With all the excitement surrounding the first year of college, many students (myself included), put their health and well-being in the back seat. Now, after having gone through two bouts with the flu, a strained abdominal muscle, and more Kleenex tissues than you can imagine, I know better.
Staying healthy at school is about more than avoiding the “freshman 15,” although I’ll talk about that later. You have to remember that you’ll be living in a dorm setting, and that means you’ll come into contact with people’s germs on a daily basis.
The most important thing you can do is something Mommy taught us all those years ago: Wash your hands! Washing your hands regularly gets rid of all the nasty stuff floating around dorms, classrooms, and dining halls.
Another trick is to dump out your trash frequently. Dorm rooms can be so small, and having your dirty tissues close by is not conducive to good health. It’s always a good idea to clean your desk, computer, and any area you touch repeatedly with a disinfectant wipe.
While this may sound mean, keep your sick friends away from your stuff! If your buddy or girlfriend is hacking up a lung while sitting on your bed, you can guarantee you’ll be next in line to get sick. Try to hang out in open areas where there is plenty of breathing room, and explain to your friend why you’re seeking distance. They’ll understand.
Now to the most talked about phenomenon in college, the “freshman 15” Can you really gain 15 pounds in your first year of school? Absolutely you can. Can it be avoided? You bet. First, don’t be tempted by the smorgasbord of pizza, cupcakes, and burgers you’ll see every day. Instead, go for veggies, grains, and lean meats, treating yourself to junk food one day a week.
Second, remember to exercise. Almost any school will have a gym or recreational facility open to students so they can keep in shape and de-stress throughout the year. But guys beware! If you’re a newbie to weightlifting, don’t be intimidated by the sea of meatheads benching 500 pounds around you. You might end up over-training and be hurting yourself, like, for example, straining your abdominal (Woops!). Also, don’t neglect the benefit of exercise on relieving tension and getting those endorphins running. College can be extremely stressful, many essays have been written on the subject, but getting out for an hour to run, play some ball, or lift weights can help clear your mind and get some control over your responsibilities.
Finally, remember to rest! It’s so tempting to stay up until 2 AM socializing, but it’ll really hurt your performance during class the next morning. Try to create a routine so your body gets used to going to bed at a reasonable hour. That way, you’ll feel better, be ten times more productive, and still have time left over to hang out with friends.
All these little tips can make a difference when it comes to preventing illness at college and keeping your stress under control. As long as you use common sense and keep you and your surroundings clean, you can make the most out of your first year, using your cash for a cup of coffee rather than another bottle of Nyquil.