Monday morning. Your alarm goes off way too early to be acceptable and with a grimace, you feel a scratchiness in your throat that wasn’t there yesterday. Your head is fuzzy and you grab approximately 17 tissues to take care of that massive runny nose you have. Suddenly, you’re really regretting staying up until 3am on Saturday night. Looking at your busy schedule, you see this never-ending stream of assignments, tests, meetings, and events you have to attend. You can’t afford to be sick again. Well, aside from mentally willing yourself to feel better, here are a few tips for getting yourself back on your healthy track:
1. Allot the much needed “me time.”
Personal relaxation time is a very important aspect of wellness. In college, we are constantly surrounded by others and sometimes the pressure to be social can override the need to be alone. If you find yourself getting sick over and over again, look at how much time you spend alone and try to incorporate some more personal time into your day. Ignore the FOMO and embrace the time to yourself. This could involve watching an episode on Netflix, painting your nails and listening to music, or any other activity that you enjoy doing. For an extra challenge, turn off your phone! Removing the stress of social interaction will give you more time to rest your mind and calm down your nervous system.
Drink up! Take a reusable water bottle and fill it up to the top. Drink three of them per day (at least). Water has numerous health benefits, everything from helping to clear skin to helpting to expel toxins from the body. If you’re trying to feel fresher and more energetic, hydrating your body will definitely improve your mood and overall wellbeing. If you’re not a fan of plain water, use some lemon and orange slices to add some flavor!
3. Choose Tea
As a coffee enthusiast myself, I know all about the sacred ritual of that morning coffee before class. However, when I was very sick during the Fall semester, I noticed that drinking coffee aggravated my sore throat because it dried out my mouth. In order to maintain my daily caffeine quota, I decided to try tea with honey and lemon instead and I felt that it soothed my throat much better than a latte did. Especially for any sore throats, honey is known for easing pain and providing some relief.
In college, we are exposed to so many new germs as we are forced to live in close quarters and share bedrooms, bathrooms, desks, tables, and air space with thousands of other people from many different places. This is why sanitizing your spaces is so critical in preventing sickness. My roommate and I have an automated Lysol Air Freshener that disinfects our room every time it sprays. Hand sanitizer should be used before and after you eat at dining halls, and utensils, bowls, and waterbottles should be cleaned regularly. Even though cleaning won’t necessarily make you feel better once you already are sick, it will prevent future sicknesses and limit the severity of them.
5. Learn to take it easy
When the work piles up and the due-dates approach, the stress builds and the health deteriorates. While it’s definitely important to stay on top of your work and various commitments, there comes a point when you as a student need to put your health first. If you notice that you aren’t feeling so well, maybe it’s best to forego the Student Government meeting to take a nap instead. If you’re the kind of person who likes to do several things at once and finds it hard to say no to people, consider thinking about it this way: you won’t be able to give it your all if you’re only operating at 60%. Plus, you’ll limit the amount of germs you spread to others. Notice when you’re immune system is compromised and re-priortize your commitments.
Now, I am not a doctor, but hopefully these simple lifestyle changes will decrease the amount of time you spend being sick and increase the amount of time you spend being awesome. Stay healthy, collegiates!