Has your office been plagued by the winter cold or are you currently facing a flu epidemic?
Nasty viruses can easily spread in workplaces but that doesn’t mean you have to suffer.
We spoke to Doctor Mark Rowe, an expert in positive health and lifestyle medicine to find out more about preventing illness at work.
Here’s what he had to say.
Catch some zzzs
Your body needs plenty of sleep to work at its optimal level. Don’t let a busy work schedule eat into your precious sleeping time. Dr. Rowe recommends getting plenty of rest if you want to avoid any bugs that may be lurking around the office.
”There is a culture in the modern world that you can do without sleep etc. and that you’re a real corporate warrior if you can survive without much sleep at night. The truth is that we all need about 8 hours sleep. Almost everybody does.
If you’re not getting 8 hours of restorative sleep a night that does a number of things to your body including keeping your system on fight or flight mode. It makes you more prone to the negative effects of stress. From an immune system point of view, it weakens your immune system and makes you more prone to picking up viruses like colds and so on that ordinarily, your immune system would take care of.
Because your immune system is down they get into your system and you get symptoms. The first thing you should do is gift yourself enough sleep.”
Get some exercise
You’re less likely to get sick if you lead an active lifestyle. You don’t need to run 10k every day after work. Gentle exercise in moderation can work wonders for your immune system too. Dr. Rowe explains this further;
”We need to move. You don’t need to stand up all day long. Sitting isn’t the new smoking by any means. It’s good to sit down, just don’t sit down all day. Try and stand up every half an hour or so. It’s good to move. It’s very important for your circulation to keep moving.
Get up and get a glass of water, go to the water cooler and talk to your friends. Even just stand up, bend down and pick up a paperclip off the floor. Something I started to do a few years ago is anytime my phone rang I always stood up to answer the phone because it piggybacks that habit of getting movement.”
Eat more often
What you put in your body is important because ultimately it will have a huge effect on how you feel. Dr. Rowe recommends having a varied and balanced diet, full of non-processed foods.
”Committing to eating foods that are better for you and monitoring your energy throughout the day can be really beneficial to you. Have healthy snacks on standby, whether it’s a Tupperware box of almonds or having an apple at your desk. Simple things like that.
Eat little and often. During your day your willpower muscles start to go down if you’re more than 3 hours post-eating. Eating a little snack every 2-3 hours during the day is good.”
Ditch energy drinks
Sugary snacks can wreak havoc with your immune system explains Dr. Rowe.
”Sugar will cause your blood sugar to spike after about half an hour to an hour. Then insulin comes out to bring the blood sugar down. After that, you get cravings for more sugar so you eat something else.
As a result, you end up going through your whole day with your sugar going up and down. You feel tired and in that situation you store fat. Your concentration, your mood and your immune system suffers.”
So what should you be eating and drinking instead? Well, Dr. Rowe recommends eating complex carbs like oats, whole grains, healthy fats and eggs.
Water is a natural way to help your immune system fight germs associated with colds and the flu. Drinking the recommended 2 litres of water a day will help keep your body hydrated and ready to fight off nasty viruses. Dehydration is extremely common according to Dr. Rowe.
”A lot of people are dehydrated. Your brain is only 2% of your body’s size but it takes up 20% of your body’s energy. The vast majority of your brain is water. If you’re even a little bit dehydrated you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure out that your brain isn’t going as well as it should.”
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