With the arrival of fall and winter, unfortunately we also see the arrival of the major flu season of the year. As the air gets colder and dryer, the flu virus can remain a more stable form of the virus as well as stay in the air longer, making winter prime season for the flu to spread.
In fact, influenza is actually an Italian phrase, influenza difreddo, meaning “influence of the cold.” So, while we may be in the midst of welcoming the cooler evenings and chances to cuddle up in our warm wooly sweaters and sit by the fireplace, it’s also now the time to gear up for a fight against getting sick and decreasing our productivity this year.
Healthy Tips to Prevent the Flu
Catching flu can easily decrease our work for more than just a few days. It can wipe out our immune systems and leave us dragging for weeks, along with being more susceptible to other colds and viruses. If this just doesn’t fit into your schedule, here are some tips to follow to stay healthy and productive all fall and winter long.
Eat Well, Sleep Well
Perhaps the number one way you can take care of your health and well-being during these months when the flu is running rampant is to sleep & eat well. Sleeping well will ensure that your body has time to reboot, recharge and keep your immune system powered up. Eating a well balanced diet will give you the nutrients, minerals, vitamins and energy your body needs to keep going and to fight off any flu virus that might try and get in.
Eat extra vegetables like dark leafy greens and brightly colored red and yellow vegetables to give your body an extra boost. Eating yogurt on a daily basis is also known to lower your cold susceptibility by up to as much as 25% by boosting your immune system.
Planning is more important than ever during this time of year in order to eliminate stress. Fall tends to be a major gear up time in the office, with a big push after the sometimes “lackadaisical summers.” Compound that with the upcoming rush of holidays: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve, and the tendency is to build up stress, whether consciously or unconsciously.
The more planning you can do, in terms of on the job and off the job, the better chance you give your health. So start planning now for things like Thanksgiving travel plans, holiday menus, gifts, etc. It may feel like it’s way too early or that you’re just making your plate worse now for no reason, but it will actually help relieve underlying stress you aren’t even aware of. And, when holiday season actually hits, you’ll be that much less stressed!
Make Work Environment Comfortable
Most offices feel overly cool during the fall and winter months. Feeling cold makes you tense and will stress your body more to overcompensate as it tries to keep itself at normal body temperature. You will also have a very hard time feeling relaxed.
Bring in a small heater to regulate your body temperature; it can also increase your comfort level by releasing tension and making you feel more relaxed. A footrest that puts your feet at an angle and heats at the same time will warm, soothe and relieve tired legs. When you are relaxed, your immune system actually produces more chemicals to fight off infections.
Humidifiers are often used during these months because it tends to be the driest time of year. Humidifiers are also beneficial in preventing the flu and colds, as low humidity makes the nose dry and more susceptible to infection.
However, if your office is running a humidifier or if you have one at your personal desk, make sure to clean it regularly. They can harbor mold and bacteria that can become airborne and compromise your immune system.
It may not be the most popular thing at work to be the biggest germaphobe, but it could be the easiest thing you do to keep yourself healthy. Most flu is caught by direct contact from touching a surface touched by someone sick.
Coughing and sneezing are widespread this time of year and all it takes is touching a surface that’s contaminated with airborne droplets. Keeping your desk and common areas disinfected will greatly reduce your likelihood of getting sick. Wash your hands regularly and any time you come in contact with common surface areas.
Exercise is an easy (relatively!) and all natural way to boost your immune system. It is capable of increasing those precious virus-killing cells in your body, and while it may not keep you from getting the flu altogether, if you do get it, chances are those higher levels of killer cells will shorten the time and intensity you suffer.
Give Up “Tough”
If you do happen to get the flu, forget the “tough it out” motto that would tell you to get yourself into work and just make it through. Not only will you most likely increase the length of time you’ll need to recover, you’ll put your co-workers in jeopardy of getting sick as well. Take the appropriate time to stay home, rest and get fully recovered before heading back into the office. Your work and your office pals will thank you.