Is there anything more disheartening than learning that a nasty cold is slowly and ominously circulating its way through your office? Ugh. Just thinking about it makes us shudder a little. This year, don’t brace yourself for the worst – be prepared to be your best. Ahead, we’re sharing some smart tactics for avoiding the dreaded office cold. Read on!
Eliminate Bad Bacteria…
It’s something you learned in kindergarten: Germs spread. And they’ll accumulate and flourish if you don’t take the measures to eliminate them, particularly in the midst of an office-wide sickness outbreak. While good personal hygiene goes a long way here (we don’t need to tell you to wash your hands after the bathroom), you’ll need to be more vigilant about your personal surroundings, too. So use this as an opportunity to clean your desk thoroughly.
Begin with your computer: Keyboards and mice are notoriously dirty, with one study finding that they contain more harmful bacteria than a toilet seat. Woof. Next, wipe down all surfaces, ideally using a non-toxic cleaner (we love Seventh Generation) and/or a diluted antibacterial essential oil like tea tree, oregano, or eucalyptus. Toss any old trash, clean out old food (you’d be shocked what you find in a desk drawer), and generally try and keep as spick-and-span as possible during this time.
…But Embrace Good Bacteria
Modern research like this continues to point to the very important role our gut bacteria – also known as our microbiome – plays in supporting a healthy immune system. To summarize a complex concept simply, a flourishing microbiome can help regulate proper immune function; oppositely, a disruption in healthy gut bacteria is now linked to autoimmune issues. It’s critical, then, that we eat to support our “good” bacteria, particularly during times of vulnerability. Fermented, probiotic-rich foods such as yogurt, kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and miso are all good bacteria-supporting choices. Bad choices? Refined sugars, processed or fried foods, red meat, and gluten. Why not swap your afternoon coffee for a kombucha?
Watch Your Stress Levels
This is always good advice, as the medical community at large acknowledges that prolonged stress can ravage the immune system and suppress its response to bacteria and viruses. So managing stress well is particularly prescient during ye olden office plague outbreak. This means taking plenty of mental breaks, engaging in mindfulness activities (from breathing to stretching to walking), and making time outside of work for self-care. We love evening baths, yoga, and reading: All great activities when it’s chilly outside.
It seems like counterintuitive sickness-prevention advice (after all, shouldn’t you be cozied up in bed?), but working out is an excellent way to ward off a cold. Indeed, one study found that women who engaged in 45 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise five days per week were three times less likely to develop a respiratory infection than their non-exercising counterparts. So, unless you’re feeling sick yourself, don’t use the threat of the sniffles as reason to excuse yourself from getting your sweat on.
Sip While You Work
Feel something coming on? The old adage of “lots of liquids” is still sound advice here. Not only do they help break up mucus (sorry) and keep you hydrated, selecting the right fluids can boost your immunity, too. Both research and your grandma make an argument that bone broth (aka old-fashioned chicken noodle soup) as an amazing immune system supporter. We’re also huge fans of lemon, manuka honey, and hot water: Lemon is detoxing while manuka honey has antibacterial properties. Drink up!