Staying Healthy at the End of the Semester

We’ve all been there. It’s the last two weeks before winter break, professors are running out of assignments to assign, students are hustling to get their late homework finished and cram for finals. It’s a stressful time! Through all this, the most important thing you can do for yourself is to stay healthy, inside and out. If your body isn’t performing to the best of its ability, how are you supposed to slay your final exams? Sometimes physical illness starts with your mind. If you have a lot going on in your social life, work more than one job, and are struggling with the semester it’s easy to get stressed. Stress can lead to a lowered immune system and various mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and more. So as we’re wrapping up the fall semester here at UAF, I thought it would be nice to write a bit about what I do to stay healthy as well as what I haven’t done but is good to keep in mind.

Let me start by saying that I’ve been bullied by a cold for the last week. I ran out of water at my dry cabin one night and was dehydrated by the time I could pick up some more in the morning. That mixed with the stress of school stuff, work stuff, and social struggles was the perfect storm that led to headaches, sore muscles, stuffy/runny nose, and a cough. I didn’t take care of myself and had to miss some school and work while recovering. This of course made things more stressful and much harder to get better and power through the end of the semester. One thing I did to help get my immune system going again was to drink a mug of hot Emergen-C every morning. I then started drinking about a gallon of water a day on top of that. Thinking that maybe I haven’t been getting the vitamins my body needs, I went out of my way to eat more fruits and vegetables. Getting plenty of sleep is also a huge part of it. If you’re not turning your body to sleep mode every night, it has a hard time doing the behind the scenes work that doesn’t happen while you’re awake and moving.

What I should have done differently, however, could have prevented me from catching a cold at all! What I didn’t do was take care of my mental health. I wasn’t as organized as I could have been to keep up on school assignments. I wasn’t getting all the sleep I should have been. Because it was not fun to deal with, I set my stress aside and focused on the enjoyable aspects of my day to day. If I had taken the time to practice breathing, make a day by day schedule for myself, and know my limits when it comes to what all I can cram into my life, I probably would have had a better time. Another service I forgot to take advantage of is the health and counseling center. There are counselors available to talk with students, help resolve major stressors, and just listen. I’ve never utilized that service, but each student has 5 free counseling appointments per semester included in their Health and Counseling fee, so I might as well. They can address any issue from family drama, work/school stress, seasonal affective disorder, relationship issues, homesickness, or whatever else is keeping you down. I’m not blaming my sickness on school and work, I’m just admitting that if I were to keep myself healthier, the end of my semester probably would have been more enjoyable. 

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