How to avoid the common cold this festive season: From cutting down on alcohol to improving your hygiene

17 December 2019, 18:14

Here's how you can avoid the common cold this season
Here's how you can avoid the common cold this season. Picture: Getty
Alice Dear

By Alice Dear

Surrounded by friends, family and colleagues sick with a cold? Thought so. Here’s how YOU can say healthy.

That’s right, it’s THAT time of year again – no matter where you go there’s someone sneezing, another coughing, meanwhile you're antibacterial wiping everything in sight in order to stay safe.

Winter is a breeding time for the common cold, with many people falling victim to the illness around the festive period.

REAL MORE: Parents urged to vaccinate 'super-spreader' kids as flu cases rise by 25 per cent in a week

But if you are determined to go the season without a sneeze, a sniffle or a single frog in your throat, there’s a number of things you can do to keep yourself healthy.

We chatted to Dr Kate Stephens, OptiBac Probiotics Gut Microbiologist, who shared her top seven secrets to avoiding the common cold:

Improve your hygiene at home and work to avoid in the common cold
Improve your hygiene at home and work to avoid in the common cold. Picture: Getty

1. Improve your hygiene

Dr Kate Stephens explains that there is some research that suggests in the winter viruses can spread faster and more aggressively than other times of the year.

With this in mind, she suggests being as hygienic as you can be, with the easiest way of doing this being regular hand washes.

If you’ve had a cold and are getting over it, Dr Kate Stephens suggests changing your toothbrush and bed sheets to rid your life of any harmful bugs.

2. Remember, the office is your enemy

Around this time of year, the office is a breeding ground for the common cold bug.

Dr Kate Stephens warns that a sneeze can travel a massive three meters as air droplets and contaminate you, which is why you need to make sure you’re cleaning your desk and keyboard regularly.

She also adds: “If you feel yourself coming down with something, don’t feel guilty about staying at home. You don’t want to pass it on to the whole office!”

Get at least seven hours of sleep a night
Get at least seven hours of sleep a night. Picture: Getty

3. Get enough rest

Your immune system needs looking after in the winter months, and a simple way of doing this is by making sure you’re getting enough sleep.

Dr Stephens suggests aiming for at least seven hours a night.

4. Watch your alcohol intake

Christmas comes with a lot of social gatherings, and for many, a lot of them are compulsory.

While the festive period is a time to celebrate the year and get a little merry, it’s important to remember that too much alcohol containing sugar can feed bacteria in the gut, leading “to an imbalance of microbes and therefore potentially some digestive issues”, says Dr Kate Stephens.

If you are drinking this holiday season, make sure to drink plenty of water on nights out.

5. Take time to relax

“The lack of sunshine can really affect your mood in the winter, so it’s important to do things that help lift your spirits and tackle stress”, says Dr Kate Stephens.

She explains that most of your serotonin is actually made in the gut, so if you keep it happy, it will keep you happy.

Winter is a breeding time for the common cold, with many people falling victim to the illness around the festive period
Winter is a breeding time for the common cold, with many people falling victim to the illness around the festive period. Picture: Getty

6. Warmth and water are your friends

Staying warm and hydrated are the easiest ways to fight away the common cold this winter.

If you’re fighting the cold weather, rain or even snow, make sure you wrap up warm.

If you do get cold and wet during your day, make sure you get warm and dry as quick as possible as your immune system may suffer in winter due to low Vitamin D levels.

Drinking plenty of water is something everyone should aim towards all year round, but especially in the winter, as it can flush out any toxins in the body.

7. Move it! Move it!

With dark nights and cold weather, the last thing you’ll want to do is go for a run or head to the gym, but keeping active is really important to avoid the common cold.

The Doctor suggests: “If it’s too chilly to exercise outside, try hitting the gym or a yoga class, which combines care for both the body and the mind!”

REAL NOW: Why sharing a towel with your partner could mean you’re sharing poo particles