Midterm Germs

I’ve got some pretty exciting news…. deep breath… you’re halfway done with the semester, Scots!

To some of you that might bring great relief, knowing that you’re halfway done and before long you’ll have a few weeks of rest, relaxation and celebration, but to others the thought of the semester being done might be completely terrifying. For me, since a lot of my classes are working on semester-long papers or research assignments, I’m leaning towards the idea of “What!? My time is halfway gone already?!?”

Something to keep in mind now that your stress levels are climbing and temperatures are dropping… cold and flu season is almost upon us and most of will catch the “Alma plague” sooner or later. Avoiding a cold or the flu is a little bit different when you live on a residential college campus (and unfortunately, quite a bit more difficult to avoid as well).

Even though I can’t say I am a champ at avoiding it (it’s actually had me out for the count for the past few days!!), here are some tips I’ve acquired to help you come out on top:

1)   Stay clean!  Here at Alma, staying clean is more than washing your hands. It’s washing your body, washing your clothes, washing your bedding… even cleaning as in cleaning your room and bathroom (if you’re on South Campus – North Campus people don’t have to worry about this thanks to fantastic housekeepers!). Every day or two, take out the disinfecting wipes/spray and wipe down surfaces, door handles, faucets… really anything you tend to touch on a daily basis. Do your laundry! Your favorite sweatshirt that you may not like to wash (you know, the one that still has the new-sweatshirt soft feeling on the inside) may have been exposed to the flu in the library the other day and you wouldn’t even know it. The longer it sits in your basket the better chance of other clothes being infected and, inevitably, you getting sick sooner rather than later. Be clean; it’s a good life rule.

2)   Keep your vitamin levels high.  A few good ways to maintain high levels in vitamins are eating fruits and vegetables, drinking lots of fruit juices and getting some sun exposure every day. By keeping your vitamin levels up, your immune system will also be stronger and will be able to fight off infections and illnesses easier. Getting outside may not always be the easiest to work into your day, but even something as simple as grabbing your homework and doing it outside, even for just 10 or 15 minutes, will help in the long run.

3)   Get sleep! While students joke that Alma is one of the most sleep-deprived colleges, it is true that college students get far less sleep than needed to function properly and fight off disease. I’m not saying get 8 hours of sleep every single night, but if you typically get 5… I’m challenging you to try to get 6 or even 7 a few nights a week. You’ll find yourself feeling better, trust me!

4)   Exercise. Studies have shown that getting out, working out and shedding some sweat for awhile is a great way to burn stress and keep your immune system boosted and able to fight off the flu. Stone Rec is open Monday—Thursday 5 a.m.–11 p.m – Friday 5 a.m.–9 p.m. – Saturday 10 a.m.–9 p.m. and Sunday 1 p.m.–11 p.m. Just be sure to clean your machine before and after use to avoid those germs!

5)   Open your windows. With the heat now being turned on in buildings, our rooms will be extremely hot and dry. Germs flourish in those types of conditions so open your windows and let some fresh air in every once in awhile. I like to leave mine open while I’m in class so that I am not around if it gets very cold.

6)   Bundle up! I know campus isn’t huge, but walking to class in a T-shirt and sandals when it is in the 30s is not a good decision. I hope everyone has boots, coats, hats, scarves and gloves on campus because snow is in the forecast for this week!

7)   Get a Flu Shot (Optional) I won’t convince everyone to get a flu shot—the choice is yours—but do your research. If you think a flu shot will be beneficial for you, go for it. It comes in many forms, so if you don’t like actual shots, a nose swab might be the answer for you. Some people don’t believe in getting shots, and that’s fine with me; just be sure to be paying extra attention to the other steps above!

Whatever it is that you do to help you fight off colds and flu, be sure to share those tips with your friends and roommates. The people you spend the most time around are the people you will share sicknesses with. If they have the same germ-killing routines as you, the chances of all of you avoiding some germs will be even better.

Though we are halfway to the end of the semester, we are just entering cold and flu season. Be sure you are aware of the resources on and around campus if you do happen to find yourself feeling under the weather.

Feeling stressed? The Counseling and Wellness Center is always available with some de-stressing activities, and a friendly staff who is available to talk you through your stress. Walk on down and stop in or set up an appointment by calling (989) 463-7225.

Feeling sick? The Wilcox Medical Center (aka, the Med Shed) is the place to go. A full-time nurse and physician’s assistant staff it at all times and can help with injury, illness, chronic pain, physicals or any other medical issue you may have. Call (989) 463-7181 to make an appointment. (However, if it is an emergency and you need medical attention very quickly – please call 911.)

“But it’s after 5? I can’t wait till tomorrow morning with this sore throat. ” If it is after regular business hours for the Med Shed, there are two other local options. If it is before 8 p.m. or happens to be a weekend or a holiday then you might try visiting the MidMichigan Urgent Care (Alma Location) which is just a few minutes away – located at 321 E. Warwick Drive Alma, MI 48801. If it is after 8 p.m., and it is very urgent, you always have the Emergency Department at MidMichigan Health hospital, just across the street from urgent care.

Take care of yourself, get some sleep, and good luck with the rest of your semester!





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