If you’ve already gotten your flu shot this year, congratulations! But that’s only the first step toward protecting yourself from the flu. Here are 5 other ways to reduce your risk of getting sick this winter:

  • Get more Vitamin D. Whether it’s from sunshine or supplements, “D” boosts our immune system, and puts a protective barrier between our cells, and invading flu viruses. It also produces a protein that kills bacteria and viruses – especially in the lungs. And can literally cut your risk of getting the flu in half. And if you get sick, your symptoms won’t be as bad, and you’ll recover sooner. Experts recommend that healthy adults get 2,000 international units of vitamin D a day, and 600 IUs for children.

  • Never underestimate the value of soap and warm water. Frequent hand-washing successfully removes flu virus you pick up from germy surfaces – like door handles, and ATMs. The problem is, we touch our faces 15 times an hour. So, we need to avoid touching our eyes, nose or mouth with contaminated fingers. Because if the germs don’t have a point of entry, they can’t hurt you.

  • Lose the stress! Try taking nature walks, or listening to 30 minutes a day of soothing music. It increases production of immunity-boosting proteins, and infection-fighting white blood cells.

  • Talk to your doctor. If all else fails, and you feel the flu coming on – ask your doctor about a prescription for Tamiflu. It can make your symptoms less harsh, or help you get healthier a day or two faster.

  • Ease up on the nose blowing. Researchers found that blowing hard – and frequently – increases the pressure in your sinuses and can force germ-filled mucous deeper into your nasal passages. And that can make you sicker, longer. The fix? Loosen up a stuffy nose with a hot, steamy shower and blow your nose gently.