5 Ways to Take Care of Yourself When You’re Sick in College

Even a minor cold can throw you off your game at school.

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It’s nearing finals week. You’re spending countless hours studying, practicing, or rehearsing; striving to make this term your best GPA yet. Nothing can get in your way… Until suddenly, it hits you: The first sign of the common cold. 

We’ve all been there. 

It’s pretty much guaranteed that you’ll catch some kind of icky bug around the holidays and end of the semester, and it’s never a pleasant experience. Without your parents to help take care of you, everyday activities can feel like climbing Mt. Everest. Your alarm morphs into your arch nemesis, classes become 90 minutes of seeing how quietly you can blow your nose, and study sessions turn into battles to stay awake. 

I’m not a doctor, nor is this medical advice, but here are 5 ways that I’ve found to help deal with a common cold when you’re away at school. 

1. Fluids, Fluids, Fluids 

Keeping a full water bottle can quickly become the last thing on your mind when you’re a busy student. Between classes, work, and studying, filling up at a water fountain or sink can be easily forgotten. However, I’ve found that I feel infinitely more awake and refreshed, even with the sniffles, when I keep myself hydrated

Product info: Bottle // Tumbler

Cute containers can help you feel more motivated to sip H2O when you’re tempted to grab a coke instead. My favorite bottle is this one from Contigo. It never spills, is thin, and has a handy little clip to go on your bag! This tumbler from Lily Pulitzer is, naturally, a little more fashion-forward… and perfect if you’re like me and insist that all beverages taste better through a straw. 

2. Cozy Duds 

I personally believe that nothing feels better than putting on some comfy loungewear (or “cozies”, as I so lovingly call them) after a long day of slogging through lectures when you’re feeling yucky. 

Product info: Thermal // Leggings // Slipper Socks // Scarf

My go-to cozy outfit is typically some variation of the above: A long, oversized thermal, leggings, a scarf to keep my neck warm in my chilly dorm, and super comfy slipper socks. Other cozy-chic items that I pick are chunky cardigans, flannel button-downs, and fleece-lined boots. 

3. Steamy Drinks 

Product info: Kettle // Mug // Emergen-C

Reward yourself for LLWS (living life while sick) with a hot water-based drink — the steamier, the better! My faves include mint or chai tea and apple cider. You can get those drinks at most coffee shops or make them at home with a microwave or kettle. Something a little more outside-the-box is mixing Emergen-C with hot water. This is a great way to kill two birds with one stone! 

4. Beauty Rest

Yeah, I know, I’m the 541st person to tell you that sleep is important… but that’s because it is! If you don’t get enough rest, chances are that it’s messing up all kinds of stuff in your life (and may very well be the reason you got a cold in the first place). Instead of spending an extra hour cramming for psych, go to bed and rest your body — it’s working overtime! 

Product info: Pajamas // Tissues // Electric Blanket

Start the night off right by getting into bed a little earlier than usual in some cozy jammies. Whenever I’ve got a runny nose or a cough, I like to keep a glass of water and a box of tissues next to my bed to eliminate any middle-of-the-night walks to the kitchen or bathroom. Get the tissues with lotion in them to avoid raw nose skin! 

If your living space gets really cold during the winter months, it may be worth it to invest in an electric blanket. Having the shivers when you’re sick is unpleasant enough as it is. Giving yourself the gift of a toasty bed to climb into at the end of the day is amazing.  

5. Take It Easy! 

Sometimes, illness is our body’s way of telling us we need to stop working ourselves so hard

Listen to the signals your body gives you, even when one of those signals is a whole lot of icky congestion. If you can manage it, take a hot shower or bath before bed. Take time to really allow yourself to move a little slower, breathe a little deeper, and rest a little longer. 

Product info: Face Wash // Body Wash // Bath Bomb

My favorite things to use in the shower are this grapefruit face scrub and brown sugar and oat-scented body wash. If you have the luxury of a bath in your housing, a bath bomb can be a really fun way to relax (this one is called “Twilight” and it smells like absolute heaven).

Final Thoughts

While it’s great to have some tricks up your sleeve when you’re not feeling 100%, you should always stay at home or in your dorm if you feel too ill to go to work or class

Which tip is your favorite? Have you ever used any of them when nursing yourself back to health? Let me know if there’s something I didn’t mention and should try! 

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