It’s that time of year again where we need to revisit the basics of how to avoid getting sick. Illness prevention is especially tricky on a college campus, where students live in extremely close quarters and often can’t help but share their germs. Sometimes getting sick feels as if it’s inevitable, but there are still many advantageous habits that will reduce your chances of acquiring an illness this fall and winter.
This is inarguably something college students don’t get enough of. We all know there are many benefits to consistently getting a good night’s rest: stress reduction, mood improvement, weight-loss or weight stability, alertness enhancement, memory storage, depression risk reduction, and even the fortification of knowledge retention. Yet, many people don’t know that getting enough sleep can also strengthen your immune system. When you sleep, your body secretes proteins called cytokines which help fight the body fight infectious diseases. Lack of sleep is associated with reduced cytokine production, thus increasing the risk of contracting a sickness and falling ill. The point is, take a nap. Get those eight hours of sleep each night. Let your body rest.
Focus on the food groups to have a balanced diet. You know the drill: consider protein, carbs, and healthy fats (Avocado! Dark chocolate!) at every meal. Eat fruits and veggies. Though there’s some research that says vitamin C doesn’t actually help prevent the common cold, it doesn’t hurt to consume it anyways. Try broccoli, Brussel sprouts, kale, citrus, strawberries, or bell peppers.
Bring a reusable water bottle with you everywhere you go and don’t forget to clean it with soap regularly to get rid of germs. Drink even when you aren’t thirsty because feeling thirsty itself is a sign of dehydration, and you need to be drinking water before you even get to that point. Another way to stay hydrated is to drink decaf coffee or herbal tea!
The one piece of advice most of us hate to hear. But it really is worth it. Besides, exercise can be all sorts of different things! Take a walk outside, practice yoga, dance around your room to your favorite song. Anything active enough to get your blood pumping a little harder is perfect. If you decide to go to the gym, clean the machines before and after you use them since you can contract germs from sweat.
Wash your hands, and use hand sanitizer when you don’t have access to a sink.
Not just in the bathroom but also after using items a lot of people touch, like a keyboard in a computer lab. In addition, try to keep your hands away from your face, specifically your eyes, nose, and mouth. The average human touches their face three to five times a minute, so be conscious of that!
Disinfect your room regularly.
Make a cleaning schedule and stick to it, making sure you vacuum and also wipe down areas you often use such as your desk and the doorknob. If it’s not too cold outside, crack the windows open and allow some fresh air to flow in.
Don’t bring dishes into the restroom—find somewhere else to wash them.
For obvious reasons, it isn’t a good idea to watch the bowl you used for your microwave oatmeal in the bathroom sink, though in most college dorms this is the reality of cleaning dishes. If you can, try to find a better place to wash your dishes, and make sure to use dish soap.
Don’t share cups, bottles, or utensils with your friends
Even if they say they aren’t sick, it’s better to be safe than sorry
Keep a strategic distance away from those who are sick.
Your friends will understand why you’re staying a few more feet back than usual.
Get the flu shot!
In summary, there are many protective habits to reduce your risk of getting sick that you can partake in. If you do get sick, it’s not the end of the world! Make sure you know where to go if you do get sick, to receive help from medical professionals. Note the hours of the health center and if payment is required. As always, remember to take care of yourself and stay healthy!