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Viruses thrive indoors during the winter months and it just so happens that’s where most of us hang out too. That’s why it’s essential to do what you can to ward off the very real threat of colds, flu, and other scary winter germs lurking indoors. Here are some tips to protect yourself:

Get a flu shot.

The flu shot reduces the risk of flu illness by 50 to 60 percent in the general population and can decrease the severity and side effects if you get sick.

Wash your hands a lot.

Before you touch your face, eyes or mouth, wash your hands, especially if you’ve shaken hands with someone, or touched surfaces like doorknobs, handrails or counters. The CDC reports that flu viruses can live on hard surfaces for up to 8 hours.

Don’t share.

Don’t share your pen, your drink or your lunch. In fact, don’t leave the house without a pen in your pocket or your purse. Take it wherever you go and use it instead of the doctor’s, the delivery guy’s, or the restaurant waiter’s.

Sleep well.

Get enough sleep because any other precautions you take against getting a cold or the flu won’t offer the same protection if your body’s too tired to use it properly.

Don’t forget to exercise.

Regular exercise boosts your immune system. Physical activity may help flush bacteria out of your lungs and airways reducing your chance of getting a cold, flu, or other illness.

Eat your fruits and veggies.

When it’s cold and dark outside, it can be tempting to fill up on comfort food, but it’s important to ensure you still have a healthy diet that includes five portions of fruits and veggies every day.

Drink water.

Drink lots and lots of it. Eight to 10 glasses a day is recommended, especially during the winter. Staying hydrated has been shown to be an important part of staying healthy.

If you do catch something and need an appointment with a doctor—sign up for CarePlus, a free concierge healthcare service designed to help you:

  • find the right doctor
  • quickly get appointments
  • get faster access to your medical information—like lab results
  • obtain referrals to specialists and the pre-authorizations you may need
  • get your insurance questions answered