Top tips for avoiding cold and flu this Winter

Lifestyle reporter

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Lifestyle reporter

Protect yourself against the flu this winter

Tissues at the ready - it's cold and flu season

Winter can be a nightmare for many reasons but leaving the cold and miserable weather aside for a moment, the real pain of the season is avoiding the dreaded cold and flu infections that seem to just be everywhere at the moment.

While susceptibility to infection  is based on a lot of factors including the strength of your immune system and general health, there are things you can do to minimise the risk of infection:

Get immunised

The flu shot is available every year. If you have a compromised immune system, are elderly or pregnant, then you should get the annual shot to help reduce your risk of serious health complications.

Eat well 

Abalanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, protein and fibre, is crucial to ensuring your body is able to fight off infection. So if you want to maximise your health, ditch the junk food, soft drinks and fried, fatty meals and eat a better diet for better health.

Wash your hands

This should be obvious, but you would be surprised just how many people don't wash their hands after going to the toilet or before eating. During cold and flu season it is more important than ever that you wash your hands regularly, especially if you are working or living with someone fighting the infection. Infectious droplets spread cold and flu viruses and the infection can remain alive on surfaces for hours, so wash your hands regularly. Use antiseptic hand gel washes if you don't have access to water and don't forget to wash your hands before you eat and as soon as you get home.

Get more sleep

You can't beat the benefits of getting a restful sleep each night. Aim for 8 hours of sleep - if possible. If not only helps the body repair itself and build the immune system, it also helps you cope better with stress.

Exercise

The Winter months often lead to a decrease in the amount of exercise we actually do. Dark evenings, cold weather and rain all make the prospect of getting outside in the fresh air, very difficult. Bear in mind that regular exercise will not only benefit your mind and your waistline, it also helps to boost the immune system too. So don't park yourself on that couch for the night, get out for a walk or do some yoga at home. 

Try and reduce stress

It is well known that stress can weaken your immune system and may make you more likely to catch a cold than your calmer counterparts. Stress is a part of our daily lives but there are steps you can take to reduce its impact. Practice mindfulness - take a few minutes to relax and just breathe. Take a walk in the fresh air. Meet up with friends and family. Do whatever helps you to stay calm and well.