Winter takes its toll on all of us - the descent into dark nights, the rapid changes of temperature, and the festive season - not renowned for being an easy time to look after your health and wellbeing - leaving many of us with coughs, colds and generally under the weather.
On average adults will catch two to four colds a year. Despite this, there are steps you can take to make sure that you are as healthy as possible during winter, and best able to fight off the viruses if they come.
Don’t be afraid to hibernate
The long dark nights are the perfect time to catch up on a sleep deficit. The Sleep Council advise practical changes in habit, such as choosing a regular bedtime, having a soothing warm drink before bed and limiting screen time before settling down for the night. With the festive season involving frequent late nights for many of us, it makes sense to catch up when we can. A lack of sleep can lead to a whole range of health problems, as well as damaging our immune system and leaving us vulnerable to other illnesses.
Get your vitamins
Getting a good balance of vitamins from a variety of fruit, vegetables, milk and dairy products, can certainly help to make you more healthy overall, and therefore more likely to recover from illness quickly. A shortage of Vitamin D is a common problem for the winter months. Get outside during your lunch break if you can, just ten minutes a day will help you get a valuable boost.
Practise good hygiene
Good hygiene is a basic but crucial practise to help you stay well at work this winter. Wash your hands regularly, keep sanitising gels close to hand and give yourself the best chance of avoiding the flu and other bugs. Make sure you practise general good hygiene like avoiding coughing and sneezing near other people, and trying not to touch your face or mouth whilst you sit at your desk.
Offices often display basic hygiene reminders in prominent places to help all colleagues keep these ideas in mind - if yours does not it might be worth asking your HR department or boss to help reminding others of good hygiene practises. You may also consider a flu shot, which some workplaces provide for free for colleagues, and which will offer protection against the major strains of flu this season.
Try to manage stress
Stress lowers your immune system and leaves you vulnerable to other bugs and illnesses. Getting work finished for Christmas, and then the New Year rush to get back on track and manage the backlog, can contribute to feeling under pressure at this time of year. Take time for yourself, do some gentle exercise and try to relax as much as possible. Being wrung out could result in you getting sick.
Stay home if you are sick!
A final way to stay healthy during the winter is to stay home if you are sick. Not only will this stop you from sharing your germs with your colleagues, you will recover more quickly if you make yourself relax and stay home.
Whilst there is a certain inevitability about getting mild colds and illnesses at this time of year, there is no reason to imagine that you are helpless. As long as you follow the tips above you have the best possible chance of making it through the winter without any issue.