I cannot count the number of times I heard my mother (and others) say “you’re going to catch cold going outside dressed like that”, or something along those lines. Many people still believe that more people get sick in the winter because it is cold outside, and the colder temperatures are what causes us to catch a cold. In a sense, that is the reason. But the reality of the situation is this: When it is colder outside, people spend more time inside, with the windows shut.
When more people are spending time inside, the germs that are spreading around are concentrated in a smaller area. We touch the same objects and breathe the same air. When the windows are closed all the time, it does not give opportunity for fresh air to flush out germs that may be lingering. So, the air we breathe and the objects we touch are full of cold-causing germs.
Think about how many times you’ve been in an environment with sick people…at work, at home, or the grocery store. People coughing and sneezing. It’s great when they think about covering their mouths with their hands when they cough. But then, watch what they touch….thereby spreading their germs to doorknobs, shopping carts, office phones, the buttons on the copy machine, or the pens the cashier in the checkout line gives them to sign their credit slip with, just to name a few.
Call me crazy, if you wish. I am the one you see turning the water on and off at the public sink with her elbow, using her forearm to push the lever to get the paper towel from the dispenser, and using that towel to open the door of the public restroom. I use my own pen when I am in a store checkout line. I wash the grocery cart handle. I also carry antibacterial wipes in my car, and wash my hands when I get out of the store. And I rarely get sick. I’m also the one who notices how often people leave the restroom without washing their hands.
One of the best things you can do to prevent getting sick in the winter is to wash your hands frequently, using plenty of soap and hot water. If you find the skin on your hands is dry from frequent washing, then use a moisturizer afterwards.
It is also a great idea to not touch your face…your mouth, eyes, or nose..when you are in a public space. The germs that you may have picked up on your hands can easily infect you when you touch these mucous membranes.
Drinking lots of water is also beneficial during the cold season. If we are dehydrated, our systems are more susceptible to illness. Many of us tend to drink less in the winter because we are not as thirsty. We still need the same amount of fluids regardless of what the temperature is outside. Try drinking a nice cup of herbal tea…its warming, and will help keep you properly hydrated.
Getting proper sleep also helps keep the immune system strong. When your immune system is functioning properly, you are less likely to catch everything that goes around. And, as always, eat a well-balalnced diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables. The vitamins and minerals in these choices help keep your body functioning properly.
Develop these healthy habits now, and you might just make it through the winter without catching the colds and flus that everyone else seems to come down with.