By Gabrielle Lamontagne
Achoo! That’s what a lot of people are saying these days as the “UNH Plague” goes around this autumn.
The migraines and throbbing sinuses that we attribute to bad head colds can make the classwork we have to keep up with feel like a heavier burden to bear. Not to mention the fact that many classes have upcoming exams. As winter approaches, the sunlight that we are exposed to quickly fades. This can lead to stronger feelings of depression and loneliness than during the summer due to changes in the circadian rhythm (daily waking and sleeping hormone levels).
Apparently, it is important to receive sunlight earlier in the morning in order to feel completely energized, according to articles about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is only common in latitudes farther from the equator, in Science Daily, WebMD, and the Minnesota Local CBS.
One cure is, despite the colder weather, to stay active. Use the Hamel Recreation Center facilities or attend free-skate at the Whitt. When it snows, there are plenty of places to go sledding around town or on the way to Dover and Portsmouth. Until then, go apple picking or on hay rides with friends – which also leads to lots of depression-curing laughter!
The positive effects of laughter on your mind and soul are plentiful, as described by Mayo Clinic. For one, it increases the amount of oxygen you breathe in, which is necessary to start your lungs, heart and muscles pumping – which tends to increase the amount of endorphins (“happy” hormones) circulating in your veins. It also ups the heart rate, blood pressure and relaxation, leaving the body feeling invigorated. So, to recap: You feel better when you’re laughing. Laughter can be beneficial in the long-run, too. Laughing releases neuropeptides in the brain which improves the body’s stress response and its immune system in general. It is also a natural pain-killer, like Advil produced by your own brain! Overall, it helps you connect with other people and have a more optimistic perspective on your life, a claim supported by Mayo Clinic.
Drinking lots of water is also important, especially if you have a cold. It helps to filter the gross mucus and phlegm out of your system and rehydrates you, because all that phlegm tends to dry us up pretty quickly. That’s part of why our noses get rubbed raw and red so quickly when we have colds. Another reason is from rubbing rather than blowing. I’ve found it takes longer to really hurt your nose if you blow than if you just use the tissue to stop the current flow of mucus (eww!). Talk about treating the cause rather than the symptoms, right?
A really important thing to do is not get stressed out. Whether you’re worried about missing classes, forgetting homework, failing that upcoming test, or not looking cute enough for your hot date or a fun party: Don’t. Stressing about it could exacerbate your cold, and then you won’t just look and feel worse, but you could even catch something worse — like a fever or strep throat. That’s because the stress response involves releases of hormones from the pituitary and adrenal glands into your immune system, which is already fighting off your cold.
The immune system is kind of like a computer. If there are too many apps running at once, it overheats and functions slower or not at all. That allows time for other germs to squeeze in and start hacking away at your health. From that point on, your body will be re-living a horror movie: like “Saw,” “Carrie” or “Cabin in the Woods.” Those movies didn’t end particularly well.
So if you don’t want to experience an internal World War III, chill out. And maybe take a sick day.
Gabrielle Lamontagne is a sophomore double-majoring in French and business administration.