Winter is coming, and with it comes the dreaded cold and flu season. While you can teach your kids the importance of hygiene at school and thoroughly wipe down your desk at work, it's difficult to avoid the common cold when it's in your own home.
When you’re living in close quarters with someone who is getting sick ill, it can begin to feel as though nothing is safe to touch anymore. Additionally, viruses that cause the common cold have been known to survive on indoor surfaces for over seven days, though most don’t survive for longer than 24 hours. 1 Even so, it can be difficult to keep track of how long it has been since the infected person has touched the remote, doorknob, or microwave, and if you touch it too soon afterward, you risk getting sick too.
If you’re wondering how to prevent catching a cold, there’s no need to banish your sick family member or friend to one room of the home or forbid them from touching anything. Luckily, there are a handful of easy precautions you can take to ensure you don't get sick.
While germs will certainly stay more contained if the sick individual rides out their sickness in a certain room of the house, it’s unlikely that they’ll stay bedridden over a common cold. Therefore, since they’ll likely be spending time in every room of the house, it’s important to follow a few rules to ensure that the microbes remain contained.
Keep Your Home Clean
- Don’t Keep Tissues Lying Around – It can be tempting to just toss tissues on a nearby table after using them, but try keeping a small garbage bag in every room of the house when someone is sick. This way, they won’t need to cross the house every time they need to throw away a tissue.
- Crack a Window – If the weather allows, it can be helpful to slightly open a window to get some fresh air into the home. This also helps to circulate the air that is already indoors.
- Diffuse Antiviral Essential Oils – If it’s too cold to crack open a window, diffusing antiviral essential oils can help cleanse the air and remove harmful germs. Try diffusing a blend of oils such as eucalyptus, lavender, and lemongrass.
- Designate a Blanket and Pillow–To ensure the containment of germs, give the sick individual a particular blanket and pillow that they use throughout the course of their cold. This way, you won’t find yourself snuggling up to a blanket that has recently been coughed all over.
- Keep Your Distance – When a sick person sneezes, coughs, or even talks, small virus-filled droplets can travel up to six feet. 2 Because of this, it's important for you to keep your distance until you’re sure the individual isn't contagious.
- Be a Good Chef – While your loved one certainly needs to eat, they shouldn’t be preparing any food while they're sick. By touching ingredients that others will later eat, germs can easily be spread through the household.
- Keep Fluids and Healthy Foods on Hand – A healthy diet is important for a healthy immune system. Fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as water, fresh juice, and herbal teas, can all help give the immune system the boost it needs. Citrus fruits, garlic, ginger, turmeric, and spinach are all good to keep on hand. 3
- Wipe Down All Surfaces – It can be difficult to remember to always cough and sneeze into your elbow to contain germs. If the sick individual has been spending time in the kitchen, chances are they have touched a surface and infected it with germs that can cause the common cold. To ensure that you don’t get sick, wipe down all surfaces frequently with a homemade disinfecting spray. One can easily be made with 50 percent water, 50 percent white vinegar, and a mixture of disinfectant essential oils such as lemon, sweet orange, and tea tree.
Aside from attempting to rid your home of the virus, there are plenty of ways that you can take care of yourself to ensure that you don’t catch a common cold in your home or elsewhere. By maintaining a healthy lifestyle, you can ensure that your body is well prepared to fight off any viruses that may come your way.
Keep Yourself Healthy
- Reduce Stress – A simple daily meditation—10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening—can do wonders for your mental health. To help aid in meditation, diffuse some stress-relieving essential oils like frankincense, ylang-ylang, and sandalwood.
- Get Enough Sleep – Your body needs seven to nine hours of sleep a night to function properly. Try to wind down an hour or two before bedtime and reduce screen time during these hours. Diffusing essential oils throughout the room or lightly spraying your pillow with an oil mixture can also help improve sleep.
- Start Moving – Exercise is key for a healthy body. A physically active lifestyle has been linked to a reduced risk for both communicable (bacterial or viral) and non-communicable diseases. 4 Sneak in some quick stretches before work in the morning, take a walk during your lunch break, or switch to a standing desk.
Even if the virus that causes the common cold is in your home, there’s no need to fret. By taking care of yourself, keeping your home clean, and following a few simple precautions, you may just last the whole winter without getting sick.
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