We all know the drill.
You’re walking to class, you look to your right, and you see it: the dreadful sight of someone turning and coughing, blowing their nose, sneezing, or reaching for tissues. You know which one applies to you.
And then the dread sinks in. The panic begins. Suddenly, your nose is runny. That cough is because you haven’t had water in a while, right? Your eyes scan the room in order to find the nearest box of Kleenex.
Trust me, I’ve been there.
2015 was a record year for sickness, especially here at TGS, and it didn’t help that the annual flu shot was less than satisfactory. Combined with allergies, weather shifts, and stress, the wave of colds and flus on campus grew to be almost inevitable as winter arrived.
That being said, it’s a new year, and that means that it’s a new you, too (in a totally non-clichéd, non-social media status update way). 2016 just started, which means there are still plenty of opportunities to stay healthy, happy, and Nyquil-free for second semester.
One of the best ways to not get sick is to simply avoid germs altogether.
That’s so much easier said than done, though. Avoiding all germs? That’s almost impossible. Instead, try to do a few simple things when you’re feeling a cold come on, or even when you just don’t feel too great in the morning.
First, drink lots and lots of water. Fluid, especially non-flavored, is one of the best ways to flush your system of all its junk. As Athletic Director Angela Vande-Mheen says, “Try to drink at least half of your body weight in water per day.”
Detoxing your body of bad bacteria isn’t the only benefit that comes from drinking lots of water. The electrolytes found in it often help boost moods and improve mental focus, too. I recommend buying a reusable bottle if you don’t already own one. It makes drinking during the day much easier.
Next, wash your hands with soap. An absolutely essential step to avoid or kick a cold is to cleanse your hands! Doorknobs (often touched by, you guessed it, hands) are one of the most germ-contaminated spots of any building, especially those found in public or private bathrooms. Also, use soap. Here’s a secret: it actually does do its job to kill germs!
On the subject of water, take a hot shower with the door closed if you’re feeling at all congested. The steam from the shower will help clear your airways up and help you breathe with more ease.
And I’m sure you’re wondering, “Okay, but what if I’m already sick?”
Don’t stress! There are tips and tricks for dealing with illnesses as they’re happening.
First of all, if you don’t feel well enough to go to class, DO NOT go to class. Your friends (if they’re really your friends) will take notes for you on what you miss during the day, and you can catch up on homework and sleep while you’re in bed.
Your health is always the most important thing. Don’t be afraid to take a day off if you need to. Catching up on rest and working on improving your physical state is an absolutely okay reason to miss a day or two.
If you do feel well enough to go to school, make sure that your body gets some sort of Vitamin-C before you leave the house. Orange juice, citrus, or literal Vitamin-C tablets all do the trick. It’ll get your immune system working, fast.
Again, drink lots of water. You can’t ever drink too much, regardless of how you’re feeling.
If your nose is what’s congested, avoid dairy products. They’ll only cause more problems. Instead, drink lots of tea and eat lots of fruit. If you’re totally craving ice cream (which is a totally real and horrible problem to have), try sorbet. You’ll get the same texture and the same taste, hopefully, without the yucky side effects.
If your throat is what’s congested, definitely invest in some cough drops that, A) you actually like, and B) actually work. Don’t get the ones that taste like candy unless they really do make you feel better. Don’t make yourself miserable, though. There are tons of options that taste pretty good and soothe your throat almost instantly (Hall’s and Luden’s are my personal favorites).
If you can’t stop coughing and your throat doesn’t hurt, try Vick’s VapoRub. Rub it on your chest and on the bottoms of your feet (add socks to make sure it stays!) before bed. It’ll feel cold, but normally helps relieve chest congestion and pain.
For almost all other illnesses, there are a few staple tips to help get through the worst of it, and to make sure it doesn’t come right back:
Sleep. Advil/Ibuprofen/Tylenol. General pain meds always work. Again, don’t take these unless you need to.
Exercise/get outside. Walking and/or running will not only clear up your system, but it’ll release endorphins to make you actually feel good, too.
Don’t wear much cologne or perfume when you don’t feel good. Sometimes, the scent is overpowering–because you’re weaker in that time period–and can cause headaches.
Day three is normally the hardest to get through during a sick period. Once you make it through the third day, you’re headed toward getting better.
Lastly, don’t freak out. At the end of the day, you’re bound to get sick at some point during the year. (Unless you’re some sort of superhero. If so, props to you.)
You will get better, even if it takes time, and you will get sick again, and again, and again. However, hopefully with some tips, tricks, and trust, you’ll be able to kick that cold in no time.
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