With Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year to celebrate, winter is a wonderful time of year for families. However, cold temperatures, darker mornings, and endless bouts of sickness can detract from the magic, leaving parents worn out and stressed when the festivities come around.   

So why do we always seem to get sick during winter? For starters, cold weather often forces us indoors, causing bacteria to breed and spread. You can’t avoid going to work or taking your child to school where germs are passed around like candy, so what can you do to prevent those seasonal snuffles?

Catching colds is inevitable sometimes, even for those with strong immune systems. However, you can reduce your chances of getting sick and speed up your recovery time with these ten top tips for family health.

Wash Your Hands

When it comes to battling colds and flu, prevention is vital, so wash your hands regularly and encourage your kids to do the same. Public transport, daycare centers, offices, and schools become hotbeds for germs at this time of year, so keep bugs at bay by upping your hygiene game. Wash for at least 30 seconds, and don’t forget to scrub under those fingernails, as that’s where bacteria lurk. For times when you can’t get to a sink, carry antibacterial gel in your handbag.

Wrap Up Warm

Getting cold and wet can cause the blood vessels in the nose to tighten, hindering the body’s defenses against an attack. Bundle your kids up when they go outside in chilly temperatures, and don’t forget the hats and gloves. Wearing layers isn’t enough on its own to stop you or your kids getting sick, but it will help you keep those viruses at bay.  

Don’t Scrimp on Sleep

Numerous studies have shown that too little sleep can compromise the immune system, so cash in on those extra snoozes whenever you can, and let your kids stay in bed longer if they seem tired. If you have small children, you may struggle to get a full night’s sleep, so take care to rest as much as you can. Make sleep a priority over household tasks and Christmas organization, and your health will reap the benefits.

Stay Hydrated

Not drinking enough water can leave you sluggish, tired, and vulnerable to infection. Current advice dictates that you should drink half your body weight in ounces of water each day, so if you weigh 160 pounds, aim for 80 ounces. You may not feel super thirsty in cold weather, but it’s important to stay hydrated all the same. You can mix up your fluids with health-boosting herbal teas to keep warm, and by offering no-added-sugar fruit juices to your kids.

Eat Healthily

It’s tempting to turn to comfort food when the weather turns chilly, especially since we can hide those extra pounds under oversized sweaters and coats. While Christmas is undoubtedly a time for indulgence, that doesn’t mean you have to throw your healthy habits out of the window for the whole season. Eat when you’re hungry, and try to avoid mindless snacking. Aim for at least five portions of fruit and vegetables per day, and fill up on healthy fiber. Foods like oats, apples, and nuts help strengthen the immune system by reducing inflammation, so they will help you stay healthy and prevent overeating.

Stock Up Your Medicine Cabinet

However hard you try to avoid getting sick, chances are at least one member of the family will come down with a cold this winter. Young children, pregnant mothers, and those with autoimmune disorders could benefit from a seasonal flu shot, but there is no guarantee that they will avoid illness entirely. Keep Tylenol, a digital thermometer, and a nasal aspirator in your medicine cabinet in case sickness strikes, and always keep extra sheets to hand in case of stomach flu.

It’s also a good idea to stock up on medications for preexisting conditions, such as high blood pressure or heart problems, just in case extreme weather keeps you indoors. If you suffer from high blood pressure, eDrugSearch Blood Pressure Medications could help you save money on your prescriptions.

Moisturize Daily

Dry skin can crack easily, leaving you open to infection, especially on the hands and feet. Your best defense is to moisturize after every shower using a sensitive lotion. Placing a humidifier in each room (with a humidity level of 40-50 percent) and keeping central heating to a minimum could also prevent your skin from drying out in those colder months.

Get Plenty of Sunlight

Sunlight stimulates the production of Vitamin D, which is vital to health and wellbeing. While you can take a supplement for darker days, popping a pill doesn’t work as well as the real thing, so try to get outside for at least ten minutes of natural light each day. Exercise first thing in the morning outdoors, and you’ll have ticked two essential health steps off your list.  

Stress Less

Stress isn’t just bad for your mental health; it can also lead to physical health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and asthma. Unfortunately, with Christmas just around the corner, stress levels tend to peak at this time of year, especially for parents. Reduce stress this season by getting regular exercise and sunlight, taking time for meditation, or practicing yoga.

Keep Moving

Although you may be less inclined to head to the gym in winter, exercise helps you stay mentally and physically healthy, so it’s important not to let your routine go out of the window. Exercising as a family is a fun and wholesome way to ensure everyone gets their daily dose of movement, so take a long walk or go for a run with your kids to warm those cockles.

Although getting sick is sometimes unavoidable, there are things you can do to improve your chances of staying healthy this winter. Keep active, eat well, reduce stress, and look after your skin, and come the holidays, your family could be the very picture of health.