The only thing keeping me alive today, besides the exorbitant amount of homework that still have to accomplish, has been Joe wrapping me in blankets, making me endless cups of tea and supplying me with an arsenal of Kleenex. God bless that man, I love him dearly. Especially because I've been cranky all day, and I look like this---------->
And anyone who will live with and support a crabby invalid (who resembles a possessed demon when photographed) deserves a medal. Or at least a pat on the back.
This happens to me every year. I'll be going strong for the first 4 or 5 weeks of school, getting things done on time, getting enough sleep, feeling a general sense of accomplishment and well-being. And then, just when I think everything is going smoothly, I am struck with some horrible cold or virus, knocked down from my productivity and thrown into a tumult of coughs, sneezes, chills, and NyQuil induced delusions. When I get sick, I get SICK.
So I thought I'd blog briefly (well, briefly for me), and provide my readers with a few tips on maintaining health during the seasonal change. Believe me, you don't want to be taking 20 credit hours, working, tutoring, writing a thesis, AND be battling an illness. It just makes for a very unpleasant experience.
1. "Everytime you shake someone's hand, wash yours." Okay, so we've been told to do this since preschool, but it still holds true! Germs are spread easiest from skin-to-skin contact, and just because we have immune systems doesn't mean we shouldn't practice hand washing. WASH YOUR HANDS PEOPLE! After bathroom visits, before and after meals, after you've been handling money, etc. Use anti-bacterial soap and hot water, and don't cut corners!
2. "Keep your hands off." This means avoid touching your nose and eyes, where it is easiest for germs to enter your body and infiltrate your immune system. I am guilty of itching my eyes often, because I wear contacts, and who doesn't itch their nose every once in a while? Wash your hands before inserting or removing contacts, and after blowing your nose. Duh.
3. "Go to bed." Being in college, I know that it is hard to get to sleep before midnight some nights. Make that most nights for me, or anyone else who's busy. But sleep is the most important thing in battling and recovering from a cold. Your body regenerates and heals itself while you sleep, so getting a good 8 hours (preferably more!) is key in staying healthy. So turn off those Glee episodes and get some shut-eye! Your roommates will thank you.
4. "Get your shot." Flu shots take 5 seconds, and you can get them almost anywhere these days. Medical clinics, health centers, hospitals, even drugstores like CVS and Walgreens offer flu shots for walk ins, and with most medical insurance providers they're FREE. Okay, I know that needles can be painful, but which would you rather deal with: 5 seconds of pain, or 3 weeks of sinus pressure and post-nasal drip? I'll take the shot.
5. "Build up with healthy food." I'm terrible when it comes to eating healthy. Mostly because I feel rushed all the time, and can't seem to find a balanced diet. But getting the proper nutrients into your body is important, and a well-nourished body can fight infections better than a body fueled by soda, frozen pizza, and Poptarts (take no offense if this is your regular diet). The food guide pyramid may seem like old news, but it's still helpful in determining what our bodies need to optimally function. Check it, yo.
6. "Work out." Our bodies need exercise to support and enhance regular immune function. Though I have a very strong aversion to physical activity, I know it's important, and my lack of exercise probably contributed to my current cold.
7. "Stay away." This means avoiding contact with people who are already sick. You don't have to ostracize those with a cough or a sneeze, just be wary. Even family and friends can pass on a cold, we don't strictly get sick from touching door handles and computer keyboards. Don't share utensils, food or drink, or personal items. Joe's already a goner because he lives with me, and has been within sneeze proximity. :(
8. "Sanitize yourself." Keep hand sanitizer nearby for instances where you can't wash your hands right away. Use an alcohol-based solution, as they kill germs more effectively. Teachers, we especially have to ritualize the sanitization, because working with students all day invites germs in droves.
9. "Another reason to quit." Okay, for me this doesn't apply, but if you smoke, STOP IT. Not only does it slowly fill your lungs with poisonous tar and who knows what else, it also changes respiratory structure and over time decreases immune response, according to a study conducted and published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in 2004.
10. "Did you just double-dip that chip?" Don't you dare double-dip. I don't want saliva mix with my salsa, and neither should you. If you're sick, don't share!
11. "Another reason to shop." Clothes and personal items can be breeding grounds for germs. Opt for bags that are easy to wipe down and sanitize, and for clothes that can be washed easily and frequently. Also, wipe down your cell-phone with a sanitizing wipe, as hand-held devices are often overlooked during sickness.
12. "Try to smile." Happiness can boost your immune system, and who doesn't like to be happy? Engage in activities that make you smile and laugh (I might recommend Monty Python's Flying Circus "Ministry of Silly Walks")
13. "No biting." Nail-biting is a great way to introduce germs to your mouth, and into your system. So sit on your hands or something. Don't bite.
14. "You want me to sneeze where?" As we were taught in elementary school, cover your coughs and sneezes. Aim for the crook of your elbow, where at least if you can't wash after, you won't be touching anything (unless you normally feel with your elbows...)
If you follow these 14 tips, I believe you will successfully evade any cold or illness. And if you do end up getting sick, drink LOTS of fluids, take it easy, get rest, and communicate with your friends, family, and teachers so they know you're recovering. I HATE missing class, because attendance is important, but if I do have to miss a day because of an illness, I always make sure my professors are informed so that I don't appear unaccountable. Usually, people are pretty willing to accommodate for an illness-related absence.
Please stay healthy everyone, because the alternative is quite unpleasant.