Even if you enjoy wrapping up warm after the long, hot, dry summer we had, there are some things that winter brings that no one likes. Colds and flu!
Unfortunately, like many Melburnians who like the cooler weather, so does the flu virus! It can live in the air longer when it is cold and dry. Which means we are more at risk of catching it.
But getting sick doesn’t have to be an inevitable part of your winter. Here are my top tips for staying healthy through the coldest months.
Tip one: Get a flu shot
This is the best thing you can do to prevent flu. It will keep you safe and help keep those around you safe too. You can get vaccinated against the flu at our health centres for free. Just call us on (03) 8470 1111 to book an appointment with me or one of the other nurses.
Tip two: Learn how to wash your hands properly
You need to do this all year round, but it is even more important when there are a lot of germs in the air, or if you have come into contact with people who are sick. It may sound silly, but many of us don’t actually know how to wash our hands properly, or as well as we should. A quick rinse under the tap won’t cut it. You need to:
- Use soap and water
- Rub vigorously for at least 20 seconds – getting soap between you fingers and all over your hands and under your nails
- Rinse well
- And dry your hands with a clean towel or air dryer
A good tip for getting children to wash their hands properly, is to sing a song like this one, or to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice. Or if teens or adults need a little more guidance, there is this song by One Republic!
Tip three: Keep hand sanitizer with you
Washing with soap is enough to keep your hands clean, but in case you are out and about and there is no soap in a public bathroom, carry an alcohol based hand sanitiser with you to use instead.
Tip four: Eat and drink healthily
We should all be doing this every day, but when our immune systems are low and we are more susceptible to germs, it is even more important. Lots of vegetables and fruit and plenty of water are key. If you are not sure if you are eating a balanced diet or need some advice on how you can make small changes that will have a big impact on your health, we can help. Our doctors and nurses can give you advice, and if needed could refer you to one of our dieticians for ongoing support.
Tip five: Get enough rest and reduce stress
If you are tired and run down, you are more likely to pick up germs. This is true all year round. Whether it is quiet time with a good book and cup of tea, listening to music or watching a happy movie, make time to relax and reduce stress.
Tip six: Stay away from sick people
This is often easier said than done, especially if it is your nearest and dearest who are unwell. But avoiding close contact or touching people who are unwell with a cold or flu will help prevent the virus spreading to you. For example, don’t kiss or shake hands with people who are unwell.
Tip seven: Ask people to stay away from you!
If you are concerned that other people around you are unwell, you can politely ask them. Many people still turn up to work when they are sick, because they feel bad about taking the day off. But in the long run they are increasing the risk of other people getting sick and taking even more days off work. So encourage your colleagues to be honest and to put everyone’s health and wellbeing before work!
We work hard to keep you safe from infection when you visit Your Community Health, but you can always ask us if we have washed our hands. If you think you have a cold or flu that you might spread to other people, let us know when you arrive and we can give you a face mask to wear, or somewhere to sit so you don’t spread germs to other people.
If you want more information about staying healthy through winter, talk to your doctor or nurse. Don’t forget to book that flu vaccination today!