Your sinuses are so dry, they're burning. You're blinking to moisturize your eyes to no avail. And your skin is so thirsty it's starting to look and feel like a dried out sponge.
Yeah, dry office air just plain sucks, and on top of that, you've somehow still got to get your work done.
During the cold months, it seems like there's no way to fight the drying effect of your office's heating system. You'd think there was a happy medium between comfortable room temperature and comfortable humidity levels, but at many places of work, this is an imperfect science.
Based on a survey by the International Facility Management Association, most workplaces field complaints about the temperature being too hot or cold, with air quality coming in third place, but way far behind. So it's not surprising that maintaining a comfortable temperature is prioritized, even if it means turning up the heat in the winter, and drying out the air.
Temperature woes may top humidity, but a dry work space is no picnic.
The ideal relative humidity level is somewhere between 20 and 60 per cent. When levels drop below 20 per cent it can dry out the mucus membrane and skin, according to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, leading to discomfort, and ultimately distraction.
If it's bothersome for your colleagues as well, it may be something worth mentioning and having looked at by facilities. But if it's something only you're sensitive to, we've got you covered. Try these tips to fight the drying air while you're in the office.
Drink Plenty Of Water
When you're in a dry environment, you're prone to dehydration. That's the reason behind your dry eyes and skin — the moisture in your body is evaporating. Make sure to replenish it by keeping a water bottle handy and refilling it throughout the day. This will have the bonus of reminding you to get up frequently so you don't stay sitting for too long.
Get A Personal Humidifier
No need for a massive clunky, noisy humidifiers, there are desktop versions that are USB-powered and will replace the air's water vapour in a smaller radius, so it doesn't affect your colleagues. There are plenty to choose from for as little as 15 bucks. Either fill it up with water, or place it over a water bottle, plug it into your computer and get ready for blissful hydration. Try out this cute house-shaped one, or this bottle cap humidifier. But be warned, some facilities mangers say that the water in humidifiers has the potential to become contaminated and pollute the air in the office.
Plants Are Your New Desk Buddies
Nature is a miracle worker in so many ways. Plants are known to clean the air, but they can actually add moisture to the air through a process called transpiration. Water travels up from their roots to the underside of the leaves, where it's released as vapour into the atmosphere. Just be careful to pick a plant that can survive in a dry climate, like a snake plant, if your environment has extremely low humidity levels. On top of that, plants make for beautiful decoration and can even act as a privacy screen between you and your co-workers. Check out this guide to figure out what your best pick would be.
Turn Off Printers And Other Machines
Things like printers, scanners, computers, photocopiers and paper shredders all emit heat and can add to an already dry atmosphere. To keep from making matters worse, make sure to keep these devices switched off when not in use, or try to set up your work station away from the printing station.
The Key To Fighting Dry Eyes
If a side effect to dry air, for you, is dry eyes, there are a few good habits that can help. Be more conscious of how much you're blinking. In the video above, Dr. Anna Shagas tells Q13FOX that it's easy to forget to blink while you're focused doing computer work for long periods of time, so your eyes may not be as lubricated as they could be. Contacts can also aggravate dry eyes for some, so you may want to opt for glasses, if your environment is already drying. Eye drops can be something useful to keep at your desk if it's becoming really troublesome, and of course, drink some water in case you're dehydrated.
Keep Face Cream And Lip Balm Handy
You many be able to get away with moisturizing in the morning and before bed during the fall, but when it's dry, you've got to be ready with the heavy artillery. Stash an extra bottle of your favourite cream and lip balm in your purse, so you have it with you at all times for when you feel your skin starting to crack.