The temperatures in California are FINALLY going down . . . For several weeks, the weather has been playing a bipolar game of Cool, Crisp 50’s and Warm, Sunny 80’s — which is pretty ridiculous given that it’s November. (Folks, nobody should EVER need air conditioning in November.)
But as we’re heading indoors more often and pulling our sweaters and scarves out of the closet, it’s easy to forget that there are some sinister sidewinders waiting to attack at every door handle, gas pump and ATM machine we encounter on our way to the local Starbucks for a pumpkin spice latte.
I’m talkin’ about germs, people. In the interest of staying healthy, it’s important not to forget a few, simple things we can do to better arm ourselves against bugs this winter.
– Hand sanitizer/hand washing. Now is the hour of our discontent, made glorious summer to a host of germs. Okay, Richard III adaptation aside (I majored in English, folks – don’t act so surprised), germs are just as prevalent in the summer as they are in the winter, but we are more susceptible in the winter because we’re indoors. We keep windows closed, we’re all cozy with the heater on. Wash your hands, disinfect surfaces that you frequently touch and keep hand gel around for “just in case.” I always have it in my car — because gas pumps and ATM buttons are germ orgies. Gross. Bath & Body works makes this stuff in at least a dozen different scents and sells them for about a buck a bottle. I try to grab a half dozen or so every time I’m in the store.
– Drink up! When you’re dehydrated, a lot of things don’t work as well as they could — like your immune system. When you’re dehydrated, your blood slows down and lymph fluid (the fluid that carries bacteria to your lymph nodes to be destroyed) thickens, making your immune system sluggish. Keep a bottle of water at your workspace and refill it often. For iPhone users, there’s a nifty little app called 8 a Day where you track your water intake by tapping a glass for each glass you consume. When you open it back up, it shows you how many glasses you have left to drink for the day. Pretty sure this is a free app, so why wait? Bottoms up!
– Get a flu shot. Yes, your arm will be sore and it’s possible you’ll have a day where you’re feeling a bit off after you’ve gotten it, but a flu shots make a difference. There are some who feel that flu shots shouldn’t be necessary — that our bodies fight off the flu and that we’re ultimately making ourselves weaker by not allowing ourselves to fight the virus. I’m not a doctor, but reading that many people die every year from flu complications makes me think that a vaccine certainly couldn’t hurt. A pretty good flu shot FAQ recap can be read here. For more information about seasonal flu, check out what the Center for Disease Control has to say. (In the interest of transparent honesty, though, I feel like I should mention that California state law requires me to get a flu shot as I work for a hospital. I’m happy to comply, knowing that walking in and out of the hospital, touching elevator buttons or door handles on my way to meetings might mean a few days on the couch miserable without a preemptive strike against flu.)
But if all else fails and you find yourself sick, curl up on the couch with a hot toddy and reruns of something awesome. It’s a home remedy guaranteed to work . . . unless you have ebola. Then you’re pretty much hosed. (Sorry.)