How to stay healthy in public

6 min read
Rebecca Coleman

There has never been a time in remembered history when the simple act of just going outside has caused so many second thoughts. The top concern on most Canadians’ minds these days is “how can I stay healthy?”

While we have been in self-isolation, our environment has been easier to control.

No one outside your family unit has entered your home, and you have had the ability to clean to your own demanding standards!

But as Canadians begin to slowly return to post-COVID life, and we are increasingly venturing out of the safety of our homes, there are precautions you can take to make yourself feel safer and stay healthy.

6 tips to sidestep COVID-19 and other viruses

We all know the basics: COVID-19 is passed via droplets an infected person sneezes or coughs out onto or near someone else. Here are eight simple tips to stay healthy.

  1. Continue social distancing.
  2. Wash your hands.
  3. Stay home.
  4. Wear a mask when in public.
  5. Stop touching your face.
  6. Cover your cough.
  7. Wear gloves on public transit.
  8. Stow your phone.

Before we get to our virus tips, let’s start with some general health tips.

General tips to help you stay healthy

Top on any list of health tips is one you’ve probably heard before: eat well and exercise.

It’s tempting to spend this time indoors on the couch binging Netflix with a bowl of popcorn.

Stay Healthy Two Men Exercising Outside
Regular exercise can help you feel better and less stressed.

But it’s actually more important than ever to take care of your body and your immune system by eating healthy and working out.

You can work out to one of the many free at-home workouts on YouTube, or go outside for a socially-distanced fresh-air walk, run or bike ride every day.

Keep your stress levels low

When we’re stressed out, our bodies produce cortisol. Too much cortisol over the long term, can have detrimental effects on our immune system. Why? It lowers the amount of white blood cells (the ones that fight disease) in our bodies. To manage your stress, try meditation, yoga, or talking it out with someone you trust.

Get quality sleep

Sleep is when our bodies repair themselves, so be sure to get your full eight hours of beauty sleep — or take a nap!

Be probiotic

Probiotics are naturally found in fermented foods like:

  • Yogurt
  • Cheese
  • Sauerkraut
  • Miso
  • Kombucha
  • Pickle

These foods increase the amount of healthy bacteria in our gut microbiome, and that healthy bacteria is effective at fighting off harmful bacteria that can cause infections.

Tips to help avoid infections like COVID-19, colds and flus

Viruses are nothing new — we deal with them every year. But until there’s a vaccine, avoiding COVID-19 requires extra care. Here are eight simple tips to stay healthy.

1. Continue social distancing

Until a vaccine is developed, it’s important to continue social distancing.

The challenge with the Coronavirus is that you may have it, but not be showing symptoms, so it’s a good idea to treat yourself and everyone else accordingly.

This means only closely interacting with those in your double bubble, and maybe a few others.

But bear in mind, every person you add to your cohort brings with them the germs of anyone that they may have been in contact with.

Staying safe at work

If you cannot work from home and must go to work, be sure to:

  • Continue social distancing
  • Place your desk two meters away from others
  • Keep disinfecting wipes at your desk and use them regularly

If you are working in a job where you have to interact with the public on a regular basis, know your safety rules and ensure your employer follows them.

Stay Healthy Person Washing Their Hands

2. Wash your hands

Frequent hand washing is one of the best ways of preventing most communicable diseases, so continue to wash your hands often. It’s also a good idea to carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer with you at all times.

You may wish to wear disposable gloves, but be sure to change them often, and remove them carefully to avoid contamination.

3. Stay home

Stay home when you’re sick. If you are feeling unwell, don’t try to push yourself to go to work. It’s better for you to stay home and avoid infecting others.

4. Wear a mask when in public

It is now recommended that Canadians wear a mask when in public or in places where maintaining the two-meter social distancing protocol is a challenge, like in grocery stores.

It doesn’t need to be a surgical N-95 mask like the type worn in hospitals.

While non-medical grade masks may not be as effective, wearing one still decreases your chances of catching a virus.

If you are using a disposable mask, dispose of it correctly. If you are using a washable mask, wash it daily. Proper treatment of your mask increases its effectiveness.

5. Stop touching your face

Avoid touching your face. This is because we may have germs on our hands, and touching our face transfers those germs closer to mucous membranes like our eyes, nose and mouth. This is how viruses enter our bodies.

Wearing a mask may also help you to avoid touching your face.

6. Cover your cough

It’s spring in Canada, and many of us are suffering with allergies right now. It’s important to be as hygienic as possible when sneezing or coughing.

This means sneezing into a tissue and then safely discarding the tissue when possible (and then washing your hands). Or you could sneeze or cough into your sleeve if you don’t have a tissue on hand.

7. Wear gloves on public transit

If you must take public transit to work, a great idea is to wear gloves, or alternatively, try to touch as little as possible (turnstiles, door handles, poles) with your bare hands.

Use a tissue or a napkin, and discard it as soon as you exit (or even use your sleeve).

Maintain your distance from others on public transit. If possible, hold your bag at all times, not allowing it to come into contact with the floors or other seats.

8. Stow your phone

Leave your phone in your pocket. Many of us are used to looking at our phones while we are on transit, waiting in line at the grocery store, etc.

According to one study, we touch our phones 2,617 times per day! But touching something at the grocery store or on the bus, and then touching our phones could transfer germs to our phones. So try to avoid touching your phone in public, and sanitize it often.

Simple tips to stay healthy

During these very challenging times, it’s easy to feel anxious, because of all the factors out of our control. However, by remaining calm, listening to the advice of health authorities and arming ourselves with the right information and protective gear, we can keep ourselves safe and healthy this summer.

This post should not be taken as medical advice. Consult the Canadian government’s COVID-19 site or a health professional for more information.