As the nights draw in and the temperatures drop, the winter cold and flu bugs that have been lying dormant during the summer months start to stir. With most of us spending much of our working days in busy offices, those bugs can quickly spread and soon we’re doomed to an unwelcome cold or even a bout of flu. Indeed, evidence is showing that the enduring multiple lockdowns throughout the pandemic has resulted in the average person becoming much more susceptible to these more common ailments as our immune systems come back ‘under fire’ from every angle.
The stresses of working life combined with a struggling immune system and a host of ‘new’ winter bugs can be difficult to avoid, but there are a number of simple steps you can take to give yourself the best chance of making it through winter unscathed.
1. Wash your hands more frequently
We’re certainly not accusing you of having grubby mitts and we’re all surely better practised on this than ever before after Covid but this winter time, it’s still very important to be aware of the cleanliness of your hands. Common workplace objects like keyboards, pens, phones, light switches, door handles and work surfaces can all harbour cold and flu viruses for up to three days. After being in contact with any of these objects, all you have to do is touch your face or eyes or eat some food and you could be at risk of coming down with an illness. According to recent estimates, washing your hands regularly and properly could reduce your chance of catching a cold by 45 percent.
2. Switch from coffee to tea
It’s remarkable that doing something as simple as switching from drinking coffee to tea could reduce your likelihood of feeling under the weather this winter. High levels of caffeine amplify your response to everyday stress, which is something that at this time of year you could do without. Green tea has about one-tenth of the caffeine of coffee and also contains a high level of antioxidants. That can help to keep you calm this winter and provide an extra level of protection from those coughs and sneezes.
3. Eat plenty of fruit and veg
During the winter our sense of being full decreases so we reach for more of those comforting treats. However difficult it feels, this is a time of the year when you can be well rewarded for ditching the cakes and empty calories in favour of loading up on all the fruit and vegetables you can. While there is a (valid) argument for the comfort factor the occasional treat can bring, we should not underestimate the immune boosting benefits that come from a healthy mix of greens in your life. There are companies that specialise in delivering fruit directly to offices and the benefits of this service are well documented.
4. Get plenty of sleep
In the depths of winter the sun sets at 4pm, which can throw your body clock off kilter, ruin your sleep pattern and even contribute to seasonal affective disorder or SAD. To keep you well rested and your immune system boosted, it’s essential you do your best to set a sensible bedtime and stick to it. For some, the alcohol flows freely during the winter months as you’re driven into the welcome warmth of a pub, but remember that alcohol disturbs your sleep and impacts your ability to work the next day.
What are your top tips to stay healthy in the workplace this winter? Share your favourites in the comments section below.