Hello Workwell

The Toxic Cubicle: Staying Healthy at the Office

BodyAlyssa Davis
Photo by Mwangi Gatheca on Unsplash

Photo by Mwangi Gatheca on Unsplash

“Each year, Americans spend about $3 billion on doctors’ visits due to colds and another $2 billion on cold treatments. The workplace is ground zero for colds.” – Dr. Oz

It’s the first official day of winter. So long sweet, sweet autumn; you will be sorely missed. With the changing of the seasons comes the changing of our wellness habits (hopefully). You’re cooped up in the office with that coworker who just won’t take off work, no matter how sniffly, sneezy, or sore-throated they are. So what’s your game plan so that you stay healthy amidst the germ infested incubator all season?

Get your steps in

We know it’s difficult to motivate yourself to exercise when it’s colder, darker, and you’ve got to bundle on the layers before you even consider stepping foot outside. However, exercising is one of the best things you can do to combat winter weight gain, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and that general feeling of fatigue. You don’t have to spend an hour a day working out. We get it. You’re busy. The last thing you want to do when you leave the office is hop on the treadmill, but just 15 minutes of moderate exercise is all you need to improve your life expectancy. Get to work.

I’ll Drink To That

H2O. Make that part of your 2019 goals #NearlyClearPee2019. You are 60% water. Your blood is 90% water. Stop depriving yourself. Clearer skin? Check. Regulated body temperature? Check. Weight loss? Double check. Goodbye hangovers? Okay honestly, just bring us a gallon now. In general, aim for anywhere from 72 to 104 ounces. Try infusing your water with fruit if you need a little flavor.

Rinse and Repeat

Stop what you’re doing. Think back. When is the last time you washed those hands of yours? Did you wash them before you ate? Did you wash them after holding the subway rail? What about after filling your car up with gas? We’re not saying do it obsessively. Germs are good for you. Build up those antibodies. But if you’re someone whose immune system is particularly weak, hand sanitizer is your new best friend. The CDC notes that “hand washing can prevent about 30% of diarrhea-related sicknesses and about 20% of respiratory infections.” Scrub them. Scrub them often.

Catch Your Zzz’s

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: you need to be sleeping more. The holidays are exhausting. Catching up from your vacations in January can be even more draining. Research shows that social jet lag (i.e., staying up late and sleeping in later on the weekends) could be responsible for self-reported poor health and an increased risk of heart disease. If you’ve been paying any amount of attention to the headlines this week, you’d know that Inc. Magazine recirculated a 2017 article suggesting that waking up at 4 a.m. like “the world’s most successful people” can seriously benefit you. We beg to differ. If you’re waking up at 4 a.m. and not able to get to sleep till 11 p.m., you’re only hurting yourself. What works for Apple’s CEO Tim Cook, Ellevest’s CEO Sallie Krawcheck, and Virgin America’s CEO David Cush, might not work for you. News Flash: J.K. Rowling isn’t up at that hour. Either is Buzzfeed’s CEO Jonah Peretti. And Daily Show host Trevor Noah has been known to wake up at 6 p.m. Want to tell us they’re not successful? You can’t. Running yourself into the ground for the sake of “being successful” isn’t useful. Keep yourself healthy, starting with spending some much needed time with your bed.

If All Else Fails, Stay Home

No one is going to praise you as the go-getter that fights through the pain and never takes off work when you’re coming in, hacking up a lung, and getting the entire office sick. Instead, they’ll be in their beds cursing your name as they wipe their noses raw since you didn’t have the decency to take a sick day. If you don’t feel well, stay home, rest up, and don’t be a hero. The most heroic act you can do is keep your germs to yourself. Dr. Pritish K. Tosh, an infectious disease researcher at the Mayo Clinic, tells the New York Times, “If it’s bad enough that you’re wondering if you should stay home, you should probably stay home.”