5 steps to avoid getting sick

Updated: 6 days ago

People & Lifestyle by Foreigners in Finland

Everybody wants to know how to avoid getting sick, and if a cold or flu is caught, how to heal faster or cope better with it.

Our immune system plays a crucial role in fighting diseases, including the flu. Therefore, our first focus must be to keep our body healthy and boost and strengthen our immune system, especially during flu season. So, we will explore some natural methods and remedies for preventing and stopping the flu at its first stages.

Sleep enough

During sleep, our body heals, recovers and restores health. Therefore lack of sleep lowers our immunity. Getting enough sleep plays a very important role in keeping us healthier. It can make our immune system stronger in fighting illnesses, or stop them in the initial phase (Sleep & Common Cold), especially important during the high flu period. Try to go to bed early enough at night - relax with some music, a book, or whichever way you prefer to wind down. If for any reason your night sleep is interrupted, eg a busy work schedule, or a baby crying during the night, try to have an afternoon nap to catch up.


Water is essential for all the functions of the body (Water & Science). Simply drinking enough pure water could help in keeping the flu away, or stop it in the early stages. According to scientific studies, the mucous membrane in the nose is the first line of defense, protecting us when we breathe. Hydrating is very important in ensuring these linings in the nose stay moist so they can do their defense job well.

To stay healthy and hydrated, drink water every few hours, but not sugary drinks. If water gets boring, you could also drink mild green or white tea or caffeine-free and herbal tea-preparations. Fresh home-made vegetable and fruit juices are also another healthy option, but fruit juices should be taken in small amounts and diluted with water as they contain high amounts of sugar.

Eat healthy

Fresh fruits and vegetables are packed with protective nutrients such as fibers, vitamins, antioxidants, and other phytochemicals which make our immune system stronger (Fruits, Vegetables, Immunity). Therefore eating a large quantity of them regularly, especially during flu season, keeps us more protected. Although all fresh fruits and vegetables are beneficial to our health, if you feel the first sign of illness coming, choose fresh fruits with higher contents of vitamin C such as berries, oranges, and kiwi (Wellness Foods); vegetables such as peppers, onions and garlic (based on traditional use and some laboratory evidence, garlic has antibacterial and antiviral properties), beetroot, turnips, spinach, and other dark green vegetables. Oat porridge is another delicious and nutritious food, which can be easily made into a warm meal and eaten with berries or other fresh fruits. Oats are very popular in Finland and eaten in different ways such as oat porridge, oat bread, oat pasta, or oat biscuits.

It is important to avoid foods that contain refined sugars, oily or fried foods, highly processed foods, and any food containing harmful chemicals and substances which can make our immunity weaker.

Gentle Exercise

Walking, cycling, or any simple exercise outdoors in the fresh air, together with deep breathing, can help keep us healthier (see studies such as Physical Activity & Common Cold Seasons or Physical Activity & Influenza).

Getting sunshine and having outdoor and gentle (not too intensive) physical activities can help harmful waste products move out from the lungs and body. This may reduce the chance of getting a cold or flu. If for any reason you cannot do any physical activities outdoors, try to make time for indoor exercises (even in your dining room!) and taking deep breaths while exercising. Some exercise is better than none.


According to Prevention of upper respiratory tract infections by gargling, a gentle salt-water gargling is an effective, simple, and cost-free technique to treat a sore throat.

Here are simple instructions on how to gargle with warm, salty water:

  • Add a pinch of salt (less than 1/8th of a teaspoon) to a glass of warm water.

  • Take a deep breath.

  • Lean your head backward and take a mouthful of salty water to the back of your throat.

  • Keeping your mouth open, gently breathe out through the water. Continue until the end of your breath, then spit water out into the sink.

  • Repeat until all the water in the glass is used.

It is important to know that the gargling solution of salt and water must be mild. Using too much salt could injure the throat membranes. In order to speed the healing process, the gargling described above should be repeated 3 to 4 times per day.

Keep warm

It is important to know how to dress well according to the weather, temperature, wind, humidity, etc. Keep yourself warm when going outside by wearing a suitable hat, gloves, scarf, jacket, shoes, socks, raincoat, etc. Follow the weather forecast in order to know how to dress for the day, and pay special attention to the wind and humidity, which makes it feel colder than the predicted temperature. A simple scarf around the neck, a warm headband to cover the forehead and ears, or a warm long sleeve shirt under the jacket can really make a difference in feeling warm enough when outside in the fresh air.

Written by: Mehri Riviere