Maintaining your health during the winter season can be tricky. With colds, coughs, and everything in-between, making through the cold weather and all health scares that it can bring is a lot to worry about, especially while being in the middle of the COVID pandemic. With so many risks to your immune system already happening, how do you stay healthy this chilly season with the COVID pandemic still in full effect?

Firstly, the easiest way to keep from getting sick is to simply wash your hands often. Wash them using non-antibacterial soap for 20 seconds before exiting the restroom (even if you don’t use it), cooking, touching your face or mouth, and after having contact with other people and commonly-used objects. According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, frequently washing your hands reduces repository illnesses, such as colds, in the general population by 16 to 21 percent. According to their website, “Many diseases and conditions are spread by not washing hands with soap and clean, running water. During the Coronavirus Disease 19 (COVID-19) pandemic, keeping hands clean is especially important to help prevent the virus from spreading.” To keep you and everyone else safe, wash your hands frequently.

Secondly, getting rest is the next best thing you can do to stay free of illness. When resting your body, you’re giving it enough energy to keep an active immune system and fight off whatever germs that invade it. Being tired can have negative effects on your body’s immunity. When you’re sleeping, your body releases cytokines, proteins that aid the cells in the immune system. Studies have shown that the body has a decreased production of these cytokine proteins when it is exhausted. It also slows its production of antibodies that fight off infections. We all know that sometimes it’s hard to go to bed on time with so many Netflix shows to binge-watch until the early hours of the morning, but get your rest if you want to insure your health this winter season.

The next thing you could do is probably the thing that we all dreaded the most during this trying time- social distancing. Try to avoid going to crowded places and being within close proximity of others as much as you can. This advice will help prevent you from catching all sicknesses, Covid included. The CDC has done tremendous research on the spread of Covid and found that it mostly spreads amongst people who are within a close radius of one another. It may be impossible to completely avoid other people, but try to limit the amount of time you spend in the presence of others and avoid getting any closer than six feet. Any time you are around others, remember to wear your mask and sanitize your hands often since illness can also be spread through contact with commonly-used contaminated surfaces.

The fourth sure-fire way to make sure you don’t get sick during these colder months is to get vaccinated. Though there is no vaccine for Covid just yet, there are still vaccines for other illnesses, like the Flu. Getting vaccinated helps prevent catching sicknesses before you even encounter them, giving your body the immunity it needs to fight off viruses right away, instead of gradually getting better once you catch them. Even though vaccines have been the subject of controversy, with some people making negative claims against them, creditable medical studies and sources have proven that they do indeed help most people and prevent many ailments, with the Department of Health and Human Services saying that vaccines are “the best protection against many serious diseases. Most people who get vaccinated will have immunity (protection) against the disease.”

To conclude, staying healthy during this pandemic is trying enough, especially when you add colds and flus into the mix. However, all hope is not lost. There are small steps you can take that can increase your chances of not getting sick during this winter season. Some of the steps may not be the most fun, but if they would help guarantee that you have a winter not plagued by illness, or you know, death, it is easy to see how it can all be worth doing. While everyone in the world is in the middle of this pandemic, we owe it to ourselves and each other to stay healthy and stop the spread of germs as much as possible. All you have to do is wash your hands, get your rest, stay home as much as you can, and get your shots. When the Spring of 2021 comes around, you’ll be happy that you did.

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