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Hey there, flu season! You are here, and you are not welcome. As anyone in college – really, anyone in any group setting – knows, this time of year can be a total buzzkill. Not only are you battling the midterm blues, but you’re surrounded by people who seem to just NOT CARE if they pass along their contagious illness to anyone and everyone in their path. They’re sneezing and coughing and hacking a lung in the fourth row of biology, and you’re like DUDE, plz do us all a favor and sleep in with chicken noodle soup and Netflix. The problem? You can’t just skip class every time you’ve got the common cold! Besides being a caring individual and passing a tissue or throat drop to the poor guy in need of a (clean) hand, there are a few things you can do to be the proactive, smart, savvy, and HEALTHY collegiate you were born to be. 13 things, to be exact.
HOW TO NOT GET SICK IN COLLEGE
How to Not Get Sick in College – In your room:
- Don’t wash dishes where you brush your teeth. If you do, you’re putting yourself at risk for a strain of the norovirus that’ll have you in the bathroom for quiiiiiite awhile. (No fun.)
- Have a thermometer on hand. When your student health services is a solid 9 blocks away, it’s the middle of winter in the Northeast, AND you’re under the weather, do yourself the favor of checking your own temp before making the trek.
- Don’t share towels. Just don’t do it.
- Create a stash of essentials! Everything from vitamin C-packed juice to keep your nutrient counts high to ibuprofen and chicken brother for easing pain and soothing a sick stomach after you’ve already caught a bug. Another essential? Tissues. I never thought I’d be picky when it comes to tissues. But let me tell you. When you get to experience tissues with Lotion in them and with Aloe Vera, holy moly your nose knows goodness and will never be the same. Being sick sucks and you feel like you’re suffering from a plague of snot, yuck, and blah. You deserve a little luxury, and Kleenex Ultra Soft Tissues have got that extra TLC factor, making them the #1 preferred Ultra Tissue. Then there’s Kleenex Lotion Tissues, and Lord knows that’s now a necessity in my household. I will be spreading the love to my own family and friends, because “in sickness and in health” means providing only the best for my future hubs, right? Right. Kleenex Tissue with Lotion it is.
How to Not Get Sick in College – At the gym:
- Sweat cleanly. You might already wipe off any machinery you use at the gym after working out on it, but how about before?? You’re being courteous to the next person by getting your own sweat offa the treadmill, and for that, I applaud you (and thank you!). But did the person before you do the same? MRSA ain’t the common cold, but it still sucks.
- Stay hydrated. Besides water being essential to our survival, it’s a necessary fuel to help fight infections. Coffee addicts (*cough* me *cough*), listen up: Coffees, sodas, and some sugary juices actually dehydrate you, weakening your immune system. This means you’ve gotta be all about that h2o life, especially if you’re also hitting the gym regularly!
How to Not Get Sick in College – In the dining hall:
- Don’t share glasses, water bottles, utensils…none of it!
- Wash your hands anytime you’re near a sink. This goes for whenever, wherever, but especially before eating! Mama always said clean your hands before dinner, and the same is true when you’re outta the nest and flying solo in a college dining hall. The hot dog line may be gross, but your hands don’t have to be!
How to Not Get Sick in College – Whenever, wherever:
- Avoid your besties when they’re sick! I get it – you’re the best friend ever and you want to stand by everyone’s side
- Sanitize like it’s your *job*. When you’re not near a sink, use hand sanitizer and surface sanitizers to keep your hands and the things you’re always touching germ-free.
- Don’t smoke – or hang around smokers. Bacterial meningitis can be spread through secondhand smoke – through nose and throat secretions. And if you ARE a smoker, you’re at even higher risk of meningitis…as if cancer wasn’t a big enough deterrent to make you quit cold turkey.
- Get green on your plate! Nutritionally dense foods like fresh veggies and bright berries are packed with antioxidants to keep your body in tip-top shape. Other healthy options? Whey protein helps act as a natural detox. Fermented stuff (think pickles, yogurt, and that sauerkraut that’s not just for New Year’s Day) has good bacteria that gives your gut strength. Fresh garlic is antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral, so obviously you should embrace the smell just like you embrace No Shave November – ha!
- SLEEP. Remember that anytime you’re tempted to pull in all-nighter (heck, anytime you’re tempted to get less than your 8 zzzz’s), your immune system becomes weaker. Meaning you stay up too late, feel crappy, go about your next day, and you’ll feel even crappier because now besides being ridiculously sleep-deprived and caffeinated, chances are you’ll pick up a virus or cold along the way.
The best tip on how to not get sick above all else? Avoid the world. Build yourself a bubble, get inside of it, and roll around with the essentials (Netflix, a pizza, some lipstick, dry shampoo, a Keurig, the Bible, etc.) until April. Or, take a vacation for all of winter and travel somewhere tropical and lovely. And remember to pack a few tissues just in case. (;
One cough, sneeze, or unwashed hand can start something spreading. You’ve probably always heard that you’re supposed to cough or sneeze off to the side or in your sleeve to not be gross. Actually, lies. The CDC says sneeze into a tissue that can be thrown away to actually avoid sending a plague around to other people. So be kind, be considerate, and stock up for winter. And another fun fact? There’s a proven link between kind emotions and helping behavior with better well-being, health, and longevity. So being a good person can LITERALLY help you not get sick. Boomsauce.
If you need to stock up on some anti-cold goodies, head to Wal-mart where you can get a $5 VUDU credit when you pick up either a 4-pack of 75-ct Kleenex Ultra Soft Tissues or Kleenex Lotions Tissue. (Hint: some packages have stickers with a coupon and some will not, but *all* of the Lotion/Ultra Soft 4-packs are eligible!) Redeem your coupon by purchasing the qualifying item and star/check the item(s) and the date of your receipt. Snap a clear photo of the entire receipt with your phone. Text CAREPACKAGE to 811811 for submission instructions. Please allow 48 hours for processing.
What do you know about how to not get sick in college? How do you avoid getting sick? And if you’re not in college, how do you avoid getting sick period???