Skip to main content Skip to navigation
Health & Wellness Services Division of Student Affairs

7 healthy habits for preventing flu

7 healthy habits for preventing flu

Getting a vaccine is the number one way to prevent the flu, but practicing good health habits can also help stop the spread of flu, colds, and other viruses.

To stay healthy and prevent the flu from spreading, we recommend Cougs practice the following healthy habits:

  1. Keep your hands clean. Wash your hands often with soap and water or use hand sanitizer.
  2. Cover up. Flu viruses can travel up to six feet when someone coughs, talks, or sneezes! Try to sneeze and cough into your sleeve or a tissue.
  3. Stay home if you’re sick. It might not feel important to miss class, work, or other responsibilities, but it’s more important to rest and avoid spreading germs to others. If you do get sick, be sure to check out our managing symptoms at home post.
  4. Kill germs. Flu viruses can live on a surface for up to eight hours! Be sure to disinfect and clean countertops, sinks, doorknobs, and other frequently used surfaces.
  5. Avoid touching your face. Germs spread when you touch a contaminated surface and then touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
  6. Don’t share. Don’t borrow items such as lipstick, lip balm, eating utensils, straws, cups, toothbrushes, smoking devices like hookahs, pipes, vape pens, or cigarettes. Flu-contaminated saliva can be transferred by any of these items.
  7. Take care of yourself. Sleeping, exercising, managing stress, and eating healthy foods can all help you stay healthy. Need help with any of these or aren’t sure where to start? Check out our full list of wellness workshops on CougSync.

Managing cold symptoms at home

Managing cold symptoms at home

Do you know what to do when you have a cold? Colds are miserable, but harmless even though it doesn’t seem that way. Knowing what to do when you have a cold can relieve your symptoms and make your illness a little more comfortable.

Symptoms:

  • Sore throat
  • Running or congested nose
  • Cough
  • Blocked or popping ears
  • Muscle aches
  • Slight fever
  • Tiredness
  • Post nasal drip
  • Headaches

Sore throat care:

  • Gargle with warm salt water to help reduce swelling and relieve discomfort (1 tsp (5 g) of salt dissolved in 1 cup of warm water.)
  • Sip warm chicken broth
  • Try warm tea with lemon and honey, apple juice, Jell-O, or popsicles
  • Take frequent small sips if it is painful to swallow
  • Take over-the-counter pain medication like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) which has anti-inflammatory effects and provides pain relief, or acetaminophen (Tylenol) which is a pain reliever only. Make sure you read the label and follow directions on the package.

General things to do to make you feel better:

  • Use a vaporizer or humidifier in your bedroom
  • Prevent dehydration, increase fluid intake
  • Breathe in steam (hot shower)
  • Rest as needed
  • Nasal/Sinus Irrigation (Sinus Rinse®, NetiPot®) relieves sinus and nasal congestion and promotes drainage.
  • Do not smoke or use other tobacco products and avoid secondhand smoke

 Contact us if:

  • Temperature is greater than 101 degrees Fahrenheit. You can purchase a thermometer at our pharmacy or at any drugstore or grocery store.
  • Your symptoms become more severe
  • Your symptoms do not improve
  • You have questions
  • You feel you need to be seen by a medical provider

Many illnesses including “colds” are caused by viruses; antibiotics only affect bacteria, not viruses. To help relieve symptoms, many non-prescription medications are available in our pharmacy.

Read directions on medications to ensure:

  • Correct dosing
  • Awareness of any warnings related to the non-prescription medication
  • Possible interactions with the medications you take on a daily basis
  • Possible interactions with any health conditions you may have.

If you have questions about medications including non-prescription medications, contact our pharmacists at Health & Wellness Services Pharmacy, 509-335-5742.

Get the facts! Violence myths vs. reality

Inaccurate beliefs about sex- and gender-based violence are common. Let’s talk about some of these myths, and more importantly – let’s find out what’s really going on.

Myth: Violence like sexual assault, relationship violence, and stalking doesn’t happen that often.

Reality: College students across the country experience violence every day, and many will experience violence before they even get to college.  

Myth: People make bad decisions and put themselves in situations where sexual assault might happen.

