No matter your level of affinity for pumpkin spice and slouchy sweaters, we can all agree there’s one thing autumn brings with it each year that no one likes: cold season. With our swimsuits and flip-flops now stuffed in the backs of our closets, the question of how to avoid those dreaded sick days has moved to the front of our minds. Luckily for us, many day-to-day habits can help us stay healthy without us even realizing. Read on to find out how you can boost your immune system by basically just living your life!

Two friends laugh and hug

1. Laugh. Turns out being not-so-serious can have serious benefits for your immune system. Laughter reduces stress levels within the body and stimulates white blood cells into fighting infection. So keep watching those reruns of The Office or listening to Chelsea Handler’s stand-up routines, because apparently laughter really is some of the best medicine.

2. Foster friendships. Friends — they enable your shopping addiction, indulge your obsession with The Bachelor, and, last but not least, keep your immune system strong. Say what?! Much like laughing, maintaining meaningful social connections decreases your levels of stress, which in turn positively affects your immune system. Essentially, people who feel a strong sense of community have stronger immunity than those who do not.

3. Exercise. As if we needed another reason to stick to our New Year’s resolution, exercising — even moderate activities such as walking for an extended period of time — can improve the body’s immune system through its indirect effects. By improving circulation, helping normalize sleep patterns, and contributing to general good health, exercise is a real savior when it comes to staving off sickness.

4. Drink tea. Green and black teas are bursting with disease-fighting antioxidants that can build up your resistance to colds. So, yep, even your Teavana Shaken Pineapple Black Tea Infusion from Starbucks is, in its own way, helping you stay healthy. (Pro tip: If you’re already under the weather, stick to hot tea. Its steam can reduce congestion, and the warmth will soothe your throat.)

5. Eat lots of different foods. What do yogurt, granola, and kiwi all have in common (besides being the makings of a bomb breakfast parfait)? They all actively improve your immune system. The cultures in yogurt combat disease-causing germs. The oats of granola boost immunity, as well as the effectiveness of antibiotics. And the vitamin C in kiwi boosts white blood cells, which your body uses to fight off infections. In addition, a slew of other foods you probably already regularly eat produce similar end results — including chicken, almonds, and citrus fruits. Keeping variety in your diet will ensure you get the maximum benefits.

What steps are you taking to stay healthy as cold weather approaches? Share your tips with us @BritandCo!

(Photo via Getty)