Full Name:Maria Keller
Website:learnok.com
Maria Keller is a freelance copywriter at LearnOk – the F&A service for students. Maria is happy to forget her age and feel a college student again. She emerges herself into the academic atmosphere every time she needs to write an engaging or useful article for students. See what comes out of it in her column for LearnOk blog.

15+ Ideas for College Party Themes

It has been a long semester and you are ready to let go of some steam? You want to throw the bash of the millennia but the same old tired themes keep popping into your mind?
What you need is some hard core party inspiration with these ultimate party themes.

Superheroes

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You might not have played superheroes since grade school, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have a little Marvel-ous fun. Everyone dresses up like their favorite superhero. Need inspiration? Head to the comic book store for costume ideas and plan on drinking plenty to erase some of the tight spandex clad silhouettes of your friends from your mind. Here is a cheat sheet of costume ideas.

Throwback, Way Back

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A throwback party might be a bit predictable, but how about going further back than the 80s or hippie era? Think gangsters and flappers, speakeasies and an era of class and sass. Turn your party place into an underground bar that serves prohibition era drinks.

Thrift Shop

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Need a low budget option for a party to remember? Gather a group of friends and head to the thrift store. The mission: find the most outrageous, hilarious, beautiful or epic outfit imaginable. Have everyone wear their creations and serve tin can budget beer. Another option: have everyone draw a name and then pick out a thrift store outfit for that person to wear.

Zombie

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Dim the lights, turn your pad into a dystopia destruction zone and have everyone dress up in their best zombie gear. Try these drinks and rock this play list.

Geek/Nerd

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Who said nerds and geeks don’t have fun? Blow that myth right out of the chess club waters and host a geek themed party. For geeky good times, follow these instructions.

Movie/Television Theme

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A simple classic theme that can easily take on a modern, hot twist. Choose your favorite current or retro movie or television show, and have everyone dress up like the characters, recreate the set and play drinking games that involve pertinent trivia.

Totem Animal

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You know those awkward first date conversations when someone asks, so if you were an animal what you be? Bypass the formalities and invite everyone to dress up as their spirit animal. Try matchmaking based on animal compatibility.

Anything but Clothes

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This isn’t quite as risqué as it sounds, however it can be. The goal is to have everyone arrive completely dressed but not wearing any clothes at all. Here are some anything-but-clothes costume ideas.

Food Fight Party

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If you are in the mood for something messy that encourages your guests to come scantily clad or eventually end up that way, try throwing a food fight party. Serve lots of sticky, messy foods that can really pick up some air and distance when thrown.

Reality Show/Celebrity Scandal Movie or Television Theme

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This is one of those themes that you can come up with spur of the moment. There is always something going on in the celebrity world. Reenact your favorite or most ridiculous scandal with a themed party.

Black Ties and Spies

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Have fun with this more formal bash with an element of espionage and passion. Here are a few spy bash ideas.

I’m Glad I’m Not

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Spin a twist on the traditional costume party by being someone or something that you are glad that you aren’t.

Video Game Party

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Dress up like your favorite gaming characters, have gaming stations set up and serve game inspired drinks and snacks.

Rags to Riches

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Have friends that love to dress up while others prefer to dress down. Let them do their own thing. Serve fancy drinks to the “upper class” and reserve the cheap drinks for the raggedy dressed drunks.

Rubik’s Cube

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Every one dresses wearing at least one piece of clothing that represents each color on a Rubik’s cube. Throughout the night each person trades their clothing with others until everyone is wearing one solid color.

Pajamas and Pizza

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Simple as it sounds. Just decide before time what you are going to do about the people who prefer to sleep commando.

Cops and Robbers

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Each person gets handcuffed to one other party goer for the entire night. Be creative and smart in your parings. Maybe you want to spark a new romance or combine two people that are polar opposites.

College parties are meant to make memories that will last a lifetime, unless you end up too drunk to remember anything. Choose a theme that is like no other your friends have ever been to and you will for sure leave an impression that lasts forever.

Valentine’s Day: 10 Ways to Nail the Day if You Don’t Have a Boo

valentines day

Don’t have a date on 14th of February? No worries. It only means that you can spend the day the way you want, not the way the non-existing boo planned. So here are a few ideas to spend the day while your Valentine is yet looking for you.

Netflix Marathon

If you have plenty of time on your hands – you know what to do. Netflix marathon is a classic way to survive 14th of February. Just pick TV series and try to make it through the night. A Bucket of ice cream is optional. You might want to binge-watch Stranger Things, Sense8 or Gilmore Girls. Also, Disney marathon is still an option.

