How to Beat Cold Season at the Office

how to survive cold season at the office

Don’t you just love co-workers who insist on working when they’re sick? So much for the flu shot. The infection spreads, because no one knows how to use hand sanitizer, and now you feel like the last person standing in a zombie apocalypse. What do you do?

It’s not like you can kill it with fire. Aside from wearing a very stylish hazmat suit, there are health hacks to take as preventive measures against the common cold.

Wash Your Hands, Like Your Mother Taught You

How many times a day do you touch your face? The answer is: Too many times to count. You scratch you noise. Your rub your eyes. Germs love paying your body an unwelcome visit through your eyes, nose and mouth.

If your mother had her way, you’d be washing your hands every time you touched something in public. When you wash your hands the correct way, you can drastically reduce the chance of respiratory illness. A study called Operation Stop Cough had military recruits wash their hands at least five times a day. After two years, the base reported a 45 percent reduction in respiratory illness thanks to this practice.

Here’s how you need to wash your hands:

1. Wet your hands. Add soap. You know this part.

2. Rub your hands together with light force for at least 20 seconds, paying attention to the places between your fingers and under your nails. Wash your wrists, too.

3. Rinse thoroughly. Dry your hands. Shut off the faucet with a paper towel, and try to avoid touching often-used surfaces.

This last point is especially important during cold season: Again, avoid touching often-used surfaces. Use your shoulder, elbow or leg to push or shove doors. You can also use hand sanitizer after handling such surfaces. The truth is that hand washing is the single most important preventive measure that you can take to reduce your risk of getting sick during cold season.

Be Known as the Hand Sanitizer Master

Liberally apply hand sanitizer to your hands. Wipe down your desk before you begin work and just before heading home. If you’re sharing a work station over shifts with another person, make using sanitary wipes a necessary ritual.

Add Immunity Boosters to Your Diet – Hydration Is Key

Avoid sugar and anything that kills good gut bacteria. Eat yogurt and fermented foods. Taking probiotics, to encourage good gut bacteria, is proven to fight the common cold in college students.

Focus on fruits and organic fruit juices instead of soda or artificially flavored fruit drinks. Vitamin C is still considered helpful when taken at the initial onset of a cold. Drink plenty of water and add anti-cold super foods to your diet. Fish, such as salmon and tuna, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and help to reduce inflammation in the body.

Also, make sure you’re getting enough garlic. Eating a diet containing garlic during the cold season has been shown to reduce the risk for a cold, compared to those who took a placebo, according to a 2001 study in the journal Advances in Therapy.

Make a Cold-Kicker Kit, and Keep It in Your Office Drawer

Drink healthy teas with cinnamon, clove, echinacea, turmeric or other cold-preventive herbs. Keep super foods for snacks on hand. Nasal sprays alleviate sinus symptoms. Don’t forget to include pocket-sized tissues and hand sanitizer. Ibuprofen, though considered better for children with colds, does help with fever and pain in adults.

Dress Warmly

If it’s very cold, remember to layer up like “Sesame Street’s” chilly Muppet girl. You could dress like a Muppet, too, with a themed hat and scarf. If you don’t like weird stares and chuckles, stick with warm sweaters.

Dressing warmly during chilly weather is nothing to sneeze at. According to a Yale University study, cold air spreads cold germs. So be sure to bundle up.

Don’t get beat by the cold season this year. If your co-workers think you’ve turned into a germaphobe, let them laugh, because you’ll be laughing while they’re coughing. You’ll be the one they come to for Ibuprofen and tissues.

About Sarah Landrum

Sarah Landrum is a freelance writer and founder of Punched, sharing advice for young professionals navigating the work world. Passionate about saving the planet, Sarah enjoys writing about environmental initiatives and ways to be kind to our earth. For more from Sarah, connect with her on Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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