Never before have we been more aware of what can make us sick. COVID-19 has made us think about things we may have never thought about before, and it has caused us to take precautions by wearing masks when out in public, applying hand sanitizer religiously, and social distancing.
Not only can these kinds of precautions help us avoid getting COVID-19, they can also help you avoid getting other illnesses, like the flu.
Here are a few tips that go beyond masks and hand sanitizer that will help you avoid getting sick all year long.
Hand sanitizer has exploded as a way to disinfect your hands. However, it’s not just your hands that you should disinfect regularly.
There are many things you touch throughout the day that other people touch as well. People can have germs on their hands and spread them to you just because you touched the same items.
In public places, you might have to turn off the faucet or open the bathroom door with a paper towel, but at home you can use disinfectant sprays and cleaners.
A few things to clean that you may have forgotten include:
- Kitchen cabinet knobs
- Buttons on appliances
- Light switches
- Keys and key chains
- Outside of water bottles
- Glasses and sunglasses
Don’t Touch Your Face
Although disinfecting items, sanitizing your hands, and using paper towels and tissues to open doors can prevent you from picking up germs, there’s only so much you can do. There are going to be times throughout your day when you have to touch things unprotected.
That’s okay! You don’t want to live the kind of life that makes you afraid to do daily things because you might touch germs.
No matter how much exposure you have to germs, you should avoid touching your face. This is harder than it sounds. Pay attention to how often you touch your face on a daily basis and you’ll be surprised and just how often it happens!
Avoid scratching your nose, rubbing your eyes, or using your finger to apply lip balm. If you do, you can avoid transferring the germs that could possibly be on your hands to your face where they can enter your body and make you sick.
Know the Germiest Places in Your Community
Not only should you stop touching your face, especially while you’re out in public, you should also be aware of some of the germiest places in your community. That way, you can avoid touching them, or at least wipe them down with a disinfectant wipe.
Areas in public places to avoid include:
- Arcades, especially the joysticks and buttons
- Toilet handles, soap dispensers, and door handles in public bathrooms
- The cart at the grocery store
- Public transportation including airplane armrests and the handles of rental bikes
Be Mindful When Indoors
The coronavirus can spread more effectively indoors compared to outdoors. Although it is something we never really thought about before, it makes sense. Indoor air is often recirculated, and when surrounded by four walls, there’s nowhere for it to go, so it hangs around and increases the chances of making you sick.
This is true of the coronavirus, but it’s true of other airborne illnesses as well. Do yourself a favor and be mindful when indoors.
For example, Christmas shopping in the mall on Black Friday may not be a good idea if you’re worried about germs. Go instead on a Monday morning to avoid big crowds.
Do a better job of washing your hands, avoid touching your face, and keep your distance from other people if you do find yourself indoors surrounded by a lot of people.
Avoid the Buffet
Buffets disappeared throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, and for good reason. There are a lot of gross things about buffets that most people didn’t think about before. Now, we know that using the same utensils as strangers and eating food that may not be as fresh as it should be turns buffets into bacteria breeding grounds.
As life returns back to normal and buffets reopen, you should continue skipping them. That is, unless servers plate up items and there is a clear and observable policy for keeping food hot, keeping other foods cold, and switching out foods that have been out for too long.
Get Plenty of Sleep
There are a lot of actionable things you can do that have a direct influence on whether you pick up germs or not, but some connections are harder to see.
For example, you probably know that eating well can boost your health, which includes boosting your immunity, but did you know that sleep can affect your immunity too?
A lack of sleep can lower your immunity, making you more likely to get sick. Do yourself a favor and make sure you get plenty of rest each night so your body can fight off any germs it comes in contact with throughout the day. It’s especially important to make sure you get rest if you think you have been exposed to a virus, like the cold or the flu.
A lot of people have very strong feelings about vaccinations. Regardless of how you or others feel about them, they do prevent people from getting sick. If getting ill is something you worry about, you should definitely look into getting vaccinated.
Getting the flu shot can lower your chances of getting the flu, as can one of the vaccines against COVID-19. If you do get one of these viruses after getting your shot, your symptoms will be greatly reduced.
There are other types of vaccinations you can look into as well. For example, some shots can potentially prevent cancer, while others can prevent chicken pox and shingles.
The coronavirus is a new virus we’ve never had to deal with before, but it’s far from the only illness we can get when we’re exposed to germs. With these tips, you can reduce your chances of getting a variety of illnesses all year long.