We're about a month and a half into flu season, and I've missed a few days of work. How about you? We work very closely with people, and therefore are at increased risk both for catching the flu and passing it on. How can we keep ourselves and our patients healthy? I checked my local provincial website for tips, but the following are a few extra things that might help keep you and your patients in good shape.
Hygiene, hygiene, hygiene. Wipe your table, face cradle, handles, knobs, pinpad keys on your POS terminal. This is especially important if you share a desk with several other people. Wipe with cleaner and disinfect regularly. Hand washing is always a priority with massage therapists, but make sure you're taking enough time to do a good job. Lather and rub hands, forearms, and elbows for at least 15 seconds (sing "Happy Birthday" twice, or "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" once), and rinse well, as leaving soap residue on your skin can increase the risk of irritation and allergic reactions.
If you're sick, STAY HOME. Yes, you have permission to stay home! Missing one or two days of work is better than missing parts of a an entire month of work. It will keep illnesses from spreading to other co-workers, and your patients. If you absolutely can't stay home, use a mask, especially if you can't control a cough with medication or water.
Drink water. Keep yourself hydrated and flush out all the bugs you may have picked up. Bring a thermos with lemon and ginger tea, or hot water with cinnamon, apple chunks and honey. This is actually a good idea no matter what time of year, as we need to stay hydrated to maintain our energy throughout the day. If you take extra supplements to combat flu season, be diligent with your daily doses.
Try an aromatherapy diffuser. In flu season, this is more than just atmosphere. Some essential oils are very disinfecting. Thyme, lemon and lavender are have all historically been used for cleaning, also cedarwood and eucalyptus have been used to assist with breathing. Be mindful of allergies and sensitivities, and the effect of the essential oil on the therapist. If you're already feeling a little tired and weak, a nice relaxing blend with lavender may leave you sleeping standing up, so mix it up with some lemon or fir, cedarwood or ravensara.
We're health care workers. We can't entirely avoid the flu, but by maintaining good hygiene and self-care, we can minimize the effect on ourselves and our income.