Workplace Wellness: 5 Tips To Avoid A Cold This Season As According To Science


Your Winter Cheat Sheet To Staying Well 

Winter is well and truly upon us, and with the change of seasons often comes that scourge of the workforce, the common cold! 

Cold’s at-home or in the office are a real productivity drain this time of year, and what’s worse is that the workplace is the ideal breeding ground for viruses thanks to the many shared spaces and surfaces. Terrifying, right? But before you go take a bath in hand-sanitizer, here’s our top five tips for avoiding this season’s cold and flu minidemic as according to science. 

1. Sleep Longer

It’s never wise to forgo sleep at the best of times, however sleep is particularly important during cold season. According to studies, those who enjoy a minimum of eight hours sleep per night show a far higher resistance to viruses.

It is suggested that during longer bouts of sleep, the body releases a particular brand of flu fighting proteins, known as cytokines. Longer sleeps also increase the amount of REM and deep sleep periods, collectively known as restorative sleep - which does what it says on the tin!

2. Stay Active

Winter is often a time that many of us slack off on our exercise routines, spending our days behind a desk before trudging off home to hide under the doona for a binge watch.

Big mistake! It’s understandable that shorter daylight hours and lower temperatures may put us off the morning run, however science says that regular exercise will keep inflammation down, reduce the release of stress related hormones and accelerate the circulation of germ battling white blood cells.

So strap on your runners, slip-on a hoodie and brave the cold. You’ll also feel the supreme satisfaction of taking control and winning the mental battle!

3. Be Sociable 

You probably weren’t expecting that one, hey? But doctors have long built a connection between chronic diseases and loneliness. Research has shown that social isolation can increase stress, slowing the body’s immune response and thus ability to heal. 

Winter may not be the social fiesta that the warmer months offer, but take the chance to catch up with people in a more relaxed setting. Warm kitchen suppers full of laughter, and even a red wine or two, are a great way to fight off colds too. 

4. Up The Hygiene Regime 

Back to a more obvious one here. But stepping up your hygiene game for sick season actually offers a new opportunity to dive into the world of essential oils and other exciting potions! 

Offices nowadays are highly communal spaces, great for socialising, but also ideal grounds for germ dissemination. So stock up on your antiseptics and oils, and get into a scrubbing routine.

Highlight the hotspots; bathroom doors, printers, kitchens, desks, laptops, pens - hands off, get your own! 

Crack out your newly sourced concoctions, spraying, wiping and washing as you go. Your  workmates will thank you for it later!

5. Take a Sick Day

Ok so you’ve tried all of the above and the worst has still happened. Well you gave it a good run, but it’s time to admit defeat. It’s important to identify when you might be contagious and take a sick day, or else ask to work from home.

It’s in your boss’s interest to allow you to do so. Better to have a couple of sick folk out of office than allow the illness to spread. It’s often up to the boss to take action here, creating an environment of acceptance and sending people home when necessary. 

So there you have it, five easily actionable ways to fend off the flu. In the immortal words of The Lion King’s Scar: “Be prepared!”