Heading off to college is one of life’s most exhilarating experiences, and possibly also one of its most stressful. Incoming students are exposed to a host of new germs from all around the country and world, which can tax their immune systems. Add into that equation the adjustment to roommates, demands of coursework, new freedoms and frequent sleep deprivation, and overall health can suffer. Encourage these habits in your young adult children to help keep them healthier and happier for campus life.
- Wear flip flops in the shower to avoid athlete’s foot, which thrives in moist areas and is easily spread.
- Get a flu shot each season, and a meningitis vaccine before heading off to college. Avoid sharing beverages from the same container. Wash hands frequently, especially before eating.
- While grungy sheets never killed anybody, at least pack some extra pillow cases. Changing the pillow case will keep the bed fresher. Sometimes bed bugs will show up in dorms for no apparent reason (they are not brought on by dirt or bad housekeeping). In that event, launder all bedding in hot water to eliminate the critters.
- Keep things dry to avoid mold and mildew problems, which can aggravate the respiratory system and can be harmful to asthma sufferers. Don’t let wet clothes or towels lie around. Dry off bathroom surfaces. Use ventilation such as a portable fan.
- Get enough sleep. College students often think they are invulnerable when it comes to sleep, but fatigue taxes the immune system heavily. Avoid all-night study sessions whenever possible by creating disciplined study habits. Try not to take long naps in the afternoon or drink caffeine after supper, which will make it difficult to sleep at night.
- Don’t binge drink, which is not only dangerous, but has been proven to proportionately decrease grade point averages.
- Keep healthy snacks around the dorm to help avoid temptations for late-night fast food. Bad eating habits in college have been shown to increase the possibility of creating long-term health problems, not to mention adding excess weight.
- Call home. They miss you, too. A phone call to your folks may not keep you from catching the flu, but it can help stave off the common freshman-year virus known as homesickness.