By Michelle Lampariello
During the winter months, catching the “TCNJ plague,” or an illness going around campus, seems inevitable. Despite conditions that may put students at risk for getting sick, it is preventable if students make health a priority.
Germs spread easily when people live in relatively crowded spaces, and life in a dorm is conducive to illness, unfortunately. Sharing bedrooms, bathrooms and common areas, such as lounges and community kitchens, provide plenty of shared surfaces for germs to wait for their next victim.
Once a few students fall ill, going to eateries, classes and activities gives the germs they carry the chance to spread throughout the campus. This semester was no exception, as sickness quickly transferred through housemates, classmates and teammates.
Sometimes it seem as though the TCNJ plague is a force that cannot be stopped. While the battle against illness in the winter months may be difficult, it is one that students can win if they make health an important aspect of their daily lives.
There is almost nothing you can do to prevent a roommate, friend or significant other from becoming sick. However, whether or not you catch the bug is controllable.
If people that you live with have fallen ill, make it a point to wipe down surfaces as well as sanitize or avoid touching shared items. Although it may be hard, spend less time with them than you normally would.
If a friend becomes sick, help them out by bringing them food or medicine, not by staying in their dorm to watch a movie with them.
Take preventative measures such as eating a healthy diet with extra Vitamin C, which, according to the Center for Disease Control, can “slightly reduce the length and severity of colds.”
Staying active is also important. However, the gym can be a great place for germs to lurk. So, remember to wipe down equipment both before and after you use it.
College students also tend to be more susceptible to illness due to their busy schedules and stereotypically poor sleeping habits. Especially if you are already feeling under the weather, practicing self-care instead of spending a night out with friends may be the difference between getting through the day painlessly and sitting through your 8 a.m. class with a pounding congestion headache.
Try to get at least eight hours of sleep each night, and make time for rest in between classes, activities and time with friends. While it may not be practical to take a nap each day, it is beneficial to not constantly run from activity to activity. Try to get into a routine that balances responsibilities with your social life that still allows for down time.
The word “plague” implies that illness on campus is a much stronger force than it is. By taking both proactive and reactive measures to combat the spread of germs, it is possible to stay healthy.
Try taking time out of your schedule to wipe down a doorknob, make a salad instead of grabbing a cheeseburger or to go to bed just a little bit earlier. This could be all it takes to prevent yourself from catching the TCNJ plague.