Cold and flu season is knocking on the door, and no one knows this better than those who work in direct patient care. Not only is this a very busy season for those in health care, but it’s also a risky one. With germs flying all around, it can be easy to fall victim to whatever bug is bringing folks in for an office visit. While it’s impossible to avoid contact with germs when working in a clinical setting, here are some tips for healthcare professionals to help them stay a little healthier this cold and flu season.
- Clean, clean, clean – It’s common practice to wash hands regularly and clean surfaces and tools that have come in contact with an ill patient, but you need to be extra vigilant during cold and flu season. Don’t forget to carry this practice over into your life outside the office as well! Germs are everywhere this time of year.
- Get a good night’s sleep – Sleep is an important weapon in the war against illness. Long shifts can leave you with little downtime, but making sure you get enough rest will help your body fight off any would-be attackers.
- Be careful with your diet – It can be tough to eat well when you’re working through a busy cold and flu season, but taking the time to eat a well-balanced diet can give your body the fuel it needs to get through the day, plus give your immune system the added strength to fight off a cold or the flu. Including a good amount of vegetables and fruits high in antioxidants in your diet can build up your body’s defense shield to germs and illness. Multivitamins and supplements can be a help if you’re concerned about getting adequate vitamins and minerals in your daily food intake, or if you don’t have the time to regularly purchase produce.
- Stay hydrated – Staying well hydrated helps to flush the body of germs and toxins that can lead to illnesses. Upping your water intake during cold and flu season can help to keep you healthy. Also, avoid excessive alcohol consumption as it can lead to dehydration. Be careful with juices as well. Contrary to popular belief, fruit juices aren’t as effective as consuming actual fruits, as most beverages are “from concentrate” and added sugar. Sticking with water or is your best bet for keeping yourself hydrated.
- Take time to relax – Set aside time to relax and recuperate from your busy schedule, as stress can impair the immune system. Plan lunch with friends, schedule a massage, or make time for your favorite hobbies. De-stressing is crucial to staying healthy.
- Get your flu shot as early as you can – Take steps to protect yourself from influenza by getting your vaccination as soon as is possible. Flu vaccination is mandatory for many health care workers but making time to do it early can make the difference once those first cases hit the office. Flu shots are available at most major drugstore and grocery store pharmacies. Check with your work facility to see if they’re offering flu shots in-house and if it’s possible to schedule an appointment.
If you do happen to get hit with a bug, make sure to take good care of yourself so not spread it to others or worsen your condition. Stay home when you’re not feeling well, and follow the same advice that you would give to your patients. The cold and flu season can be a tough time for those in healthcare professions, both personally and professionally, but with due diligence and self-care, you can help prevent becoming a victim.