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How to Keep the Dreaded Freshers’ Flu at Bay

How to Keep the Dreaded Freshers’ Flu at Bay

Starting University brings with it a whole new world of opportunities and experiences; meeting new people, living away from home, being responsible for looking after/feeding yourself, getting to grips with your course and a whole LOT of going out. Back-to-back partying will undoubtedly take a toll on your body (even for the most well-seasoned social butterflies)! 

So, is freshers’ flu real?

Despite the name, freshers’ flu isn’t actually the flu; however, the symptoms are most definitely real. More often than not freshers’ flu is a nasty cold developed as a result of several factors including:

  •         Being exposed to (a lot of) new germs. We build up immunity over our lives from things that we catch in our surroundings. Therefore, being surrounded with so many new people from all over the country/world, it is likely that you will be exposed to germs that you haven’t caught before. Particularly if you’re playing tonsil tennis (and the rest) with every other person in your path, it’s only a matter of time until you’ve caught something… let’s say, unpleasant. Now, we’re not suggesting you walk around wearing a surgical mask 24/7 or make a vow of celibacy; just try to be a bit mindful of your choices and be prepared where possible – hand sanitiser, condoms… you get the gist.
  •         A lack of nutritious food, combined with dehydration, excessive alcohol and greasy food is a recipe for disaster. Where possible, try to eat healthily – think lots of colourful vegetables, fruit, lean protein and whole grain carbohydrates to nourish your body and keep your immune system in top form to fight off any germs coming your way. See our Top 5 Student Recipes for healthy, cheap and filling meals you can make in bulk to freeze and prepare for those times you can’t face cooking.  
  •         Stress can be a contributing factor to feeling rubbish, whether you’re feeling homesick, worried about living with strangers or making friends, or just struggling with the dreaded beer-fear the morning after the night before. Whatever it is that’s making you stressed or getting you down, remember that moving to a new place and being thrown into an entirely different environment is stressful for everybody and it’s perfectly normal to feel that way. This doesn’t mean you should ignore those feelings but it can be helpful to understand why you feel that way and speaking about it with your housemates or course mates will make it clear that everyone is in the same boat and help to put your mind at ease. If you continue to struggle with stress, anxiety or low mood after the whirlwind of freshers’ is behind you, speak to a friend, family member or GP. If you don’t feel comfortable doing so, there are many options available to you at university to speak to someone in confidentiality about how you feel and they can offer support and advice.  A problem shared is a problem halved so don’t keep negative feelings bottled up. University is a stressful time and everybody deals with things differently; stay positive, be kind to yourself, look after your mental health and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  •         Sleep is another crucial aspect to staying as healthy during freshers. It goes without saying that you’re not going to be getting in a full 8 hours at any usual ‘bedtime’ but this doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice sleep entirely. Try to squeeze in some quality sleep wherever you can, invest in an eye mask to block out daylight and if you have a few free hours you’d otherwise be spending scrolling on your phone or sitting around watching Netflix – go and catch a few z’s instead. Better still, forget about FOMO – if you can manage a night or two away from socialising to recharge your batteries, do it. Lack of sleep makes you far more likely to get ill, so one night off can mean you can enjoy the rest of the week on top form, instead of like a zombie! It’s your call; if missing out is your biggest concern, at the very least try and squeeze in some quality sleep where you can!

What are the symptoms of Freshers’ flu?

So, the chances of you being struck by freshers’ flu and not knowing about it are pretty slim; but how do you know that it’s freshers’ flu and not just a bad hangover? In case you’re unsure, here’s some of the most common symptoms:

  •         Sneezing – bless you! Tissues at the ready guys.
  •         Shivering – make sure you’re well-armed with plenty of jumpers/blankets, you may be needing them sooner than you think!
  •         Hot stuff – those cold shivers come hand in hand with a fever, high temperature and sweating so make sure you crack a window and get some fresh air flowing!
  •         *Cough, cough* – you might be needing those tissues again, a dry cough you can’t shift is generally part of the package.
  •         Sore head – severe headaches, confusion, irritability and an aversion to bright lights are to be expected.
  •         Achy breaky – Aching from head to toe? Yep, you’ve got freshers’ flu.
  •         Skin SOS – pale, blotchy, spotty skin is on the cards…as are rashes – not ideal, we know.

You might’ve noticed that the symptoms listed above are very similar to a common cold, and while you won’t be needing an ambulance to the nearest A&E; you may likely feel like death… But worry not! All is not lost, just know that it will soon pass and you’ll be back on the (proverbial) horse in no time!

OK, so I’ll feel like I’ve been hit with a tonne of bricks – but how do I shift this?

  1.     Home cooked food – nutritious food is what your body (and brain) is desperate for at times like this! Your body takes a beating during periods of consistent partying so it’s important that you give your body the fuel it needs to function healthily. Because you’re putting in a lot of toxins (*cough* £2 Jägerbombs, *cough* 3am nuggets and cheesy chips *cough*), it is important that you counteract some of this with antioxidant rich foods such as blueberries, spinach, nuts, salmon, to name a few. Foods rich in vitamin C such as oranges, green and red peppers, tomatoes and kiwis will give your body a fighting chance.
  1.     Exercise – wait, trust us on this one. We know exercise is the last thing you want to do when you’re not 100% but gentle exercise such as a walk outdoors, will give your body a boost and a blast of fresh air for your brain and body. Other gentle exercise such as yoga can improve your health and boost feel-good hormones when you’re not feeling 100%.
  1.       Vitamins and minerals – crucial for boosting your immune system, allowing your body to repair and fight off any germs that come your way! Here’s our TPW hitlist of exactly what you need in your arsenal to fight freshers’ flu – and beat it!
  •         Start with a simple, super-effective multivitamin to give your nutritional intake a boost, improve general wellbeing and immune function with minimal effort. These really are a no-brainer!
  •         Supergreens – packed full of 13 antioxidant-rich superfood ingredients such as spinach, spirulina, wheatgrass, kale and matcha green tea. Perfect for anyone to help towards your 5-a-day; even for those who don’t enjoy their greens as it tastes like a delicious fruity juice drink!
  •         Caffeine – Not just in your morning coffee, caffeine is going to be a helpful addition to your uni life to help you get through those late deadline all-nighters and dragging yourself out of bed and to your 9am lecture. It couldn’t be easier to take as a supplement however be mindful not to take it too late in the day as it can affect your sleep.
  •         Vitamin D3 – The most common vitamin deficiency in the world, this immune-boosting vitamin can provide you with a whole host of health benefits, particularly useful when in need of an immune-boost during freshers.
  •         Zinc and Magnesium – this supplement helps to ensure you’re getting these important nutrients that you might be missing from your diet and also help with your sleep and immune function – bonus!
  •         Endless – scientifically formulated with ingredients shown to boost brain function; Endless is your go-to anytime you need a mental pick-me-up. Swap a cup of coffee or energy drink for a delicious drink of Endless to reap the full benefits; perfect for those moments you need a brain refresh.
  •         Omega 3 – these essential fatty acids are incredible for their mental health and immune boosting benefits! Both stress and the risk of catching an illness are most likely those first few weeks of university, so omega-3’s are a sure-fire way to keep your brain and body in top form during freshers.

The Take Home:

University life is a huge lifestyle change and it’s only natural that you won’t feel in perfect health the entire time. Whether you’re a first-time fresher about to belly flop in the deep end, or a seasoned pro looking to swerve the stampede of new freshers and their germs – taking steps to look after your health before, during and after freshers’ is a sure fire way to keeping those dreaded symptoms at bay – or at the very least help to speed up recovery so you’re back to your best in no time!


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