Reality: Someone is making a choice to harm another person who is vulnerable (if they’ve been drinking, for example). If you or someone you know experiences sex- and gender-based violence, know it’s not your fault and there are people on this campus and in our community who can help.

Myth: You can’t be victimized by your partner.

Reality: Sexual assault can happen within any relationship, whether people have been together for years or if they’ve just started seeing each other. Sex without consent is sexual assault, even if two people have had consensual sex in the past.

Myth: It’s unlikely that anyone I know would sexually assault someone.

Reality: Anyone, regardless of their gender, race, ethnicity, age, or other characteristics, can perpetrate violence. Sometimes they’re our friends, our family, or the people we sit next to in class.

Myth: Most people are sexually assaulted by strangers.

Reality: Sexual assault most often occurs between people who know each other. Situations involving strangers committing sexual assault do happen, but they’re rare on college campuses. Most of the time, sexual assault occurs between people who know each other, and in situations where people feel like they are safe (apartments, residence halls, houses, parties, etc.)

Myth: Violence is inevitable, and there’s nothing we can do to prevent it.

Reality: Everyone can do something to prevent violence! For example, you can:

Stay tuned this semester to learn more about how you can make our community safer. You can also subscribe to receive email updates about our collaborative prevention efforts.

Student story: Advocating for mental health

Student story: Advocating for mental health on campus

Written by James Whitbread

Washington State University is a special place for many reasons. The community atmosphere here pulls and keeps people together, while we are still in school and after we graduate. This university presents its students with multitudes of professional development, humanitarian, volunteer, social justice, and many other opportunities. Being from WSU fills me with a sense of pride, and Health & Wellness Services (HWS) contributes greatly to this.

For two years, I have been a mental health awareness advocate, working tirelessly to improve our campus community and make it one that is accepting and understanding of mental illness and mental health difficulties. This would not have been possible without HWS. Victoria Braun, a health promotion specialist and suicide prevention coordinator that works there, has been invaluable to this goal.

Two years ago, when I approached Victoria with an idea to start a registered student organization for mental health awareness, she immediately jumped on board. Through the development of our current organization, To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) WSU, Victoria has been an adviser and friend who has helped in innumerable ways. We have organized everything from simple tabling events all the way to a mental health awareness week in collaboration with HWS and ASWSU. Our crowning achievement so far has been a spoken word event entitled “Hope”, during which a dozen performers of everything from music to spoken word shared their experiences with mental health difficulties in the context of hope for the future. It was a highly-attended event, and audience feedback indicated it was a meaningful experience.

Victoria’s impact on the community has been great, but so has her impact on me. Oftentimes, I find myself thinking of things through the way she would. I wonder about what she would think or say, how she would respond to the situation. Her instruction and teachings will stay with me, and her expertise and ability to impart knowledge so easily show how high-caliber and useful HWS is because of the people it employs.

I am passionate about mental health advocacy for a myriad of reasons, but one of the most significant being that it is a profound need on college campuses around the nation. My hope is to destigmatize mental health difficulties, and to get students to start the conversation concerning mental health. It is only by achieving this that we can create a compassionate and understanding community, and HWS has been integral to the progress we have made.

Even outside the realm of mental health advocacy, the health promotion team at HWS works tirelessly to keep students healthy in every way. Being a holistic wellness facilitator for HWS, I have witnessed this first-hand and been able to contribute. Taylor Schwab and his team have created pertinent and meaningful workshops, presentations, and events to promote healthy lifestyles for the benefit of the students at WSU. Participating in these and working with HWS as a facilitator has given me an appreciation for preventative medicine.

The work of people like Taylor and Victoria is incredibly important to the overall health of the WSU community, and being able to work with them has taught me the importance of health promotion, constant learning, professional development, and many more aspects of health that has prepared me for my own future. As a pre-med student hoping to become a physician, the experiences I have had with HWS have been learning opportunities I will not soon forget.

James Whitbread is a senior at WSU completing a B.S. in theoretical mathematics, having completed minors in sociology, chemistry, molecular biosciences, and biology. Throughout his time at WSU, he has worked as a student leader in mental health advocacy and health promotion, and hopes to be admitted to medical school this year to practice a holistic approach to medicine as an M.D.

