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Have you ever wished you could wrap your family in a bubble this time of year, protecting everyone from the almost constant chorus of coughing and sneezing?

While it might be hard to find a bubble big enough, we do have 5 tried and true ways to stay healthy—even when it seems like everyone around you has the sniffles.

Get plenty of sleep. It may be hard to tell when you crawl under the covers, but your body is actually gearing up for a night of hard work. This includes repairing muscle and tissue damage and strengthening your ability to fight off illnesses like the common cold. Sleep restores many of the body's functions, so if you're missing sleep, you're more likely to suffer immune problems.

Wash your hands. Again. And again. And yet again. There's a reason this is one of the most repeated pieces of advice to avoid getting a cold: It works! From doorknobs to keyboards and shopping carts to exercise equipment, germs lurk on so many surfaces. Protect yourself by regularly scrubbing with soap and warm water.

Take vitamin D. Vitamin D keeps your bones healthy and your immune system strong. In other words, if you live in the Midwest—where natural vitamin D from the sun is hard to find during winter months—consider adding a supplement to your daily routine. (Most multivitamins for kids and adults contain vitamin D.)

Avoid crowded places. The more people you're around, the greater chance you'll catch a cold. Think sneezing kiddos at the mall and coughing adults at the grocery store. While it's impossible to always dodge large groups, it can help to avoid venturing out of the house during the busiest times of day. If you happen to already have caught a cold and are running a fever, coughing or sneezing, it's best to stay put altogether.

Drink fluids. Staying hydrated supports your immune system by keeping your blood circulating like it should. This keeps your cells healthy and helps you fight off colds. If you do end up getting sick, being hydrated can prevent mucus from hardening, keeping it mobile and easier for your body to get rid of (i.e., potentially making you feel better sooner).

Want to learn more about how to prevent getting sick or how to shorten a cold when you catch one? Hear directly from Gundersen expert Beth Balder-Schroeder, NP, Pediatrics.

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