Germs: Cleanliness is Next to Sickliness

germs are good for us

Dear Mr. Dad: With all the talk about bird flu and swine flu I’m in a panic about germs. I’m putting antibacterial soaps all over my house and hand sanitizers in the car and my kids’ backpacks. Is there anything else I can do?

A: The most important thing you can do right now is relax. There are a number of ways to reduce the risk that you or your children will get the flu (or come in contact with other dangerous germs), and antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizers are at the bottom of the list: Get a flu shots every year, stay away from people who are sick, cover mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, wash hands thoroughly with soap and water (skip the antibacterial stuff, though—more on that in a minute), keep your hands away from your eyes, nose, or mouth (that’s the way most germs get into our body), get plenty of sleep, and eat right.
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Feeling Stressed? Relax. No, Seriously—It Could Kill You

We all know that stress isn’t good for us. But when we think (and talk) about stress, we usually mean big things—an ugly divorce, long stretches of unemployment, caring for a sick loved one for an extended period of time, and so on.

Stress contributes to anxiety and depression and can increase the risk of having a heart attack and keep your immune system from doing its job. But researchers are finding out that the damage caused by stress is less about the stress itself and more about how we react to it—even if it’s just the daily bumps in the road we all deal with: pending deadlines, getting cut off in traffic, annoying chores, or fights with your boss or your spouse.

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