From winter to spring, coughing and sneezing co-workers traipse into the office and further the spread of communicable illnesses. While it is challenging to maintain a germ-free workplace it’s certainly not impossible. Follow these tips to save your sick days and prevent feeling “under the weather” in your day-to-day routine.

1. Wash your hands

washing hands

Thoroughly washing your hands with soap and water several times a day is your best defense against sickness. Proper hand-washing technique is essential for germ removal. First, wet your hands and apply soap. Place your palms together and work the soap into the front and backs of your hands and under your nails. Then scrub your hands vigorously for 20 seconds. A good timer is to sing “happy birthday” twice.

2. Drink more tea

tea

As the weather turns colder it’s normal to gravitate toward hot drinks for a warm and cozy feeling, but did you know green tea actually has antiviral properties? One study found that green tea catechin capsules helped prevent health care workers from catching the flu. Sipping on hot tea and breathing in the steam also stimulates the cilia (hair follicles) in your nose to move germs out more efficiently.

3. Deep clean your office space

cleaning supplies

There are countless spaces in our office we touch constantly and hardly ever clean. Did you know your computer keyboard may actually be dirtier than your toilet? It’s also important to effectively clean items touched by many people—microwaves, telephones and doorknobs. Give your desk, computer and even your office chair a weekly cleansing with disinfectant wipes to prevent microbes from calling your office their home.

4. Go green

plant

If you’re constantly suffering from the sniffles or allergies, chances are, your office building may be to blame. Mold, asbestos, and germs living in carpets and office furniture contribute to sick building syndrome—a condition where occupants of a building experience acute health or comfort related effects linked directly to time spent in the building.

Strategically placing certain plants in your office will help clean toxins from the air and minimize undesirable health outcomes. NASA has even studied certain plants proven to purify indoor air better than others. Boston fern, spider plants, English ivy, peace lilies and Kimberly Queen ferns are good options to consider, among others.

5. Cover your cough, and stay home when you’re sick

woman blowing nose

By covering your mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing you can effectively reduce the amount of germs in the air and possibly prevent others around you from getting sick. Experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believe that flu viruses are spread mainly by droplets from people who sneeze, cough or talk while infected with the flu. However, the CDC recommends always staying home from work when you are sick as this is the best way to prevent spreading your illness to others.

— Lauren Thompson

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