Healthcare workers: here are some tips to keep you healthy and happy this winter.
We now bring you an interruption of our usual subject matter to discuss an issue that is important to everyone: you.
A healthcare professional with lots on your mind.
How are you doing now that fall has fallen, and winter is reaching out with its icy paw? Frankly, we're concerned. We think you may be overworked and not paying enough attention to yourself.
Too often, winter brings stress to healthcare workers from all sides, because of holiday preparations, family get-togethers (or the opposite, being far from family), shopping that must be done — plus, the stress that's built into working in healthcare when business booms due to the arrival of seasonal illnesses.
So we've done some research and written down a few recommendations designed to help healthcare workers stay healthy this winter. Since HEPACART® produces and sells infection control products, we'll start with some tips on how to avoid — and avoid spreading — germs.
1. Avoid infectious pathogens
Here are some ideas to keep top of mind:
At family get-togethers, instead of smooching everyone from Aunt Grenadine to the family dog this year, love them from a few feet away if possible. Share the love, but not the microbes.
Instead of eating from a group snack bowl, only eat things you're reasonably certain have not been touched by friends, family, or strangers.
Rather than going to stores where viruses and bacteria congregate, consider shopping online, or at least consolidating your list and making fewer trips. Not getting sick = feeling better!
Feel a sneeze coming on? If you don't have a tissue already in hand, aim for the crook of your elbow (sorry, sleeve!). Your hand will stay less infectious, and family, friends, and co-workers will benefit.
2. Reorient your attitude toward self-care
If you look at the big picture, taking care of yourself doesn't always have to mean avoiding things you enjoy. Instead, change your current habits to ones that make you feel better long-term. Think of it as redefining self-indulgence — upward. In place of instant gratification, you get deeper, longer-lasting rewards from good health. Some examples: learning to prepare and enjoy more nutritious foods, getting regular sleep, exercising aerobically, and seeking out activities that lift your mood.
3. Change what you eat
Instead of eating sugary, fatty foods that are temporarily fun, eat nutritious foods that make your body feel better in the long run and boost your immune system at the same time. Studies like this one show that your gut biome, which plays a major supporting role in your immune system, may be strengthened when you give it probiotics. Probiotics are live beneficial bacteria found in fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, pickles, miso, tempeh, kimchi, sourdough bread, and some cheeses. Back up the probiotics with foods containing prebiotics (dietary fiber that has been linked to promoting the growth of probiotics) such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, for a synergistic effect. An apple or two a day (with skin) delivers a big dose of prebiotics.
4. Fix your sleeping habits
Instead of staying up late binge-watching Netflix, Amazon, or HBO, get more regular sleep that will make your body feel better and help your immune system. You really do increase your chance of getting sick after being exposed to a common cold virus if you're not getting enough Z's. Lack of sleep also is linked to obesity, diabetes, and other chronic diseases. In addition to developing a regular sleep/wake cycle to harmonize your circadian rhythms, consider waking up to light instead of sound. Wake-up light alarm clocks gradually make your room brighter, starting your day more naturally and peacefully.
5. Get regular exercise
You knew this was coming. Study after study says exercise is the closest thing to a wonder drug. Harvard Health Publishing says exercise is medicine. One of a plethora of studies on the subject showed a 43% reduction in upper respiratory tract infections in people who did aerobic exercise at least five days a week as compared to a sedentary control group. (We could go on and on, but you get the idea.) All you need is regular — not intense — exercise that makes you breathe deeply for at least 20 minutes, at least three times a week, such as fast walking or working out with a Wii Fit.
6. Lighten your mood
One idea to fend off the winter blues is planning a dream vacation. Research dream locations, and even if it's not in your budget in the short term, plan one for farther in the future. Meanwhile, just googling up scenes of palm trees can work wonders with your attitude!
Another way to keep winter from wearing you down is to make fun of it. Here's a little Q&A that doesn't take the coldest season too seriously.