It is the most dreaded time of the year again, flu season. With the one in a million tragic flu death stories running rampant on every news station, social media feed, and online publication out there, people understandably are growing concerned about catching this illness. And the easiest way to catch it? From others that have it. With the majority of us spending most of our time at our jobs with our coworkers, the chances of catching the flu from a coworker that is sick is highly possible. While the easiest solution may seem to be to pass a bottle of hand sanitizer around the office, there are other steps you and others can take to avoid getting sick while at the office.
Keep Your Workspace Clean
This is often easier said than done, however it is important to make a conscious effort to keep your workspace clean and tidy. The keyboard and your mouse come in contact with numerous individuals throughout the work week and it is easy to forget that these people could have easily forgotten to wash their hands after they sneezed or even worse used the restroom. Use a Lysol wipe to sanitize your keyboard, mouse, desk phone, and desk space at least once a week to avoid unwanted germs. Even if you do not share any of your office accessories with your coworkers it is still possibly to reinfect yourself with prior illnesses and germs you may have unknowingly been on your hands while working. Instead of using the old excuse that you are, “too busy”, make some time on a Friday to clean when you are anxiously staring at the clock avoiding your work to fill it up with cleaning. Time will go by faster, promise.
Exercise Common Courtesy
This may seem like common sense but most people seem to forget that when they are sick others can get sick as well. If you find yourself sneezing or coughing at work, remember to cover your mouth to avoid spreading germs. The best way to cover your mouth would be to find a tissue nearby, but if you are out of those or have a sneak attack cough, use your arm or instead of your hand. It is easy to forget after that you need to wash your hands and may find yourself continuing on with your work.
Stay at Home
Everyone knows the uncomfortable feeling of working in the same room as someone who is coughing a lung up or sneezing like they are having an allergic reaction. Your first response is to tell them to go home, but being the polite individual that you probably are, you usually have to suck it up and continue on with your work day or have to pop an Airborne in your water. If you feel like you might get people sick while you are working it is probably best to stay home. Most companies offer full-time employees sick and vacation days for a reason, so be certain to utilize that time off to rest and get yourself better. As the doctor always says, it is better to get rest and relax rather than trying to work through the normal work day’s stress and long hours. If you don’t have sick time, ask your boss if you can take a few hours off or have a half day at work. He/she will most likely understand as everyone has been in your position before.
Don’t Touch Your Face
This tip is perhaps the easiest to forget but is also the easiest and fastest way to get sick. Touching your face is one of those unconscious movements that you do not even realize you are doing because it has become such a habit which is why it is essential to try to make a conscious effort to avoid it. It may be tempting to want to rest your face on your hand as the day drags on but when germs get in contact with your mouth, eyes, or nose, you may as well get prepared to call in sick the next day.
Wash Your Hands Frequently
Your hands are the main carriers of germs and viruses, which is why they are the most important to keep clean. Form a habit (it only takes 21 days!) of washing your hands every time you eat food, after you use the restroom, after touching other people’s possessions, handling garbage, and blowing your nose. If you want to be extra cautious, prior to washing your hands get your paper towel pulled down and ready to use. Then proceed to wash hands for at least 20 seconds making sure to rub your hands together well. After, use your paper towel to not only wipe your hands but to turn off the faucet as well.
Exercise, Get Sleep, and Eat Healthy
You hear it from your doctor every time you visit them that eating healthy, getting a full eight hours of sleep every night, and exercising are the main deterrents of illnesses. It is advisable to get at least one hours of exercise in a day to maintain a healthy lifestyle, even if that means going on a short walk during your lunch break or spending an hour at the gym after work. The British Journal of Sports Medicine found in a study of 1,000 adults up to the age of 85 that people who are physically fit have fewer colds and, when they do get sick, have milder symptoms. Drinking eight glasses of water and eating a balanced meal are also advised. Pretending to be allergic to vegetables and fruit no longer applies once you are over the age of 5 so keep that in mind when selecting your meals for the day.
Follow these tips above and you may find yourself getting sick less often, or at the very least being more immune to your sick coworkers.