By Alexandra Tollefson
With all the talk of Ebola finally dying down, it’s now time to focus on the more pressing health issues of our area. Namely, the common cold and the flu. The semester is almost done and everyone knows how easy it can be to just let things slide for a while. We tend to not pay attention to health as closely. It’s an easy thing to do, but it’s something that can really affect us, too.
Being sick can affect how well we perform in our courses or whether or not we make it to work. It can even end up causing us to cancel social plans. The bottom line is this: staying healthy is important.
I talked with a handful of freshmen students to ask about what they were doing to keep themselves from falling ill. Not surprisingly, most of them said they weren’t taking any extra measures, if any at all. There were a few who said that they used hand sanitizer, but that was it.
Taking some steps to stay healthy is better than taking no steps at all. However, there are plenty of easy things that anyone can do without worrying about too much extra time or hassle.
First and foremost, wash your hands. I know that’s what everyone always says, but it really is true. Even the CDC (Center for Disease Control) recommends it. They argue that it isn’t just good for you, but for the people around you. How many times a day do you touch your face, nose, mouth or eyes without even realizing it?
“Especially girls,” my friend, Sarah, a freshman, pointed out. “What with all the make-up fixes that need to be made and the tugging at our hair and stuff.”
Doing this can transfer the germs from your hands to an easy opening into the body.
Furthermore, when you go around opening the doors in each of the buildings or using a handrail on any of the staircases, all of the germs accumulated on that surface will transfer to your hands as well. Washing them with warm soap and water is all it takes to keep any potentially harmful germ from making its way inside you.
While some complain that washing their hands dries out skin, it is worth mentioning that the best time to apply lotion is when the skin is still moist. So, instead of drying your hands all the way, simply apply lotion instead. Two birds, one stone.
Another tip I have personally noticed isn’t used by everyone is to cover coughs or sneezes. Doing so is not only courteous, but preventive. By covering it up, you prevent any germs from spreading from your mouth to another surface.
Sneezes in particular can be harmful. They can travel up to one hundred miles an hour, and the wet spray can span five whole feet. That’s a lot of ground being covered by germs in a quick amount of time. If you see someone not covering up their cough or sneeze, please politely ask them to. They are potentially getting you sick by not doing so.
Finally, getting enough sleep and keeping a healthy diet can help stave off sickness, too. Go to bed an hour early if you aren’t feeling up to another late night. Your body will appreciate it. And maybe instead of that piece of pumpkin pie, good as it may be, grab an orange instead. Foods that are rich in vitamins C and E help keep the body’s immune system in tip-top shape. Examples of these foods are peanuts, almonds, green peppers, oranges, and broccoli. Substitute these kinds of foods for something that’s high in sugar, since excessive sugar can impair the immune’s system ability to respond to the body’s needs.
Overall, using common sense can keep most people healthy this winter. As long as we remember to take some extra caution, and follow the aforementioned tips on staying healthy, everyone should be able to have happy holidays.