Medicine (221024)
Credit: CDC/ Debora Cartagena acquired from Public Health Image Library

I must admit, I have been on a bit of a crusade these past few weeks. I am incensed and sometimes enraged when I witness people coughing directly into their hands. We are in the midst of one of the most severe flu seasons in recent memory and as members of a collective community we must take responsibility to keep ourselves healthy. There are a few precautions we can all undertake to make sure we prevent or at least decrease the spread of germs and keep our larger community free of the flu this season.

My sister is a medical doctor and constantly reminding her patients to wash their hands. Washing our hands with soap several times each day can drastically decrease the amount of germs. Coughing or sneezing into the hand is one of the fastest ways to spread germs. Washing hands is important because so many people have not gotten the memo and are not coughing into the crook of the arm. I have labeled coughing into the crook of one’s arm as the Dracula cough—when you cover your entire mouth in your sleeve so germs won’t spread to others. For those who have little ones, my sister has labeled this type of coughing the “dab cough” and kids are far too excited to practice germ containment while dabbing. Whatever works for you and your family, do it! Germs are spreading faster than ever this season, and we must keep our hands as clean as possible. I also wash my keys regularly during the winter months. I realized I touch my keys several times each and every day. Washing some of the dirt off my keys (and my phone) on a regular basis helps decrease some of the germs in my life.

I know this next piece of advice might be more difficult for some readers to follow, but rest and adequate sleep are imperative during the winter months and the flu season. So many of us are walking around with compromised immune systems and trying to balance work, school, family, social engagements and more. Get to bed. I know I sound like a nag, but adequate sleep is a must. Now that it appears the weather is making a turn and spring is around the corner, many are forgetting that their bodies have not yet fully recuperated from the winter months.

Lastly, be sure to stock up on what I call the miracle drug…water. Staying hydrated is one of the many ways you can keep your body on the healthier side of the equation. Also, it’s a good idea to drink water anyway, whether it’s flu season or beautiful summer weather.

So, stay healthy dear readers. Spring will be sprung in a few weeks, and we want to be healthy enough to enjoy the new beginnings.

Christina Greer, Ph.D., is the 2018 NYU McSilver Institute Fellow and an associate professor at Fordham University, the author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream” and the host of The Aftermath on You can find her on Twitter @Dr_CMGreer.