The sensationalized nature of coronavirus has created a global media frenzy, leading to insensitive memes that alienate certain groups of people and a heightened awareness of our surroundings, causing us to jump when someone in our classroom coughs. In the midst of the coronavirus buzz that’s transpiring in the King County area, many local media outlets have put increased pressure on our community to “stay healthy.” The concept of “staying healthy” is a very subjective one. Not all people in our community have access to the resources that are required to “stay healthy,” from the lack of hand sanitizers available at grocery stores to the barriers to adequate health care.
The coronavirus buzz has led me, and many others, to develop personal opinions about the politics of health care and media narratives domestically and internationally. But most of all, the buzz has led me to think of ways that I can stay healthy here on campus at UW, for the sake of my physical and mental well-being. Here’s what I’ve gathered:
1. Eating well: On a college campus, it can be difficult to eat a balanced and filling diet while still staying within budget. Finding small ways to implement fruits, vegetables, and whole grains into your diet is a good place to start. If you’re looking to find more plant-based options at UW, Tero at Local Point has filling grain bowls and flatbreads that are chock with delicious vegetables. Try out the vegetarian options at the Plate area at Center Table. Switching to a more plant-based diet is a great way to boost your immunities with the copious amounts of vitamins and minerals that fruits and vegetables have. It’s also a great way to help out the environment, since harvesting grains and plants generally requires less greenhouse gas emissions than processing meat. This does not have to mean transitioning to a full-on vegan diet, but simply finding small ways to include more plants in your meals when you can.
2. Drinking more water: Water is the best fluid to drink to stay hydrated, protect your immune system, and remove toxins. Try switching out soda for water for at least one of your meals!
3. Sleep: Especially with finals week quickly approaching, sleep is often not prioritized for college students. But sleep has short-term and long-term benefits that can actually help boost your academic performance rather than hinder it. Getting 7-9 hours of sleep at night increases your daytime alertness, which can help you have a clearer head while taking exams. Sleep is also a way to help alleviate stress and prevent the development of diseases in the long run. If you’re finding yourself getting tired during the day, try to supplement your sleep deprivation with 20-30 minute power naps to increase your attentiveness.
4. Getting active: It’s unrealistic to expect ourselves to hit the gym for several hours every single day. Don’t put that kind of pressure on yourself! Instead, try to find ways to get active that you enjoy. This could mean hitting up a Zumba class at Fitness Center West or taking a 30 minute walk around campus or on the Burke-Gilman Trail. Finding ways to implement light exercise is a great way to relieve stress and improve your physical and mental well-being.
5. Wash your hands: This is a small but mighty strategy to keep yourself healthy during this time of the year every year. Get in the habit of washing your hands before you eat, prepare food, touch your face, do your skincare, and more. It’s a great way to prevent the spread of germs to yourself and others.
If you’re interested in more ways you can implement strategies into your life to boost your health, there are some great classes offered here at UW. I recommend NUTR 200 to learn more about nutrition and physical activity, and HSERV 230 to learn more about the value of sleep in our lives.
It’s easy to buckle under the stress that the coronavirus media frenzy is perpetuating. But remember to research the facts before jumping to any conclusions or myths about coronavirus (or any other illness for that matter). Implementing these strategies, and many others, in small amounts at first is a great way to boost your health year round.