Be proactive — wear a hat. Were it only as simple as following our mother’s advice and dressing warmly, we’d all have a better winter. You know how crippling and unattractive a cold can be and you know that there is no quick fix. Have you had the flu? If you are not sure of the answer, believe me, you haven’t. It will bring you to your knees and you will not soon forget it. Do you remember the muffled shout as the door slammed behind you when you were a kid walking out into the snow? “Put on a scarf. You’ll catch the death of you.” I love that image, by the way. It would actually be nice to catch the death of you before it catches you, wouldn’t it? I imagine you could sneak up on it and then run back to base before it knows what hit it. While you might not be able to do that with the grim reaper, you can do it with a cold or the flu. It’s not foolproof, but it is worth a try.
1. Dress warmly – Every single thing you read and all of the evidence say that there is no correlation between going out with a wet head and/or exposed skin and getting sick. Then why does it always seem to always happen that way? One walk of shame on a cold winter morning right before Christmas break with only one shoe on and you are in bed for a week. True, there are more germs circulating in the fall and winter because people are spending more time indoors in closed spaces. Children are in school and we all know what little petri dishes they are — I affectionately call my Kindergartener “Typhoid Mary”. But that explanation alone doesn’t satisfy me. The air is more drying in the winter, both inside and out, which allows viruses to flourish, but that still doesn’t quite cut it for me. Sometimes, you just have to believe old wives’ tales because your mother told you too. Your hair will be fine, put on a hat.
2. Sleep – God made it get darker earlier in the winter because in His infinite wisdom, he knew that our immune system needed more sleep to fight off colds and flus. If I were Him, I just would have left viruses off my “to be created” list, but who am I to question? Maybe He has stock in Kleenex. Pardon me while I check for lightening bolts.
3. Put the Halloween candy AWAY – Have you noticed that the unhealthier your diet, the more susceptible you are to getting sick? If you haven’t, pay attention. It is not just adding more vitamins (see #4), it is avoiding sugar. I have already eaten 5 mini snickers, 2 pieces of leftover orange cake and an AirHead. I don’t really care for the AirHeads but I ate it because I knew I could stop at one. With all that sugar, I am sure you will be hearing about my cold next week.
4. Eat healthy – It really does make a difference. Drink more water and less caffeine. Try to increase your intake of fruits and vegetables. My grandparents (who I may have previously mentioned are 98 and 93) swear by V8. Why not? Throw a little vodka in there and everyone’s happy. Foods with Vitamin C and E, Zinc, Selenium, bioflavenoids, and beta-carotene help to boost the immune system. You can look on-line to find which foods contain these vitamins and minerals but let me save you some trouble. Everything you think is good for you, is great for your immunity — fruits and vegetables, fish, beans, lean meats and yogurt to name the top few. Unless you are very good about getting all your servings every day, the cold weather months are a good time to tack on a multivitamin.
5. Avoid small children, especially those with their fingers or tongues up their nose.
Notice I did not mention washing your hands. If you are alive in this country, you’ve probably already heard that hand washing can save your life. Every time a news station has nothing else to report on, they throw a scare in about how many germs are lurking in places like … da, da, daaaa – the SUBWAY … shocker. Aren’t you glad you watched? Enlightening — how else would you have ever known that small, dark places with millions of people harbor germs. God gave you three very important things to protect you from viruses. Again, not sure why He didn’t just skip the germ-making step in the book of Creation, but what’s done is done. He gave you 1. skin, 2. an immune system, and 3. common sense. You know that germs are out there and the cold pisses them off so they are even more dangerous. Of course, you should wash your hands frequently but take it easy on the Purell — not only does its overuse scream “O-C-D”, too much of it is not a good thing.