As much as you want to bring your A game to work every day, at times when you feel unwell, it’s good to stay home to rest and recover. Here are a few tips to support your immune health at work, to keep you on fighting form during the cooler months.
Five ways to support immunity at work
1. Eat healthily
It can be tempting at work to prioritise convenience and give in to sugar cravings mid-afternoon. However, processed foods with high sugar and fat content don’t do your immune system any favours. Instead, plan ahead and pack foods that are nutritious, flavoursome and immune-supporting.
Yoghurt and other probiotic-rich foods (such as miso and kombucha) are great for supporting good gut bacteria, which plays a big role in immune health. Vitamin C-heavy fruits, such as kiwi, citrus fruits and berries, are packed with antioxidants and support the immune system. Finally, consider adding oily fish, such as salmon and mackerel, to your lunchtime pasta or salad. They contain high levels of zinc, which helps with immune system functioning.
2. Reduce stress
High levels of stress can suppress the immune system, making it easier for you to fall sick. Talk to your manager about the cause of the stress, to develop a long-term action plan to better manage it.
3. Maintain good hygiene
It’s pretty simple – wash your hands. Offices are breeding grounds for bacteria, thanks to numerous shared spaces with multiple people. If a person’s immune levels are already low, some germs for a door handle, light switch or keyboard could be the push that knocks them down.
4. Move more
If you’re based in an office, it’s easy to spend five or six hours a day sitting still at your desk. Make sure you keep your movement levels up by going for lunchtime walks when you can, which has the added benefit of fresh air and time away from office heating systems. You can also consider implementing “movement snacks” during the day, by standing up and stretching every hour – try doing this with your team for more fun. Inactivity can impact the immune system, so keep active!
5. Avoid presenteeism
We’ve all been guilty of presenteeism, which is when you come to work sick, rather than take time off to recover. You may feel like you’re doing the “right thing” by battling on, but it can spread illness to your colleagues and ultimately means it can take you longer to fully recover, so if you’re feeling a bit under the weather, just take a day off.
- Simone Austin, Accredited Practising Dietitian.