I never heard the term ‘freshers’ flu’ used anywhere other than in the UK. When you start the academic year (or at any time of the year) and feel a bit down, and you have cold symptoms (sneezing, coughing, sore throat, headache, fever, shivering), you know you caught it.
There is always a bit of history behind the symptoms, so you can always ask yourself the following few questions:
- How much sleep did you have over the last week? Lack of sleep can weaken your immune system and consequently you won’t be able to deal with everyday viruses efficiently.
- How much alcohol did you drink over the last week? How many times did you have a hangover – too much alcohol weakens your defences to viruses.
- How many times did you eat processed / low nutrient level foods?
- How many times were you stressed or anxious – are you worried about making new friends or about your performance?
When we get ill, it is always a clear sign we have to change something in our lifestyle. Most people like to mask symptoms with painkillers or other chemicals, but there are much more effective and healthier ways to get you back in balance.
Healthy food: a balanced diet is always key. Eat foods which contain vitamins to strengthen your immune system like
- Vitamin C: spinach and kale, bell peppers, brussels sprouts, strawberries and papaya
- Vitamin E: almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts and sunflower seedsVitamin
- B6: bananas, lean chicken breast, cold-water fish such as tuna, baked potatoes and chickpeas
- Vitamin A: carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, cantaloupe and squash
- Vitamin D: fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines), orange juice and cereals
- Folic acid: beans and peas, green leafy vegetables
- Iron: chicken and turkey, seafood, beans, broccoli and kale
- Selenium: garlic, broccoli, sardines, tuna, Brazil nuts and barley
- Zinc: crab, lean meats and poultry, baked beans (skip the kind with added sugar), yogurt and chickpeas
Other immune system strengthening tips: take vitamin C or start the day with lemon water – squeeze half a lemon into warm water. You can boost this with some honey and cayenne pepper. Be careful with the cayenne pepper, try it first with a small amount then you can add more depending on how hot you can bear.
Avoid dairy products for minimum 3-4 days (yes, the tiny nip of milk in your tea counts too) so your sinuses have a chance to clear. Eating lots of dairy products can make mucous production worse, so if you don’t want to drive everyone crazy with your sniffing on the bus (especially me, if we happen to travel on the same bus!) or at the next lecture, it’s best to cut all dairy out of your diet!
Drink loads of water to keep hydrated. You can also try peppermint tea or cut a few slices of fresh ginger into hot water – it will clear your throat.
Get enough sleep / rest: You might spend a whole day (or two) in bed, but this just means you recover fully instead of staying up and running half-ill/half-recovered and when your body has a chance it will knock you out with the same symptoms again.
Starting a new academic year packed with new people, new responsibilities, new environment, new expectations, etc., is demanding. You obviously can get the same symptoms at any time of the year and you have to look after yourself to be able to better cope with all the demands. This course has more stress-busting tips for you.
If you have any other tips which worked for you, I would love to hear about them so please share below this post.