It’s lurgy season and work is awash with sneezes, coughs and runny noses – but just what is the right etiquette when you have a horrific cold in the office?
You know how you’ve got that gym bag and your overnight bag for when you stay over at [insert name here]? Well, you need to have cold/flu essentials at the ready, too. Make sure you always have pocket tissues, face cream (because your nose is going to get dry and flaky), water and some sort of throat soothing pastille on you. And remember your make-up bag, too, because a red nose is only cute if you’re a reindeer.
Try not to continually complain
If you’ve decided to go in to work, you sadly need to just soldier on. It’ll be obvious you’re struggling but don’t ostracise yourself by constantly reminding everyone that you’re contagious or you might end up eating lunch alone, soz.
Find solidarity with other sick people in the office
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You are one now. This person isn’t worried you’re going to make them sick because they’re already there. Bond over balsam tissues and strepsils and enjoy this new work friendship, because everyone needs a multitude of work wives and husbands.
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Be a sneezing ninja. If that’s not possible, just make sure to always cover your mouth, have a tissue nearby and realise that you are probably going to sneeze a few times in succession.
Cough, with caution
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Because every tickle of a cough could end up in a coughing fit. Yup, the kind that leaves your eyes watery, face bright red and ribs achy. And, this is also inevitably when the people around you will insist on asking if you’re okay and you physically won’t be able to answer.
But if you are having a coughing fit, find your nearest exit ASAP
The next few minutes aren’t going to be pretty. Try to inconspicuously make your way to the nearest loo/corridor/outside space so you’re not dying at your desk over everyone. And do not make eye contact with anyone, lest this person tries to start a conversation with you while you’re trying your hardest to hold in the cough of all coughs.
Blow your nose on the sly
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Use every toilet break as an excuse to clear your sinuses. Take that time to look in the mirror and feel truly sorry for yourself before wiping away that last bit of snot and going back to face the day. If you’re worried about lengthy toilet breaks arousing suspicion, you can always start blowing your nose as you leave the office so everyone knows your game.
Make sure you’ve cleared your nose before a presentation
The worst thing about a cold is when you get so clogged up while talking that you literally can’t speak any more so try to avoid that at all costs.
Don’t necessarily forego those work drinks
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There are some studies (mainly one at Oregon Health and Science University and one at Vanderbilt University Medical Centre) that say a moderate consumption of booze actually helps your immune system fight infection – but note the word moderate, guys. When all else fails, order a hot toddy or rely on whisky. A little bit dilates blood vessels which make your mucus membranes deal with the infection more easily. Well, if science says so!
And stop apologising
Just own it. The good thing about colds is everyone has them so #nojudgement