Autumn is my favorite season. But aside from the great fashion, delicious food and the beautiful landscapes, it has one extreme downside: it’s the beginning of flu season.

I hate being sick. Seriously, I would rather have both of my arms broken and have to walk around wearing two casts instead of being confined to my bed. So, in lieu of walking around campus waiting to be infected, I recently got my flu shot.

If you only ever decide to take my advice on one thing, let it be this: always get a flu shot. Now, this obviously won’t apply to those who are allergic to the shot itself (sorry about that, by the way; it must be torture having to wait in anticipation to contract the yearly flu), but if you can get it, I suggest that you do.

However, if you can’t get the shot or just don’t want to, you can still protect yourself from the weeks-long sickness by taking preventative measures. According to the Center for Disease Control, there are six main steps one can take to prevent the flu from taking over your body, and even to treat it if you’re one of the unlucky sufferers:

  1. Avoid close contact: That means, don’t take a sip of your friend’s Grande Caramel Macchiato if she just had a coughing fit minutes before. And even if that guy from your psych class is like, totally cute, wait until he can function without tissues before that first kiss.
  2. Stay home when you’re sick: If there’s one good thing about being sick, it’s being able to miss class. So, if you’re really feeling under the weather, take advantage of it and have a TV show marathon. (Tuesdays are preferable; Law & Order SVU marathons on USA can cure anything. Hello, Detective Stabler!)
  3. Cover your mouth and nose: Who sneezes or coughs without covering his or her mouth? Impolite, gross people. Just do it.
  4. Clean your hands: Remember when your mom would always make you wash your hands before dinner? Looks like she had the right idea, after all.
  5. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth: Just keep your hands away from your face, in general. While I’m sympathetic to the girl whose contact is bothering her, I’m not sympathetic to her passing me that worksheet after she remedies her itchy eye.
  6. Practice other good health habits: This one’s pretty standard. Eat healthy, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep.  Added bonus: you can combat the freshman (or sophomore or junior or senior) fifteen by implementing this strategy, as well.

So, do yourself and the rest of us a favor this flu season and stay healthy.  But if you do end up getting sick, please, just stay away from me.

-Amber Brenza

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