Winter is here and as usual, so is the dreaded flu. Here are six ways to keep yourself safe and healthy during this flu season.
- Get your flu vaccine
All Bestmed members and dependants have access to flu vaccinations every year as part of their preventative care benefits. Making sure that you get your annual shot because the flu vaccine is updated every year with new strains of the virus that were discovered the year preceding it. This is achieved by following the virus’s progression as other areas in the world experience their winter season while your region was enjoying spring, summer and autumn. If you have not yet had your shot, visit your nearest network pharmacy to get your vaccine as soon as possible. The cost of the vaccination is paid from scheme risk, at 100% scheme rate, which means that it will not affect your day-to-day benefits or savings.
- Keep your distance from sick people
This one might seem obvious, but it applies to more than just keeping a safe distance from sick strangers and colleagues—it pertains to keeping a wide berth to sick family and friends too, when possible, says Dr. Robertson. And if you do have to interact with people who are sick, make sure to be vigilant about washing your hands and not touching your face.
- Practicing good hygiene
Prevention is better than cure, so limiting your exposure to illness by avoiding germs is key to remaining healthy and preventing the flu. Keeping yourself and your environments clean puts you one step ahead of the viruses, bacteria and pathogens that are constantly lurking around you as you do your day to day activities. Here are some other ways to practice good hygiene:
- Shower daily.
- Wash your hands before eating or preparing food.
- Wash your hands before inserting contact lenses or performing any other activity that brings you in contact with the eyes or mouth.
- Wash your hands thoroughly with clean water and soap for 20 seconds and scrub under your fingernails. If soap is not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Proper hand washing can result in a 16–21 percent decrease in respiratory illnesses, such as colds and the flu.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
- Regularly disinfect shared surfaces, such as keyboards, telephones, doorknobs, and remote controls.
- Avoid touching contaminated surfaces and then touching your face.
- Get enough sleep
Getting adequate sleep is extremely important if you’ve been exposed to a virus, according to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Healthy adult participants who slept a minimum of eight hours each night over a two-week period showed a greater resistance to the virus. Those who slept seven hours or less each night were about three percent more likely to develop the virus after exposure.
One reason may be that the body releases cytokines during extended periods of sleep. Cytokines are a type of protein. They help the body fight infection by regulating the immune system.
- Boost your immune system
A lot of people assume that boosting your immune system is as easy as taking a multi vitamin but unfortunately it isn’t. It is a lifestyle choice that you have to make every day starting with, but not limited to:
- Eat a healthy diet that’s high in fruits and vegetables
- Exercise regularly – for at least 30 minutes 3 times a week
- Maintain a healthy weight – get your body mass index (BMI)
- If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation
- Get adequate sleep
- Take steps to avoid infection by practicing good hygiene
- Don’t smoke – if you are a smoker considering quitting, here’s an article to help you deal with Nicotine withdrawal
- Manage your stress
Stress is one of those things that can creep up on you before you before you have a chance to notice. Whether it is work, school, family, planning a wedding, illness or finance related stress, make sure that you keep account of how you are coping with your day to day life. If you find yourself feeling fatigued or stressed, here are 5 ways to keep your vitals in check during stressful times.