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Staying Healthy During Flu Season

In the thick of flu season, it seems that everyone on Brown’s campus is battling some sort of cold, cough, fever, or stuffy nose. And if your mom is as concerned about the potential of rapidly spreading illness as mine, it is likely you receive constant reminders about “staying away from people who are sick!” and to “wipe down the desks before you sit down in class.” Living in such close quarters with other people, it may seem impossible to stay healthy when colds and coughs are spreading like wildfire. However, by making just a few, deliberate choices, keeping viruses away can be easy and incredibly worthwhile. Here are some suggestions to stay healthy during flu season in college!


Get Enough Sleep! With midterms fast approaching and the end of shopping period signaling the start of “real work,” it can be easy to neglect your sleep schedule for the sake of productivity. However, getting a solid 8 hours (or more if you can) is exactly what your body needs. While it seems counterintuitive, getting more sleep at night can actually make you more productive during the day. In my opinion, prioritizing an earlier bedtime is the ultimate form of self care. Even if there is an assignment that has kept you up late, try to eliminate the universal 30 minutes to 1 hour that nearly everyone spends on social media before you go to sleep.


Invest in some vitamins. Taking a multivitamin or an extra dose of vitamin C everyday can make a big impact on personal wellness. Most times, this supplements and makes up for shortcomings of vitamins and minerals in your daily diet. Especially when eating meals at the dining hall, it can be easy to accumulate nutrient deficiencies. Multivitamins are a sort of safety net for this. And, simply put, you can never consume too much vitamin C. This will help build up your immune system and help keep you free from illness!


Wash your hands! And then wash your hands again. Just like the elementary school nurse used to tell you, wash your hands for 20 seconds using soap and warm water. As trite as this may sound, this is the ultimate health “hack.” According to researchers, there are about 1,500 bacteria living on each square centimeter of your hand… so gross. Hand sanitizer, wipes, hand washing, and simply keeping your hands away from your face (specifically nose, eyes, and mouth) are essential to fending off infections. 


Eat healthy and nutritious foods. While the Ratty is not necessarily the Mecca of fresh foods and organic meals, it is still possible to eat a healthy diet on a meal plan. Take advantage of fruits and vegetables available, especially those with dark colors (leafy greens, beets, carrots, etc.) since they are higher in vitamins and minerals. Eating a balanced diet boosts immunity and even has added benefits like increased energy levels, healthier hair, and more glowing skin. Soda, foods high in sugar, and refined carbohydrates in excess have the opposite effect on the body and make you more susceptible to sickness. 


Exercise! Keeping active and breaking a sweat is known to flush toxins out of the body and clear bacteria from airways and lungs. Additionally, movement changes blood circulation throughout the body and can lead to an increasing amount of white blood cells and antibodies, defense mechanisms of the immune system that fight infections. Both of these exercise induced benefits help decrease risk of cold, flu, and other illness. Additionally, the added mental de-stressing that a good workout provides can do wonders for your psyche and help keep you well!