This autumn and winter are set to bring the biggest flu season on record, a study from the University of Hong Kong reveals. For over a year, people have generally not been exposed to the usual flu viruses, which means they may be more susceptible to them once university starts back up. While it’s not always completely possible to avoid catching the flu, there are a number of preventative measures you can take to stay healthy during your first term at university.
How to avoid flu and stay healthy.
Staying clean is one of the best things you can do to avoid getting sick. After first leaving home and starting university, it’s not uncommon for students to get lazy and neglect basic personal hygiene practices. However, these are essential to avoid picking up unwanted germs and viruses. So, get in the habit of washing your hands as often as possible. This doesn’t just mean only after visiting the bathroom; you also need to wash your hands after touching shared surfaces. Be sure to also prioritize hygiene in the kitchen. Always wipe surfaces with antibacterial spray before and after use and wash dish towels often. A good cleaning schedule will help create a clean and healthy campus environment. You may also find it useful to carry a pocket-sized bottle of antibacterial hand gel to use when visiting communal areas like dining halls, lectures, libraries, or computer rooms to keep germs and bacteria at bay.
For many students, alcohol plays a key role in the Freshers’ Week experience. While it’s fine to enjoy yourself, it’s also important to drink responsibly and stay mindful of your limits. Drinking responsibly will keep you safe and healthy and better protect your immune system. For example, mixing drinks makes it more difficult to keep track of how many you’ve had, so aim to consume only one or two different types of alcohol. It’s also important to drink a glass of water after every two alcoholic drinks. Before you start drinking, eating a substantial nutritious meal will help you avoid a hangover the following day. And, after getting home, head to bed with some aspirin and at least two pints of water to keep yourself hydrated.
Don’t stress yourself out
Starting university is naturally an exciting time, but it can also come with a lot of stress — and stress weakens the immune system, which leaves you more vulnerable to becoming ill. It’s therefore important to prioritize your mental health and take time out when you need it. And, try not to actually worry too much about catching the flu. Keep things in perspective: if you do get sick, you’ll just rest up in bed and binge-watch Netflix for a few days until you’re ready to rejoin in the fun again.
Flu is sometimes an unavoidable consequence of meeting lots of new people and regular nights out. By taking care of your physical and mental health, you can keep your immune system in excellent shape and make the most of your time at university.