When one person gets sick at work, it usually means everyone’s bound to catch it too; you’re just one poorly aimed sneeze away. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Beyond getting that annual flu shot, here’s how to protect yourself when your office becomes a bucket of germs.
1. Wash your hands.
Sure, you know to wash your hands. But do you know how to wash your hands the right way? Here’s what you need to do to stay germ free: Get your hands wet, add soap, and rub your hands together for at least 20 seconds. Don’t skip your wrists, and try to get under your nails. Then dry your hands, and try to avoid touching the paper towel dispenser or door handle (who knows how well the person who touched them last washed their hands) on the way out.
2. Clean your keyboard, mouse, phone, and anything else you touch.
You might be squeaky clean, but your desk items aren’t. In fact, keyboards are typically more germ ridden than toilets. So grab some antibacterial wipes and give everything a thorough and frequent cleaning. Yuck.
3. Keep your stress in check.
Worrying all the time raises cortisol and epinephrine levels, which weakens immunity. So take a few deep breaths, consider a yoga or exercise class, or take a hot bath when you start to feel your stress levels rising.
4. Drink lots of water or tea.
Staying hydrated is key to flushing out illness, so keep a bottle with you at all times. If you’re a tea drinker, opt for hot over iced so you can breathe in the steam. Add honey and lemon — lemon thins the mucus that’s making you feel plugged up and honey works as an antibacterial agent.
5. Lay off the booze (and sweets).
As unpleasant as it may be, do what you can to avoid refined sugar and alcohol, which both hinder white blood cells’ ability to kill bacteria. You want those bad boys in top fighting form to keep your health up.
Your body needs rest to fight off infection, so give it a break. Sleep as much as possible. Turn off the Netflix, put away the books, and drift away to snoozeville.
7. Send sick employees (including yourself) home.
You know that plucky young employee so eager to prove himself that he insists on coming to work with a fever? Send him home. And if you’re sick and don’t want to take a full sick day, offer to work from home instead of bringing your germs into the office. Your coworkers will thank you.