Coughing, sneezing, body aches – all symptoms of the “common cold” and symptoms many of us will be all too familiar with this winter. While none of us intentionally try to share our cold germs with co-workers, friends and family, we often do so without realizing it. However, whether you’re at home, work, or doing some shopping, there are several key steps you can take to help make the cold a little less common this winter.
If possible, stay at home. While you may be hesitant to take time off from work, especially for something as seemingly trivial as a cold, working while ill makes you less productive and you’re likely to spread your germs to your co-workers. If you can, however, stay home from work, rest, and take plenty of fluids. Not only will you have a quicker recovery, but you’ll be more productive when you do return to work … and your co-workers will thank you.
For many of us though, staying at home is simply not an option. We all have various responsibilities and some of them may be unavoidable. However, whether you’re at a staff meeting, grocery shopping, or picking your child up from day-care, by following some simple steps you can help limit the germs you may inadvertently spread while doing so.
7 ways you can keep your cold to yourself
- Wash your hands. Make sure you follow procedure; rinse, soap, lather, rinse – for a full 20 seconds.
- Always use a tissue. One of the easiest ways to spread germs is by sneezing. Make sure you always use a tissue and wash or disinfect your hands right away.
- Don’t sneeze into your hands. In those moments when a cough or sneeze catches you off guard without a tissue, cough or sneeze into your sleeve. This way you’ll be less likely to transfer germs to the next surface you touch.
- Skip the pleasantries. You may feel uncomfortable not shaking someone’s hand, or not giving Aunt Helen a hug, but if you explain that you’re sick and don’t want to contaminate them, they’ll most likely be grateful you didn’t.
- Keep your children at home. Children in close quarters very often share germs. After all, kids will be kids and hygiene is not often as important to them as it is to adults. Keep your kids home from school or day-care if they’re feeling under the weather.
- Keep your hands to yourself. Use caution when eating buffet style, opening doors, borrowing pens or using the office phone.
- Pass on “pass the baby.” While some people may think that exposing children to common illnesses will build a child’s immunity, it’s almost guaranteed that his or her mother won’t feel the same way. If you are ill, keep a wide berth between you and anyone at high risk of getting sick including young children and the elderly.
What if you’re the one getting sneezed on?
Avoiding illness. You may not be sick and would like to avoid someone else’s cold without appearing rude. Thankfully, there are some steps you can take to prevent illness.
For example, if someone you suspect of having a cold offers you his or her hand to shake, politely decline and explain that you’re trying to avoid illness. You may want to offer a reason why this is especially important – For example, if you suspect someone with a cold is about to shake your hand, simply decline and say “I’m trying not to get sick I’ve got [fill in the blank] coming up.” Humanizing your effort will make them less likely to take offense. By offering a logical, understandable reason for not shaking his or her hand, you’re less likely to offend and more likely to remain healthy.
If you’re around someone who is sick and not practicing proper cold etiquette, drop a hint by politely offering him or her some hand sanitizer and / or a tissue. Make sure you keep hand sanitizer on hand and within easy reach.
Become more germ conscious. When you are in public or with a person who is feeling under the weather, take extra precautions. Wash your hands frequently, don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth and be careful to practice good hygiene. Today, even many public restrooms are conscience of where germs lurk … they have move garbage can closer to the door so patrons can use a paper towel to open the door before throwing it away.