Everyone is getting sick.
You’re sitting in class, trying your hardest to pay attention to the lecture, but your mind is focused elsewhere. Your face, which feels like it’s been stuffed with cement, wants nothing more than to lie down on your desk and go to sleep. The crumpled snotty tissue half-stuffed in your sleeve is rubbing your nose raw, and you’re trying your hardest to resist the urge to *sniff* every 10 seconds.
Yes, Ole Miss, it’s that time of year again, when a group of more than 20 people becomes a choir of sniffing, coughing, sneezing and wheezing. But it’s also a busy time academically, and socially, all the good parties are about to start up. So how can you avoid succumbing to the seasonal sickness sneaking around school?
- Stay clean: We tend not to think about all the places we put our hands every day. Keyboards in computer labs, hand rails as we walk down the steps, door handles, and let’s not forget our own cell phones. With all the coughing and sneezing that goes on this time of year, you are way more likely to pick up some nasty germs doing simple, everyday things. Nasty bugs like strep-throat, pink-eye and the common cold love to find their way into your body by getting picked up on your hands and then finding their way into your mouth or eyes. So while you don’t need to run around in a hospital mask and rubber gloves spraying disinfectant on everything, take extra measures to keep your hands, and things that touch your hands, clean. A small bottle of hand sanitizer gel or packet of wipes stuffed into the front pocket of your backpack is a cheap and easy way to keep your hands clean on the go. I would also recommend wiping your phone off every now and again, since it touches all kind of surfaces and then gets to hang out right by your mouth.
- Be stingy with food and drinks: For many people, sharing a sip out of a water bottle or sharing a bite of lunch off someone else’s fork is not a big deal. But during cold and flu season, being generous could wind up getting you sick. If you really just have to try your dinner partner’s entree, use your own fork. Likewise, if you are feeling even slightly under the weather, keep your friends safe and let them know not to share the same straw.
- Get plenty of rest: It’s difficult these days to get a full night’s sleep, but seven to eight hours of shut eye could mean the difference between coming down with a nasty cold and making it to the end of the year without a trip to the doctor. Sleeping doesn’t just help recharge your body and your brain after a long day of class; it helps keep your immune system strong to fight off viruses. During this mid-term time of year, it may be hard to find time between working, going to class and maintaining a social life to get some good snoozing. So, while I am NOT saying it is cool to skip class or anything, I am saying that if you’re feeling overworked, taking a personal day isn’t the end of the world. Just don’t make a habit of it. If you’re continuously feeling stressed out, anxious or overworked even after taking a day off, you may have too much on your plate and it may be time to trim down your schedule a little bit.
- It’s OK to go the doctor: If you’re not feeling well, you may be getting sick. And if you’re getting sick, you’re not doing yourself or anyone around you any favors by “toughing it out” and showing up to work or class sneezing and coughing all over everyone. Don’t wait to get worse if you feel ill; go to the doctor. If you haven’t already, go get a flu shot. Trust me; getting a shot feels way better than getting the flu.
- Eat the good food: When you’re busy, you don’t cook. And when you don’t cook, more often than not, you eat junk. A fast food hamburger or a pizza every now and again isn’t bad, but when all you’re eating is fried and greasy, it can take a toll on your body. Food is fuel, and you’ll need all the good help you can get to keep your immune system strong and fight off the bad germs around you. Vitamin C is your friend when it comes to keeping your immune system strong, and Zinc is great for fighting off a cold. Make sure that if you take a multi-vitamin that you eat with it, otherwise your body won’t absorb it and it won’t do anything. If you do start feeling icky, make sure you drink plenty of fluids and stay hydrated.
Remember, you can’t perform at your peak if you’re not feeling 100 percent. Play it safe, and if you have any flu symptoms like sore throat, fever, nausea, chills or body aches, head over to the Student Health Center or go to your local clinic.