How to Stay Well in College

It's official: flu season is here. And I'm fairly confident that there's no worse place to be during an epidemic than on a college campus. With all of the shared spaces, from dorms to dining halls, it's no wonder the virus seem to spare no one. Plus, as if it's not hard enough to stay on top of your school work while healthy, being sick inevitably puts you behind.

My poor roommate has been stuck in bed with the flu all week despite getting a vaccine months ago, but somehow I've been lucky enough to escape it so far. So I figured it's as good a time as ever to share my tips for staying well as a college student, in hopes that you can too. Keep in mind that these don't just apply to college students though!

Get a Flu Shot

I'll start with my most obvious suggestion. If you're looking to avoid the flu, it's a no-brainer to get your vaccine early on. Even with their reported ineffectiveness this season, I think it's worth a try. At the very least, it might reduce the severity of your symptoms. College kids, check if your school offers free ones to students!

Take Your Vitamin C

I largely attribute my good health this school year to my daily dose of vitamin C. Between Emergen-C powder and Airborne gummies--which I eat like candy--I have an abundance of it. I even had to confirm that one cannot overdose on vitamin C because I might have been close at times. A majority of fruits and vegetables contain vitamin C if you prefer to get yours from your diet.

Wash Your Hands

I know this seems like another obvious one, but it's so important. After watching Contagion in Epidemiology class this week, I feel like I've become hyper-aware of all the potentially contaminated objects I touch in a given day. Wash your hands with soap and hot water often, especially after touching shared surfaces, such as doors and gym equipment. And whatever you do, stop touching your face!

Clean Your Room

A few Clorox wipes and sprays of Lysol go a long way when it comes to sanitizing a dorm room. Target frequently used surfaces--doorknobs, light switches, and drawers--for the most effective results.

Get Enough Sleep

Staying well begins with maintaining a strong immune system. I, as much as anyone, know how difficult it is to get ample sleep in college, but it is essential to your health, so make it a priority! If you need any more convincing of the importance of sleep, I urge you again to check out this video

Eat a Balanced Diet

Another necessity for a strong immune system is eating a balanced diet. Trying to incorporate a variety of foods into your meals is the easiest way to get proper nutrients and vitamins. Again, this can be difficult as a college student on a meal plan, but I guarantee you can find options if you search hard enough. Keep hydrated by opting for water with your meals and carrying a reusable bottle with you at all times. You'll be surprised by how much better you feel!

Go Outside

Spending too much time in my dorm room just makes me feel like I'm surrounded by sickness. Take a study break and get some fresh air by going for a walk around campus or sitting outside while you call home. Even in the winter weather, aim for a few minutes outside and away from the stuffy dorm air each day.

Catch It Early

Sometimes, even after taking as many precautions as possible, sickness still strikes. In these cases, the best thing you can do is recognize your symptoms early on and seek help. Learn about your student health center before you need it so you know how to make an appointment and locate it on campus. The earlier you're diagnosed, the faster you can protect others and stop the cycle!

Stay well!

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