When we’re trying to make our food last longer, we freeze it to kill bacteria and other germs that may make it go bad. So, it may seem a little ironic that winter, the coldest season of the year, comes with so many germs. Unfortunately, the nasty little bugs that cause winter sniffles thrive even more in the cold, and we need to be extra careful to avoid them.
In some parts of the world (like Russia and Iceland), children are made immune to winter germs by frequently playing in the snow. They take a hot drink or a hot shower, strip down to their underwear, then run into the snow and play for 6 minutes. While we don’t advise anything that extreme, we do have a few tips on dealing with winter germs.
Cover up. Unlike the children in Russia, it’s advisable to dress warmly. It’s not the cold weather that makes people sick, but having more skin exposed to extreme weather conditions does increase the likelihood of getting an infection.
Low temperatures can make your family lethargic, and all you want to do is curl up with cocoa and a blanket. It’s a better idea to do something active. Jump around, play physical games, keep your body moving. This increases your blood flow, which boosts your immunity, helping to prevent infections and fight the germs when they show up.
Keep your hands clean, washing them thoroughly with soap and water. Remember, there are a lot more germs floating around, and as you go about your day touching tables and chairs and doorknobs and computers, it’s easy to pick these germs up.
At home and at work, do a few extra rounds of cleaning and focus on frequently touched surfaces. Wipe them down with disinfectant detergent to minimise the germs. One common piece of advice is to avoid touching surfaces, but that’s not really practical. Instead, wear gloves and socks, as this will keep many germs from getting in direct contact with your skin.
Be careful not to wear the same pair of gloves for too long though, since it’s picking up all the germs around. Change your handwear and footwear every day, and be sure to wash them with disinfectant detergent between uses.
A reason why people are susceptible to winter germs is that we huddle up indoors to keep warm. Sometimes, we all stay in the same room and the germs circulate among us. In addition, we use internal heating systems to warm ourselves up, and that keeps the same germ-filled air circling us. Try to spread out and spend more time in open spaces, breathing in fresh, germ-free air.
Other tips for handling winter bugs include using natural herbs and spices. These are great, healthy ways to both avoid and clear infections. A warm drink of water mixed with honey and cinnamon will clear your airways and make it easier to breathe, which lets more clean, fresh air into your lungs.
You may have heard that pepper makes you sneeze, and sometimes it does. What you might not know is that sneezing clears your airways too, which eases breathing, improves circulation, and releases any nasty germs out of your body.
Of course, your natural reaction is to cover your mouth when you sneeze. It’s the polite thing to do. That said, when you sneeze your germs onto your hand then you touch another surface, you spread the germs to the new surface ready for someone else to pick up. Sneeze into your handkerchief instead, and wash it frequently with disinfectant detergents to avoid sharing your germs with everyone.