Welcome to our first monthly theme – this month, it’s Getting Off To A Good Start! Read Part 2 next Wednesday.

Becki’s just rejoined our marketing department, so she’ll rather appropriately be starting us off with this topic…

As you’re probably aware, there’s a lot of concern around this January about catching the flu, after a bad strain surfaced in Australia. However, it’s not just the Australian flu you need to worry about in January – with colleagues, customers and students all returning after a Christmas break, many workplaces will become a hotbed of germs as people come home from travelling both in the UK and abroad.

Here’s the 5 ways we’re protecting ourselves at Office Needs…

1. Eat better, feel better!

It sounds obvious, but our immune system is only as good as the fuel we give it. While I must confess to working my way through an impressive quantity of chocolate over the festive period, it’s not the best way to keep my body prepared for fighting a variety of germs.

Instead, I’ll be behaving myself this January by eating loads of fresh fruit and vegetables, since foods like sweet potato, butternut squash and beetroot are rich in beta-carotene, which our bodies convert into Vitamin A. This vitamin helps defend us against infection by keeping the mucosal linings in our nose and lungs robust – an essential step for fighting off colds.

Plus, with 60% of our immune defences in our gut lining, I’ll be trying some probiotic boosters like kefir and kimchi to make sure I’m ready to battle any germs that come my way! Check this article out for more ideas.

If a busy January means you’re struggling to get all the necessary vitamins into your diet, then you can always try…

2. Supplement for success

A number of studies have actually debunked the idea that Vitamin C supplements are the way to fight off the common cold. However, did you know that zinc has been demonstrated as a potentially powerful alternative?

If you take a zinc-based supplement on the first day of having cold symptoms, studies have suggested that you can reduce the length of your infection, and get you back on your feet quicker. It’s thought that this is because zinc actually interferes with the replication of the rhinovirus, which causes the common cold. Read more here.

3. Keep your hands and workstation clean

Possibly one of the most important ones to remember in the workplace. We all know how quickly germs can spread once one person comes in ill! While some bugs are airborne, there’s a huge amount that are passed between humans by one simple thing – whether we’ve touched something that’s infected.

Luckily, there’s quite a lot you can do to prevent this one! My go-to products every January are hand hygiene gels, and we’ve got quite a few choices in our store this year (it’s one of the first things I put in my drawers when I came back).

Plus, for those of you in hot-desking environments, or other workplaces like schools where equipment is frequently shared, don’t forget the power of some really good hygiene wipes to keep things germ-free.

4. Keep moving

While bed rest is important when you’ve already caught a bug, don’t be fooled into thinking you’ll fight them off by spending the whole of January under a duvet (as tempting as that sounds).

If you keep your body moving throughout the day, even by doing something as simple as walking around the office to put the kettle on, you can benefit from a boost to white blood cell production. These clever cells are our body’s main germ fighting allies. Plus, if you’re clever with what you put in the kettle, you can get an even bigger boost…

5. Fill your mug with flu fighters!

We’re all familiar with using hot drinks to soothe our symptoms, but what about using them to stop your cold manifesting in the first place?

By swapping your morning cuppa for herbal tea, you can give yourself an extra immune boost and get your body ready to fight back. I’m a huge fan of peppermint and green teas anyway, but this January I’ve treated myself to Pukka’s Herbal Heroes collection. The immune-boosting properties of Elderberry and Echinacea tea make it a solid choice, and the Lemon, Ginger and Manuka is perfect for relieving any pesky cold symptoms once they start!

So what happens if you do catch the flu?

Check this helpful NHS Choices page to check your symptoms against those of the flu, and make sure to take note of their advice on when to see your GP!

So far, these 5 things have helped me keep workplace bugs at bay… come back next Wednesday when we cover more ways to get off to a good start, and hopefully I’ll still be fighting fit!

Have a great, healthy week at work – see you next week!

Join us next week for Part 2 of ‘Getting Off To A Good Start’!

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