Escaping the epidemic

Jill Hoppenjans has no problem saying, “told you so.”Director of Operations for the Center for Health and Wellbeing, Hoppenjans said that with all those alternative ways to keep healthy during cold season, your mom was right.Having a healthy immune system while the swine and seasonal influenza run rampant requires more than just daily vitamins and lots of sleep. There are distinct personal choices to be made when truly considering the overall benefits of individual health.Hoppenjans knows that going to bed a few hours earlier than normal, incorporating more nutrients into your daily meals and refraining from sharing food or drinks are not necessarily the easiest things to do when you live on a college campus.The foolproof way to get sick this season, Hoppenjans said, is by sharing everything. “Most of the time it isn’t a big deal, but now people need to be more cautious,” she said.Martha Seagrave, director of pre-doctoral studies, also works for the Center and said that any form of sharing is the way most patients are infected.Sharing cigarettes, utensils, towels, ChapStick — really anything that comes in contact with respiratory action — is a surefire way to get sick, she said.Especially with large lecture classes, not taking action when it feels like you might need an umbrella to keep germs at bay is just silly.”Even when you have excellent habits, it really only takes exposure to someone with the virus, even before they show symptoms,” Seagrave said.Seagrave said that it is very simple to rid your hands of the virus but, if you are not careful, it’s just as easy to infect yourself.”Germs are another name for [the] flu virus and hand washing is as simple as removing the virus from your hands,” she said.”Your hands are wonderful utensils for moving viruses from a place on your body, where they can’t do any harm to your face, where they have easy access to your mouth, nose and eyes, which are the entry points to your body.”Some students find that stressing out about cold season and germs is a waste of time.  “If I get sick, I get sick,” freshman James Aglio said. Other students, however, are considering alternative methods to stay healthy this flu season.According to the calendar issued by the Center, November is full of dates when flu shots are  being offered at the Davis Center, and also incorporates intermittent 45-minute meditation sessions offered at the Allen House. Mindfulness Meditation is a free weekly program to provide students with a healthy, cathartic release for stress.  The instructors there — Miv London, who works at the Center, and Simone Blaise-Glausinger, a Reiki practitioner — utilize their knowledge to aid students in cleansing and relaxing the body. Reiki is a practice of moving healing energy through the body, using palms as an energy conduit.The benefits of meditation, Reiki and yoga are not entirely conclusive, but those who practice them frequently swear by them. Freshman Chan Stevens said he uses traditional medicine but tries to incorporate alternative measures as well. “There are many alternatives that have been suggested to strengthen immunity, but to date there is not any good science behind the claims,” Seagrave said. “Some things that have been evaluated include zinc and Echinacea, but the results are not conclusive.”Although there are obviously differing opinions regarding the practices of traditional and alternative medicine, it is agreed that a balance within the person needs to be achieved in order to preserve physical health. So no matter the type of medicine practiced, maybe your mom was right. Enough sleep, a healthy diet and other common sense measures may just be the best way to survive lecture halls full of hacking, sniffling undergraduates.