Viruses have been making their rounds in our area, and sometimes they just keep going round and round in the same place. When the symptoms start, the rest of life stops. We can’t work and we feel miserable.

My ears perk up when I hear tips for staying healthy, whether from a friend at the YMCA or a CDC official on the news. Let’s take a look at some of the best and most amusing methods for keeping the bad germs at bay. I have taken the liberty of tweaking some well-known proverbs to help us organize this advice.

Our first adjusted proverb: “Cleanliness is next to healthiness.” Or if you prefer, we could remake a famous Beatles song and claim, “All you need is soap.” Vigorous handwashing with soap and water for 20 seconds is still the most effective way to kill germs. Instead of watching the clock, we can sing a chorus like “Happy Birthday” (or “All You Need Is Love”... I mean, “Soap”.) Hand sanitizer is merely a substitute for those times when we cannot make it to a sink.

In between washings, let’s keep our hands away from our eyes, mouths, and noses. If we do touch them, then we just earned ourselves another hand-scrubbing session. Why? Because, even if we are not currently demonstrating any symptoms, we could unwittingly transmit bad germs to someone else.

This brings us to our second twisted proverb: “All rest and no stress makes Jack a well boy.” Research has shown that when people are infected with the same cold virus, those who are sleep deprived and anxious experience cold symptoms more often than those who are more rested and relaxed.

So this means we should get as much R&R as our life allows so that our bodies have energy to fight and kill dormant viruses. Choose extra sleep over extra videos or internet surfing; choose simpler over complicated tasks. Practice slow, deep breathing to calm the body and mind.

Our final “proverb” is actually a famous quote, revamped: “To touch or not to touch? That is the question.” Per U. S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, handshakes and high fives are out, and alternative greetings like elbow taps are in. We tried elbow taps last week in my taboxing class at the YMCA, to mixed reviews. Elbows can be sharp! One member said that in China, folks are doing “foot taps” instead. We give the foot taps two thumbs up!

Hopefully, Spring will finally arrive and wash all this winter sickness away. Until then, with clean hands, rested bodies and respectfully distant greetings, we can help preserve our health and that of others. May we be ruled by calmness, kindness and common sense, all tied together with a healing dose of good humor.

By Chrissie Kaufmann, YMCA of Greater Michiana
Friday, March 6, 2020 - 9:46am