After congratulating myself I’d dodged the office Christmas cold – I am sat here typing this with a red, raw nose that has defeated the concealer stick and is now smothered in Sudafed, (at least it tones down the vibrant glow). I have given up with the niceties of delicately dabbing my dripping nostrils and have plugged one nostril with a large piece of loo paper, (tissues ran out long ago), and I’m resisting the urge to wipe my other nostril across my sleeve (so far so good). Not a pretty picture I am sure you will agree, not only is everyone avoiding catching my eye, they don’t want to speak to me either as mid conversation I am suddenly engulfed with a cough that I have no hope in controlling, (which for a lady of middle age with an equally middle age bladder can result in another set of problems – I shall say no more about but word “Tena” is no doubt floating cross your subconscious!)
Yes – all over the workplaces across the country – the coughing and snivelling is starting. Your desk buddy is no longer just someone to send pictures of cats that look like dictators to or your partner for moaning sessions about the boss, they are a potential viral incubator, the infectious agent next door.
Usually we Brits are particularly prone to soldiering on when we should stay in bed, but sometimes the germs just get too much, look at the Queen this Christmas! So what can we do to minimise our chances succumbing to all the germs and bugs out there?
AVOID OFFICE INCUBATORS
Try and avoid anyone with the sniffles (the red nose and heavy eyes is a good giveaway). In meetings, sit as far away from them as you can — a sneeze can apparently be fired up to three feet .. (you’re looking upwards now aren’t you!) – but remember: people are usually infectious before they develop symptoms.
BEFRIEND THE CHILD-FREE
My friend Karina, mother to my 4-year-old god-daughter sends out a red alert via text that just says “STAY AWAY” on a regular basis – meaning there is germ warfare going on in Wakey! As she once told me after one such warning, whilst the obvious drawbacks of being a parent are often well documented (vomit-mopping, nappy-changing, 18 years of partial house arrest at a cost of about £150,000 per child), it also makes you more prone to getting ill, parents are sick twice as often as the child-free, as they catch the lurgies from the nurseries, playgroups, schools and after-school clubs!! Pick your office allies accordingly
WASH YOUR HANDS
Coughs and sneezes spread diseases! Hands are the main culprits when it comes to spreading germs. So, do yourself and everyone else in the office a favour, and wash your hands thoroughly (with soap) and regularly. Try not to touch your nose, mouth and eyes with unwashed hands, apparently we touch our faces 16 times a day on average. If we pick up a virus from someone else’s hands, all we’ve got to do is scratch our nose or rub our eye and we can become infected!
You can’t always guarantee that your colleagues are going to be as clean as you, (yes I’ve heard the loo flush and then the door open and thought to myself “dirty thing – they’ve not washed their hands” – if you’re reading this and this rings true to you, I hope are squirming in shame lady!); so it’s a good idea to keep a bottle of hand sanitiser on your desk for the occasional squirt after you’ve visited public areas (like the loo or canteen/Bistro etc.)
DECONTAMINATE YOUR DESK
If you’re like me and regularly snack at your desk, make sure you’ve got a pack of anti-bac wipes to clean the surface … let’s face it, the once a year delve around your keyboard with a paper clip trying to dislodge the accumulation of crumbs that is interfering with your shift key won’t keep the germs at bay will it!
Abiding by the oft-repeated healthy-living mantra — eat well, don’t smoke, get some exercise and some sleep — can unsurprisingly help to ward off a cold. Supplements, however, are not a panacea. Whilst googling this in the hope of finding something to help me ward off the cough, I came across some findings that showed Vitamin C has no effect on the common cold, any benefits of Echinacea are unproven, and zinc may be able to speed up recovery from a cold but you shouldn’t be taking it long-term or you could face constant trips to the bathroom, – resulting in not only a sore red nose!!!!.
Anyway must go and get some more loo paper and no – I have not been on the zinc .. I need to blow my nose!
Written by Sally Hutchinson
Please let us know of any of your own tips for beating the office bug!!