How to Stay Healthy During Flu Season

It’s officially gotten cold outside - like, COLD cold. The thirty-five degree weather last week hit me like a truck as I walked around in my teddy jacket from Urban Outfitters, having regrettably not gone home yet to get my warm winter coat. As we are all affected by the frosty temperatures, it’s more important now than ever to keep up your immune system and do everything possible to stay healthy. It can be especially hard to avoid getting sick in college - lack of sleep, shared living spaces, bad nutrition, you name it - but there are a number of things that you can do to minimize your chances of coming down with something and making it to the spring without suffering too much! (Oh, and definitely get your flu shot.)

Stay Hydrated & Eat Right

Okay, this might seem super obvious, but it’s incredibly important if you want to take care of your body during the winter months - there’s a reason doctors always tell you to drink tons of fluids if you get sick, and drinking lots of water helps your body perform at its best. Same deal with nutrition - getting the right amount of vitamins and nutrients from your food helps your immune system stay strong so your body can knock out any potential illnesses before they even start. Conversely, not doing these things can cause you to feel fatigued and to crave sugar/unhealthy foods, not to mention putting your body at risk of getting sick way more often. 

Get Sleep

This is another obvious one, but it’s hard to overstate the benefits of getting the right amount of sleep every night. Sleep is the foundation of everything else, so staying up too late and waking up too early can put your immune system on the fritz - plus, if you do get sick, sleep is the most efficient way for your body to heal. As it gets dark earlier and earlier in the fall and winter months, you might find that your body gets tired earlier, too - this is totally normal and a signal that sleeping earlier in these seasons can help boost your overall health. Like hydration and nutrition, it has been proven that sleeping more leads to more infrequent illness. 

Immune System Boosters

Ok, so we’re in college, and sometimes it’s hard to get the right amount of sleep, nutrition, and water. I know a couple tips that can boost your immune system and help you power through when you’re not feeling your best!

  • Emergen-C: Drinking these once a day or a couple times per week can make a major difference in keeping up your immune system thanks to the extra Vitamin C they offer.

  • Ginger: Ginger is a natural way to keep up your body’s defenses, and you can consume it in so many ways - my personal favorite is a ginger tea with echinacea in it, but there are ginger lozenges, ginger juices - even just raw ginger can be really beneficial for your health.

  • Zicam: If you feel like you’re at the beginning of a cold or about to get sick, I majorly recommend taking Zicam - its active ingredient is zinc, and it can seriously shorten the duration and discomfort of whatever sickness you might be experiencing. 

Watch What You Share

This is another hard one for college students - living with roommates can make it almost impossible to avoid spreading germs. Clorox wipes are a great idea - you can sanitize doorknobs, tabletops, counters, light switches, and any other surface that you might share. It might also be a good idea to cut down on sharing food and drinks around this time, and if you do, use separate cups or plates. Making the effort to be a little more cognizant of what you share this season can be the difference between catching something from a sick roomie and keeping yourself healthy! 

Don't Isolate Yourself

Yes, it’s important to keep yourself physically healthy, but the colder months can also be a source of seasonal depression, anxiety, and can negatively impact our mental health overall. As the weather gets chilly, the sky gets dark earlier, and schoolwork piles up, make sure to surround yourself with people who care about you (but get your alone time too), reach out to anyone who seems like they might be struggling, and make the extra effort to be kind - everyone is going through something at any given moment, and it never hurts to be radically loving. 

Take care of yourself this fall & winter, and give your body the love it deserves!

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