From the Hilbert College Wellness Center
by Kirsten Falcone, RN
It’s mid-December, and you’re looking forward to your semester break. Congratulations! But, because of the considerable stress most students endure at the end of the semester, they are often more susceptible to illness during the holidays. It is a bummer to be sick during the best time of the year. Here are some tips to help you fight off holiday illness:
- Maintain proper hygiene by washing hands frequently, avoiding touching your face, and covering your sneezes and coughs.
- Drink enough water. Try to drink at least 64 to 96 ounces (or more) per day or the equivalent of four to six 16-ounce bottles of water, or eight to 12 8-ounce glasses of water.
- Manage your stress by not over-scheduling, sticking to a budget for gifts and entertainment, and avoiding negativity, e.g., watching too much TV news, letting a negative relative influence you, negative self-talk.
- Catch up on your sleep by going to bed at the same time each night. After all, you won’t have to study for any tests! Try to get at least seven to nine hours of sleep each night.
- Stay warm and dry, and dress in layers.
- Eat healthfully, and avoid too many sweets. It is okay to take only one cookie or to save room for your favorite dessert, and forego having a slice of each one. Also, when you are consuming a large meal, eat your veggies first.
- Exercise wisely. It might be safe to go for a walk each day, but then again, there could be ice or snow in your way. Use proper footwear, or exercise indoors. Even in the winter months, exercise is important to maintain a healthy body and brain, and it keeps your immune system strong.
- Don’t smoke. Smoking exacerbates respiratory illnesses, and it lowers resistance to illness and disease. If you smoke, it is pertinent to your long-term health to quit now. You will never regret that decision!
- Be wise when drinking alcohol. Drinking alcohol is generally not healthful. In fact, the only alcohol recognized as beneficial is one glass (five ounces) of red wine per day for women (two for men). If you do happen to drink beyond what is considered healthful, here are some guidelines to follow: One drink per hour is all your liver can metabolize. In order to maintain fluid levels, drink eight ounces of water per hour also. (In addition, this will help ward off a hangover the next day.) Don’t binge drink, which is defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) as imbibing five or more drinks for men, or four or more drinks for women, in a two-hour period.
- Down time. Make certain this involves praying, listening to music you enjoy, thinking positive thoughts, a hobby you love, and/or spending time with someone you enjoy.
- Be a blessing to others. Remember, holiday time is not all about you. The more you give of yourself, the more blessed and healthy you will be. So go caroling, visit an old friend or a nursing home, smile at and hug your negative relatives, and go to church. Do something good for someone else. Spiritual health and physical health are not two separate entities; they complement each other.
For more information on managing your health during the holidays, visit these Web sites:
CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/family/holiday/
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA): http://niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/special-populations-co-occurring-disorders/college-drinking
The Wellness Center wishes you a very healthy and happy Holiday Season and New Year!