Between finals, work obligations, holiday parties, and family time, the last thing you need is to get sick. But, ‘tis the season for germ-sharing. Colds, influenza, and other illnesses circulate during the winter months when people spend more time indoors and more time together. Take preventive steps to help keep healthy during this busy time of year.

Keep it clean.
Germs are easily shared by touching everyday surfaces such as door knobs, water fountains, and other people’s hands. It seems simple, but the number one way to prevent illness is to wash your hands. To properly wash your hands, use warm water and soap while rubbing your hands together vigorously for about 20 seconds—or as long as it takes to sing the ABC’s. Use hand sanitizer when you do not have access to soap and water.

Move it.
It’s easy to want to hibernate during the cold winter months. But regular physical activity is a great way to help boost your immune system. Exercise helps your body in many ways such as flushing out bacteria, slowing the release of stress-related hormones, and sending antibodies and white blood cells (your body’s natural germ fighters) through the body quicker. Find an activity you like and work it in whenever you can.

Eat for health.
Certain foods help keep your immune system strong. Colorful vegetables, nuts, yogurt, and lean meats have vitamins and minerals that keep your body well from the inside out. For a list of foods that can help keep you healthy as well as recipes that use the foods, visit the Wellness website.

Stay home.
Germs are gifts that keep on giving. If you aren’t feeling well, stay home from as many activities as possible. Those around you do not want your illness, and rest is an important part of getting better. Be sure to see your health care provider or go to Student Health Services if you do not feel better after a couple days or if your symptoms get worse.

Stop by 187 McCormick Hall and pick up a wellness kit filled with goodies to ward off winter sickness. Kits are available during office hours: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Additional winter survival tips are available from Health Promotion and Wellness.