19 Secrets to Steal from People Who Never Get Sick

Updated: Mar. 17, 2022

In the fall and winter, you may become more vulnerable to colds, flu, and other infections. Use these tips to stop getting sick.

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woman sleeping in bed with sleep mask on

They make a habit of napping

A lack of sleep is associated with a great risk of weight gain and increases the production of cortisol, a hormone that triggers stress. But Sarnoff Mednick, professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Southern California, doesn’t worry about such things. As profiled by Gene Stone in his book The Secrets of People Who Never Get Sick, Mednick would take an afternoon nap for most of his adult life and never suffered from colds or flu. In general, until about the 13th century and the invention of mechanical clocks, humans napped daily. The best time for a short snooze: Between the hours of one and three in the afternoon. And even if you’re napping, these common household items could be the reason you’re always getting sick.

bottle of red wine pouring into a wine glass

They skip the nightcap

Although you may feel as though you fall into a deep slumber after a night of drinking, alcohol actually disrupts your sleep cycle and compromises the quality of your sleep. Sleep is so wonderfully restorative to your immune system; cutting back on drinking will help your body protect against harmful germs you might be encountering.

tea pot pouring into white mug and saucer next to bowl of tea leaves

They try to drink tea

The act of drinking tea—as well as inhaling the steam that’s produced by a hot beverage—may stimulate hair follicles in the nose, making it easier for you to move germs out of your nose when you breathe. (You may think that taking medicines can improve your health, but here are everyday medication habits that could make you sick.)

group of four people looking at smartphone and laughing
iStock/Jacob Ammentorp Lund

They have a packed social calendar

You might not think having a social network would count a much as diet and exercise when it comes to good health. But studies suggest that having good buddies can protect against everything from memory loss to heart attacks to infectious diseases. In The Secrets of People Who Never Get Sick, Stone shares the story of Sydney Kling, a former nurse and teacher, who can’t remember being ill in all her 75 years. She credits this to the fact that she is constantly seeking out new friends. Sociability, she claims, increases self-esteem, which in turn, supports the immune system. Here’s some other ways you can easily boost your immune system.

spread of protein sources: raw meat, seafood, eggs, and milk

They don’t skimp on protein

People who eat less protein may have weaker immune systems, according to a study in animals with protein malnutrition. Try to include foods that are rich in protein during every meal as it may help protect against that cold that seems to be plaguing everyone else in the office. Here are 10 common mistakes you probably make that actually make you sick.

woman holding onto subway pole

They keep their hands to themselves

In public spaces, be mindful of what you’re touching and, whenever possible, keep your hands to yourself. Things like subway poles and stair banisters have been touched by hundreds of people before you and harbor countless harmful germs. Here’s how to know if your commute is making you sick and what to do about it.

woman's hands massaging another woman's back
MakeStory Studio/Shutterstock

They book massages

Strengthen your immune system by treating yourself to a massage every few weeks. Your circulation will improve and your cells will be nourished with additional oxygen and blood, both of which may boost your immune system.

measuring spoons with tablespoon full of sugar

They watch their sugar intake

Sugar may impede upon the ability of white blood cells to destroy the viruses and bacteria entering your system, so steering clear of added sugar may help you to stop getting sick. Here are 25 other reasons sugar is making you sick.

medical professional washing her hands with soap and water

They don’t touch their face

If you’re a chronic nail-biter or constantly find yourself touching your face, put a stop to this habit and you’ll find yourself getting sick a lot less. Each time you find yourself reaching for your face, remind yourself that you’re transferring harmful germs to your nose and mouth.  Now check out these other body parts you should never touch.

woman walking her dog on a snowy path

They try to get fresh air

While many people think that cold air causes you to get sick during the winter months, it is actually more time spent inside that is making you sick. Try to spend a little time outside each day, regardless of the temperature. Still getting sick during the end of the year? Here are some unexpected reasons you get sick during the holidays.

woman reading a book on a couch

They know how to chill out

Maybe you’re a stickler for Zumba, you have favorite music that instantly mellows you out, or curling up with a novel makes the stress of a day melt away. Whatever the method, regular de-stressing is a critical habit of people who don’t get sick. If you’re constantly frazzled, you’re at higher risk for health issues. Here are the signs stress might be making you sick.

woman taking a shower

They take cold showers

A small body of scientific literature indicates exposure to cold water may increase the body’s natural antioxidants. Be sure you know the subtle ways your house is making you sick.

woman with of glass of water in one hand and capsule in the other
MIA Studio/Shutterstock

They take vitamins if they need to

Proper nutrition is important, and if you’re not getting adequate nutrients from food, you can can also consider taking vitamins. (That is, if your doctor suggests it might be a good idea). One supplement that you might be forgetting? Brewer’s yeast: It’s full of B vitamins, protein and trace minerals, all vital for good health and preventing illness.

dog or cat food in a bowl
Jiri Hera/Shutterstock

They wash their pet’s food bowl

Your pet’s food bowl could actually be making you and your family sick if you don’t wash it frequently. A study by NSF International showed that pet food bowls ranked as the fourth dirtiest place in the house. Regardless of if you feed your pet dry or wet food, the bowl may have a residue that can harbor bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella.

woman holding a stack of bedding
Olga Pink/Shutterstock

They pack their own sheets

Typically, most people only pack their own beach towels when going on vacation. But it might be handy to pack your own bed sheets, too. Put your sheets over the one on the hotel bed to create a barrier between yourself and unknown germs. These other hotel hacks will keep you healthy throughout your entire trip.

woman sneezing into a tissue

They don’t go to work sick

Over 60 percent of Americans said that they would still go to work sick. That’s just not healthy. (Although not everyone has a choice when it comes to having the option to take a sick day.) Need help sticking close to home? Here are 7 rules to follow when you call in sick.

doctor injecting woman's arm with a needle
Komsan Loonprom/Shutterstock

They get flu shots

Andrew Sussman, MD, CEO of Medforth Global Healthcare Education, says that the most effective way to avoid getting sick is by getting the flu shot. Here are more tips from on how to stop getting sick.

stack of weights next to medicine ball
VDB Photos/Shutterstock

They lift weights

Going to the gym is good for losing weight, which ultimately can improve your health. But to avoid getting sick, lifting weights could do just the trick, Stone says in his book. It can reduce the likelihood of heart disease and even depression.

vacuum on carpet
Alexei Zatevakhin/Shutterstock

They have stronger vacuums

Everyone buys a vacuum with the assumption it will suck up all the dirt and grime from their floors and leave them with a clean and shiny house. But studies have shown that it’s more common than not for vacuums to actually release dirt and bacteria back into your home. Cleaning your vacuum regularly is the secret to staying healthy at home. Next, check out 50 more ways to avoid catching a cold this season.