Under the Weather? 5 Ways to Get Back to Business

by Kylie Ora Lobell

As a startup founder or small business employee, you’re most likely working more than the average 40 hours per work. By staying late, going in early, and paying more attention to your work than your health, you’re going to end up getting sick at some point.

When workers get sick, they tend to ignore their own needs. According to a study by Kimberly-Clark Professional, about 60 percent of employees go to work sick. Whether people don’t want to use their sick days, or they feel like they’re too vital to their companies’ operation to stay at home, they’re not pursuing a proper recovery.

Though it may be tempting to keep on going and work through your illness, you need to focus on getting better. After all, it is still winter, and you’re at risk of getting a cold or the flu wherever you are.

According to WebMD, an average of five to 20 percent of the American population gets the flu every year. Additionally, 200,000 Americans are hospitalized each year because of the flu. The average adult is struck with a cold two to three times per year, and it takes an average of seven to 10 days to recover from it.

If you’re feeling sick now or if you do feel sick in the future, keep the following advice in mind before you head back to the office.

Take time off

According to Everyday Health, you’re going to be the most contagious on day one. If you feel a cold or flu coming on, you should immediately call out and take the day to rest. But what if you’re feeling sick and you have an important task due? Or you run your own company and everything is your responsibility?

“One approach is to cut back on non-essential tasks for a few days, rather taking a day or two off,” says physician Branden Pfefferkorn at The Polyclinic in Seattle. “Unfortunately, colds and flus are more of a marathon than a sprint.”

Sleep—a lot

During your day or two off, don’t set the alarm for your normal wake-up time. Instead, take the opportunity to sleep away your illness.

“Your best weapon against vexing viruses is your own immune system, which works best when you’re sleeping,” says Nora Lansen, a doctor at One Medical Group in New York City. “Try to get 10 or more hours of restful sleep a day to help combat the virus.”

Recover with food and drink

You may usually start every day with a latte or cappuccino, but when you’re sick, you can’t have your favorite caffeinated beverage. Instead, stick to water and tea.

Lansen says, “When you’re sweating, breathing heavily and blowing your nose every thirty seconds, you’re at risk for becoming dehydrated. So if you’re sick, you need to drink plenty of water, just as you would if you were exercising.”

In terms of what you should eat, Pfefferkorn recommends limiting carbohydrates and going for healthy proteins. According to Lansen, it’s crucial to incorporate vegetables and whole foods into your diet and avoid sugars and preservatives.

“It stands to reason that a diet filled with empty calories won’t give your body the ammunition it needs to fight off invading cold viruses,” she says. “So start by cleaning up your act: limit your intake of processed foods, refined sugars and grains, and unhealthy fats.”

Use at-home remedies

If you hate the hospital or you don’t have the energy to see a doctor just yet, try some at-home remedies in the meantime.

To relieve congestion, try putting a hot towel or pack on your sinuses or place a small dab of mentholated salve underneath your nose. Lansen recommends using a neti pot or another sinus rinse “as a way of flushing your sinuses with salt water to alleviate pressure and keep your head clear.”

Lansen also says it’s helpful to boil a pot of water, take it off the stove, and add some drops of eucalyptus oil. Then grab a towel, cover your head, and inhale the steam.

Limit your chances of getting sick 

Want to avoid downtime in the first place? You need to be aware of prevention methods that can keep you healthy.

According to Pfefferkorn, this includes getting your influenza vaccination each fall, washing your hands, utilizing alcohol-based sanitizers regularly, and limiting how often you touch your mouth, eyes, and nose, especially when it’s peak cold season. You should also try to keep a distance of at least six feet from people who seem ill, and don’t share drinks or food with sick people.

Remember: Your work can wait. If you get sick and you don’t fully recover, you’re just going to feel even worse and may spread your illness to coworkers as well.