Self-Care 101

An important new responsibility as a college student is self-care. You want to give yourself the best chance to stay healthy during the cold and flu season, and beyond.

GET VACCINATED.  A yearly flu vaccine is the first and most important step in protecting yourself against influenza viruses. Flu shots are free at Health Services for students and will protect against seasonal flu. Health Services will provide flu vaccine beginning with a clinic in mid-October, and throughout this fall. Check our Facebook page for updates.

Click here for more information about preventing the flu.

Limit your exposure to colds/flu and stomach bugs

  • WASH YOUR HANDS often and thoroughly with warm water and soap or use alcohol-based sanitizers. Sanitize surfaces, particularly those often touched by others.
  • Don’t touch that. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth to keep viruses and bacteria that cause illness out of your body.
  • Prevent the spread. Don't share beverages or food. Cough or sneeze into a tissue or your shoulder. Throw out the tissue.

Balance fun and work demands with healthy habits:


What your body needs: FOOD. Healthy eating during college can be challenging. Syracuse students deal with busy schedules, increased stress levels, changes in food availability and sometimes concerns around body image while trying to be well.

  • Make a schedule for eating times – class schedules are often different depending on the day of the week, so make a weekly schedule. Try to eat breakfast within 30 min after waking and then plan to eat every 3-5 hours thru your day with 3 meals and at least one snack.  You can find information on eating healthy in the SU dining centers on their website.  You’ll find articles, daily menus and nutritional analyses.  Also while you’re on the site, check out “Creative Constructions” - a way to become your own cook by taking the foods provided in the dining centers and making them into something new.
  • Carry food.  Granola bars, trail mix and fruits can be great snacks to take with you. For lunch, the sandwich is still the most popular eating on the run food. Another idea:  cook a large amount of pasta on the weekend, add cut up veggies, throw in some tuna or diced chicken or nuts - mix with one of your favorite salad dressings on the day you are going to eat it and you have instant lunch that you can easily change up from day to day.  You can also freeze grapes, they act as an ice pack and are thawed by the time you eat them.

Drink more.  Everyone should drink 6-8 glasses of water-like fluids per day. More if you exercise. Remember: alcohol dehydrates. Increased alcohol intake can reduce your immune function, leaving you more susceptible to colds and flus. If you drink alcohol, check out this site to help you make the wisest choices.

Snooze or lose. Most people need 6 to 9 hours of sleep every night to function well. Be sure to include sleep in your schedule!

Exercise for 20-30 minutes most days. This can be as simple as a brisk walk every day, easily accomplished on this campus! Check out other ways to add some exercise to your life at Recreation Services website.


Manage stress. More stress = more illness. Find at least a few minutes every day to relax and play. This one can be very challenging during college, but learning what strategies work for you could be one of the most important skills you acquire in college. Exercise, talking to a friend and journaling are some strategies that work for many people.  Check out the resources on the counseling center’s website.

Kick butts! Smoking interferes with mechanisms that keep germs out of the lungs, therefore smokers are more likely to become ill. If you don’t smoke, congratulations!, this year the campus has gone smoke free! If you do smoke, and are ready to quit, make an appointment to talk about smoking cessation.

Protect yourself. College is a time when many students explore their sexuality. Anyone who is sexually active should use condoms to prevent stds. Sexually transmitted diseases are treatable, and many are curable. Half of all new STDs occur among young people under the age of 25. College students and others who are sexually active should get tested for STDs to know their status and protect themselves and their sexual partners. Condoms are always available near our pharmacy. Make an appointment (315-443-9005) to get tested for STDs if you have not tested in the past year.