5 ways to respond to offensive comments

By Nikki Finnestead and Amber Morczek

We’ve all been in situations where we overheard an offensive joke or hurtful comment and wondered how to respond. We often have to overcome personal barriers to taking action, just like we do in other situations that make us uncomfortable or concerned.

When it comes to hurtful language in particular, you might worry that the person didn’t mean to be offensive, that you won’t change anyone’s mind, or that you don’t know enough about the topic to challenge their view.

If you’re confronted with comments that make you feel uncomfortable and you want to speak up, you have many options for how to respond.

  1. Be direct. Speaking up doesn’t always mean taking a dramatic stand. Even something simple like, “Hey, that’s not funny,” or, “That’s not cool,” can have a big impact.
  2. Change the subject. Casually redirecting the conversation can stop offensive language in its tracks. “Hey, I totally bombed that midterm. What about you?” Or, “What are you doing over the holiday break?”
  3. Talk about it later. Even if you freeze in the moment, it’s never too late to make your feelings known. Talk to the person who made the harmful comment the next day, after you’ve had time to reflect on the situation and your response. You can even text them if you feel uncomfortable speaking up in person. There’s no harm in waiting to speak up!
  4. Ask someone else for help. Speak to a faculty member if another student in class said something offensive. Ask a friend for advice on what they would do in the situation.
  5. Take indirect action. If you’re uncomfortable confronting others in response to a specific comment, you can still let people know where you stand. You can post a video on Facebook about an issue you’re passionate about or retweet articles on topics that are important to you. Working to educate yourself and those around you can be more influential than you realize.

Remember: Chances are if you feel uncomfortable, someone else does too. It often takes just one person to step in to give other people permission to do the same.

Show your support for suicide prevention

12 ways to participate in National Suicide Prevention Week

National Suicide Prevention Week is happening September 10 – 16, 2017 and there are numerous ways you can show your support!

At WSU, we want to create a supportive community that encourages people to get help when they experience a mental health concern or thoughts of suicide. Mental health issues are a normal, common experience. It’s okay to ask for help and there are resources on campus to support you and your friends.

Join your fellow Cougs and others around the nation to work towards the common goal of preventing suicide. Here are some ways you can promote mental health and prevent suicide any day of the week.

  1. Add the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to your phone and follow them on Facebook or Twitter.
  2. Learn about how you can support a friend who is struggling with a mental health concern.
  3. Do something positive for your mental health. You might try some creative self-care or enjoy some exercise, the outdoors, time with friends, or a healthy meal.
  4. Join WSU’s chapter of To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA). TWLOHA is a nation-wide nonprofit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide.
  5. Find out what the warning signs for suicide are, and what to do if you’re concerned about someone in your life.
  6. Sign up for suicide prevention training Campus Connect or take this training online.
  7. Fight the stress of school with some extra self-compassion.
  8. Sign up to get personalized stress management tips by texting “STRESS” to 30644.
  9. Subscribe to our email list to get more information about mental health and suicide prevention at WSU.
  10. Try meditating today. Mindfulness meditation can help reduce anxiety, depression, and stress, while increasing happiness and quality of life.
  11. Participate in the University of Idaho’s, “We got your back” suicide awareness 5K.
  12. If there’s someone you’re concerned about, take a minute to check in with them and ask how they’re doing – it could change their life.

Protect yourself from wildfire smoke

WSU community members should take precautions to reduce exposure to unhealthy, smoky air.

Breathing in smoke can have immediate health effects. Older adults, pregnant women, children, and people with preexisting respiratory and heart conditions may be more likely to get sick if they breathe in wildfire smoke.

If you experience any signs of respiratory distress, contact your health care provider or call Health & Wellness Services at 509-335-3575.

There are many steps you can take for limiting exposure to unhealthy, smoky air.

Avoid being outdoors. Use public transportation rather than walking or biking.

Stay inside as much as possible. Keep indoor air clean by closing windows, and if possible use an air filter and air conditioning. Make sure your air conditioner’s fresh-air intake is closed and the filter is clean to prevent outdoor smoke from getting inside.

Do not add to indoor pollution. Avoid using candles, fireplaces, or gas stoves. Do not vacuum, because vacuuming stirs up particles already inside your home. Do not smoke, because smoking puts even more pollution into the air.

Follow your health care provider’s guidance. If you have asthma or another lung disease, follow your doctor’s advice about medicines and your respiratory management plan.

