Campus News

Christmas season can become sick season

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Deck the halls with boxes of Kleenex and bottles of Nyquil; ‘tis the season for coughing, sneezing, ear aches, sore throats and sinus congestion. Each year, sickness seems almost inevitable for Bethel College students, whose lifestyles often compromise their health. Between their dorm settings, late hours, exam stress and nutrient-lacking diets, many students  are losing the battle against germs. Fortunately, by implementing a few helpful hints, students can both prevent future illnesses and overcome present ones during this infamous season of sickness.
Although staying healthy can seem next to impossible in a college atmosphere, adopting a few healthful hints can can help students remain healthy through winter.
If anyone knows how to avoid illness in spite of a dorm setting, it’s Carol Bemis, who lived in Oakwood/Slater for 10 years alongside her resident director husband. Now, Bemis acts as the director of the Wellness Center and shares her knowledge of healthy living with students. “Coming to college for the first time, students are exposed to a multitude of people living in small spaces,” she said.  “Close quarters breed germs, and that - along with different eating and sleeping patterns - causes us to wear down our immunities.” Doctors everywhere agree with Bemis; maintaining strong immune systems is the best way to prevent illness. Students can use multivitamins, flu shots, hand washing, healthy diets and regular exercise to accomplish this, but there are a few lesser-known methods to boost immunity, as well. For example, as stress is one of the immune system’s greatest enemies, students should make a point to laugh with friends, listen to their favorite music, take occasional naps, and relax with some “Hulu” or a good book. “Singing actually helps you to stay healthy,” said senior Shane Miller. “It increases your oxygen flow, which helps out your immune system and your brain.  Sickness can be very psychological, so laugh and enjoy time with friends. That goes a long way.” In addition, Bethel will be hosting  its annual De-Stress Fest on Friday, Dec. 9. This pre-finals festivity allows students to enjoy relaxing movies, Christmas treats and even complimentary massages. But even if students catch a bug despite this relaxing routine, implementing a few tricks can reduce the time spent under the weather. "My mom has me trained to take Zicam nasal spray that supposedly helps you get over your cold faster,” said freshman Rebekah Witzig. “I also try to drink green tea and get extra rest if possible.” Bemis encourages all students to come to the Wellness Center so that the nurse can confirm the illness and put them on the road to recovery as quickly as possible. To those who are then deemed contagious, she says it’s best to keep germs to oneself; going to classes and social outings should be put on hold for a little while. When it’s a roommate who’s caught something, students adopt various methods of “caretaking” - some sympathetic, some not. "I quarantine them by voting them out of the dorm with a house majority – it cannot by vetoed,” said Zach Castillo. “I mother my poor roommate by trying to help her get better,” said sophomore Danielle Carden. “I do try to be wise at the same time because I don't want to get sick either. Though I think you can be caring towards your roommate and manage to keep from getting it yourself.” Bemis agrees, although she advises roommates to nurture from afar. “Stay  six feet away from the germy one,” she said. “Make sure your roommate is drinking lots of fluids (water especially) which will wash the bug out. If they cannot get out and about, you could pick up a meal from the Dining Commons (they can do this by arranging with the DC to bring their ID card and swiping for them) and make sure they are eating. Just ask, the sick one can tell you what they need or want.” Although staying healthy can seem next to impossible in a college atmosphere, adopting a few healthful hints can go a long way to keeping illness at bay. Between holiday plans, finals week and Christmas parties, this busy season is really nothing to sneeze at.              
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