Article by Matt Delson
As the shadow of finals looms, more students seem to fall ill than during other times of the semester.
According to Psychology Today, stress can reduce your white blood cell count, thus making it harder for your body to fight disease, and the stress of finals alone can make one more susceptible to illness. Some scientists even say that stress contributes to as much as 90 percent of sickness such as cancer and heart disease.
There are a number of ways to reduce stress when studying for finals, such as breathing exercises, social interaction, and even positive thinking.
MCLA’s director of health services, Nurse Practitioner Jackie Krzanik, explained why illness is more common during finals, and how to reduce your chances of getting sick.
“Usually we see an increase during finals,” Krzanik said. “Many students are probably more prone to viruses and illness because of poor sleep and diet. When cramming for finals, students taking good physical care of themselves is probably at the bottom of their list.”
Krzanik warned of an even more common sickness: the flu. “Last year after everyone got back from winter break, they brought along the flu with them,” stated Krzanik. She added that not nearly enough people get their flu shots, and “if there’s one piece of advice I could give you, it would be to get your flu shot before you come back for the spring semester.”
Krzanik listed ways that people can keep themselves from contracting illness. She said it’s important to remember to always have a proper diet and maintain an exercise routine. She stressed that students should try to get enough sleep, since not doing so can be very bad for your immune system. In order to avoid spreading illness to others, she stressed the importance of hand hygiene and proper coughing and sneezing techniques, such as coughing or sneezing into the crook of your arm rather than your hands.
Krzanik said that students are “more than welcome to come to Health Services, and we can provide treatments and recommendations.” They also have limited amounts of medication for anything serious. All visits are completely free, so students don’t need to worry about being charged for any care the health center provides. It is important to note, however, that health services does not provide excused absence forms, and that “it’s up to the student to communicate with their faculty about absences,” said Krzanik.
Students should be aware of the increased risks of illness when finals come around, and take appropriate steps to avoid it, as hard as that may be. While an all-nighter or two may be inevitable during finals, remember to sleep so that you don’t end up unable to study for an extended period of time. Also, with all of the free food available, do not forget to have a balanced meal.