10 Unusual Ways to Prep for Cold and Flu Season

Summer ends, the kids head back to school, and most of us settle down for what we think will be a crisp and delightful Autumn. Instead, what usually happens is that cold and flu season strikes well before winter comes calling. Get a leg up on the season this year by checking out these 10 tips, submitted by HealthCentral readers.

Box of tissues on a table.

Organize while you're well

"Every summer I stock up on medications, tissues, and throat drops. This habit has revolutionized the way we get sick! It's worth an extra trip when you're feeling good just so that the future you doesn't have to go out at midnight to get cold medicine." -Terri

Woman sick in bed.

Prepare for the worst

"With two kids in daycare, it seems like my wife and I always catch what the kids get. Now, we just prepare for it in advance. We take turns sleeping and taking care of the kids so the other one can lay down for a few hours. She gets 2 hours, then me. If the kids are sick and up all night it's the same thing. This helps enormously." -Harper

Little girl playing quietly with stuffed bear.

The sick-day stash

"I'm a great-grandmother now, and I still remember the things my mother kept around for us when we were sick. She had a "sick day" cupboard that she occasionally refilled with quiet toys, games and art supplies. Now, I keep movies and sticker books in my cabinet so that even young children can have a special sick-day treat." -Portia

Woman reading.

Treat yourself

"Instead of worrying about how far behind I'm getting, I try to catch up on some things I love to do, like read a trashy novel, or sit with a stack of unread magazines. That and a giant mug of tea don't make an illness better, but they really do help make it less awful!" -Lizzie

Young girls at the movies.

Have an escape plan

"Sometimes you just HAVE to have help; especially if you're sick and the kids are well. Last year I bought gift certificates to a movie theater, and then offered to pay a babysitter to take the kids to dinner and a movie. It was a brilliant plan, and now I'm adding gift certificates to my list of "must haves" for flu season." -Tara

Woman changing sheets and bed pillows.

Consider your environment

"A few years ago I got the flu followed by pneumonia. A friend came over one day, and while I was in the shower she changed my bed sheets, washed dishes and turned on the radio. You may not have a kind friend nearby, but you can still smooth your own blankets and throw away the used tissues. It matters more than you think!" -Anna

Mother giving sick little girl soup.

Start a tradition

"Growing up, being sick meant being allowed to make a bed on the couch and watch reruns on daytime TV. I do the same thing for my own children now, and they eat their canned chicken soup off of the same tray. These little traditions tie you to your history and your future. Pick something easy and stick with it." -Viv

Father holding daughter getting food out of fridge.

Lower your expectations

"A stocked freezer and easy meals in the fridge will help when you're sick. Give yourself a break and have a few very simple meals ready. Taking the dinner question out of the equation will mean you have one less thing to think about when everybody's feeling nasty." -Dixon

Sick woman in bed working on laptop.

Know what can be done at home

"During sick days, it's easy enough to get some simple work organizing done. Things like cleaning out your inbox and returning emails is usually something that can be done from bed. And even organizing your schedule can help you feel less behind when you return to work." -Betsy

Flu shot in pharmacy.

Start now!

"There's no time like right now to get started! Add antibacterial wipes, tissues, and other things to your shopping list. Unearth your humidifier! Call your doctor and schedule your flu shot. Get organized now and the future, bleary-eyed, stuffed-up you will be grateful." -Jessica

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The HealthCentral Editorial Team

HealthCentral's team of editors based in New York City and Arlington, VA, collaborates with patient advocates, medical professionals, and health journalists worldwide to bring you medically vetted information and personal stories from people living with chronic conditions to help you navigate the best path forward with your health—no matter your starting point.