Let’s face it – from a wellness perspective, college dorm rooms are a recipe for disaster. Throw a couple hundred stressed-out, overworked kids together in close quarters, add in winter weather, ancient heating systems, and poor ventilation, and before you know it, you have a virtual breeding ground for colds, flu, viruses, and every other kind of illness you can imagine.
Add to this the fact that most college students can’t afford the luxury of a long recovery period. With tightly packed academic schedules, a truckload of due dates and deadlines, and four or five not-so-sympathetic professors breathing down your neck, a serious bout of illness can really throw you off your game.
The very best way to prevent illness from derailing your semester is to try to avoid getting sick in the first place. If you live in the Petri dish known as a dorm room, this can be difficult – but according to top health experts, it can be done with a bit of advance planning and attention to detail. Here are some tips to help you stay germ-free this semester.
*Become slightly obsessive about germs. Your first line of defense against illness is preventing the little suckers from invading your immune system. Start up a strict regimen of washing your hands, refusing to share utensils or glasses, and keeping your stuff separate from your friends’ and roommates’ possessions. Sure, your friends might make fun of you for being a germaphobe, but you’ll get the last laugh when you’re not struggling through final exams with a killer case of strep throat.
*Focus on health-boosting behaviors. College is all about cutting loose and having fun, but on many campuses, health nuts and wellness enthusiasts are tres chic these days. Even if you like to party from time to time, try to stick to a sensible regimen on most weekdays. Things like a healthy diet, regular exercise, vitamins, and sufficient sleep will all help boost your immune system and reduce your risk of catching a cold.
*It’s better to be impolite than to be sick. If one of your friends comes down with the bug from hell, keep your distance. If your lab partner has a hacking cough and won’t cover her mouth, say something about it. If your roommate won’t stop taking sips out of your drink, threaten bodily harm. It’s not rude to vigorously defend your right to be germ-free.
*If all else fails, dedicate yourself to a rapid recovery. Despite your most valiant efforts, a pesky virus or persistent cold bug might still make it through your defenses and overthrow your immune system. As soon as you realize you’re sick, don’t fight it. Instead, shift into maximum rest and recovery mode. A day of uninterrupted bed rest is better than a week of dragging around campus feeling like something that the cat dragged in. Don’t forget to take advantage of the reduced-cost medical services that most college clinics make available to students.
How do you plan to avoid the plague on campus? Have any of your friends had problems with chronic colds in the dorms? Give us your horror stories and germ-evasion strategies in the comments.
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