I'm the last person you'd expect to be an expert on pandemics, but I've just returned from the CDC's three-week post-graduate course on surviving a viral outbreak. Yes, I know I'm just a lowly respiratory therapist, but don't underestimate me. I know what I'm doing.
First things first: if you want to survive a pandemic, you need to take care of yourself. You've heard this a million times already, I'm sure, but you keep hearing it for a reason.
#1: Wear a mask.
It's the one we all keep expecting to have to wear every single day. It's the one we all keep forgetting to wear.
I'm not going to labor the point. If you don't have a mask on, you need to go and get one fast. Really, just go and get one as soon as possible, even if you're not sick.
There's a reason why health and safety organizations keep telling us to wear a mask. When you're wearing a mask, the virus can't get you.
I do. I eat three good meals a day and a snack in the middle. That sounds like a lot, but I'm burning through a lot of calories with all the running I do (you can run everywhere when you're wearing a mask, and you should!).
If you're having trouble eating food, try eating different textures. Warm smoothies are easy to make, and you can drink them through a straw. Try a smoothie bowl or a milkshake. I've also heard of people eating muesli with milk and frozen fruit.
#2: Go to bed early.
It's not just because I love my bed. It's because if you're still up at midnight, chances are you'll be dead before the next day.
I know it sounds old-fashioned, but it's true. Dying of lead poisoning is dangerous. Getting killed by a stray bullet is bad enough. Getting killed by a virus – no one wants that.
#3: Don't get sick:
Well, if you're already sick with the flu or a cold, you'd better get to a GP or hospital as soon as possible. You could also consider getting vaccinated. You certainly don't want to end up like my dad.
There's something else you need to do: Get vaccinated. It's the most important thing you can do to keep your immune system up to speed. You don't want to waste the chance of a vaccination.
You can go to the GP or travel to a hospital or emergency center to get vaccinated. You can also order one online right now through a pharmacy.
Oh, and keep hydrated. I mean really hydrated. I'm talking eight glasses a day. I'm not in the least bit dehydrated, but I don't plan on staying that way.
Prioritize sleep: I'll be taking extra care to get enough sleep. I've got a bunch of things to do, and as much as I'd love to stay up at night, I can't.
I'm not sure if this is correct, but I think sleep helps our bodies heal and recover. I really do need sleep if I'm going to stay fit and healthy.
I have a bit of advice for you. It's about physical health. You see, staying healthy is about more than just eating well and exercising. You can do all that and still get sick.
Mental health is more important than you think. Just like physical health, and unlike a lot of other people, I know that. See, mental health is just as important as physical health, but it's also something that is so often ignored. Most of the time, it's an invisible illness. People who have depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder, you're not alone. It's okay to have these conditions. It's okay to not be okay. Don't let society's pressure to be perfect get to you. Remember: you're not alone. And if you need help, please, please seek it.
Learn more about self-care:
We've all heard it before: learn to take care of yourself. This is especially important if you're in college. College is a time of new experiences and challenges. You're in for a rough ride, so be sure to take care of yourself. Here are a few of my best self-care tips:
1. Do your homework. Don't procrastinate on your homework. If you think you can do it the morning of the day it's due, you're wrong. You need to do it the day before.
2. Get enough sleep. If you're not getting enough sleep, you're going to be exhausted all the time.
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