7 Ways to Stay Healthy This Flu Season

Number 1: Get your flu shot!

If you haven’t already, stop by your local clinic and get your flu shot. As my doctor put it, “getting your flu shot is like getting car insurance—it can’t keep you from getting into an accident, but if you do get into one you are protected”. Regardless of whether or not the flu shot is a perfect match to this year’s strain of influenza, it is vital that college students get immunized. Getting your flu shot can help prevent grave illness or even death from influenza.

Number 2: Wash your hands

This seems like a pretty self-explanatory one, but trust me when I say that not everyone does it. Most (if not all) surfaces on campus right are plagued by viruses that can make you very sick. Whether you are about to eat lunch or are leaving a lecture hall, it is important to wash your hands before touching anything that might enter your system.

Number 3: Touch your eyes, nose, and mouth as little as possible

Remember those diseased surfaces? The viruses are much more likely to get you sick if you touch your eyes, nose, or mouth when your hands are contaminated. It is impossible to keep yourself free of contaminants at all times, so stay safe and touch your face as little as possible.

Pro-tip: Touching your face can also cause acne by transferring oil, dirt, and bacteria from your hands onto the sensitive skin on your face. Touching your eyes, nose, and moth as little as possible is important not only during flu season but also during the rest of the year!

Number 4: Try not to share objects with others (especially those who are ill)

Although it is generally a good practice not to share objects like cups or silverware with other people, it is especially important during flu season. The easiest way to swap germs is through the sharing of bodily fluids, so be wary before sharing a drink with a friend (especially if they are already sick or showing signs of illness).

Number 5: Cover your mouth

As one of my friends likes to say, “it’s 2018 people! Let’s not cough into our hands!”. As dramatic as she is, this statement is actually quite important. Coughing or sneezing into your hands or straight into the air is super unhealthy and can spread disease very quickly to those around you and everything that you touch. If you don’t have a tissue around, at least cough into your elbow. I know we all learned this in school, so make sure you actually do it!

Number 6: Reduce your stress level

Ah yes, the famous last words. Everyone says it needs to be done, but nobody ever really seems to figure out a good way to do it. Being stressed (especially chronic stress) can lower your immune system defenses, allowing viruses and bacteria to enter and overtake your system easily. Although it sometimes seems impossible, it is important to attempt lowering one’s stress levels to let your body defend you from the flu.

Number 7: Sleep!

My favorite of all of the ways to stay healthy! Another one of those “impossible” tips, it sometimes seems like the work will never end and that you’ll never get a full night of sleep again. As the campus becomes quickly infected with influenza, it is important that everyone gets a good night’s sleep. Sleep allows your body to heal if you are already ill and keeps your immune system strong if you are one of the lucky ones who has not yet contracted the flu.