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5 germ-fighting habits you should use now and forever

Keep these COVID-19 induced habits forever to protect yourself and stay healthy.

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Consider keeping some of your germ-fighting habits for the long haul.

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For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO website.

I considered myself a pretty germ-conscious person even before the coronavirus. I've always had the habit of bringing Clorox wipes on the plane and was that person that wiped the entire seat, armrests and tray before I would sit down. And when I lived in New York, I hated touching subway rails and always had hand sanitizer in my bag. But now life as we know it has forever changed, and my germ-conscious habits have escalated, to say the least. I know I won't be slacking on my hygiene habits especially now -- and I don't think I'm the only one who feels this way.

Read more: 7 hand soaps to fight germs, from cheap to luxury 

Even though being scared of germs and getting sick is not exactly the most fun thing, I've definitely seen my own perspective of the world change a lot from this entire experience. I'll never be able to stand in a crowd, sit in a packed restaurant or even walk around outside or in stores without being a least a little conscious or worried about germs. But as extreme as this may sound, there's definitely some value in holding on to some of the habits we've all picked up during the COVID-19 pandemic. These same habits can help protect you all year from nasty bugs like colds, flu, stomach bugs and more. 

Keep reading for five germ-fighting habits you can keep using forever to keep yourself and others healthy and safe all year long.

1. Wash your hands 

Before face masks and basically every other protective measure that was adopted by the masses, people started washing their hands like crazy. This happened when we found out that the coronavirus can live on surfaces -- but, guess what? So can other things like the viruses and germs that cause colds, flu and stomach bugs. Hang on to that habit of washing your hands frequently especially before you eat, after using the restroom, after going out in public, shopping or doing basically anything that involves touching stuff other people could have handled. 

2. Stop touching your face

No matter how much hand sanitizer you apply or how many times you wash your hands, you're not 100% guaranteed germ-free. So another way to protect yourself from those germs and viruses is to avoid touching your face, eyes, nose or mouth as much as possible. By touching your face, you are introducing those germs to parts of the body they can easily invade, which makes it more likely for you to get sick. Many of us do this unintentionally -- but try to be aware if you have a habit and break it. 

3. Eat foods that support your immune system

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Eating nutritious foods can help improve your health overall.

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Eating better is one way to help boost your immune system, and many people have prioritized eating well and cooking more at home in light of the pandemic. When life goes back to normal, by all means go out and enjoy all of your favorite restaurants again. But pay attention to how you feel if you find yourself indulging more when you're out -- you may be surprised to find you feel better when you cook more of your own food or stick to healthier options in general like more fresh food, fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Read more: Vitamin D is crucial for immune health -- make sure you're getting enough

4. Actually get enough sleep

The COVID-19 lockdown has caused many people to lose their work commutes, late-night parties and other events that cause you to be out late. This means lots of people have more time to sleep -- if the stress and anxiety of it all hasn't kept them up at night. Even after the pandemic dies down, maintaining good sleep habits and getting enough sleep is important for the immune system and overall health. Prioritizing sleep is a habit you should consider adopting for the long haul to feel your best and stay healthy. 

5. Wear a face mask in public when you're sick

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The practice of wearing face masks to prevent the spread of germs is relatively new to most people in the US. But in other countries, such as Japan and China, it's common courtesy to wear a mask if you are feeling under the weather and need to leave your home. The US is experiencing severe shortages of disposable medical masks, so the CDC and other health authorities are directing people to use cloth face masks and coverings instead.

Whether you make your own face mask, get a reusable mask or purchase disposable masks when they are in short supply, you can and should keep this habit going even beyond COVID-19. It's a small gesture that can go a long way when it comes to keeping people around you well. 

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The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.