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Not-So-Obvious Ways You Could Be Increasing Your Risk of Catching a Cold

January 21, 2011

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It’s that time of the year where the common cold is seemingly everywhere! It can feel like we are constantly surrounded by someone with a runny nose or hacking cough. Steering clear of a winter cold or illness can feel like a never-ending battle, and sometimes you can just hope for the best. One of the best ways to increase your likelihood of staying healthy includes maintaining your overall health and wellness for prevention (regular exercise, balanced nutrition, plenty of sleep and hydration).

Some (not-so-obvious) ways that you could be increasing your risk of catching a cold:

  • Worrying too much. Extra stress increases the release of stress-hormones that actually weaken the immune system and can put you at greater risk for catching something. So don’t panic or get yourself too worked up over getting a cold. Stick to the basics of reasonable preventative care and remember to breathe (but not too close to other sick people!).
  • The gym. While some exercise is actually preventative for warding off sickness, over-exercising can have the same effect on your immune system as over-worrying. Keep your exercise steady and also be aware of the germs that shared machines can carry. Washing your hands after using the machines can help you stay healthier and prevent the further spread of germs.
  • Drinking alcohol. It probably comes as no surprise that alcohol weakens your immune system and depletes you of the natural “fighters” inside of you. Moreover, alcohol also dehydrates you, impairing the nose and throat’s natural ability to trap germs and expel them in mucus. If you want to lower your risk of getting sidelined by a cold, limit your alcohol consumption during this time!
  • Using too much anti-bacterial hand gel. Relying too heavily on anti-bacterial hand gels can sometimes lead to adverse effects. Don’t do away with old-fashioned hand-washing. Soap and water are tried-and-true methods for staying healthy and germ-free!
  • Washing hands incompletely. Even though it seems like washing our hands is a simple enough task, it’s important to make sure you are washing thoroughly and completely. Make sure to use warm water and get a good lather going. To make sure you are doing it long enough, try singing happy birthday to yourself twice through before you finish off with a clean towel or air dry.

Find a happy medium. Just like with most things related to health, balance is always key. Stick to a balanced approach somewhere between being cautious and not panicking about the possibility of getting sick. Arm yourself with your best defenses and be aware, but relax too. Check back with us…Coming up, tips on how to holistically halt a cold, or at least lessen the symptoms, if you do happen to catch one!