Take it from someone who has been ill with the flu for the past 3 years running – it’s not fun. Especially when it just so happens that you come down with it immediately after Christmas and have to spend New Year’s Eve either stuck in bed or sitting in the corner of a party wishing you could just go home.
So this year I’m determined not to be suffering with the dry cough, runny nose, aches, fever and tiredness which comes influenza. It’s no easy job, with cold and flu season well and truly in full swing, but if you follow my top tips, I’m sure we’ll make it through together.
1. Get a flu jab
I’m sure you’ve seen all the NHS marketing for flu jabs, which have cropped up in most supermarkets, bus stops and pharmacies. They tell you if you’re aged 65+, pregnant or have a weak immune system you’re eligible for a free flu jab to help make it through the winter. Well I fall into none of these categories and I’ve been and had one done. It was cheap, easy and actually pain free! I simply went to my local Tesco pharmacy, paid £9.00 and was given my jab there and then. Other supermarkets are also offering this service, as well as GP surgeries. So if paying less than a tenner and having a bit of a dead arm the next day keeps flu away this year, I’m more than happy.
2. Drink up extra vitamins
A major part of any cold and flu is dehydration. So to combat this before it happens, always make sure you’re taking in a lot of fluid. I’ve found a great and tasty way to take in extra vitamins, whilst drinking water is by infusing fruits. Typically I chop up a lemon, orange and some mint leaves to create a fruity cocktail, which not only tastes great but increases your vitamin intake. You can make a glass, or a whole bottle to last you the day. I just keep adding water to the fruits until I can’t taste them anymore.
Other benefits of fruit infused water include:
- Healthier skin
- Improved digestion
- Aids weight loss
- Fresh breathe
- Cures a hangover!
3. Exercise often
It sounds cliché, but the most effective way to keep any common illness away is by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. If you’re fit, you’re much more likely to successfully and quickly fight off infection. Now I’m not saying we all need to be gym bunnies, especially around the Christmas period, where ‘Eat, drink and be merry’ is most certainly my motto, but if you make sure you’re active everyday you’re in a much better position. This could include a quick jog, core session or just a walk to the shops rather than taking a car.
4. Eat well
We all know that to maintain a healthy lifestyle we need to eat well alongside any exercise. This is definitely hard around the festive period, where pretty much anything that’s bad for you is on offer and all you want to do is stuff your face. Yet if you want to keep a cold or flu away, you need to make sure you keep everything in moderation.
Lately I’ve been making my own version of Wagamamas style ramen, which is basically just chicken soup. It’s super hydrating, nutritious and leaves you feeling full up and full of energy. I simply boil chopped carrot, celery, kale, onion and spinach leaves in a pot of water. Then I add any spices (I tend to use ginger and mixed herbs) and finish off by throwing in some boiled chicken and serving it with rice noodles.
5. Stock up the medicine cabinet
Paracetamol and Ibuprofen are saviours when you’re not feeling well. So stocking up on these two now before any symptoms set in is definitely advisable. Whilst we’re aiming not to get ill, if you’re ready to kick flu’s butt as soon as it feels like you’re coming down with something, you’re more likely to get rid of it sooner rather than later.
Personally I am not a fan of Lemsip (or their alternatives) and think they’re a bit of a waste of money. Whilst they’re medicated, if you’re already taking painkillers you’re much better off just boiling some water, adding a slice of lemon and a spoonful of honey to soothe a sore throat – so get these ingredients in too!
6. Get plenty of sleep
A good night’s sleep works wonders, especially this time of year. Your immune system needs the time to rest, repair itself and fight off any infection creeping in. If you’re overtired and run down you’re so much more susceptible to viruses. So aim to get at least 8 hours a night, nap often and look after your body.
7. Wash your hands
If you sit and think about all the things your hands have touched throughout the day and how many of those things have been touched by other people and how many things those other people have touched have been touched by other people… You can see where I’m going here. You could be spending all this time, trying to stay fit and healthy and the person to last touch a door handle could be completely full of a cold and ready to give it to you. Now there’s no need to become a clean freak and it’s pretty impossible to wash your hands after every encounter with the outside world, but if you don’t already, this is the time of year where washing your hands before eating is essential. Wash those germs away and give your immune system a helping hand.
With these simple tips I’m hoping to stay cold/flu free this year. So far so good (touch wood). Have I missed anything? Or do you have any of your own ideas? Let me know in the comments below.
Comment below with your own tips or tweet us @KettleMag using the hashtag #FluTips.