Kill the colds - winter health tips for small business owners

With winter well and truly upon us, the sniffles are beginning to set in.

For many business owners, winter means an endless round of illness – both for them and for their workforce.

But illness is a productivity killer, it’s expensive, and above all it’s just unpleasant. So how can small business owners help to ensure that they stay healthy this winter?

1. Don't get stuck indoors

It is all too easy to get stuck in your office (or, if you run your business from home, in the kitchen or spare room) during the winter. With darkness falling earlier and earlier, it is worryingly common for business owners never to see daylight. But It is vital that you get outside a couple of times a day, if only to walk to the shops and back. At the very least, make sure that your workspace is properly ventilated in order that you don’t sit in stale air for days on end.

2. Get a good night's sleep

Sleep can seem like an unattainable luxury for small business owners – but it is actually a crucial necessity. The NHS recommends that everyone should get between eight and nine hours’ sleep a night. In fact, it is thought that the majority of us get around six and a half. Make sure that you force yourself to take an early night every few days.

3. Get some exercise

Exercise is hugely important, both physically and mentally. Rather than spending all your time cooped up in front of a computer screen, make sure that you do some cardiovascular exercise each day. This could be tennis, a quick swim, or just a brief run – anything to get the blood pumping properly, and some oxygen to the brain!

4. Don't forget to eat…

Again, this sounds simple but it is worryingly common for small business owners to forget to eat. Make sure that you start the day with a proper breakfast (no, a cup of black coffee on its own does not count), and that you take a decent lunch break (no, not at your desk).

5. …especially fruit and veg

According to the NHS you are around 80 per cent more likely to get a cold in the winter than during the summer. You can help to minimise the potential for a debilitating sniffle by boosting your fruit and veg intake. In addition, make sure that you get enough milk. This is a good source of vitamins A, B12, and D.

6. Be realistic

Overwork is a common problem in the run-up to the Christmas break. You can help to avoid illness (and burnout) by trying to remain realistic about the amount you will be able to achieve. Don’t over-promise. Delegate where necessary. Prioritise carefully. These are all vital skills for business owners at any time - but they become particularly important during the winter period.

7. Consider the flu jab

If you have a history of respiratory illnesses, or if you often find yourself coming down with chest colds during the winter months, you should consider having the flu jab. This is significantly less of an ordeal than in the past – although you should make sure that you are in good health before having the jab.

8. Encourage your staff

Finally, if you are an employer you should remember the importance of good health practices amongst your workforce. Make sure that you encourage good practice by, for example, leaving hand sanitiser out on desks. You may also want to consider using employee benefits to encourage good health, for example by offering gym membership. Read more about employee wellbeing.