January—with all of us fat and sweatered-up, back in our office chairs in thick mounds of Christmas wool, our knuckles chapped and our spirits sagging—is a month ripe for sickness.
We are more likely to get colds at this time of year than any other, courtesy of our increased time indoors, trading germs with our coworkers, sharing the colder, drier air in which viruses thrive. Oh, and then there’s the desk bugs who, say the stats, number 400 times more than those that hang on your average toilet seat.
Here’s how to sidestep illness at the office this winter.
Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage) send a chemical signal that boosts your immunity against snot-nosed Stan. In one study, healthy mice deprived of green veggies lost 70 to 80 percent of the cell-surface proteins necessary for efficient immune-system function.
Move yo body
It’s never more important to exercise than when sickness lurks. Staying active not only reduces stress, but accelerates the circulation of white blood cells, the little marvels that can fight your cold. A whack of research shows that adults who work out five days a week take 40 to 50 percent fewer sick days than those who only work out once a week.
Still yo body
Getting enough sleep is key to resisting the bugs out there that are keen to burrow into your cells. Reams of studies confirm sleep’s powers to regulate the immune system and help the body fight infection.
Take your work out
Working from home or an alternate workspace is increasingly the norm these days, so don’t sweat such a request. Or at least move a couple of desks down from your germ-sputtering coworker.
Washing your hands before eating and preparing foods and after using the toilet can reduce your risk of contracting disease by 40 percent. And that’s not even thinking about elevator buttons, doorknobs and the microwave door in your staff kitchen. Can’t get your mitts on soap and water for a minimum-twenty-second cleanup? Hand sanitizer’s a reasonable alternative.
Tea it up
The antioxidant quercetin, which figures prominently in green, black and oolong tea,
prevents the common cold virus from replicating in its initial stage of infection. And if you sweeten your steaming mug with a jolt of honey, you boost your immunity even more.
Who says you’ve got to share your stapler, keyboard, phone or fork with coworkers? It’s that kind of generosity that gets folks into trouble at this time of year. Hoard your stuff at the office, and let everyone else fend for themselves.
I can’t feel my face
If you touch something—coworkers’ spittle droplets flung from talking, coughing or sneezing on office surfaces—and then touch your face, you’re asking for it. Keep your hands below your waist this time of year.
Shake it off
While we’re talking about things those filthy hands might touch, forget other folks’ filthy hands at your peril. Hand-shaking’s had its day in the sun and it’s long past. Offer well-wishing coworkers a snazzy fist bump or genial smile, instead.
Stay out of the kitchen
Think that teabag that Glen from accounting left on the side of the sink is harmless? Not so much. It’s actually a steaming cesspot with as many as seventeen times the germs as the toilet seat. Bring your own nosh to the office or just regularly flee the place for sustenance. The communal kitchen’s a sickness breeding ground.
’Tis the season for dripping, mucusy despair, particularly in places where groups of people congregate—like your office. Take heed or take to your bed.