Wear a mask. Masks can help limit exposure to unhealthy, smoky air. Students can get a free basic mask from the clinic’s waiting and lobby area. The CDC advises against relying solely on basic masks for protection.

Students can purchase N95 masks at the Health & Wellness Services’ pharmacy for $1.50. These masks offer more protection than basic masks.

WSU Environmental Health & Safety has additional resources on wildfire smoke including a real time map.

Get your flu vaccine!

Get your flu vaccine

Flu season is approaching fast! You can prevent the flu by getting your flu vaccine at one of our Flu Shot Friday events or by making an appointment with your health care provider.

It’s important that you get your flu shot early in the season. After getting a flu vaccine, it takes about two weeks for your body to develop the antibodies that will protect you from flu virus.

Flu Shot Fridays

Every Friday from September 29 to October 27
10 am to 3 pm
Washington Building, ground floor entrance

Unable to make it to a Flu Shot Friday or want your shot sooner? Flu vaccines are available now in our clinic. Students can make an appointment online or by phone to get a flu shot.

WSU students, faculty, and staff, as well as local community members, can get their flu shots at Flu Shot Fridays. We won’t be able to give the vaccine to those who are pregnant or under age 18.

Cost

Flu shots are covered in full by most insurance plans. If you don’t have insurance or are concerned about costs, we’re here to help you! Contact our billing office at 509-335-3575.

Make sure to bring your insurance card! We won’t be taking payment at the time of the services for Flu Shot Fridays, but we’ll take down your insurance information for billing.

Parking options

We’ll have some parking spaces reserved in the green lot at Stadium Way and SE Nevada St. for Flu Shot Fridays. Reserved spaces will be marked with orange cones. Metered parking spots are available on NE Washington St.

There are also a number of zoned parking lots available nearby for permit holders. For a detailed parking map, visit Transportation Services. Our building is also easily accessible via public transit. Visit Pullman Transit for routes and schedules.

Map of Health and Wellness Services building

Vaccine type

There are two types of flu shot: intradermal and intramuscular. Intradermal shots are given by injecting a small amount of concentrated flu vaccine in the top layers of the skin. The needle used for intradermal shots is smaller than a traditional shot, which makes this type a great choice if you have a fear of needles.

Intramuscular shots are given by injecting vaccine into the muscle. At Flu Shot Fridays, we typically give intradermal injections, but you can ask for an intramuscular injection if you’d prefer one.

Exercise and your brain

Exercise and your brain

Many of us know exercise is good for our physical health, but did you know it can also improve your brain and help you perform better in school?

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. If that seems like too much, don’t sweat it! Even exercise as simple as walking can benefit the brain.

Here are some of the ways exercise helps your brain stay in shape.

Memory. Do you have a big test you’re preparing for? Try exercising a few hours after studying. Research shows exercising after you study can improve your ability to retain information.

In the long-term, regular exercise increases the volume of your prefrontal cortex, which is the area in the brain that deals with memory and thinking. Researchers have also found exercise can help lower risk of dementia, a condition related to memory loss.

Mental health. Studies show exercise can help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Specifically, one study found that aerobic exercise, like jogging, helped patients cope with depression.

If you think you might be experiencing symptoms of depression or another mental health condition, make sure to talk to a health professional. Counseling and Psychological Services has walk-in hours or you can meet with your Health & Wellness Services provider.

Overall wellness. Regular exercise can help you sleep better, increase your energy level, and offer mental health benefits. Exercise helps you feel better all around – not just physically.

Do you need help finding fun ways to recreate or do you want to improve your overall fitness? Check out what University Recreation and the Outdoor Recreation Center have to offer.

If you’re struggling to find time to exercise, be sure to check our previous post about fitting fitness into your schedule.

Get stress management tips

Get stress management tips

Feeling stressed, need help coping, or just want tips for managing your stress? We can help!

Join our text messaging program and we will:

  • Check in with you every week to see how you’re doing
  • Send you weekly tips for lowering stress
  • Enter you to win a prizes like a fitness class pass, UREC coupon code, and more
  • Share information about health-related events and resources around campus

To sign up, text “STRESS” to 30644. You can join at any point in the semester!

You can also check out our stress management workshops and other programs.