10 ways to avoid catching the office cold
How to tackle cold and flu season like a pro
You can’t get sick. You tell yourself this every year as you’re stocking up on vitamin C and hand sanitiser gel, you absolutely cannot get sick. And yet you do.
Before you know it the office cold has got to you and there’s nothing you can do but head back to your sick bed kicking and screaming… or sneezing and coughing as the case may be.
If the office cold is doing the rounds in your work place this cold and flu season you don’t have to resign yourself to a week off work sniffling into a box of tissues, there are ways you can keep yourself safe from the dreaded lurgy.
We’ve asked our very own registered pharmacist, Shamir Patel, for some tips and tricks that will help you to make it through the winter months without catching the office cold.
1. Wash your hands properly
Shamir says that the first thing you should do when the office cold is looming is look after your personal hygiene, “The most important thing is to wash your hands properly."
"Don’t just rinse your hands under the tap after you’ve been to the loo. Use soap and hot water and rub your hands properly, going up to your wrists and getting under your nails.”
“Don’t forget to dry your hands properly, too.”
2. Keep it clean
You’re keeping your hands clean, but you shouldn’t stop there. After all, what’s the point of clean hands if those cold and flu germs are hiding all over the office?
Shamir tells us that you should never overlook the cleanliness of your surroundings, “Remember to wipe down desk furniture including your keyboard and mouse, especially if you hot-desk in the office.”
"And, if you can, ensure door handles and knobs on drawers - and anywhere else your poorly colleagues may touch - are cleaned regularly.”
Time to take yourself on a Kim and Aggie style cleaning spree, people! You might look like a bit of a neat freak, but it’ll be worth it to keep yourself from coming down with the lurgy. Send those germs packing once and for all!
3. Stay hydrated
If you’re not already on the hydration train, it’s time to buy a ticket and jump aboard because it could help you out this cold and flu season.
Drinking enough water can help your body to flush those cold and flu germs out of your system, so make sure you drink your 6 – 8 glasses of water every day.
4. Quit smoking
If you’re looking for an excuse to finally quit smoking, then now is the time!
Research has shown that smoking could make you more vulnerable to colds, so do your immune system a favour and kick the habit! You’ll be opening yourself up to a whole world of health benefits if you do.
5. Take a break
Shamir tells us that getting out of the office is a good way to keep those cold and flu germs at bay, “It’s also a good idea to take a break over your lunch period."
This means ditching lunch at your desk and stepping outside to get some fresh air. As well as getting you out of an office full of sniffles, it will also help to clear your head.”
6. Do your laundry
If you spend a lot of time avoiding the housework then Shamir’s next suggestion won’t be your favourite, it’s time to put your grownup pants on and do the laundry!
Shamir tells us, “Another thing I suggest is getting out of your work clothes and putting them in the wash as soon as you get home."
"If you’re sat in your germ-ridden clothes all evening there’s more chance you’re going to pick up the office cold.”
You heard the man, give that washing machine a work out! Yes, it involves doing chores, but it’ll be worth it if you’re going to avoid the flu.
7. Get enough sleep
When you’re asleep your body has time to recover from all of the stresses and strains of the day, so if you’re trying to avoid a cold make sure to get enough sleep to help you feel recuperated in the morning.
If you’re regularly missing out on your 7 – 9 hours of sleep a night you could be suffering with insomnia, so make sure you speak with your doctor and try to work out a solution before the cold and flu hits.
8. Take the time to de-stress
Stress is the last thing you need when you’re trying to avoid a cold, as you could begin to suffer with similar symptoms, such as a headache and exhaustion, simply due to stress itself!
Give yourself a break, take a hot bath, read a book, and try to destress. It will help you to make it through cold and flu season.
9. Don’t go to work
One of the main reasons why a cold manages to get around the office is because people bring their germs into work. If you’ve pick up a cold or the flu, don’t share it with the rest of your colleagues!
Take a sick day or work from home if you can, you’ll be the least popular person in the office if you come in and give your cold to everyone else. Nobody wants your germs, so keep them to yourself!
Shamir also has some advice for those in a position of office power, “And if you’re in the position to, send your sick colleagues home. It’s no good to anyone if there’s germs flying around everywhere.”
10. Get the flu jab
The final piece of advice Shamir Patel has for us is a good one, “If all else fails, the best way to stay well is to get the flu jab." It’s sound advice, and it’s the reason why people line up to get their flu jabs every year.
If your workplace offers flu jabs, don’t hesitate to take them up on the offer, or find a local pharmacy who provide flu jab services.
If you’re part of an at-risk group, for example, pregnant women, the over 65s, or those with an underlying medical condition, you could be eligible for a free NHS flu vaccination, so speak to your doctor if you think this could be an option for you.
Now you know all there is to know about avoiding the cold and flu germs this Winter, the rest is up to you!
Don’t go down without a fight, keep your office clean, get your flu jab, and if you do fall victim to a cold despite all of these precautions, keep your germs to yourself! Your colleagues will thank you for it!