Archives for December 2015

What You Need to Know About the 2015-2016 Flu Season

The flu season in the United States typically begins as early as October and can last into May. The CDC says that flu season officially starts when key flu indicators first occur and then increase and remain high for a period of time. Key flu indicators can include flu-like illnesses, hospitalization, and deaths due to the flu. The peak of flu season typically occurs between December and February each year. This year, the flu has been slow to hit.

A Slow Start to the Flu Season

Overall flu activity has been relatively low in the U.S. While the flu season typically runs from October to May, overall seasonal flu activity has increased only slightly since October. However, this is not necessarily an indicator of how the rest of the season will turn out, meaning that individuals should continue to be wary of flu infection. Each year in the U.S., anywhere from 5 to 20% of the population gets the flu. The virus causes about 200,000 hospitalizations each year and kills around 36,000 people, according to the CDC.

Protecting Yourself with the Flue Vaccine

The CDC recommends that individuals older than six months old get a yearly flu shot, as this is the first step in warding off the virus. Although it is best to get the flu shot as early as possible, it is not too late to get the flu shot as long as the flu season lasts. It is still possible to get strains of the flu not protected against in the vaccine, but the vaccine protects individuals from the most common strains. Young children, older adults, and individuals with medical conditions are the most likely to be hospitalized or experience serious complications as a result of the flu. If you do get the flu, antiviral drugs are available through a doctor’s prescription to treat the illness.

Get Your Flu Shot Today

Test Smartly Labs provides flu vaccinations nationwide. Visit our website to find your nearest location.

How to Beat the Winter Blues

Winter’s combination of seemingly endless cold weather, gray skies and holiday stress can be enough to get anyone down, but it doesn’t have to. With a few easy and scientifically-backed tips, you can beat the winter blues and be back in good spirits in no time. Here they are:

Eat Smarter, not Harder

Search Google for “holiday weight gain” and you’ll find resource after resource telling you how to avoid it. Certain foods are good not only for your body, but for your mood. Dark chocolate, for instance, actually helps relieve anxiety. Other candies and carbohydrate may provide temporary euphoric feelings, but they’re short-lived and can fall away to greater anxiety and depression.

Get Active

While it may seem counter-intuitive when it’s freezing outside, a brisk 35-minute walk five times a week can improve mild to moderate symptoms of depression.

Help Others

Volunteering at your local soup kitchen can improve your overall mental health and life satisfaction.

Make Your Own Environment Brighter

Your body may crave more daylight, which the winter sun won’t produce. Sitting next to an artificial light called a light box for half an hour a day can be as effective as antidepressants. Open your blinds and curtains and sit closer to your windows to get an extra dose of sunshine.

Effectively Simulate Dawn

People with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is a form of depression that sets in during the late fall or early winter feel irritable, depressed, lethargic and have trouble waking up. To combat those symptoms, a dawn simulator may help alleviate some of those symptoms and make it easier for the SAD-sufferer to make it out of bed.

Follow the above tips to beat the winter blues. For more information about how you can stay positive this holiday season, find your nearest Test Smartly Labs location today.