We’ve all been there: sick in bed and unsure if it would be good to grin and bear it and carry on about our day, or call in sick to stay at home and rest. Many graduate students probably end up ignoring their sicknesses and acting like they’re okay, but this isn’t always the best decision. There are plenty of reasons why you might want to think twice about going to classes, work, lab hours, etc. while you’re sick: getting others sick if you’re contagious, potentially getting sicker, and not allowing your body to rest and recuperate properly.
I understand not wanting to get sick when you have a ton of things going on as a college student, but the answer to getting better will usually not consist of continuing to do everything on your schedule. Sometimes, we get sick because our body needs us to slow down, take a break, and take better care of ourselves. I’m not telling you to ignore your priorities as a student (and any other roles you play in your professional and personal life), but give yourself some time every month or so to relax and not worry about grad school stresses. One of our other bloggers, John, even wrote about this subject last March; take a look at what he had to say.
As the infographic above describes, there are plenty of ways to stay healthy and allow your immune system to do its job in protecting your body. However, things we do to prevent sickness might not work all the time. If you happen to get ill, think about taking a day or two to recuperate so you can get back to being 100% again. Be careful with ignoring your symptoms and going about your days because you could end up worse and have to spend even more time to heal; plus, you could get classmates and coworkers sick, which they would not appreciate.
Another important thing to do when you get sick in college is to communicate with the right people. It’s important to communicate your illness with your professors, some close friends/classmates, and health-care professionals. Communicating with your professors should only take a short email to notify them that you’ll be missing class, and that you’ll keep them updated about future days. This is extremely important if you have a test or presentation that you’re missing in class.
You’ll also want to let your classmates and close friends know that you’re sick. College students take care of each other and understand the stress that everyone is going through; most classmates would be happy to take lecture notes for you, and most friends would even offer to bring you medicine and anything else you need to get better quickly. Telling health-care professionals about your ailments can also help you on your way to health. Most colleges have health services and resources that will definitely benefit you in these times of need, so take advantage of them by knowing the resources available to you.
Getting sick while being a college student—as an undergraduate or graduate—is frustrating to say the least, but there are ways to prevent, prepare for, and deal with illnesses. How have you been taking care of yourself to prevent sickness, or do you have any more advice of ways for others to get better faster?