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Being Sick at College: A Survival Guide

It happens to the best of us, maybe you’re smack bang in the middle of finals, or right before a first date, or maybe even the first week of classes; being sick is an unfortunate inevitability. As if catching the flu, or a stomach bug isn’t bad enough at home, when you come down with something whilst you’re at university, it’s about 100 times worse. You haven’t got your Mum there to pamper you and cook nice home meals, there’s no siblings to complain to about it 24/7, and instead of your cosy familiar bed, you’re likely to be in a slightly humid, slightly cramped halls of residence that makes the common cold feel closer to the plague. Thankfully, there’s some things you can do to make yourself a little more comfortable.

1. Let Your Support System Know.

You want to do this, first and foremost to stop your friends catching whatever you’ve got, but it’s also worth letting your close mates/roomates/course friends know that you’re feeling under the weather. With family being so far away from you, your friends are your support system when things get rough, and if they’re good ones, they’ll be happy for you to lean on them (figuratively, not literally -keep the germs away!), till you feel better. I know when I’m unwell, nothing is nicer than your friend offering to get medicine for you or cook some food to make sure you’re eating. My roommate even went out of her way to find the English teabags I use at home and leave them on my desk for me. Little things like this are huge pick me ups when you’re not well, so don’t be afraid to keep your friends informed. Chances are they’ll be more than willing to help knowing you’d do the same for them vice versa!

2. If You Can’t Go Home Get As Close As You Can Get!

So it’s often not practical to pack up your bags and hop on a train when you’re ill, no matter how bad you want to. Especially if it’s this time of year, and classes have just started rolling round, unfortunately there’s a bit of toughing it out needed. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make it a little easier- fit in some time to ring or facetime your parents/siblings/friends/dog. Not only will this distract you, but seeing some familiar faces is sure to lift your spirits in your time of need! And with your parent’s probably feeling a little sorry they can’t do more to help, by speaking to them you’ll be doing them a favor too!

3. Stock Up on Medicine!

I find the best thing to do, is as soon as you feel that tickle in your throat, nip to the nearest place on campus and get yourself some Vitamin C, etc. These kinds of things act as an immune booster and might sometimes be enough to stop your cough turning into a fully blown catastrophe. If that isn’t the case though, be sure to get some ibuprofen, or fever reducing medicine for when the worst hits; you can find a lot of stuff over the counter in the library or the on campus markets! Worst comes to worse, book in with the health services if you aren’t getting better, and the pharmacy there can help you out.

4. Treat Your Body With Kindness (Yes This Does Mean Eating Healthy.)

It’s really tempting when you are feeling rubbish to grab all your leftover Christmas chocolate, pull the duvet over your head and watch re-runs of Friends with the lights off. Shockingly though, this isn’t going to make you feel better (I know, mind-blown.) Whilst treating yourself a little in this kind of situation is good, what your body actually needs is rest, fresh air, and good nutrients. Make sure to pack in sleep, but also try going for some gentle exercise (even just a walk to the shop), and try and balance some of those Hershey bars with some fruit or veg. It sounds simple enough, but when your body is fighting off an infection, treating it right is the surest way to be on the road to recovery faster, even if it is less satisfying in the short run.

5. Keep Stress Levels Low.

Stress is a trigger for many many things, and when you’re ill, your body is naturally having to work harder. It’s normal to feel a certain level of stress when you’re not feeling great, particularly because it usually happens at the worst time. Whether it be worrying about keeping up with work, or social commitments, try and put this feeling out of your head until you’re well enough to deal with it. Equally keep all other stresses at bay, meaning avoiding stressful people, situation or any drama in your life. There’s a time and place to deal with this stuff and when you’ve got a high fever and are coughing up a lung, it is not it! You’ll be surprised at how much this can help with your sleeping pattern and in turn your health!

So next time you’re lying in bed wondering if there was ever a time where you could actually breathe through your nose, remember these tips, and most importantly, if you feel like you aren’t getting better, get help! Good luck and happy sneezing!