Welcome back to another round of flu season, what a treat. It usually happens when we start feeling a chill in the air and the weather is transitioning from summer to fall. Our minds seem to acclimate better than our bodies, even though some of us believe that they will not be affected. The stresses of school do not help us out too much either. Now is the time in the school year that exams are kicking in and studying (possibly pulling all-nighters) begins. You hear the constant coughing, sneezing, and blowing of noses in most of the lecture halls you enter. And a doctor will tell you that too much mental and physical stress can take a toll on your immune system, making you more susceptible to getting sick. We want to prevent ourselves and other the best we can.
Here are some five simple tips you can incorporate every day, not just this time of year, to help you stay as healthy as possible. Following these tips does not guarantee 100 percent that you won't become ill, but you can help prevent it as much as possible.
1. Wash your hands
This might sound like common sense, but I have seen many people walk out of the bathroom without washing their hands. Washing your hands is single-handedly the number one thing you can do to protect yourself and others. The amount of bacteria on your hands throughout the day accumulates and it's important that you give your hands a good wash, especially after using the bathroom. Hand sanitizer only spreads the germs around your hands, without properly removing them. Nothing beats singing the ABCs as you wash your hands to make sure that you are clean!
2. Cover your mouth
Covering your mouth is as equally important as washing your hands. Again, may seem like common sense, but you never know what people are going to do as they sneeze or cough. The least that we can all do is cover our mouths when you do so. However, the trick is to cough in your arm rather than directly on your hand. Airborne diseases can travel if you don't cover your mouth and it can be very easy to fall ill.
3. Load up on vitamin C
Vitamin C is a must whether or not you are sick. College students would especially benefit from this immune boost. You can get vitamin C a variety of different ways whether that's from fruit and veggies, supplements, or vitamins. Protect your immune system with a good coat of vitamin C now and you will definitely thank yourself later.
4. Sharing is not caring
Sharing drinks and food with your friends may seem like a simple act of kindness, but it can actually cause you to get very sick. Especially during flu season, I would highly recommend straying away from sharing straws, cups, and utensils. Sharing these things obviously isn't a guarantee that you're going to get sick, but it's better to be safe than sorry.
5. Flu shot
I know that not everyone agrees with or maybe has never gotten the flu shot. But, it is highly recommended. The severity of the flu during a particular season depends on the strand that I going around. The particular strand may not affect your immune system, but it could affect someone who doesn't have the same immunity level as you. I get the flu shot not only to protect myself, but others as well. It's also important to stay informed about what the flu shot is about. Feel free to do your own research and see what the professionals have to say.
Obviously, there are a lot more things you can add to this list of tips. For example, disinfect your area, drink lots of water, dress warmly during the cold months, get lots of rest, eat healthily and so on. This is just a very condensed version of tips that you can refer to. Getting sick is not fun, especially if you are in college. Your mind is probably overworked by the load of constant work you have on your shoulders, and this is what is making your immune system plummet.
I know it can be hard to take time and relax, but please do. Your immune system needs to be high so that you can work at your full potential every day. But if you do become ill, or feel yourself becoming ill, try to attend to that as soon as possible. Even taking an over the counter medicine early on may be the thing that benefits you. Take medicine or go see a doctor if you believe you have something more serious. It is definitely better to realize early than to wait and have the illness become worse. If you don't pay attention to your health, school will become that much more stressful. Trust me, I have been there.
Don't be afraid to ask for help, even if it's your friends or someone else you trust. Make sure to try to get the proper care you need. And be aware if your illness is contagious and take precautionary measures so that you do not get any of your friends or classmates sick. Your health is so important and requires that you educate yourself on all of the proper information you need to help yourself if you catch an illness. However, take what you read online with a grain of salt and always try to go to a professional first if you are able to. I hope you all have a happy and healthy semester!