You’re sitting at your desk when suddenly you hear it. A cough. It starts innocently enough—maybe it was just a sip of water that went down the wrong pipe. But then, 10 minutes later, you hear it again.
Pretty soon, all you can hear is that cough. It’s made its way across the office, and now everyone’s sick—except for you.
The last thing you want is to use up your precious sick days or spend an entire weekend sidelined by the flu, but you can’t avoid working next to your ill co-workers.
We’ve been there and we want all the advice we can get. That’s why we asked Muse readers for their best tips. So many awesome ones came in that we just had to round them up below.
1. Drink Tea With Honey and Lemon
Whenever I start feeling sick, I always drink a cup (or three!) of hot Tazo Passion Herbal Tea with honey and lemon juice. The honey coats your throat and the lemon juice helps fight the infection. I know this is a popular remedy, but the Passion Herbal Tea adds a wonderful twist to it. Drink a few cups of this and you’ll be back on your feet in no time!
2. Set Boundaries Around Non-Work Time
I work from home, but I’ve set boundaries as to when I can and can’t be disturbed. When I shut my computer off, it stays off until morning (or Monday if on a weekend). I also get up and walk around (or do chores, like vacuuming), and when the warmer weather returns, go outside for a bike ride or a walk around my property. I very rarely get sick, and the few colds I get usually go away quickly.
3. Wash Your Hands (Constantly)
Staying hydrated and taking care of yourself (a.k.a., taking vitamins and supplements) is always a good idea. I also believe in washing your hands anytime you come in contact with someone in your office and use hand sanitizer and Lysol, especially when using door handles or after meetings. You can never be too safe.
4. Plan Ahead
I carefully plan my work week, especially during peak periods. I take Sunday afternoons to prep healthy lunches and dinners so my nights are free to relax and recharge. This helps avoid getting run-down and sick. I’ve tried some self-care practices (like taking a bath, drinking decaf hot tea, taking ‘me time’) and that’s helped me to get the rest I need to be fully charged for my top life priorities.
5. Stay Hydrated
During the season, I really focus on staying very hydrated and making sure I’m on point with taking supplements. I always take advantage of my office’s free flu shot on-site, too. I find the office to be particularly dry, so I keep a baby cool mister on my desk all day. It’s also soothing to watch.
6. Make Healthiness a Habit
Four word mantra: Sleep. Eat. Workout. Repeat. It’s as simple as going to bed at a reasonable hour and getting seven to eight hours of sleep, eating healthy, and working out before work so you don’t have a reason to fail. That means planning. Pre-pack your workout bag with work clothes and essentials. Pre-pack your lunch or breakfast. Once it becomes a habit, it’s like breathing. You just do it.
7. Be Mindful of Your Stress Levels
Learn how to identify stress and stressors in your life and figure out how to create a balance with activities that center you and calm your mind. During the busy periods, I find specifically scheduling time for myself in order to decompress is as important as sleep, nutrition, and general healthy living.
8. Boost Your Immune System
I’ve found that I get sick way less and/or that my illness clears up faster when I drink eight ounces of kombucha every day. Studies indicate that healthy gut bacteria plays a role in maintaining a healthy immune system, and I believe it!
9. Get Up and Out of the Office
A strong immune system is key if you want to beat the bug. That’s why I use my lunch break to get out of the office and get a workout in. Studies have shown that exercising regularly can boost your immune system and help ward off colds. Back at my desk, I make sure to keep fueled and hydrated. I keep a stash of Soylent (cacao and cafe chai are my favorite flavors) to get quick and satisfying nutrients, and Liquid IV (love the acai berry flavor) to increase hydration. The majority of my office has been out sick with the flu and I’m still going strong!
10. Go to Bed Earlier
Get enough sleep. This is such a simple answer, but it’s something people (myself included) take for granted. When I’m staying up late and getting up early, I’m way more likely to wear myself down and eventually get sick. When I’m already sick, the more I sleep the better I feel, and the more quickly the sickness dissipates. So, if you feel yourself potentially coming down with something, get to bed as early as you possibly can and reap the benefits!
11. Listen to Your Body
The most important thing is to listen to your body. If it’s telling you to rest, make sure you let it take a break and rest. Taking the time to recuperate will not only benefit you, but your whole team. If taking time off is not feasible in your current work situation, start with little things, such as putting your phone away during lunch to focus on your food, going on a short 10-minute walk to rest your eyes from staring at a screen all day, or calling a family member or a friend you haven’t spoken to in a long time. Such things can make a world of difference in making sure we’re healthy.
In other words, take good care of yourself. And maybe skip the office happy hour for a week. The more you can keep yourself healthy, and avoid any contaminants, the more likely you are to beat the bug—and save your vacation time for actual vacation.