Stay healthy, save money

Photo by smaku
It’s that time of year again. One by one everyone in the office and at school starts sniffling, coughing, and sneezing. It’s only a matter of time before you come down with it, too. Or is it?

Cold and flu season is no fun. Getting sick not only makes you feel bad; it can be expensive. Even if you don’t need to pay a visit to the doctor or fill a prescription, you’ll still spend money on expensive over-the-counter drugs and lose valuable time when you could be doing something productive. It may even affect your paycheck if your employer doesn’t offer sick time.

While a flu shot may ward off the flu, I choose not to get them. The last time I had a flu shot, the nurse nicked a nerve and my arm was sore for 6 months. So I choose to fight off illness the old-fashioned, frugal way. Here are some tips to keep you well this flu season and save money:

1. Take good care of yourself.

Plenty of sleep and a healthy diet go a long way when it comes to staying well. Try to get 8 hours of sleep every night, and make sure your diet is rich in whole grains, protein, produce, and calcium. Avoid alcohol and don’t smoke. It seems obvious, but taking good care of yourself in general is half the battle.

2. Keep your hands clean.

Washing frequently throughout the day will decrease your risk of picking up germs. I always carry a little bottle of hand sanitizer in my purse, and frequently pull it out and use it throughout the day. Always wash your hands before eating.

3. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth unless your hands are clean.

Your hands are the first line of defense when it comes to germs. They’re the body part most likely to come into contact with germs through doorknobs, phones, and other things you touch. Whenever I tell people this, they look at me like I’m some kind of germaphobe. But when you absent-mindedly touch your face after picking up germs, you infect yourself.

Make a concerted effort to keep your hands away from your face unless you’ve just washed or sanitized them. If you get an itch, just use the back of your hand or your wrist to scratch it. It only takes a couple weeks to form a habit. Pretty soon you won’t even think about it anymore.

4. Carry a pen.

Think about how often you pick up a pen without thinking about where it’s been – at the bank, at the grocery store checkout, at a co-worker’s desk. If you keep a pen in your pocket or purse and always use your own, you’ll decrease your chances for picking up a virus from a germy pen.

5. If you do get sick, be courteous.

If at all possible, stay home until the virus passes. You should be getting rest anyway. If you absolutely have to go to work, try to isolate yourself as much as possible. Make sure you cover your mouth when you cough, but don’t cough into your hands. That will just ensure that you’re passing the germs on when you touch things around you. Instead, cough into your sleeve. Try to keep your hands clean, too.

Of course, there’s not a lot that moms can do to prevent kids from bringing viruses home from school. However, taking these steps will at least help you avoid picking up viruses from other places.

Keeping your immune system strong by taking good care of yourself may even protect you when the kids do bring it home. At the very least, being in good health with a strong immune system will shorten your recovery time.

2 thoughts on “Stay healthy, save money

  1. tiffanie

    great reminders. i hate cold season! i usually get sick at least twice and I’m out for the count of at least 5-10 days each time. (i have a horrible immune system…not helped by the fact i have an autoimmune disorder, so getting even a common cold really wipes me out)

  2. Mary

    I think these are great tips if you don’t have little kids around. If you do – all bets are off. Honestly, I don’t know that avoiding touching my face is going to help me too much when my 3 year old boy runs his hands through the dirt, over every railing we pass, on every piece of park equipment and child at the park, and then shoves his hands in my mouth when I kneel to tie his shoe. (I know, gross, right?) I’m a strong believer that once you have passed the trial by fire that is kindergarten, you’ll never have to worry about germs again. I could lick a public doorknob, at this point I think, I have so many immunities in my system. Your first year with your first child in kindergarten is pure hell, no two ways about it, but once it’s over you are granted superpowers : )

    Again, not to rag on your post at all, because if you don’t have little carriers of pestilence running around and infecting everything in their paths, it’s absolutely true what they say about an ounce of prevention. I just thought I’d share the other side of the equation : )

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