Navigating cold and flu season is complicated. No one enjoys being sick. You want your loved ones to stay healthy too. The key to avoiding illness is taking care of yourself in different ways.

Did you know that your mental state, especially stress, affects your immune system?

In broad terms, when your body is stressed, it focuses on dealing with that. The result is that the hormones released because of stress suppress your immune system.1 This can make you more susceptible to illness.

You can keep yourself healthy by doing two things—reducing stress and taking steps to help boost your immune system. The good news is that there are many actions that do both.

Here are ways to improve your overall health and hopefully keep sickness away.

Reduce Stress

  • Remember to breathe. Relax and pay attention to your breathing This will calm you down in stressful moments.
  • Release your thoughts and feelings through journaling or talking with friends or a therapist.
  • Find fun. Do activities that make you happy. Ask a friend to join for added fun.
  • Physical activity helps enhance a sense of well-being and reduces negative feelings.2
  • Limit caffeine, alcohol and screen time before bedtime to help you get a good night’s sleep.3

Boost your immune system

  • Cut out processed, refined foods. These include hot dogs, sausages, white bread and pastries, refined sugars (cane sugar, brown sugar, molasses), cream, butter, shortening, fast food and fried foods.4
  • Eat healthy, well-balanced meals. Include a variety of colorful fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats.4
  • Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water and other calorie-free beverages like green tea. Try to limit alcohol and avoid sodas and other sweetened beverages.4

Adopting these healthy habits can help reduce your stress levels, paying off far beyond cold and flu season.

Find my therapist

Taking care of yourself and others is important. Learn how to recognize mental health distress in others?

Published on October 11, 2023


This portion of the Teladoc Health website occasionally offers health, fitness and nutritional information and is provided for educational purposes only. You cannot rely on any information provided here as a substitute for or replacement of professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Teladoc Health cannot assure that the information contained on this site always includes the most recent findings or developments with respect to the particular subject matter covered.

If you ever have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional. Do not disregard, avoid or delay obtaining medical- or health-related advice from your healthcare professional because of something you may have read on this site. The use of any information provided on this site is solely at your own risk.

If you are in the United States and think you are having a medical or health emergency, call your healthcare professional, or 911, immediately.