When the clock strikes 12 on Oct. 31, carved pumpkins and Halloween candy are swapped out for string lights and hot cocoa overnight. While the winter months are cozy and cheerful for some people, the happy holidays also usher in the not-so-fun start of flu season. Staying healthy during flu season at work can be challenging — especially when your co-workers are getting sick left and right. Knowing how to protect yourself from the virus is key to keeping aches, chills, and other flu symptoms at bay.
“If a person with the flu sneezes, coughs, or even talks within six feet of you, you could be at risk of being infected. You can also get sick if you touch a surface that has been contaminated with the flu virus, and then touch your eyes, nose, or mouth,” Dr. Drew Sinatra, ND, a board-certified naturopathic physician at Healthy Directions, a company that offers expert natural health guidance and sells doctor-developed nutritional supplements, tells Bustle.
To avoid catching the flu, Dr. Sinatra explains personal hygiene is a must. “You want to make sure you wash your hands a lot, especially before eating or touching your eyes, nose, and mouth,” he says. Dr. Sinatra adds that keeping hand sanitizer nearby is also a good idea when you can't easily get to a sink. Moreover, adopting immune-boosting habits — such as making sure you get at least seven hours of sleep, taking zinc, and staying hydrated — can help stave off the influenza virus once you've gotten your flu shot. If you begin to experience flu-like symptoms yourself, it's best to stay home, if you have the option, to avoid infecting others.
There’s no telling how severe or widespread the virus will be at this point. However, getting into the habit now of taking steps to prevent exposure to the flu or cold viruses — especially at work— can help protect yourself later on into the wintery months when the height of flu season hits. Here are 15 items you can keep at your desk to stay on top of your health this flu season.