avoid getting sick

Getting sick is no fun. Not only are you congested, achy and tired, but when you’re so sick that you have to stay home from school, you miss out on important learning in the classroom and can quickly fall behind.

You may think that you can’t control whether you come down with a cold or not, but in fact, there are lots of healthy habits that you can put in place to boost immunity, fight off illnesses and stay healthy all year long.

Here are a few easy ways to avoid getting sick during the school year:

  1. Get Enough Sleep
    Did you know that studies have shown that sleep deprivation suppresses your immune system function, causing you to get sick more easily? According to the National Sleep Foundation, teens between the ages of 14 and 17 need eight to 10 hours of sleep per night, which can be challenging when you need to be up for school at the crack of dawn. Some ways to get better sleep are to maintain a consistent bedtime and also limit the use of computers or screens at least an hour before you go to bed.
  2. Eat Your Fruits and Vegetables
    Eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables is essential for having good health and staving off colds. Fruits and vegetables are chock full of phytonutrients, antioxidants and more, which not only create those foods’ vibrant colors, but also fight inflammation and support healthy immune system function. Experts say it’s best to “eat the rainbow,” meaning getting a variety of different colored fruits and vegetables in your diet. Some of the best ones to include are spinach, broccoli, red peppers, tomatoes, blueberries, and oranges. According to the USDA, teen girls need one and a half cups of fruit and two cups of vegetables a day, and teen boys need two cups of fruit and three cups of vegetables per day.
  3. Don’t Stress Out
    Not only is stress not fun, but it can also cause you to get sick. When you are under long-term stress, your body thinks it’s in danger, causing your cortisol levels to rise, which dampens your immune system and puts you at a higher risk for infections and disease. To avoid stressing yourself out, make sure you have good planning and time management habits, and take time to meditate or breathe to keep things in perspective.
  4. Get Some Exercise
    Another great way to keep your immune system healthy is to participate in regular exercise. Studies have shown that doing moderate exercise a few times a week helps increase the number of white blood cells in your system, which helps fight off bacteria. And working out is a great way of relieving stress, too!
  5. Wash Your Hands
    Germs are everywhere, especially at school, where hundreds of people cough and sneeze all day and touch everything from tables, chairs and computer keyboards to door handles and bathroom faucets. The best way to protect yourself from picking up someone else’s cold is to be vigilant about washing your hands several times a day. Wash your hands in hot water with soap for 30 seconds.
  6. Use Hand Sanitizer
    Since it’s not always easy to get to the bathroom in between classes, it’s also a good idea to bring a bottle of hand sanitizer in your backpack and use it whenever you’re around someone else who is coughing or sneezing.
  7. Drink Water
    Drinking enough water is another key factor in maintaining a healthy immune system because when we are hydrated, our cells can function at their best. Water brings oxygen to all of the cells in your body and also helps flush toxins out. Bring your own water bottle to school, and keep drinking and refilling the bottle throughout the day.

Tell us what healthy habits you’re starting this winter. Write to us in the comments below!