How to avoid getting a cold

Look around your office – how many of your co-workers are coughing, spluttering and dosing themselves up with their favourite cold remedies? We’d wager that it’s one or two of them, and we wouldn’t rule out that number increasing by the end of the week! 

Getting sick obviously makes you feel rubbish, but it also costs businesses about £554 a year, per employee, according to research from the Charted Institute of Personnel and Development.  

But what can you do to avoid contracting the dreaded lurgy? We share seven tips to help you try and avoid getting a cold. 

#1 – Wash your hands as often as you can 

To avoid getting ill you should wash your hands regularly. Your hands collect bacteria and germs when they encounter infected surfaces. This can include your desk, colleague’s desk’s and other surfaces you come into contact with at your workplace. 

When washing your hands, you should spend at least 20 seconds washing them, using this technique demonstrated by the World Health Organization. 

#2  Eats lots of fruit and vegetables 

A stodgy, rubbish diet isn’t going to do your immune system any favours! Instead serve up plentiful portions of sweet potatoes, butternut squash and beetroot. They’re rich in beta-carotene, which is used by our body to create vitamin A, something used by our body to keep the linings in our nose and lungs robust enough to fight infection. 

In addition, oranges, mango, and apricots are all full of vitamin C which is vital to fight infections. 

#3 – Make sure you get your vitamin D too! 

Cheese board

In the winter months, you’ll get less vitamin D because you spend less time outside in the sunlight. There’s been a paper published in the British Journal of Nutritionwhich suggests there’s a link with reduced vitamin D intake and contracting a cold. So, make sure you’re finding other sources of vitamin D by eating foods such as: 

  • Oily fish like tuna, mackerel and salmon 
  • Cheese and eggs 
  • Milks like rice and soya milk
  • Supplements available from your local supermarket 

#4  Keep active 

It’s cold outside and last thing you want to do is go outside for a run. So instead, swap the tarmac for the treadmill and get yourself down to your local gym!  

Exercise will keep you fit but it has many other benefits, including: 

  • reducing stress and release of stress-related hormones; 
  • increases production of white blood cells which helps your body fight off colds; 
  • reduces inflammation and keeps chronic diseases at bay. 

Going to the gym can be intimidating for people that haven’t been before. But influencers on YouTube have reams of useful content to teach novice gym-goers everything they need to know. We’ve enclosed a popular example below: 

If getting to a gym is a problem, then walking at least three times a week for 30 minutes or more is enough exercise to stave off the seasonal sniffles. 

#5  Go to bed on time 

Sleep is inefficient, inconvenient and stops you from being productive. It’s also essential for your health, wellbeing and fighting infection! In fact, people who get less than seven hours sleep a night are three more times likely to catch a cold then those who get eight or more hours, according to research.  

Contrast this with reality – a landmark poll in the US tracked average sleep among the population and the average American sleeps for 6.8 hours, with a whopping 40% of people living in the US getting less than the recommend amount of sleep. 

Be disciplined with your bedtime. Stick to a similar time each night and ensure that you resolve the days tasks before hitting the hay. Ban mobile phones and other blue screen devices from the bedroom to ensure high quality snoozing. 

#6 – Manage your mental health and wellbeing 

The link between stress and physical conditions is complex. It can affect your physical well-being in lots of different ways, depending on how you individually react to stress. But it is well-documented that being under stress for a sustained period can make you sick.  

And in turn, getting stressed can make you more susceptible to catching a cold.  This is because being stressed supresses your immune system, making it more likely for you’ll get ill. 

Practice mindfulness – a mind management technique whereby you are fully present, aware of your surroundingswhat you’re doing and aren’t overly reactive and overwhelmed by what’s happening around you.  

Being more mindful is something you’ll need to practice over time and is a combination of meditation and adjusting your own behaviour. This guide and this video can help you do this. 

#7  Avoid sick people  

This one might seem obvious, but if you know someone who’s poorly, avoid them until they get better. As ruthless as it may sound, staying away from an infected person will decrease the likelihood of you contracting a cold. 

If you’re the person that’s sick in the workplace, minimise infecting your colleagues by sneezing directly into a tissue and throwing it away immediately, instead of giving germs a chance to accumulate and fester at your workstation.   

Better still, if it’s possible, try to work from home to avoid spreading sickness around your co-workers. 

Sometimes, you’re just going to get unlucky 

We can’t guarantee any of these tips will help you dodge a cold. And if for some reason you do get sick this winter – hard luck! Embrace your cold, relax and concentrate on getting better over the few days you feel rubbish. You’ll be fighting fit again in no time! 

Do you have cold-avoidance tips and advice you’d like to share? Drop us a message on our LinkedIn and Twitter channels and let us know!