Stay Healthy During Cold And Flu Season
By Aisha Newton
Achoo! Cough, cough!
Uh oh... it’s that time of year again. The leaves are falling from the trees and the temperature is dropping. Cold and flu season is on the horizon. Nobody enjoys getting sick, but sometimes it feels unavoidable. You try to eat healthy food and get lots of vitamin C, but is that really enough? How can you stay healthy when your colleagues’ colds are spreading faster than a leaked celebrity selfie?
First off take a deep breath, (not too deep. there are still some germs out there) and try to relax. Large amounts of stress can have a negative impact on your health. When we allow ourselves to become overstressed and overwhelmed, it impedes the body’s natural ability to fight off illness and disease. Don’t work yourself up into a hypochondriac state. Just because someone has a slight sniffle doesn’t mean they are coming down with the bird flu.
Start off by doing simple things that you can control. Cleaning up your desk and keeping your work area clean, are the first steps in the battle against germs. Wipe down your keyboard, telephone and any other items that people may touch. Same thing goes for pens and staplers.
Now we all remember our moms constantly telling us to wash our hands. Well she was on to something. The simple act of washing your hands can go a long way. The office is filled with common spaces and surfaces. Doorknobs, photocopiers, light switches and paperwork from your boss can be harbouring nasty bacteria. A good scrub with soap and warm water, for at least twenty seconds, will do the trick. Another helpful hint is to avoid touching your face with unwashed hands. The slightest amount of contact with your nose, eyes or mouth can transmit bacteria. You won't always have access to a sink, so keep some hand sanitizer or disinfectant handy.
Now this might seem obvious but stay away from sick people. We have come a long way with technology and it is possible to work closely with people, without physically interacting with them. Email, telephone, text messages and video conferences are viable options when it comes to communicating with your colleagues, try working from home for a change.
While I don't advocate sealing yourself in a plastic bubble, or wearing a Heisenberg style hazmat suit, letting people know that you don't want to get sick is a reasonable request. For example, as a worst case scenario, you can reschedule that meeting until the person is in better health.
Here’s another no brainer, don’t come to work if you are sick. Trust me when I tell you that you won’t perform your job duties as well as you think you can. We’ve all been there, you wake up one morning feeling sick and achy but you decide to tough it out. You rationalize the numerous reasons you can’t call in sick. So what do you do? You come to work and spend the day tired, cranky, miserable and completely unproductive.
Essentially you are the poster child for perfect attendance and to make matters worse, your mere presence has now contaminated your entire office. The only thing worse than having one person under the weather is having an office filled with them. Do everyone a favour and stay home. For starters you’ll get better faster if you take the time and allow your body to recuperate. Pushing your body to the limit will only exacerbate the problem.
Stay in bed, get some rest and drink some orange juice. Try catching up on some daytime TV and avoid human interaction. Let’s be honest, when was the last time you got to watch "The Price is Right?" If Bob Barker was the host then it’s been way too long . Now is the time to put those sick days to good use. So sit back, relax and see if you can win the showcase showdown!
Another helpful tip is to stay hydrated. Drinking lots of water can help flush all the toxins out of your system. When you get sick and are constantly reaching for the Kleenex box, remember the importance of replenishing your lost fluids. Without getting too graphic, if you are losing lots of fluids you’ve got to put them back in.
Be sure to eat lots of bell peppers and citrus to boost your vitamin C intake. Echinacea at the first sign of a cold is also known to be helpful. Try to stay active and avoid smoking, cigarette smoke damages the lungs and makes it harder to fight off infections. Many offices provide the flu shot to their employees for free or at a nominal fee, be sure to take advantage of this opportunity to help stave off illness.
Unfortunately there is no sure fire way of avoiding every cold and office bug. The average Canadian worker gets 2-4 colds a year. But by following these practical tips, you can help keep yourself and your colleagues healthier at work.