try warm water with a teaspoon of honey, and a teaspoon of either lemon juice or cider vinegar.
- Medicate - If you are suffering from a cold, then over the counter medications can help reduce the symptoms. If you have the flu, then anti-viral medications such as Tamiflu may be indicated. This handy guide can help you work out which virus you have.
Watch this YouTube video on Cold & Flu Season Tips - How to Prevent the Cold and Flu
If symptoms persist for longer than a week, consult a medical professional to rule out secondary bacterial infection.