By Becky Bando, 4th year Con-Ed/English student
November — the month of nonstop essays, reports, presentations, exams, and studying. But most importantly, it is also the month of nonstop colds as students focus more on their academics than on taking care of themselves. It is absolutely the worst feeling to be sick during one of the most chaotic months of school when it is crucial to be at your healthiest. Yes — I am currently sitting in my pajamas in a bed of tissues with a bright red nose as I am typing this blog, so I am feeling a little salty. But believe it or not, while I was sick for what felt like every month last year during school, this is the first time that I have gotten sick this semester (and I have a roommate who is constantly sick). I have made it a goal this year to do more things that will prevent me from getting sick, and so I have decided to write this blog to help both of us.
Most common causes of colds
While most students assume they only catch their colds from other people, there are several other causes of colds that are under the radar as school often distracts students from making more of an effort to stay healthy. Here are some of the more popular causes of colds that you may be unaware of, and some tips to counter these causes:
- Dehydration: If you are ever feeling thirsty, it means that you are already a little dehydrated. You have probably heard people say that the minimum you should be drinking each day is eight 8-ounce glasses. While it can be difficult, and even annoying, to make a habit of drinking more water, you can start by drinking an extra glass with each meal. Every little bit counts! Water helps with not just staying hydrated, but it also improves your skin, increases brain power/energy, and helps prevent headaches.
- Lack of sleep: For me, if I go three days without getting at least 7 ½ hours of sleep one night, there is a 100% guarantee I will be sick. We spend a third of our lives sleeping, and this is for a very good reason — the other two thirds of our life would not feel as good without sleep! I know that as students, we at times feel as if we have too much work to get the proper amount of sleep. But getting a good night’s sleep can make our brains feel more alert, which will help us finish homework quicker.
- Lack of nutrition: As a child, your mom probably told you to eat your fruits and vegetables every day so that you grow. Well, eating healthy food items are also said to strengthen your immune system and protect you from colds. It is especially important in the winter to eat healthy as we don’t get as much vitamin D due to the absence of the sun. So, try to have a fruit or a salad with each of your meals!
- Lack of cleanliness: This is a pretty obvious cause of colds, but it is one of the most difficult causes to escape! Germs are everywhere, but one of the most dangerous germ-infested places you should know about are libraries. During exam season, libraries are open for 24 hours a day, meaning that those desks are barely ever given a chance to be cleaned. That coffee stain that’s on your desk could have potentially already been there for a week! This is why it is important to make sure you frequently wash your hands and clean your keyboard.
- Chronic stress: We all have our stressful days, but long periods of stress can take a toll on our bodies, making it harder for them to protect our immune system. Stress can also distract us from avoiding the four previously mentioned causes of colds. Even though November is busy, you should take a bit of time each day to relax, whether it’s going to the gym or watching a movie. You can learn more about how to manage your stress here: https://sass.queensu.ca/stress/
Along with the tips mentioned above, here are some more preventative strategies:
- LYSOL WIPES: Next time you work at the library, bring some disinfecting Lysol wipes. You might receive a few judgemental looks from the people around you, but I’m sure they’ll understand once they see your Lysol wipe change colour after cleaning your desk.
- BE PROACTIVE: The moment you start feeling sneezy in the morning, treat yourself as if you were actually sick. When this happens to me, I’ll drink a cup of NeoCitrin in the morning and use a Neti Pot to clear out my nasal passages. Some common homemade remedies that other people use include herbal tea and lemon-ginger tea brewed on the stove and served with honey.
What to do when you catch a cold
In addition to continuing the same strategies that are supposed to help prevent a cold, here are a few more to help you when you do catch a cold.
- Relax: Sickness is a way for your body to tell you to slow down and take better care of yourself. Normally the more you resist these warning signs, the sicker you will get and the longer it will last. Take some time for yourself to relax and recover.
- Drink lots of water: Water will only make you feel better. I like to think of it as flushing the sickness out of my system.
- Diaper Rash Cream: It is the most embarrassing thing to go out in public after you have been blowing your nose for the past two days. My nose turns bright red, and sometimes, sore skin will start peeling around my nose, making it impossible to hide. Gross! So even though diaper rash cream was originally meant for babies, I think it is the best hack for curing a sore nose! Put some on your nose each night and wake up in the morning with rejuvenated skin.
Being sick is a pain, and so I hope these tips will help you stay healthy and get through the month of November. It has been a few days since I started writing this blog and luckily my cold only lasted two days!
Photo courtesy of Queen’s University under Flickr Creative Commons Attribution license 2.0.