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How Do I Protect Myself from Cold and Flu at Work?

hand-washing-400x400If you’re like most professionals, you’re in close contact with a number of colleagues and/or customers every day. As a result, there are many opportunities for germs to spread. In fact, the workplace is among the easiest places to catch a cold or flu virus. Cold and flu are also the number one cause of missed work. When several coworkers come down with something at once, it affects their personal lives as well as the business itself. The bottom line is that staying virus-free at work is an important concern for businesses and professionals today.

Here are four easy ways to boost your defenses against cold and flu viruses at the workplace.

  • 1. Frequent hand washing and sanitizing Germs float through the air to some extent, and it is possible to catch a virus without touching anything directly—but the hands are still the most effective way for viruses to enter the body. That’s because we all touch things like doorknobs, coffee makers, elevator buttons, keyboards, and a many other communal surfaces. Your best defense is to keep your hands squeaky clean by frequently washing them. Work up a good lather and take your time. You can also keep a no-rinse hand sanitizer product near your desk to quickly knock out germs. If you haven’t washed your hands in a while, try not to touch your face until you do! When more people around your office are conscious of hand hygiene, your workplace health standards will generally be higher.
  • 2. Disinfect surfaces Whether or not your workplace has a regular cleaning service, it’s best to take matters into your own hands when it comes to your personal workspace. Pay special attention to your keyboard, mouse, phone, and any other surface that is frequently touched. If people have been coughing or sneezing during meetings, it may be a good idea for someone to disinfect the table and whiteboard after each use.
  • 3. Steer clear coworkers who aren’t feeling well. Professionals with cold or flu should generally stay home until the symptoms have passed and the virus is no longer contagious. But this doesn’t always happen by the book. If a coworker is showing symptoms at work, or has been home sick and has just returned, it’s best to maintain a polite distance and be aware. Germs can spread five or six feet through the air, but no more than that. If you’re nowhere near your coworker when a sneeze comes, you’re less likely to catch something.
  • 4. Boost your immune system Certain habits, foods and supplements can boost your immune system and give your body a better chance to fight off cold or flu viruses. These include:
    • A diet rich in fruits and vegetables
    • Regular exercise
    • Vitamin C
    • Echinacea
    • Ginseng
  • There is some debate in the medical community about the efficacy of certain natural supplements; but everyone agrees that a diet rich in vitamins and minerals (which are most concentrated in fruits and vegetables), paired with a good exercise regimen, is the best way to keep your immune system in top form. If you can put these four easy tips into practices, you stand a great chance of getting through the year without catching any cold or flu viruses at work. If you have questions or comments about this post, please leave them in the space below!

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