Sitting in my office today, I wished that I had a way to bubble wrap my cubicle. It seemed like all around me, there were people coughing and sneezing. I’m lucky enough to work for the government and get a good number of sick days every year, but people still come to work sick. I do understand the reasoning. People have kids and need to save their sick days for days when their child can’t go to school. We don’t have any paid maternity leave, so many women (and men) save their sick days for an anticipated pregnancy down the road. Additionally, saving sick days is never a bad idea. It’s like another emergency fund.
That said, I wish people who were feverish would just stay home.
I do my best to try to stay healthy in the office without breaking the bank. Here are some of the little things that I do that might work for you as well.
- Wash your hands constantly. You’d be amazed at the things you touch every day, and after a ride on the metro, I’m always sure to wash my hands. If I can’t get to a sink, a dollop of antibacterial gel will do, but I prefer plain old soap and water. No need to be creating any antibiotic resistent germs. Cost? A few dollars for some soap or antibacterial gel, or free if you’re using the soap in a public restroom.
- Always carry a pen. No, not as a good luck charm. It is amazing how many germs are carried on pens, and if you have one on you, you’ll never have to borrow one. Cost? Depends on the pen. You can get them for free as promotional items, you can pick up a package of cheap Bic pens at the grocery store, or you can get a gorgeous fountain pen for $500 or more. Your choice.
- Sleep. Preferably not at work or while driving. Staying well rested keeps your immune system in fighting shape. Cost? Well, if you sleep at work, it could cost you your job, but other than that, free. And fun.
- Exercise. Getting in a little bit of exercise every day is easy and also helps keep your immune system in fighting shape. Of course, don’t overdo it. You can push yourself too hard, get run down, and end up getting sick that way. Moderation is the key. Cost? Free.
- Take vitamins and eat a balanced diet. I admit it. I struggle to eat a balanced diet. If I average my meals out for the week, there’s a lot of balance, but one day, I might eat a ton of veggies and the next day is filled with whole grains. I know that I need to work on that. I also do my best to take vitamins every day. Per my doctor’s suggestion, I take a multi-vitamin, plus extra vitamin C and Calcium with Vitamin D. Yes, it’s best to get your vitamins from your food, but a little extra boost helps immensely. Be careful not to overdo it. Cost? This is probably the most expensive item on the list. Vitamins aren’t cheap, but they’re definitely worth the expense.
- Drink water. The general recommendation is that everyone drink 6-8 glasses of water a day, and many people don’t even reach half that. Your body needs hydration. And while juices and even soft drinks will provide some hydration, water is a cheap and easy way to stay hydrated. Cost? Bottled water can get expensive and create excess trash. Personally, I keep a Brita pitcher on my desk and refill it from the tap.
There are a number of things that I wouldn’t do in order to stay healthy. For example, I have been seeing a lot of bottles of Vitamin Water around the office. While it’s tasty, it’s also not cheap, and there are other ways to make sure you’re getting enough Vitamin C. Plus a bottle of Vitamin Water has as many calories as a can of soda. If you want to drink it, if it’s something you enjoy and you’ve budgeted for this treat, then by all means, go for it. But if you’re just looking for another way to stay healthy, I would look for other alternatives.
Now, are these recommendations a guarantee that you won’t get sick? Absolutely not. And if you do end up getting sick, stay home and rest if you can. You’ll feel better faster and your co-workers will thank you.