In college, no time is a good time to get sick. Photo courtesy of Flickr user effekt! and licensed under CC by SA 2.0Today’s guest post is by Erin Breedlove, a sophomore at Georgia College and State University. We’ll hear from Erin a few more times in the coming weeks, but in the meantime be sure you check out Healthy, Unwealthy, and Becoming Wise, where she blogs frequently about the unique challenges of surviving college with a disability or chronic illness. 

There are days where you wake up and you’ve got a scratchy throat and a stuffy nose. “I’m getting sick, and I want to just lie here and sleep” goes through your head. Truthfully, though, you’ve got four classes that you can’t miss because of strict attendance policies. You feel like death, but you understand that you need to be in class. The picture of the syllabus that says you have a test in two days haunts the back of your mind.

Students with disabilities and chronic health conditions go to class when they’re sick quite often. So, for those of you who aren’t (and who are!) affected in this way, a few tips to get you through the sickness during class feeling might do the trick.

Line up a friend/classmate to take notes for you on the day you’re sick. Many times, students with disabilities take advantage of note-taker services provided to them which often identifies a student in the same class who is willing to take notes so that a student may have an extra copy if he or she falls behind in class while taking notes or something of the like.  If you’re a student without a disability, though, those services may not be extended to you, so just having that mutual agreement that you’ll be able to copy a friend’s notes at the end of class is a good thing, especially in cases where the DayQuil might get a little too strong. Tape recorders also work well in these situations, too, but if your professor or school has policies against them, a copy of notes taken in class can serve the same purpose.

Bring something to class to keep you busy.  Often, for me, it’s hard candy. Moving around a peppermint in your mouth helps to stay focused, and the soothing taste helps to keep your sick feelings at bay. You might also want to bring highlighters of different colors (if you don’t normally) to highlight important points made from handouts or lectures in class to keep your “eye on the ball” and to divert your attention from that nasty cough or throbbing headache. You don’t want your “something” to be the clicking of your pen, so make sure it’s constructive!

Pack a little snack for the long days. Often, the days we tend to “drag” are those in which we have classes all day long, meetings interspersed, etc., so a pack of peanut butter crackers in the front compartment of the bookbag might be a  nice surprise when you feel like the energy supply is running a little low. When you eat lunch, take something from your lunch to save for later. The energy, the nice treat, and the pick-me-up that it offers will be welcomed later on in the day, later on in the week, and maybe even as far stretched as later on in the semester. Be mindful, though, of what kind of energy you’re giving yourself. Caffeine might sound good at the time, but when you “crash” about three hours later, you’ll think a little harder about making the same choice again.

Rest for a short time after your obligations have ended for the day.  This might be a good time to check your Facebook and Twitter accounts, respond to e-mail, approve blog comments, and of course, catch up on the latest posts here at HackCollege. Keep the time down to about 30 minutes, and then fix yourself some dinner, study for Wednesday’s quiz, tidy up your room, or otherwise stay busy. Even though you might not feel your best, keeping your mind going helps the body to understand its limits and your expectations for it as a college student who wants to succeed.

We want to hear from you. How do you get through the days when you’re not feeling well?