Many of us enjoy being home for the holidays. However, we’d wager that very few—if any—of you would put being home sick with the cold or flu on your winter break to-do list.

Fortunately, there are some fairly simple ways that you can help to stave off the common cold. In An Invitation to Health, Fifteenth Edition, Dianne Hales offers the following recommendations:

  • Be sure to get adequate sleep. If you catch fewer than seven hours’ worth of zzz’s each night, you’re three times more likely to catch a cold.
  • Try to stay positive and stress free. Per Hales: “People who feel unable to deal with everyday stresses have an exaggerated immune reaction that may intensify cold or flu symptoms once they’ve contracted a virus” (p. 545).
  • Steer clear of people with colds. Given all the socializing and shopping that goes on at this time of year, this may be difficult—but if you notice someone exhibiting signs of illness, stay as far as you can from him or her.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly. Germs congregate on countertops, door knobs, and other surfaces frequently touched by human hands. Scrub your hands with soap and hot water for at least fifteen seconds.
  • Then, dry thoroughly. It’s easier to spread germs via wet hands.
  • Don’t become overly dependent on alcohol-based hand sanitizers. They can be useful on the go, but shouldn’t be viewed as a replacement for soap-and-water washing. If you do need to use one, be sure that you cover all surfaces of your hands, not just your fingertips.
  • Keep your home clean. Use a disinfectant to wipe down frequently used surfaces.
  • Refrain from touching your face. Your eyes, nose, and mouth are prime points of entry for germs.
  • If you DO need to cough or sneeze… use a clean tissue, then throw it in the wastebasket. (pp. 545-546)

If, on the other hand, you haven’t been fortunate enough to avoid the common cold, be sure you stay both rested and hydrated. These two steps — along with any medications your physician might recommend — can help you on the road to recovery.

Many cases of the common cold will pass on their own. However, call your doctor if your symptoms linger or grow worse, or if you begin to show such signs as stomach illness, vomiting, yellow-green mucus, chills, high fever, or chest pain, which may indicate a more serious condition.

How do you stay rested during the holidays? Share your tips in the comments. 

Reference: Content adapted from Hales, Dianne. 2013. An Invitation to Health, Fifteenth Edition. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.