The months of September through March can be brutal on the immune system, and staying healthy can seem impossible. The harsh New England winters can take a real toll on immune health, and being trapped indoors only increases the spread of germs. Working in hospitals and other healthcare facilities only heightens the risk of getting sick. With flu season quickly approaching, here are a few ways to help prevent sickness before it strikes.
Staying Healthy This Cold and Flue Season
Get Your Flu Shot
As a nurse, you may have even administered flu shots to some of your patients. But what about yourself? When was the last time YOU were vaccinated? In a hospital setting, germs are constantly being spread around. Even if you typically do not get the flu, you can still carry the sickness around with you. If you have younger children or elderly parents at home, they are even more susceptible to the effects of the flu. When it comes to the flu, it is better to be safe than sorry. It is important to keep up with your flu shots, too. Healthcare professionals advise patients to receive one shot a year. October is the best time to receive your vaccination. While the shot may have a lasting effect, different strains of the flu become present every year, which is why it is recommended you get vaccinated yearly. Staying healthy starts with preventative care.
Get Some Sleep
Sleep is vital to living a healthy life. Not only will you feel better physically, but your body does all sorts of good stuff while you are asleep. Sleep helps to improve your immune health, which can help fight off colds and the flu. Most healthcare professionals recommend that adults get at least eight hours of sleep every night.
Eat Healthy Foods
Vitamin-rich diets help to fight off viruses. Foods high in vitamin C are especially helpful. Grab yourself an orange before you head out to your next shift, or try incorporating strawberries into your morning breakfast routine. If you are a fan of yogurt, the probiotics do more than just balance out your gut. The probiotics in Greek yogurt can help to fight off flu as well. If you do happen to get sick, yogurt can also help soothe sore throats, too! Eating nutritious foods goes beyond just staying healthy for the winter. Start practicing good health all year long! For tips on healthy food choices, check out our previous blog.
Sanitize, Sanitize, Sanitize
As a nurse, your hands are going to be everywhere. Keep your hands clean with pocket-sized hand sanitizers. Engage in frequent hand washing and encourage others to join you as well. The best way to stop the spread of colds is to kill the germs before they have a chance to infect others. If you work in a facility where many people are sick, take the necessary precautionary measures to keep yourself healthy. Try wearing gloves, or even a face mask if necessary.
Know the Warning Signs
If you feel yourself coming down with a cold, it is important to take the proper precautionary measures. Preventative care is always important, but sometimes getting sick is inevitable. If you do happen to catch a cold, try to minimize the spread of germs as much as possible. Remember to cover your coughs (and encourage younger kids to do so, too!). If you are sick, make sure you take some time to rest. As a per diem nurse, try to schedule some days off in advance to give yourself a chance to relax. Overworking yourself can lead to immune system deficiencies. Working per diem allows you to have the schedule flexibility to take time off when you need it. Schedule a few days to allow yourself to re-fuel. Your body will thank you (and your coworkers will, too!)
No one wants to spend their time being sick. As a nurse, it is your job to help people feel better. However, you cannot take care of others if you are not feeling 100% yourself. It is important to take precautionary measures during this cold and flu season.