I tend to write more about emotional and spiritual wellness than physical health, but as we all know, the three are connected, and college can be a major challenge to each one. I want to share a few tried-and-true pieces of advice that I picked up from others or discovered myself in college, to keep you as cold-free as possible! It’s inevitable to get sick from time to time, but many students don’t realize that some of their daily habits are contributing to giving them the nasty colds that put them behind on school and cause them to miss out on all the fun stuff.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, and I’m not making any scientific or medical claims to expertise, just sharing my experience as a fellow student. I had some nasty colds freshman year, but I’ve since learned some tips that have helped me out.
Keep germs in check around your dorm
Whether you’re on campus or sharing an apartment, you’re almost certainly living with another person and their germs. Besides the obvious cleaning and disinfecting that everyone should do, as students we’re often in extra tight quarters and need some extra. Even if cleaning staff cleans your dorm, an extra wipe down with a disinfectant or natural cleaner is key if your roommate is sick. Make sure that you’re washing all your flatware and dinnerware thoroughly even if it isn’t easy in that tiny dorm sink. And my personal favorite piece of advice, get some shower shoes and some slippers! I avoided warts, which are commonly spread in college showers, while away at school, but I recently acquired one after letting down my guard and going barefoot in the locker room at the gym, and it was super gross. Save yourself from warts, plus all the gross germs on a shared bathroom floor, and grab shower shoes. Slippers for around your room and the hallway are less critical, in my experience, but still a good idea.
Get plenty of sleep
This may sound ridiculous to you if you’re overloaded this semester, but seriously, not sleeping enough has been linked to gazillions of serious medical issues, and it’s a huge contributor to weakening your immune system and picking up minor things as well. While you obviously will have short nights after big events or crazy study sessions, prioritize sleep. You’ll have to sacrifice some things, but getting behind on your favorite Netflix series is better than getting behind in class because you have a preventable cold!
Besides making you desire healthier food (which helps prevent colds) and sleep better (which helps prevents colds), exercise makes you less likely to get colds according to some studies, and the personal experience of many people I know. Make sure to wipe down gym equipment before and after use, though, or you’re probably going to cancel out the benefit by covering yourself in germs!
Consider a flu shot
There’s a lot of controversy over flu shots these days, and since I’m not a doctor, I’m not going to make a specific recommendation (I’ve never gotten the flu, whether I’ve had the shot that year or not), but it’s definitely something worth talking to your physician about.
Practice stress-management and self-care
Whether you find yoga, kickboxing, or mani-pedis relaxing, keep yourself sane by incorporating stress-management into your schedule wherever possible. For me, this means taking time to read a great book over lunch or go for a walk with a friend between classes. Stress literally kills people overtime, and it doesn’t take too many weeks of excessive stress to weaken your immune system. If you must take 18 credit hours and be the president of three clubs on top of your student job, go ahead, but be prepared to manage the overload as effectively as possible by planning in daily relaxation. Some of my favorite options, most of which are free or close to it, are jogging, walking, reading, painting my nails, taking a quick nap, drawing, coffee dates, yoga, breathing exercises, hot showers, and working out. Just about anything that relaxes you, isn’t super pricy, and is relatively easy to fit into your schedule regularly is a great option.
Hopefully these quick tips are helpful for you as you brave the tornado of germs that a college campus sometimes seems like! Let me know in the comments if you have any great tips for staying cold-free as this winter wraps up.