Winter Is Coming – How to Stay Healthy & Productive at Work

November 3, 2017


Brace yourself because winter is coming! And we’re not just talking about the latest Game of Thrones series, we’re talking about that time of the year when seasons start to click and autumn, with all its glory and sun-kissed shades, turns into the most dreaded season of all.

As the days are getting shorter, and darker, you may start experiencing the “winter blues”. Symptoms include: insomnia, loss of appetite, weight fluctuations, and the all-too-familiar feelings of anxiety and angst. Don’t panic, it’s all quite normal.

”You might be more tired than usual, less active or unmotivated – and your level of productivity in the office may decline significantly. People struggle with being productive in the winter for a number of reasons” says Casey Moore, The Productivity Coach.

However, some people may struggle more than others when it comes to staying productive during these bleak winter months, but according to Andy Teach, a corporate veteran and author of From Graduation to Corporation: The Practical Guide to Climbing the Corporate Ladder One Rung at a Time, there are things you can do that will have a positive effect on your attitude.

“You have a job to do and you’re always expected to produce great results, no matter what time of the year it is. You’re not getting paid any less just because it’s wintertime; your supervisor doesn’t expect any less of you because it’s cold outside; and your clients don’t care what the weather is like”, he says. “They just want results.”

It’s around this time of year that people start getting sick – you’ve probably noticed that your co-workers are now carrying handkerchiefs  in their pockets, and some have switched to tea in the afternoon. Which is a great idea, considering that’s one of the things you should be doing to prevent a cold.

Every year, flu season costs the American economy over $4.5 billion in medical care, and an estimated $87 billion in lost productivity. Not counting the sick days which can also amount up to $20 billion. So how can you stay healthy when everyone around you is sick, sneezing next to you, or worse, on you? Here are a few tips you can apply to boost your morale, stay focused, and most importantly, stay healthy.

Get physical

Don’t turn into a couch potato just because the temperatures are dropping. Staying active is crucial to maintaining a healthy immune system. Whether you choose to hit the gym, do a home workout, or indulge in a late-afternoon walk outside, it really doesn’t matter as long as you do something. There’s no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to exercise – find that activity or routine that you actually enjoy doing and stick to it – no matter how cold, or hot the weather is.

Bundle up & stay warm

This is a no-brainer. Unlike most mammals, we weren’t blessed with an outer layer of fur to keep us warm during cold seasons. But there are a number of things you can do to keep your body temperature up. Hot beverages is one of them – supplement your intake of warm liquids, preferably tea, preferably with honey. Trading that five o’clock cup of coffee for a steaming cup of green tea (or whatever flavor you prefer) will not only keep you warm, but it will also give your morale a boost. Is case you didn’t know, caffeine amplifies your response to everyday stress – and that’s definitely something to avoid. While green tea also has caffeine, giving you that much needed afternoon jolt, it only has about 1/10th the caffeine of the average cup of drip coffee.

Layers, layers, layers. The one thing that’s great about winter, (except the Holiday frenzy which kicks in when the countdown to Christmas hits 30 days) is that you get to experiment with layering. If you’re not a fan of wool sweaters or cardigans, no problem. You can play with multiple layers of clothing items to get the same fuzzy, warm feeling you’d get if you nestled with a bunch of penguins (how cool would that be?). More layers = more warmth.

And last but not least, keep your office space or cubicle warm. This is not only detrimental to your health, but it also has a major impact on your productivity. If you’re feeling cold, you’ll be using a substantial amount of energy just to keep warm. “It’s important to have a comfortable work environment, so find out where the thermostat is in your office and perhaps more importantly, find out who controls the thermostat and make sure they keep it at a comfortable temperature for you and your co-workers” says Andy Teach.

Maintain a healthy diet

Don’t rely solely on comfort foods just because the days are cold and dreary – eating well is key to giving your immune system a much-needed boost this winter season. Think vegetables, lots and lots of vegetables with every meal (breakfast included!), as well as plenty of water and warm fluids during the day. Keep your diet as varied as possible, that means making sure you don’t leave out any food groups. According to Marian Morgan of Coaching That Works, “comfort foods and sugary drinks will leave you sluggish and bloated. A heavy meal leading to a nap may sound like a good idea on the weekend, but especially during the week you’ll want to watch your sugar and carbohydrates intake”. In other words, eating healthy is just as important as staying active – the two go hand in hand.

Stay home if  you get sick

It’s good for you, and it’s certainly best for your co-workers. While most people only take one or two days off, CDC recommends you stay home for 3-5 days in case of flu, or at least 24 hours after you’ve no longer got fever. After all, the best way to get over a cold is to stay at home, rest, hydrate and give your body a chance to heal.

Practice good hygiene

‘Tis the season to start carrying hand sanitizers. Keep a bottle stashed in your purse, or car, in case you need an alternative to washing your hands. We constantly interact with other people whether at work, on the streets, or on the subway, and keeping a tiny bottle of hand sanitizer with you will go a long way to help reduce the number of germs you’re exposing yourself to. What’s more, researchers from the Children’s Hospital in Boston found out that people who carried hand sanitizer with them had 59% fewer cases of stomach bugs than those who didn’t. That’s because, when used correctly, these sanitizing gels kill nearly all the germs.

So there you have it – everything you should be doing to stay healthy and productive at work, and in your personal life. It may not seem like much, but add all these little things and you’ve got yourself an effective routine that will get you through the winter unscathed.