We’re right in the middle of flu season. As of the beginning of January, according to the CDC, nearly all of the country is experiencing widespread flu activity. If you’ve been able to stay healthy so far, nice work. But don’t let your guard down just yet. Flu season doesn’t wind down until spring. So, you’ll want to keep your immune system in fighting shape. Here are some of the best ways to keep the flu at bay.

Get a flu shot. As a general rule, a yearly flu shot may be the best protection against the flu. This year’s flu vaccine may be somewhat less effective than in years past. However, it is still the best option to protect you from the virus. For best results, it is a good idea to get your flu shot 6 to 8 weeks before flu season. As a rule, flu season begins in October and can last until May. So the best time to get your shot, ideally, is by October. If you have not gotten the shot by now and if you have not yet gotten the flu, it is still a good idea to get a flu shot.

Practice healthy lifestyle habits. Many studies suggest that routine exercise, plenty of sleep, healthy eating, and stress reduction can help. Good hygiene is also crucial. The CDC recommends the following hygiene habits to help keep the flu at bay:

  • Wash your hands often.
  • Avoid touching sick people.
  • Try not to touch your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • If you get sick, stay home.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.

Try alternative treatments. There are many natural products thought to help prevent the flu, perhaps by boosting the immune system. Some research suggests that certain alternative treatments may help your body get over the flu more quickly. And some may make the symptoms feel less severe. These include vitamin C, elderberry syrup, echinacea, and Chinese medicinal herbs. But more research is needed to find out if these treatments can really help fight or prevent the flu.

Don’t underestimate the power of the flu. This tricky little virus can be deadly. Take care of your body. And be sure you’re taking the right steps to steer clear of the flu. Learning how to protect yourself is the first step toward stopping the flu from turning into a serious health concern. And if you do come down with the flu? The best thing you can do is stay home, get plenty of rest, and drink lots of water.