How to Stay Healthy During the Winter

Three Methods:Preventing IllnessAdopting Healthy HabitsRecovering Quickly

Winter can bring fun things like holidays and ice skating. Unfortunately, it can also mean increased illness. Many people find themselves coming down with ailments such as colds and sore throats during the winter months. You may be wondering how you can stay healthy during the winter months. You can take steps to prevent illness, and also find ways to recover quickly if sickness does strike.

Method 1
Preventing Illness

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    Wash your hands. Regularly washing your hands is one of the best ways to keep from spreading germs. It's also a good method to avoid spreading germs to others. During the winter, this is especially important since it is cold and flu season.[1]
    • Make sure you know how to properly wash your hands. Rub your hands together under warm water for 20 seconds, using a mild hand soap.
    • Try singing the Alphabet Song in your head while you wash. That's about how long you should spend washing your hands.
    • Wash your hands thoroughly whenever you touch your mouth or nose. You should also wash before eating.
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    Stay warm. Cold temperatures can bring increased illnesses, especially respiratory problems. Children and the elderly are especially prone to health problems caused by cold weather. Take care to stay as warm as possible during the winter.[2]
    • Bundle up when you head outside. In addition to your heavy coat, layer on scarves, hats, and gloves.
    • Make sure to frequently wash your winter wear. Germs from your mouth and nose can cling to items like your scarf.
    • Keep your house warm. Make sure that your heater is working properly at the beginning of each cold season.
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    Get vaccinations. Modern medicine can help you stay healthy during the winter. Choosing to get vaccinated can help you fight illness. Talk to your doctor about getting a shot.[3]
    • The flu shot can help prevent sickness. You can get a flu shot at most drugstores without an appointment.
    • Your doctor can tell you which vaccinations you need, based on your age and lifestyle. Scheduling a check-up with your doctor to discuss vaccinations is a good idea.
    • If you plan to travel, you might need additional vaccinations. Discuss your plans with your doctor.

Method 2
Adopting Healthy Habits

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    Eat a healthy diet. The foods you eat can have a big impact on your overall health. Eating a well-balanced diet can help support your immune system. Eat right to help stave of winter illness.[4]
    • Aim to get multiple servings of vegetables each day. Parsnips, carrots, and turnips are great winter vegetables. You can roast them or mix them into your favorite warming soups and stews.
    • Increase your dairy. Milk and dairy products have lots of vitamins, such as A and B 12 that can help keep you healthy.
    • Look for low-fat milk and reduced fat cheeses. You can also try Greek yogurt and light cottage cheese.
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    Be physically active. Exercise is a great way to keep your body healthy. It can be tempting to want to limit your trips to the gym during the frigid months. But staying active will help your fight colds and flu.[5]
    • Aim to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week. Choose an activity that you enjoy so that you are more likely to stick with it.
    • If you don't belong to a gym, winter is a great time to join one. Many fitness centers offer special sales during the cold months.
    • Find a winter-related activity. Try ice skating or cross-country skiing. You can even burn calories by shoveling snow.
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    Avoid injury. Winter can mean increased accidents in addition to increased sickness. There are many hazards such as slippery sidewalks and piles of snow. Use extra precaution during the winter to avoid harming yourself.[6]
    • Use salt. Using salt or ice melt on your steps and sidewalk can help you to keep from slipping.
    • Be aware of fire hazards. A high percentage of residential fires occur during the winter.
    • Candles look festive and smell good, but they come with risks. Keep children and pets away from open flames.
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    Reduce stress. Tension can weaken your resistance to germs. If you are stressed, you might also be extra tired. Try to find ways to relax amid the hectic feelings that the holidays can bring.[7]
    • Play games. Implement a family game night where you play board games and have fun snacks.
    • Try yoga. You'll de-stress and have the added benefit of some extra exercise.
    • Take a hot bath. Winter is a perfect time to use that aromatherapy bubble bath you got for your last birthday.
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    Limit sugar. It seems that limiting your sugar intake can help strengthen your immune system. A diet low in refined sugar can actually help you ward off the flu and colds. Take steps to limit your sugar intake. [8]
    • Pay attention to what you drink. Sodas and fruit drinks can contain large amounts of sugar.
    • Switch to water or iced tea. These beverages will quench your thirst without adding sugar to your diet.
    • When you have a craving for something street, try a piece of fruit. The natural sugar is better for you than the refined sugars in foods such as cookies.
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    Clean your surroundings. Flu germs can cling to surfaces for up to 8 hours. By frequently cleaning the surfaces in your home and office, you can eliminate germs. Pay special attention to frequently touched items.[9]
    • You can clean with soap and water. You can also use sanitizing wipes that contain bleach.
    • At the office, wipe down your keyboard a few times a day. You should also sanitize your phone and other frequently touched items.
    • At home, wipe down kitchen and bathroom surfaces, such as counters. You should also wipe down your children's toys.

