‘Tis the season - for the flu. Flu season begins as early as October but late December and early January, the flu virus begins to really take hold. This year is looking particularly aggressive. As of the end of December, 22 states have reported flu diagnoses; 15 children have died from complications of the illness; and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has declared this season’s flu an epidemic.
The flu not only can knock us off our feet and cause us to miss work or skip the holidays, but it can throw off our emotional and mental health as well. Body aches, headaches, a sore throat and fever interfere with our sleep patterns, healthy eating habits and daily exercise routines. Maintaining a stable daily routine is an important factor in bipolar and mood disorder management, and preventing infection is critical to maintaining long-term wellness. TIME magazine lists four methods of preventing the flu this winter:
- Get the Flu Vaccine: Although the sooner the better, it is still not too late to get a flu shot if you haven’t yet. It is the best preventative measure against the flu.
- Exercise: Not only does regular exercise fight off depression and alleviate anxiety, it also boosts our immune system. According to a UK study, hitting the gym just 2 and a half hours a week can reduce our risk of catching the flu by nearly 10 percent.
- Don’t Skip Sleep: In addition to the significant role sleep hygiene plays in managing bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, anxiety and depression, good quality rest improves our immune systems function and prevents infection.
- Wash Your Hands: Hand washing remains one of the most effective methods to fight against viral infections. Washing your hands frequently with hot water for 20 seconds can prevent the flu from ruining your winter.