'Tis the season of giving, family togetherness, colds and flus.
If you've got the sniffles today, you're not alone. It seems like everyone is coming down with something lately and unfortunately, we've got a few months of cold weather ahead of us.
Instead of heading to Costco to stock up on tissue boxes and NyQuil, consider this: You don't have to get sick this winter.
In fact, there are a few easy things you can do to keep your immune system super strong until the warm weather comes again.
Here are some ideas.
Wash your hands.
Your mom always begged you to do it, and for good reason.
Think about everything you touch throughout the day. Bathroom doorknobs, seats and poles on buses and trains, elevator buttons that someone probably sneezed on or near -- are you grossed out yet?
When people with colds cough into their hands and then touch a doorknob, their germs transfer to that doorknob. Then you touch that same doorknob and -- voila! -- you're infected with whatever they had.
This problem can be easily prevented by frequent hand-washing. Try it. You'll thank us later.
Get enough sleep.
Sleep is important for weight maintenance, concentration and happiness. Getting enough of it can also prevent you from getting sick.
Not only does lack of sleep break down your immune system, but not getting enough of it while in recovery will turn that three-day cold into a three-week one.
Get your seven to eight hours, people.
Eat good food.
Immune-boosting foods aren't always quite as delicious as all that chocolate and pie you're currently surrounded by, but eating the right stuff is worth it if you want to avoid getting sick.
Make sure you're eating your greens (hello, kale and spinach) as well as fruits, whole grains and fish. Want to take it to the next level? Add probiotics, green tea, garlic and ginger to the mix.
Stop sharing your stuff.
About that pen you just passed around your office because your coworkers desperately needed it to sign a birthday card: It's probably time to tell them to invest in their own pens.
Whether it's loaning someone your pen or a giving a friend a sip from your water bottle, sharing your stuff -- especially during cold and flu season -- is the easiest way to spread germs ever.
Don't say we didn't warn you!
Hang out with your friends.
According to research, feeling lonely wreaks havoc on our immune systems -- loneliness may actually change our cells in a way that makes it harder to fight viral infections.
The cold weather may make you want to hole up with Netflix and a bottle of wine night after night but trust us, it's a lot better for your health if you make an effort to see your friends and family during the colder months, even if it's just for a weekly drink or coffee date.
Exercise has tons of mental and physical benefits, one being its immune-boosting powers.
You don't have to get that much of it to see the benefits, either -- getting just 20-30 minutes of exercise daily can give our immune systems a huge boost.
So go for a run, spend some time on the elliptical or take a walk.
Find some time to relax.
You know all that stress work is causing you? It's not doing your immune system any favors.
As Psychology Today explains it, the brain and body are constantly communicating with each other. So if stress is wearing you down emotionally, it's likely to weaken your immune system as well.
Whether it's waking up an hour earlier to meditate or journal or scheduling a massage, make sure you're prioritizing relaxation.
Now that you know how to prevent it, that pesky cold doesn't stand a chance against you.