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Life is pretty stressful right now and that means supporting your family’s immune system is crucial.

Between the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and talk of stay-at-home orders lifting soon, families across the nation are experiencing a lot more stress than usual. While a little stress is nothing to worry about, chronic stress can really hurt the immune system.

Although you can’t stop your family members from feeling some stress right now, there are still plenty of things within your control that you can do.

Here are 6 ways you can bolster your family’s immune system during this time.

1. Disinfect high-touch surfaces around your home environment on a daily basis and immediately after returning home.

You can continue your standard cleaning routine, but the CDC recommends that high-touch surfaces be disinfected on a daily basis. These surfaces are any areas of your home that are touched often by multiple family members, such as doorknobs, light switches, faucets, remotes, etc.

Even if you’re not leaving home, it’s a good idea to follow the CDC’s advice. If you do leave home, be proactive in disinfecting right away. Don’t forget about disinfecting surfaces in your car if you’re driving!

If you need a refresher on CDC disinfecting guidelines, check out their webpage here.

2. Remind your family about the importance of wearing masks in public and frequent handwashing, even at home.

The CDC is still recommending that people wear a cloth face mask when in public at this time. The only exceptions are children under 2 years of age and anyone who already has difficulties breathing.

By now handwashing often is probably already a habit for your family, but it never hurts to remind them of basic guidelines. Family members should use soap and water and wash for 20 seconds before rinsing. Hands should be washed after leaving a public area, using the restroom, sneezing, or coughing. Remind kids and teens that they should still be washing their hands while at home.

3. Check in to make sure everyone is brushing and flossing twice a day, especially before bed.

Oral health and overall health are directly connected. In turn, your oral health has an effect on your immune system. Inflammation and infection from untreated tooth decay or gingivitis will lower your immune system’s ability to fight other viruses, like COVID-19.

Check-in periodically to make sure everyone in your family is flossing and brushing twice a day, including brushing for at least two minutes using proper technique. Brushing before bed is especially important for preventing tooth decay.

The Tooth Doc is open, so feel free to schedule an appointment if someone in your family needs dental care.

4. Encourage your family to rest when they need to, whether it’s by taking a nap or relaxing with a good book.

Self-care and stress relief is the best medicine when your family is faced with difficult circumstances. Like we mentioned earlier, stress does take a serious toll on the immune system. The good news is we also boost our immune systems by getting rid of built-up stress.

Encourage your family to rest mentally and physically. Suggest a relaxing bubble bath or quiet time to enjoy a book without interruption. If someone is feeling tired, remind them of the power of a good nap.

5. Keep a regular bedtime schedule for family members based on age, health, and their own needs.

Sleep plays a very important role in the strength of your immune system and your overall health. Getting restful, quality sleep on a nightly basis will help our immune system fight viruses, and other body invaders.

How much sleep your family needs comes down mostly to age. The National Sleep Foundation has a very helpful guide on how much sleep every member of your family needs. Remember that those with poor health or anyone that is currently sick will need more sleep.

Some family members may also need more sleep due to individual needs. However, if someone is suddenly experiencing lethargy and sleepiness despite getting enough hours, this warrants a call to your family doctor.

6. Motivate your family to take care of their bodies inside and out through exercise and eating well.

Staying active and eating a nutritious diet will do wonders for your family’s health and immune system. Quarantine and gym closures have made it tempting to go into couch-potato mode so you may find that motivating your family to stay healthy is a little trickier than usual.

Daily family workouts and walks are a great way to bond while also getting active. Limiting snacking to healthy options and cooking nutritious meals together as a family is also really powerful. As far as supplements go, there’s no magic pill. Instead, follow doctor-recommended advice by taking a daily multivitamin and adding in an additional 1,000 to 2000 IUs of vitamin D for a boost.

Protecting your family’s immune system will be even more important as life begins to resume as normal in Nebraska.

Although Nebraska wasn’t given an official stay-at-home order, the state followed standard quarantine practices and non-essential business closures. As of May 4th, some businesses in Omaha have reopened.

This is exciting news as it signifies that life in our city is beginning to turn around. However, it’s important to remember that the chance of exposure is still very real and the opening of business doesn’t mean there aren’t still high risks.

While we begin to venture back out, keep in mind that protecting your family’s immune system is even more important since our immune systems haven’t been exposed to much since we started self-quarantining. Be careful, stay healthy, and keep focused on the positive future ahead.