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How to stay well in an open office this winter

Here are some tips for how to beat the bugs and the blues in your office this winter

As the days get shorter, our health seems to suffer. Open plan offices can be buzzy, sociable workplaces; however, they can also wreak havoc on our physical and psychological health if not managed correctly.

1) Stay positive

As the nights draw in and our vitamin D levels plummet, so do our moods. In our British culture of complaint, we make ourselves worse by dwelling on our twilight existence during the winter. We focus on how we leave for work in the dark and return in the dark, never seeing the daylight.

A gloomy, depressed atmosphere at work is intensified in open plan offices, where moods are as contagious as norovirus. Whilst winter may be grim, obsessing on it will not make it go away and will make you more depressed; instead, try to get out at lunchtime, take vitamin D and try to enjoy winter – when else can you sit by a cosy fire in the evenings, snuggle in a warm onesie with a hot chocolate and drink mulled wine at a Christmas market? If you really hate winter, fantasise about spring!

2) Eat well to stay well

It is easy to succumb to the winter office diet of cake and coffee when it is chilly outside and cold salads and deli fare do not appeal; however, foods such as squash and sweet potatoes are easy to find in soup form or to blend yourself at home. Both contain immune-boosting beta carotene and bags of energy.

Green tea is packed with cold-busting antioxidants and will warm your cockles. You do not need to be told about the high vitamin C content of oranges and berries, but did you know that potatoes are also a great source? A jacket potato at lunchtime topped with a vegetable-packed chilli and a superfood salad on the side is guaranteed to give you a glow.

If your office is located somewhere without a decent cafe or source of healthy food nearby, you will have to get organised and make food in batches. Perhaps a few like-minded colleagues would join you in a lunch rotation? Each person could make healthy lunches for a week, or you could try a bring-and-share arrangement to diversify your diets.

3) Beat the bugs

You can take vitamin C and D to boost your immune system, with herbs such as echinacea also heralded as wonder substances when it comes to busting bugs. Good hygiene also helps.

Wash your hands frequently and well, lathering for at least 15 seconds and washing all parts of the hand. Don’t forget your wrists and dry your hands well, as germs thrive in a warm, damp environment. Hand gel is also useful to keep on your desk – try those based on aloe vera so that your skin does not get too dry.

If possible, keep some windows open to let fresh air circulate in the office. There is no better breeding ground for germs than an overheated, ill-ventilated office, apart from a doctor’s waiting room; however, if you follow the tips above, you will hopefully be avoiding those!

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