It’s flu season, so you should protect yourself from the flu by getting a flu shot. It seems simple, but a surprisingly large number of people are avoiding the vaccine. The discomfort caused by the momentary pinch of a needle is minute compared to the discomfort caused by a fever, achy muscles, sore joints, chills, headaches and a cough; a week in bed and out of class feels like a vacation only until it ends and the struggle to catch up on five days of missed material begins. But even if the flu shot really isn’t your cup of tea, here are a couple of helpful hints to strengthen your immune system and avoid being plagued by the virus:
- Wash your hands frequently. A study done at University of California, Berkeley showed that students who sat in front of their laptops for a three hour period touched their faces an average of 47 times (that’s once every four minutes). So germs have 47 opportunities to infiltrate your body while you innocently catch up on that episode of Gossip Girl you missed, check Facebook and edit a draft of your Core paper. Another experiment, conducted at the University of Colorado, found that putting hand sanitizer dispensers in dorms lowered students’ chances of getting sick by 20 percent. Students using the dispensers missed 43 percent fewer days of class compared to the students living in dorms without the dispensers.
- Sleep. It’s no secret that getting lots of sleep correlates with a healthy and happy immune system. Research conducted at Carnegie Mellon University supports this theory. Carnegie Mellon’s research found that students averaging less than seven hours of sleep per night had a risk of contracting the flu that was three times greater than those students who averaged more than seven hours each night.
- Eat right. Loading up on those fruits and vegetables may sound like just another piece of nagging advice from your mother, but a study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that “we must remain committed to consuming a variety of vegetables and fruit as part of a plant-food–based diet.”
So, if you want to stay happy and healthy this cold and flu season, remember to: get a flu shot, wash your hands often, use hand sanitizer, eat right and get plenty of sleep. Do it for yourself and for the rest of the Scripps community. I think I speak on behalf of us all when I say that nobody wants our campus invaded by bugs.