Method 3
Recovering Quickly

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    Get plenty of sleep. There are many effective ways to prevent getting sick. However, most people will still suffer from the occasional cold or flu. If you are ill, get plenty of rest.[10]
    • Most adults need between 7-9 hours of sleep each night. When you are sick, don't be afraid to try to get a few extra hours.
    • Resting can help your body heal. If you are sick, try going to bed earlier than usual.
    • If you have a cold, sleeping can be difficult. Try to rest propped up on a couple of pillows. A humidifier may also help you breathe more easily.
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    Try home remedies. Although experts are still debating, there is evidence that zinc can help speed your recovery. If you have a cold, taking a zinc supplement can help you feel back to normal a day or two faster. Talk to your doctor before taking any supplements.[11]
    • You can purchase zinc at most drug stores. Make sure to follow the directions on the package and take the correct dose.
    • Try chicken soup. Preliminary research suggests that chicken soup does have properties to help you recover from a cold.
    • Chicken soup acts as an anti-inflammatory. It also helps speed the movement of mucus.
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    Use essential oils. Many people believe that essential oils have healing properties. If you have a cold or flu, you can use certain oils to speed your recovery. Just make sure to properly apply the oils.[12]
    • Make a mixture of peppermint, rosemary, eucalyptus, and lemon oils. Mix a few drops of each with water to dilute. You can inhale this healing scent directly from the bottle.
    • You can also put this mixture in a spray bottle and spritz around your home. This is also a great mix of oils to place in your diffuser.
    • Alternatively, you can apply the oils directly to your chest before bedtime. Just make sure to mix with a carrier oil, such as olive or grapeseed. Add about 12 drops of essential oil to each ounce of carrier oil.
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    Stay hydrated. Fluids can help you to avoid dehydration. This will help speed the healing process. Fluids can also help move the mucus out of your body. Extra hydration can also help you to avoid pain from a headache or sore throat. Water is always your best bet, but there are plenty of other helpful fluids, too.[13]
    • Drink extra water while you are sick. Juice and clear broths can also help you to stay hydrated.
    • Avoid alcohol and sodas. Those beverages can lead to dehydration.
    • If your throat is sore, try adding some lemon and honey to your water. You can also use this method with warm tea.
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    Try a pain reliever. Over the counter products can help you to feel better when you have a cold or other illness. Pain relievers can reduce your fever and help soothe a headache or sore throat. Adults can have Advil, Ibuprofen, or Tylenol.[14]
    • Make sure to follow the dosage instructions on the package. Ask a pharmacist if you have questions.
    • Remember that children under 3 should never take aspirin. Talk to your doctor about the correct dosage for a younger child.
    • You can also try an over the counter cough medication. Ask your pharmacist which one will be best for your symptoms.


  • Cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough. Wash your hands multiple times a day.
  • Living a healthy lifestyle year round can help you avoid illness in the winter.
  • Get a flu shot.

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Categories: Health Hygiene