Cold and flu season can be a stressful time for anyone, but it is especially stressful for those who spend a lot of time in the company of others. How can you avoid the cold or flu when you are trapped in a classroom with dozens of other students?
While it may be tempting to avoid human contact altogether, there are ways to avoid getting sick without having to skip class.
Surviving Cold and Flu Season in College
When finals are around the corner, university students often face late nights, early mornings, and stressful weekends spent in the library studying. Those who are not spending their weekends studying are often out partying all night.
Did you know that both of these lifestyles are equally unhealthy? While it’s widely known that alcohol can be detrimental to your health, a lack of sleep and high stress levels can also have negative effects on your immune system.
Whether you’re a bookworm or a social butterfly, however, there are plenty of ways for you to survive the flu season in college.
Wash Your Hands
One of the simplest things you can do for your health is to remember to wash your hands. While general hygiene is important year-round, it's especially important during cold and flu season.
Even when students are sick, they need to eat, study at the library, and attend classes. This means that many common surfaces are riddled with germs that can make you sick. Door handles, desks in lecture halls, and the keyboard and mouse on public computers are all high-risk.
Because of this, it's important to try to wash your hands with soap and warm water as frequently as you can but especially after being in public places. If soap and water aren’t readily available, you can make your own natural hand sanitizer with aloe vera, witch hazel, cinnamon leaf, and tea tree essential oils.
Be Wary of the Health Center
Many colleges have an on-campus health center that can be much cheaper and more convenient than traveling elsewhere to see a doctor. However, during the cold and flu season, this health center can be filled with germs.
Oftentimes the waiting room is packed with people coughing and sneezing, and going there can be worse for you than just riding out your symptoms. If you have a health issue that must be addressed, take the risk to go see a doctor. However, if you’re simply suffering from a minor cough and stuffy nose, stay in your dorm room instead.
If you must go to the health center, try not to touch anything and keep at least six feet away from people who seem sick.
Don’t Accept Every Invitation
It can be tempting to go out with friends after a long, stressful week, but classrooms aren’t the only places crawling with germs. Restaurants, bars, and other public places can also increase your chances of getting sick.
One of the main reasons why so many people get sick during the colder months is because people spend much more time indoors with each other. While you shouldn’t spend the whole flu season curled up alone in your room, you should be wary of how often you’re accepting social invitations.
If you’re feeling a bit under the weather already, ditch the public movie theatre and stay at home with Netflix and a mug of tea instead. If you do decide to go out with friends, be careful not to touch too many public surfaces.
Forego the Alcohol
It’s Friday night, and all of your friends are meeting up at the local bar. While it may seem innocent enough to go out for drinks one night a week, even one night of drinking can negatively affect your immune system.
In a 2014 study conducted by the Loyola University Health System, the effects of binge drinking on the immune system were studied. The study included 15 healthy young adults—eight women and seven men—with a median age of 27.
According to their weight, each participant drank enough shots of vodka to meet the definition of binge drinking, generally four or five shots each. Blood samples were taken at 20 minutes, two hours, and five hours after peak intoxication.
The results showed that at 20 minutes, immune system activity had increased. However, at both two and five hours, the opposite occurred. The immune system was less active than when they were sober. 1
When you expose yourself to harmful germs and disrupt your immune system, there is a very high chance that you’ll contract the cold or flu.
Get Some Sleep
Looming deadlines often cause college students to lose valuable sleep, drink gallons of coffee, and maintain high stress levels. All of these factors can lead to weakened immune system function, so it’s important to remember to relax every once in a while.
Instead of staying up all night studying, get to sleep early, and wake up early to begin again. Instead of drinking another shot of espresso, try an energizing fresh juice instead. And if you’re feeling overwhelmed and overly stressed, try taking a few minutes a day to just breathe.
In the fast-paced, busy lives of college students, it’s easy to forget to take time for your health. Personal essential oil diffusers can be a quick and easy way to reduce stress, boost your energy, or fall asleep easier.
Cold and flu season can be an incredibly stressful time for college students, especially on top of final exams, big projects, and social events. By taking some time to focus on your health and take a few easy precautions, you can make it through this season without so much as a sniffle.
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