Healthy Buffs: Four steps to staying healthy this spring

Viruses like the common cold can last 7-10 days, meaning symptoms like a stuffy nose, body aches, fatigue and a sore throat stick around for a while. Since antibiotics typically don’t work for viruses, it’s all about staying as healthy as possible. So how do we do it?

No. 1: Keep it clean

We need to wash our hands often—in the bathroom, before eating, after class, there’s no bad time! If warm water and soap aren’t available, alcohol-based hand sanitizer is a good alternative. Pick up a travel-sized bottle for your backpack (they’re free at the Health Promotion Resource Center in UMC 411).

No. 2: Support a high-functioning immune system

Our immune systems are impacted by everything we do, from what we eat to our stress levels. This means that eating regular balanced meals, hydrating with lots of water and sleeping 7-9 hours a night all help strengthen our bodies. When we’re well-rested, well-resourced and well-nourished, we’re more capable of fighting off an infection.

Make it a priority for the new semester: stick to a bedtime on school nights, carry around a refillable water bottle and fill up on vitamin-dense fruits and vegetables. Finding time for light physical activity and sunshine is good for our health too: take a walk with friends, toss around a Frisbee and open the blinds!

No. 3: Practice good health habits

When we look out for each other, we all stay healthier in the long run. That’s why it’s important to wipe down communal surfaces like doorknobs and counters with disinfectant, cough and sneeze into our elbow or sleeve (but not hands, since hands touch everything) and stay home when we’re not feeling well.

If you still find yourself under the weather, try these tips: drink warm liquids like tea to soothe a sore throat and stay hydrated, get extra rest to let your body recover and use over-the-counter remedies as appropriate to find relief. Your body works hard to fight off these viruses and get you back into peak condition, so be kind to it!

In fact, treat it to some cold care supplies on us: cough drops, tissues, tea, honey sticks and gargling salt are all available free to CU Boulder students in the Health Promotion Resource Center (UMC 411).

No. 4 Remember those good health habits for all areas of life 

When our mental health is cared for, our physical health follows. It’s important to take time to relax, organize our thoughts, and find healthy ways to deal with everything we have going on.

Mindfulness practices like journaling, de-stressing activities like yoga and coping mechanisms like talking with a trusted friend or family member can be just as important as washing our hands. Prioritizing self-care mentally and physically is key to a healthy, balanced semester. We can do this, Buffs!

The Healthy Buffs series is brought to you by Wardenburg Health Services. Visit us online at www.colorado.edu/health