Why You Shouldn't Skip the Flu Shot This Year

iStock.com/vladans
iStock.com/vladans

Americans aren’t too vigilant about getting flu shots. During the 2016-17 influenza season, the vaccination rate for adults was just 48.6 percent, far below the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s goal of 70 percent coverage. Parents tend to be a little better with kids—in 2016, the rate for children aged 6 to 23 months was 76.3 percent—but overall, we tend to meet each flu season with apathy.

That might be an especially bad idea this year. Here’s why.

In 2017-18, the flu hospitalized 900,000 people, the highest number in modern history. About 80,000 people died of flu, the most in decades. A particularly virulent strain, H3N2, was partly to blame. Vaccines were effective in roughly one out of four people infected with that specific virus and 40 percent effective overall. We also have more people aging into a higher-risk category. Public health experts agree the flu will continue to be a worthy adversary, with another cascade of potentially preventable serious illness or death this year.

To minimize your chances of getting sick, the advice is unanimous: Get a flu shot. Because it takes your body up to two weeks to create an immune response, getting a shot before Halloween is ideal. While they’re not perfect and can’t guarantee immunity, the shot's benefits are still considerable. The chances that you’ll avoid becoming ill are significantly higher. You’re also far less likely to spread the virus to others. And if you do develop symptoms, you’re less likely to develop complications from pneumonia. If you’re pregnant, the shot will assist your already overtaxed immune system as well as provide protection for your child after birth.

Above all, don't try to talk yourself out of it. In a 2015 poll conducted by National Public Radio (NPR) and Truven Health Analytics, roughly half of respondents believed they were healthy enough to fight the virus on their own. Some were concerned about side effects (such as mild soreness at the injection site, which usually lasts only a day or two) or that the shot itself could be infectious. (It isn't.)

The vaccine isn’t the only preventative step. It’s vital to get enough sleep to keep your immune system strong. The CDC also recommends washing your hands frequently and avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth after coming into contact with potentially contaminated surfaces.

[h/t healthline]

Amazon’s Big Fall Sale Features Deals on Electronics, Kitchen Appliances, and Home Décor

Dash/Keurig
Dash/Keurig

If you're looking for deals on items like Keurigs, BISSELL vacuums, and essential oil diffusers, it's usually pretty slim pickings until the holiday sales roll around. Thankfully, Amazon is starting these deals a little earlier with their Big Fall Sale, where customers can get up to 20 percent off everything from home decor to WFH essentials and kitchen gadgets. Now you won’t have to wait until Black Friday for the deal you need. Make sure to see all the deals that the sale has to offer here and check out our favorites below.

Electronics

Dash/Amazon

- BISSELL Lightweight Upright Vacuum Cleaner $170 (save $60)

- Dash Deluxe Air Fryer $80 (save $20)

- Dash Rapid 6-Egg Cooker $17 (save $3)

- Keurig K-Café Single Coffee Maker $169 (save $30)

- COMFEE Toaster Oven $29 (save $9)

- AmazonBasics 1500W Oscillating Ceramic Heater $31 (save $4)

Home office Essentials

HP/Amazon

- HP Neverstop Laser Printer $250 (save $30)

- HP ScanJet Pro 2500 f1 Flatbed OCR Scanner $274 (save $25)

- HP Printer Paper (500 Sheets) $5 (save $2)

- Mead Composition Books Pack of 5 Ruled Notebooks $11 (save $2)

- Swingline Desktop Hole Punch $7 (save $17)

- Officemate OIC Achieva Side Load Letter Tray $15 (save $7)

- PILOT G2 Premium Rolling Ball Gel Pens 12-Pack $10 (save $3)

Toys and games

Selieve/Amazon

- Selieve Toys Old Children's Walkie Talkies $17 (save $7)

- Yard Games Giant Tumbling Timbers $59 (save $21)

- Duckura Jump Rocket Launchers $11 (save $17)

- EXERCISE N PLAY Automatic Launcher Baseball Bat $14 (save $29)

- Holy Stone HS165 GPS Drones with 2K HD Camera $95 (save $40)

Home Improvement

DEWALT/Amazon

- DEWALT 20V MAX LED Hand Held Work Light $54 (save $65)

- Duck EZ Packing Tape with Dispenser, 6 Rolls $11 (save $6)

- Bissell MultiClean Wet/Dry Garage Auto Vacuum $111 (save $39)

- Full Circle Sinksational Sink Strainer with Stopper $5 (save $2)

Home Décor

NECA/Amazon

- A Christmas Story 20-Inch Leg Lamp Prop Replica by NECA $41 save $5

- SYLVANIA 100 LED Warm White Mini Lights $8 (save 2)

- Yankee Candle Large Jar Candle Vanilla Cupcake $17 (save $12)

- Malden 8-Opening Matted Collage Picture Frame $20 (save $8)

- Lush Decor Blue and Gray Flower Curtains Pair $57 (save $55)

- LEVOIT Essential Oil Diffuser $25 (save $5)

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Want to Fall Asleep Faster? Try This Breathing Technique

Andrea Piacquadio, Pexels
Andrea Piacquadio, Pexels

Struggling to fall asleep can feel like a hopeless battle. It often seems like the harder you try turning your brain off, the less likely it is to happen. One way to trick yourself into falling asleep fast is finding something to concentrate on other than how long you've been awake. For nights when your thoughts just won't stay quiet, try the 4-7-8 technique.

According to Simplemost, the 4-7-8 breathing method is meant to combat anxiety, restlessness, and other enemies of a good night's sleep. The actual technique is simple: Just inhale for four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds, and exhale for eight seconds. Like counting sheep, measuring out your breaths gives your brain something to do that isn't obsessing about your hectic day or the day ahead.

Taking slow, deliberate breaths has also been proven to reduce stress. Neurons that influence calmness have been found in the breathing control centers of mouse brains. In humans, deep breathing has long been central to mindfulness practices like yoga and meditation. The 4-7-8 breathing technique functions as both a distraction from your thoughts and a way to combat any anxious sensations that may be keeping you awake.

The next time you find yourself tossing and turning at night, try anywhere between three and eight rounds of this breathing technique to calm your body and mind. And to get the best rest possible, make sure you're settling into the best sleep position for your health.

[h/t Simplemost]