Don’t Catch Your Coworker’s Cold!

It’s that time of the year again!  Sniffles, rattling coughs, sneezing; these are the sounds you hear as you walk to your work space.  You may feel resistance is futile and catching a cold or flu is inevitable.  The good news is that there are some precautions you can take that can reduce your chances of catching a bug before the holidays.

One thing you can do is get a flu shot.  They offer flu shots at most drug store pharmacies.  You should consult your physician before getting a flu shot.  There are some conditions that would make flu shots unsafe for certain people.  Be sure your physician is aware of any allergies that you have.

At work you need to recognize and identify the areas at work that harbor the most germs.  Common areas such as break rooms and restrooms are heavy germ saturation areas.  Common equipment such as coffee machines, microwaves, copiers, fax machines, and community work stations are like airports for germs and every user is the next flight!  Even the soap dispenser in the restroom is most likely contaminated with various forms of bacteria.

With all these germ stops on your itinerary how can you avoid them?  Well, you can try your best to avoid touching anything, but most likely you will have to use common areas throughout your workday.  What you CAN do is avoid touching your T-zone (eyes, nose, mouth).  Also you should be sure to wash your hands thoroughly preferably with anti-bacterial soap.  When I say thoroughly, I mean really scrub your hands front and back and under your nails.  Keep a pump hand sanitizer at your desk for when it is not convenient to go to a sink.  Use a tissue to pump the sanitizer into your palm and discard the tissue.

Keep your work area clean by using disinfecting wipes.  You can also use these wipes on common equipment before touching.  Don’t use germ collecting items like dish towels or sponges.  Instead, use paper towels that can be discarded after use.

To boost your immune system make sure you drink plenty of water.  In Winter time people tend to drink less water but, this is a mistake because people exhale more moisture as their metabolism increases in the colder weather.  You need this moisture to keep your mucous membranes from becoming too dry.  Moist, healthy mucous membranes are essential to avoiding cold and flu viruses.  Be sure to take in plenty of Vitamin C through fruits and fruit juices.

Eat healthy, non-processed foods.  Heavily processed foods and foods high in sugar upset the balance of bacteria in your gut.  This is a big influence on your immune system, so avoid the junk food.

Last, get plenty of sleep.  Nothing wears down your immune system like lack of sleep.  The ideal amount of sleep for an adult is 7 to 9 hours according to the National Sleep Foundation.

There’s no way to guarantee you won’t catch a cold or flu this season, but with mindfulness, diligent cleanliness, proper nutrition, and adequate sleep, you have a fighting chance of staying healthy this Winter.flu-infographic


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