How to: Stay healthy and prevent sickness before finals week.

By: Kirstina Bolton

With finals creeping around the corner and hours of study time and sleep depravation to be conquered, it is important to know that our bodies need to be taken care of. Even after the flu-shots, there are still many ways to get sick before finals, and here are some tips to avoid it.

1. Sanitize: The Student Health Center has seen a number of cases just before finals, ranging from the common cold to more serious illnesses. Because of the likelihood of catching a sickness in stressful situations, their office has prepackaged brown paper health bags filled with remedies for illnesses like the cold and flu. These packages include cough drops, packets of over-the-counter medication like ibuprofen, and tiny, one-time-use thermometer strips.

However, according to Wood, the first and most important step students can take to prevent illnesses is to make sure they wash their hands and sanitize the areas they are working on.

“Germs are on all surfaces so if they’re careful and carry hand sanitizer, just doing that on desktops, that’s the most important thing,” Wood said.

Wood also encourages the simple act of washing your hands.

“The single most effective way of avoiding germs and getting sick is hand washing,” said Gidget Wood, director of the Student Health Center. “Frequent hand washing, not just when they go to the bathroom.”

2. Get your nutrients: Nursing professor Catherine Heinlein teaches nutrition to her students.

“There’s no magic bullet to delay getting sic because if you’re under stress, that may create an opportunity for illness,” Heilein said. “That’s why eating healthy is important, not junk foods.”

She focuses on eating nutrient-dense foods over calorie-dense foods. She also encourages students to avoid mindless eating.

“When students overeat as a result of stress and a kind of mindless eating, you wonder if that’s going to affect their sleep pattern,” Heinlein said.

With the campus eateries, it is suggested that one should pick a lot of variety and simple menu items.

“The more variety on the menu or food choices, the better, “ Heinlein said. “Go with the least problematic menu items like baked chicken, and then go with whole grain breads and fresh fruit.”

Heinlein emphasized an importance to also stay hydrated.

“Keep hydrated, and that doesn’t include coffee,” Heinlein said. “If they’re going to drink coffee, it is good to chase it with water.”

Another overlooked aspect of healthy living is drinking alcohol out of moderation.

“Alcohol will absolutely impair your sleep pattern,” Heinlein said. “It is not a nutrient, it is a toxin, and it will definitely impede your study habits.”

3. Sleep: According to senior biology major and the starting midfielder for the APU Men’s Soccer team, Ashkon Banihashemi, sleep is the most important thing to stay on top of your game for finals.

“I get around 7-8 hours of sleep,” Banihashemi said. “Health-wise, I feel like sleep is the most important thing because you are so much more susceptible to illness and stuff. Although you want to do your homework and study for your tests, sleep is massive.”

Banihashemi also knows the importance of sleep before his finals and soccer games.

“I know that for me, if I sleep 6 hours one night, my body knows it and it’s almost like a bank account, where if I take money out, I got to put it back in,” Banihashemi said.

Heinlein suggests getting at least five hours of sleep during a hectic schedule, but more is always better. As a graduate student, she knows the fine line between needing sleep and needing to study.

“Personally speaking, I will tend to be really hard on myself as a lot of students will, but I sacrificed my grade to take sleep,” Heinlein said.

It doesn’t matter how you prioritize these steps. Just know that when finals come around, it is important to also take care of yourself as well as your class work.

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