There’s nothing quite like ringing in the new school year by catching a cold your first week back in class. We’ve all been through it. Back-to-school colds and flus are as common as they come. Unfortunately, they can make the first week of classes unbearable. If you or your children have returned to school this semester, here are some simple ways to avoid back-to-school germs and to help boost your immune health.
Keep the Hands Clean
In a building with hundreds, even thousands of people, schools can be riddled with germs. Door handles, lockers, bathrooms, desks, and even the bottoms of our school bags all carry traces of every person that was there before us. Unless the school has an entire fleet of janitors sanitizing the building every hour of the day, you’re bound to come into contact with some unhealthy germs. While building up an immunity to germs is an important part of avoiding sickness, there is such a thing as “too much too fast”. Over-exposure can lead to sickness, so to keep yourself as healthy as possible, wash your hands often and use hand sanitizer. Hand-washing is one of the best ways to defend yourself against a cold. Make sure your children understand proper handwashing techniques by showing them how to properly apply soap, lather their hands, and rinse in cold water.
The term “sharing is caring” doesn’t apply to bacteria. Sometimes our kids are ignorant to the evils that may be lurking on a friend’s water bottle or the last bite of their cookie. During cold and flu season, keep your germs to yourself and don’t use or lend out your utensils, lip balm, water bottles, or anything where saliva can easily be transmitted. Equip your kids with all the pencils, erasers, markers, and pens they need so that they don’t have to borrow someone else’s.
Eat a Healthy Breakfast
An easy way to build up your defenses is to improve immune function. One of the essential ways to do that is to feed your body with the healthy food it needs to be in tip-top shape. The healthier the food, the more capable your immune system is to fight off infection. If you’re looking for a healthy snack for your children, avoid pre-packaged and nutrient-deficient foods and stick with what you can find on the outside aisles of the grocery store, like fruits, veggies, nuts, low-fat cheese, and yogurt. Stay away from sugary drinks like sodas and juices, and give your kids water to bring to school. To get them excited about drinking water, let them pick out and decorate their own water bottles.
Get Enough Sleep
Food may be the fuel that keeps the body in peak performance, but getting enough sleep is just as important. When we sleep, our bodies produce proteins called cytokines, some of which are needed to fight off infection and virus. When we don’t get enough sleep, our cytokine production is reduced, which means our bodies aren’t strong enough to defend themselves. Children can need 10 hours of sleep, so being strict about their bedtime during the school week is vital. Getting the proper amount of snooze time not only helps keep the cold and flu away, it also promotes concentration, boosts productivity, and improves mood.
Maintaining back-to-school health is a group effort. With small considerations and precautions, we can all help keep our germs away from each other. What are some other ways you encourage your children to practice proper hygiene? Let us know in the comments below.