There’s nothing worse than the feeling that something is happening to you but you can’t stop it. No matter what you do or how hard you try, sometimes the inevitable gets the best of us. In the thick of cold/flu season, I unfortunately know this feeling quite well. With that first “aahh-chooo!” I know it’s game over. That’s why I try my best to stay healthy and keep my immune system up, even when a late night out or choosing French fries over fruits and veggies sounds enticing. To come out on top, here are my “do’s and don’ts” for defeating cold/flu season like a true champ.
DO: Get your butt to the gym. Although it may seem like the last thing on earth you want to do in cold temperatures like this, incorporating exercise into your everyday routine boosts your immune system like no other. If nothing else, think of exercise as a cold/flu-prevention technique instead of a laborious process. With a strong body and an even stronger immune system, germs won’t wanna mess with you!
DON’T: Believe the “you’ll sleep when your dead!” theory. News flash: sleeping is a GOOD thing! Not only for growth, skin, hair sheen (the more sleep you get, the shinier your hair will be…yes, it’s true!), but sleep is the ultimate remedy for illness. More importantly, it is key to fighting illness: a weak immune system is more susceptible to germs, so sleep away and your immune system will reap the benefits.
DO: Cover up! With the seemingly sub-zero temperatures we’re experiencing on campus, it’s so important to layer clothing and cover any bare skin when bracing the cold to contain body heat. Start with a good pair of wool socks and build from there: a quality pare of jeans, bulky sweater, scarf, boots, gloves and a beanie will have you covered from head-to-toe (and looking adorable!).
DON’T: Leave your dorm without actual clothes on. Let’s be real: We all llloooovveee leggings, but 1.) They aren’t actual clothing and 2.) The cold REALLY bites when only a very thin layer of cotton is protecting your legs. Also, wearing a skimpy tank, sandals, etc. in these types of temperatures will result in a loss of body heat faster than you can say “the common cold.” Cover yourselves, women!
DO: Balance your diet (with a few treats here and there). Okay, it’s pretty unrealistic to say that salad tastes better than chicken fingers and that quinoa is more delicious than Ramen Noodles. However, eating healthy, especially during times where everyone seems to be getting sick, is absolutely vital. Being slightly more conscious of your diet during cold/flu season will certainly pay off. Incorporating foods like spinach and pomegranates that are high in antioxidants will give your body vital nutrients to help fight off germs. Of course, make sure to treat yourself with fro-yo or a brownie when needed J.
DON’T: Gorge yourself with a menagerie of junk foods. On the flip side, only eating junk food will do your body no good. In terms of the essential vitamins and minerals that help fight off illness, Fritos and fries will provide your body with no types of nutrients. Make smart diet decisions and your body will reap the benefits.
DO: Sip some tea. Teas are full of herbs and spices that are helpful when preventing illness. Also, some teas are chock full of antioxidants that strengthen the immune system and are 100% water, and staying hydrated during cold/flu season helps your body immensely. Instead of going for your usual latte, try Tazo tea from the Bison or 7th St. when going for your everyday caffeine fix and keep the germs away.
DON’T: Share drinks at frat parties. A no-brainer, but second you see someone sneeze then sip from a cup, run. Frankly, run the second someone offers you a sip of anything. Sharing is caring, but in this situation, declining alcohol means declining an opportunity to get sick…a double-whammy!
DO: Lather, rinse, repeat. Scrub-a-dub-dub each time you touch a door handle, pay with cash, or use the elliptical. You honestly don’t know what types of germs are even out there/who touched what last, so save yourself from getting sick by always remembering to wash your hands whenever you get the chance. Bring a mini-lotion in your bag so your hands don’t dry out from all the soap!
DON’T: Forgo personal hygiene. At a school like Bucknell where everyone is beautiful (you know it’s true!), keeping up with personal hygiene is a must. During cold/flu season, adopting new yet important habits into your hygiene routine makes a difference. For example, keeping your nails trimmed and dirt-free or using mouthwash more often are two great ways to rid your body of extra and unwanted germs. Incorporating these behaviors into your routine will benefit you in the long run and will steer you clear from sickness.
Take these tips and enjoy your healthiest cold/flu season yet. Pass them along to a friend so she’ll get better already! Here’s to a happy, Kleenex-and-Nyquil-free February. Cheers!