Thanks to the Polar Vortex, Florida has been experiencing winter for the first time in many years. Luckily, most of us missed the snow (if you hadn’t heard, it snowed.) However, the colder temperatures and weather mood-swings probably took a toll on your immune system, and as busy college students, we don’t have time for trivial things like the flu. Keep yourself healthy and boost your immune system with these simple sickness-prevention tips.
3 Easy Steps to Prevent Getting Sick
Treat your body well.
- Eat well. Maintain a diet with adequate protein, zinc and vitamins A, C and E. Protein defends the body against disease and powers the immune system, while zinc helps keep the immune system running. Vitamin A regulates the immune system, while vitamins C and E help to boost and improve immune function
- Stay hydrated. Dehydration can negatively impact the immune system and the transfer of nutrients throughout the body. Choose water over sugary or caffeinated drinks, and make sure you are drinking enough throughout the day.
- Exercise.Being physically active can boost your immune system and improve your physical and mental health. However, overdoing your workouts can lead to additional fatigue or sickness. If you’re feeling under the weather keep your activities at a low to moderate effort.
- Sleep. There is a reason you feel run down after an all-nighter. Lack of sleep can significantly decrease your immune system. Aim to get 7 – 9 hours of sleep each night.
- Relax. Increased stress levels can decrease the immune system. Take a break and do something you find relaxing or enjoyable. Go for a walk outside, attend a meditation workshop or try a yoga class.
- Wash your hands thoroughly and often. The CDC recommends washing your hands many times throughout the day for at least 20 seconds at a time. To keep track of the seconds, they recommend humming the “Happy Birthday” song twice while I recommend singing the chorus of “Oops… I Did It Again”. To each their own.
- Disinfect your electronics regularly. Your cellphone has about as many germs as a toilet seat. Chances are, you clean your toilet seat, but when was the last time you cleaned your cell phone? Keep your phone in a case and wash the case with warm soap and water at least once a week. TV remotes, gaming controllers, and keyboards are also breeding grounds for bacteria. I recommend using Lysol or Clorox disinfectant wipes. Squeeze out extra liquid before wiping down any electronics, and do not use disinfectant wipes containing bleach.
- Avoid touching your face with your hands and phone. Germs are easily spread through our eyes and nose. Turn the volume up and talk with your phone at a safe distance from your mouth.
- Cough into your sleeve, NOT YOUR HANDS. If you cough into your hands you will transmit your cold and flu germs onto everything you touch. If you cough into your sleeve the germs will get trapped in the fabric and die. Poor germs, healthy you.
- Don’t share drinks, utensils, or even cell phones. We’ve always learned it’s nice to share, but not colds! During flu season keep your things to yourself, including germs.
Get a flu shot!
- The flu shot is the best way to stay protected against the flu. The shot is preventative and will do nothing for you if you are already sick, so plan ahead. USF Student Health Services offers FREE flu shots to all students. Yes, FREE! Why haven’t you gotten one yet? Walk-ins are welcome 10 am – 3 pm Tuesday – Friday, or ask your provider for one at your next appointment. Visit their website at http://www.shs.usf.edu/
- Not a USF student? Check out your campus’s Student Health Services, and ask about the flu vaccine.
If you’re already sick you’ll need to slow down to speed up recovery time. Follow these three rules to help your body fight off that sickness, and watch this to cheer you up!
- Stay hydrated.
- Eat well.