Colds and Flu: The Shift Worker's Daily Challenge

As I sit down and type this article tonight, the temperature has changed from being warm and balmy, to somewhat crisp and cool. And as I battle the remnants of a head cold, it’s made me realise just how vulnerable shift workers are to falling victim to the dreaded cold and flu virus.

Really vulnerable.

As shift workers we rely on limited sleep and recovery time so it can be hard to stay healthy and fend off those uninvited nasties including a cold or flu. Our immune system is run down at the best of times so if there is any bug or virus going around – shift workers are usually the first to get knocked down by it.

But as we approach the early stages of winter in the Southern Hemisphere I have to admit, I’m really not a Winter person.

I’ve always been a bit of a warm weather girl. In fact my husband often calls me a lizard as I’m always seeking out a sunny spot to sit and warm up. And even though I feel the cold and know that warm clothes are going to keep me warm, the idea of actually going out to buy warm clothes doesn’t really tickle my fancy because it means that I have to admit that it’s actually winter.

Ahh … sigh. I cannot deny it anymore.

But that’s what I want to talk about right now – the importance of keeping warm to ward off those nasty colds and flu.

You see, the common causes for both common colds and flu that can leave us vulnerable can be exposure to cold air or wind, cold, and seasonal changes from warm weather to cooler weather. The body has to adjust and get used to the drop in weather temperature and this can leave us a bit vulnerable to little bugs that could bring on a cold or flu which can be passed on.

So don’t be like me and try and keep warm in Summer clothes. Make sure that you rug up from top to toe and do more exercise. Yes that’s right – more exercise. Because exercise helps to boost your immune system and also heats your body up to keep you warm.

In fact there are even exercises out there that are really appealing during winter – for example Hot Yoga or Bikram Yoga. But just make sure that you rug up afterwards to avoid a chill.

So remember to keep warm during winter because it’s going to go along way into helping you beat the dreaded cold and flu – one of the many challenges associated with having to work shift work.


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