Picture this: You’ve just started a new job. The commute is a little long, but it’s near enough to public transportation that you don’t have to worry about driving. Since it’s the first few days, you are being constantly bombarded with information, but you’re prepared and keeping pace just fine. Oh yeah, it’s also the dead of winter and everywhere you go you hear a sneeze, cough, or sniffle.

Getting sick is a part of life. When you think about it, with all the people you closely interact with – be it on the train, the bus, or in the office; it’s a wonder everyone isn’t sick all the time.

What do you do when it happens to you?

Don’t Let it – In a perfect world, you could feel fresh as a daisy every day, all year long. Good luck with that. Here on Earth, prevention is really the best(only) cure.

-Load up on fruits and vegetables.

-Fortify your immune system with vitamins. (Zinc and Vitamin C can shorten a cold considerably. The jury is still out on whether they can actually prevent one, though.)

-Get regular exercise.

-Get plenty of rest.

-Disinfect. Everything.

Even despite your best efforts, the right germ will hit you the wrong way. You’ve really only got two options:

Stay Home

This is 100% what you should do. There’s really no debate about it. Going to work sick is bad for you and everyone you interact with. You might feel pressure not to fall behind, especially if you just started. But, if you honestly feel too sick to go to work…don’t.

It’s not taking a sick day that can be a problem, it’s how you take a sick day that counts. First and foremost, whatever you do, don’t just no show! It may seem obvious; but unless you are in a coma, frozen in a block of ice… in space or otherwise completely indisposed, shoot your manager an email. You may even have a position that allows you to work at a limited capacity from home.

Unfortunately for all of us, deadlines don’t particularly care how clogged your sinuses are. As important as work is, your health is more so. If you happen to be sick on an important day, see if you have any co-workers who can help pick up the slack. You might owe them a few rounds later, but it’s absolutely the smart play.

Power Through

I don’t recommend this and honestly think doing it makes you a bit of a jerk, but I get the inclination. If you feel that you just must go to work, there are ways to make it quasi-bearable.

Keep to yourself – You are effectively a biological weapon, don’t feel bad about being anti-social. Your co-workers will understand if not appreciate your seclusion when they aren’t sniffling themselves.

Come Prepared – You’re going to require a lot of maintenance. We’re talking tissues, cough drops, headache/nausea medicine, water, nasal spray, the works. If you really want to be considerate, bring your own means of disposal for all your contaminants instead of just throwing them in the communal trash. Again – Biological weapon.

Don’t Push It – Congrats, you made it through the day. When you wake up the next morning, if you still feel like garbage (or, more likely, worse), stay home! It will take much longer to get better the more you overtax yourself in an already weakened state.

See a Doctor – When you’re sick, the last thing you want to do is leave the house. But you should probably leave home to go see a doctor. They’ll give you all the information you need to know on how to get well and prescribe medications to help you return to your usual self!

How do you deal with sick days as a working professional? Do you cover your mouth with your arm or just your hand like a savage? Let us know how you feel.