As sickness spreads, stick to the script

PAIGE LISTON | | Opinion Columnist

Cartoon by Audrey Meyer

Cartoon by Audrey Meyer

Between studying for exams and making time for an active social life, college students tend to forget about their personal health.

This is especially true now, at the beginning of the year, when some students are struggling to make the transition to college life.

Julie Howerton, director of health services at the Health and Recreation Complex, said it is always extremely important to give yourself some down time.

“Don’t feel like you have to over-run yourself 400 percent,” she said, “Self-select the events you feel you are able to attend and skip the ones you know would be unhealthy for you.”

If you think you are too sick to go to class, skip class that day. I am not encouraging ditching, but it is important to know your own limits. You don’t want the rest of your classmates to get sick, too.

If you are too tired and worn out from a long week, skip going out with your friends for the night. It is important to turn in and get necessary sleep.

Howerton said students can improve their health by continually making good decisions and looking out for their peers.

“We want a healthy campus, and the best way to make that happen is for students to be aware of their surroundings, particularly freshmen,” Howerton said. “Upperclassmen should help them to balance all their activities.”

Sophomore Kailey Eaton said she has seen diseases, such as the common cold and the flu, spread on a college campus, but she thinks it is the student’s responsibility to be proactive about these illnesses.

“Personally, I have been washing my hands more than normal, drinking a lot of water and getting extra sleep,” Eaton said, “We owe it to ourselves to keep our bodies healthy.”

I think living in close contact with other people, such as in a Greek house or a dorm, promotes the quick spread of illnesses. Being exposed to so many people makes it hard for our immune systems to adjust, especially if we aren’t making our health a top priority.

Washing your hands for a minimum of 20 seconds and getting extra sleep were just a couple tips Howerton offered. She also included keeping your diet strong, drinking plenty of fluids, being aware of where your hands are before you touch your face or mouth and considering fist bumping people as a form of greeting versus shaking hands, as silly as this may seem.

Finally, the most important thing for students to do if they feel they are getting sick is to visit the HRC and explain your symptoms to the staff.

“Dr. Fletcher and the entire staff are here to answer any kind of health questions you may have,” Howerton said. “We can even help with the transitional period of being away from home.”

The HRC is also offering free flu shots to students, staff and faculty as yet another step people can take to keep themselves healthy.

Although college life can be stressful and busy, students need to place their health as a top priority.

Leave nothing to chance and take all precautions to keep your body well.