Ugh, flu season is the worst. Especially if you’re surrounded by snotting, germy, hacking people who don’t seem to care who they’re infecting. It makes you want to walk around in a hazmat suit until spring — you know, just in time for your allergies to kick in.
That being said, there are easy ways for you to outsmart the flu virus. Bonus: If you incorporate them into your routine year round, when it comes time to pull out all the stops you won’t give off the impression of being a neurotic buzzkill.
1. Wash your hands often.
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Aside from post-bathroom break, wash your hands thoroughly and frequently before you eat, after you’re off work, have been in a crowded place and especially after being around someone who was hacking their tuchus off. Lather up and scrub your palms, between your fingers and the backs of your hands for at least 20 seconds. (Side note: Carry hand moisturizer everywhere you go! Dry skin is a drag.)
2. Avoid touching your face.
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If you think you may have been exposed to the flu and aren’t able to wash your hands right away, simply avoid touching your face or biting your nails to decrease your chance of getting sick. The usual ways germs enter your system are through your eyes, nose or mouth, and since moving your desk to the bathroom sink would be frowned upon, avoiding hand-to-face contact is the next best thing.
3. Sneeze elsewhere.
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When you have to cough or sneeze, make sure to do so into the crook of your elbow and not into your hands. It’s yet another way to keep germs from spreading without having to wash your hands every 35 seconds.
4. Keep your workstation clean.
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Keep sanitizing wipes at your desk and periodically wipe down your desk and the office accessories you touch most, such as your phone, keyboard and pens. If you eat lunch at your desk, use it as a reminder to do a quick cleanup before starting the second half of your day.
5. Moisturize the air.
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Keeping the air moist will prevent icky dry air from irritating your throat, lungs and nasal passages (whether you’re catching the flu or not). Plus, word on the street is hot air may be toxic to flu viruses, making the droplets that contain the virus shrink and float in the air longer. By moistening the air, the droplets may remain heavy and fall to the floor faster.
6. Get enough sleep.
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When you’re pooped from not getting enough Z’s, you’re putting your bod at risk — not enough rest equals not enough resources to keep flu bugs at bay. Aim for the usual seven to nine hours to keep your immune system in tip top shape — and, in turn, yourself.
7. Eat more fruits and veggies.
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Eating more fresh fruits and veggies will help support your immune system, and is one of the best preventative measures during flu season (unless you’re a fan of coughing, sneezing, fevers and that agonizing feeling of lousiness).
8. Buy a new purse.
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For once, I’m being serious. Our purses are crawling with germs (and they don’t look as cute as the ones on the commercials), to the point where you could be re-infecting yourself every time you touch it. During the winter, avoid using a cloth purse and use one made of vinyl or leather — something that’s easier to wipe down when you need to.