Usually, flu symptoms leave no lasting damage. That being said, they can make you feel pretty miserable, and contracting the flu can actually be dangerous for some people.

Just because flu season is well underway doesn’t mean it’s too late to figure out how you can protect yourself from the flu. Most of the steps you can take don’t even require much effort. Read on to learn how to avoid the flu without stressing about it.

Kill the Flu - Wash Your Hands Frequently

closeup of hands covered in soapHandwashing is the number one way to defend yourself against any sickness, including the flu. Use clean water and plenty of soap to do the most effective job, but keep hand sanitizer around in case you don’t have access to a sink.

If you shake hands with someone, wash your hands as soon as possible afterward.

Also, try not to touch your face throughout the day, especially around your eyes, mouth, and nose, as these areas provide germs with direct access to your body.

Limit finger foods—or don’t eat them with your fingers—to keep germs from getting in your mouth.

Disinfect Surfaces

People can be infected with the flu for several days before they exhibit symptoms, so even if nobody appears to be sick, it’s important to regularly disinfect surfaces that are often touched, such as doorknobs, counters, desktops, keyboards, and computer mice.

Don’t forget to disinfect your cell phone, too. You don’t want the germs from every surface you’ve set your phone on to come into contact with your face.

Cover Your Mouth

Even if you’re not sick, not covering your mouth when you a cough or sneeze is gross. It’s best to grab a tissue if you feel a sneeze or a cough coming on, but if that’s not an option, pull your arm up in front of your face and sneeze or cough into your sleeve.

It sounds pretty disgusting, but it’s better than coughing or sneezing all over other people or any surfaces that they’ll end up touching.

Keep Your Distance

We all want to spend time with our loved ones, but if someone is feeling unwell, it’s wise to avoid being near them until they get better. With today’s technology, there’s no reason you can’t stay close to sick family and friends without being physically near them.

Conversely, if it’s you who are sick, do those you love—as well as your coworkers—a favor, and keep your distance. A good rule of thumb is that if you have a fever, you’re most likely contagious.

Avoid unnecessary contact with others until you are fever-free for at least 24 hours without taking fever-reducing medication, and if you know you’re starting to get sick, go ahead and stay home.

Do Healthy Things

woman reading near a window with a cup of hot teaPracticing healthy habits keeps your immune system in good working order, so eat well, stay hydrated, get enough sleep, exercise regularly, and keep stress levels down.

Run a humidifier to keep your germ-fighting mucous membranes from drying out, and consider adding hot tea to your diet.

The steam from hot water helps the hair follicles in your nose work more efficiently, and honey is not just a natural sweetener—it’s antibacterial as well.

Refrain from unhealthy habits such as smoking and drinking too much alcohol, as both can contribute to a weakened immune system.

Do what’s good for your body, and your body will have more resources to fight off any germs that come your way.

Being sick is never fun, and once you start to feel unwell, there’s often little you can do but manage the symptoms until the illness runs its course. However, healthy habits and a good prevention strategy will help minimize the likelihood that you will contract an illness in the first place.