7 ways to beat the bugs this winter

With our busy lives, there’s no good time to get sick. Viral or bacterial, you just know that they are bad news. Beating the bugs is a two-way street. Go for good karma by not passing on your bugs as well as protecting yourself from those who are not so considerate.

Here are seven ways to beat the bugs this winter:

1. Wash your hands

Simple and effective. We use our hands for almost everything we do and as a result, they are the most common ride taken by hitchhiking bugs. Get into the habit of washing your hands properly and often. Start by washing your hands each time you leave and arrive home. Quick rinses aren’t going to cut it — wash for longer (at least 15 seconds), always using soap and warm water.

2. Use hand sanitiser

This non-water bug-smasher is the biggest advance in hygiene for decades. It won’t get rid of actual dirt (only washing will do that) but it will sanitise away those invisible bugs. Keep bottles in prominent spots as a reminder and don’t treat it like it’s precious — use it often, especially if someone else in the house is unwell. Keep a travel-sized one in your handbag as well.

3. Sneeze into your elbow

Kids are still taught, just like we were, to ‘cover your mouth’. This may be better than letting your sneeze take flight into the open air, but this usually means sneezing into hands. In an ideal world, everyone would then wash their hands, or sneeze into a tissue but this isn’t possible in real life. Your elbow is just as accessible as your hands and sneezing into it will lessen the chance of the bugs hitching a ride elsewhere.

4. Push buttons with anything other than your index finger

Use your knuckle or elbow for lift buttons and your ring finger for ATM/EFTPOS machines. This makes it less likely that the bugs you’ve picked up in these high traffic areas will make it to your mouth.

5. Public place paranoia

There’s no need to take it to an extreme, or become anxious about bugs, but it is not unreasonable to avoid putting your fingers in your mouth while you’re at the playground with your kids, or doing the rounds of the supermarket aisles. Grab your handbag sanitiser before you hit the food court, once you’ve finished your gym workout and when the kids are desperate for a snack in the indoor play centre.

6. Keep your distance

Don’t be afraid to move into the next train carriage if someone is coughing away, or to decline a dinner invitation from someone who’s just recovered from a nasty gastro bug. Sharing bugs just isn’t friendly!

7. Stay away

If, despite your best efforts, you do get sick, don’t fight it but go to bed and stay there until you recover. Even if this is not possible, stay put at home as much as possible and use the other six tips to avoid spreading your bugs around.