Between runny noses, puffy eyes, and itchy throats, I am two sneezes away from locking myself in a giant hazmat suit. Just call me “bubble girl” because I need a protective shield to prevent those pesky germs from seeping into my pores. Alright, alright, I know I’m being dramatic, but when half of your students are suffering from the flu and the other half are battling a stomach bug, it’s okay to be on edge. Agreed? Just last week I had a student who was, quite honestly, close to coughing up a lung. When I encouraged him to return to his room to rest and recoup, he decided against it and (painfully) forged ahead. So, what is it about this time of year when everyone gets sick at once and no one wants to stay in the health center and miss class? When did getting good grades outweigh getting healthy? When did taking care of yourself become a sign of weakness?
Now, I understand how frustrating it is to fall behind in your classes. The “catch up” game is a pain, but when you don’t allow your body the rest it needs to recover, you’re only prolonging the process (and compromising other people’s immune system). Taking care of yourself is not a sign of weakness. In fact, it’s an act of self-preservation. You only have one body, so treat it with kindness and patience—practice self-love and self-care. What does self-love and self-care look like when you’re under the weather?
Being proactive! You know your body, so listen to it. If you start to feel weird and not like your usual self, drink some more vitamin C, take a multi-vitamin, tell your teachers and parents. Use your support system!
Staying home! Spread out in your big, comfy bed or couch and rest. Curl up with a good book, watch mindless television (a personal fave), or sleep. Do what relaxes you.
Doing it in your sleeve! You know those people who sneeze in their hand and then touch something else? What about those people who sneeze inside handkerchiefs (and then reuse them)? Don’t be those kids! Sneezing in your sleeves prevents germs from escaping. Lock those babies down!
Washing your hands! When sneezing or coughing, be sure to wash your hands immediately. Don’t risk spreading germs just because washing your hands can be inconvenient. Think about yourself. Think about the greater good.
Being real! You know when I said earlier that you are the only body you have? Well, it’s true. You are, so you need to put yourself first. You are not defined by the grades you get or the classes you miss (especially not when you’re using that time to take care of yourself). As prominent American financier and presidential advisor, Bernard Baruch, once wrote— “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”
So, who will stand in your way or judge you when you choose to put yourself first, especially when you’re sick? Whoever it is, tell them to step aside because you need to take care of you, boo.