If I saw one post over the holidays of a family getting hit with "the stomach bug" I saw 20. So many families have been hit by the latest strand of the flu, and it has actually resulted in 7 deaths and 78 people hospitalized in Minnesota.

No one wants to deal with that, so here are 10 tips to hopefully help avoid getting the flu.

1. Get the flu shot

The shot contains antibodies that will help protect you from the worst strains of the year. You still could get the flu if you come in contact with someone with it, but the side effects will be far less severe and hopefully keep you out of the hospital.

2. Keep your hands away from your face

Touching a contaminated surface won't give you the flu, but touching it and transferring it to your mouth or nose will. Try to keep from touching your face during this nasty flu season.

3. Clean communal surfaces at least once a day

I've taken to carrying a tube of disinfecting wipes with me everywhere at work. I'm wiping things down left and right leaving a germ-free, lemony-fresh trail behind me.

4. Wash your hands

ALL THE TIME. After shopping, after work, after the gym, after pumping gas. Keep those hands as clean as possible.

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5. Stay at least three feet away from coughing and sneezing people

This once is hard if you have kids who need comfort. But give other people like friends and coworkers space. Personal bubbles are bigger during flu season.

6. Store your toothbrush out of sight

Family toothbrush holders are cute until one person brings home the virus. Keep yours away from the others to avoid contamination.

7. Do the household chores of infected people

No one wants the sick person unloading the clean plates from the dishwasher. Let the infected person off the hook for their communal chores until they are no longer contagious.

8. Get plenty of sleep

Getting plenty of sleep is key in keeping your immune system in fighting shape. Adults should be getting 7 - 9 hours a night and kids need almost 11 hours.

9. Make sick partners sleep alone

Blankets and pillows, particularly in shared beds, can host the flu virus for about 24 hours. Ew. Let the sick one sleep in the bed and take the couch so they can get some rest, or vice versa. And be sure to wash everything once it is all said and done.

10. Relax

Stress can make a person sick too. So don't worry. Healthy habits will lower your risk of contracting the flu, but if you get it you get it. Just do your best to avoid spreading it to other people.

Good luck navigating this flu season. Here's to hoping you and your family all stay healthy.


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