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Finish a Book You Never Had Time to Read

If you want to find a good read check out the winners of the 2016 Goodreads Choice Awards. The book awards there are decided by readers. You also ought to check out last year winners in ‘Humor’ and ‘Best graphic novels & comics’ section: The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer and Adulthood Is a Myth by Sarah Andersen. These two girls will make you giggle for sure.

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Spa

Feel a bit stressed or pressured? The spa is a great way to pure relaxation. Massages, facials, body therapies, thermal spa and plenty of other procedures will help you to feel refreshed. Just one massage can provide an excellent sense of relaxation, relieve muscle tension, boost circulation, and restore calmness and balance to your body and mind. This day, however, thermal spa with a heat followed by cold will the right choice!

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Visit a Friend

Haven’t seen your high school friend for a while? Pay a visit and spend some quality time together. You also can bring a box of chocolates and get some drinks. Convert your lonely evening into a great reunion opportunity. Not bad, huh?

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Hit the Dance Floor

If you feel bored, you always can call your friends and go to the dance floor. As the nightclubs are not suitable for dating – you won’t be annoyed by kissing couples around, so grab a drink and dance till the sun comes up. Just make sure to get home safe!

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Go to a Gig

Go to a gig and enjoy all sides of sound, especially beyond tuned records. If you listen to a specific genre or a band – what can be better than surrounding yourself with the people who enjoy exactly the same thing? If you prefer to dance you will be able to let go of all negative energy out. It is not that easy to be distracted from everyday pressure but visiting gigs is one of the proved ways.

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Hiking

What can be better than nature? Hiking is an excellent way to exercise and empty your mind. All you will need is good hiking shoes, weather-appropriate clothing, a trail map, compass, water, food and basic medical kit. Explore an incredible world around you while getting fit.

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Try Something New

You can try a new recipe or a new outfit, but if you feel brave, you can go hardcore. Extreme sports are always there for you: aerodynamic tube, skydiving, base jumping and many other activities will make you forget whatever bothered you and refresh your mind.

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Learn Something New

If you want to improve your skills – learning platforms are always there for you. You can go to YouTube to finally make that origami bird or even go to Coursera to learn a new language. Whatever skill you want to get – the internet is always ready to help.

P.S. Don’t try flips.

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Organize a Date with Your Pet

If you are lucky enough to have a pet, you can cook a romantic dinner for two and even dress up! You know what they say if you have a pet – you are not alone. Maybe you won’t have a regular date this time but imagine those adorable pictures on Instagram!

How to Get Back to College Hungover

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Break has come to an end and you are ready to hit it with new enthusiasm, right? This might be your ideal, but it isn’t likely your reality. The truth is that holiday breaks are fun while they last, but they can also lead to a difficult transition when it is time to return. If you are beginning to miss the dorm food and boredom has overtaken the joy of sleeping in your childhood bed, it is time to head back to your life, and the academics that come with it. Here are five tips for a painless transition back into college life.

1. Shock Yourself out of LaLa Land

Being home or just away from your normal college setting is escapism at its best. You get to sleep in, spend your days however you want, socialize and expend little mental energy. Going from this type of leisure to the shackles of new semester isn’t a comfortable experience. If you think that being gentle on yourself is the best method, buckle up because gentle is the exact opposite of what you need. Fully emerge yourself back into college culture as soon as you can. Wake up super early, actually get ahead on your studies, volunteer for early projects, etc. These actions send strong signals to your brain that it is time to begin a new routine.

2. Eat Right

Your holiday was probably filled with all of your homemade favorites, too many holiday treats and late night nacho and mojito sessions with your hometown bestie. While your taste buds have had a treat, your brain could now be firing on fewer cylinders. This article published by Harvard Medical School will fill you in on the many ways that the foods you eat affect your brain power. The Mediterranean diet, which features fruits, vegetables, omega-3 fats and moderate amounts of alcohol, is one the nest brain boosting diets. Try adding these components into your diet as your transition from holiday to study day.

3. Keep Moving

There are few things that will snap you out of a funk and get you focused like a regular exercise plan. If you let your routine slide over the holidays, pick it up full force right where you left off. If you have been a couch spud for too long, time to snap out of it and give your body some respect. If you are having more trouble with motivation than you did with that last chemistry exam maybe one of these awesome apps can help:

4. Make Molehills out of Those Mountains

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You are thumbing through the syllabus, checking out your reading assignments, gathering everything you need to apply to grad school and taking on way too much with your internship. It is all way overwhelming and one of the first natural responses to that type of pressure is to just shut down. Don’t get crushed by all of the responsibility. Instead take a day, or more, and write out all of your obligations. Then set up a planner system and strategically plan out each goal. Be realistic about how much you can accomplish. Smaller goals will seem more surmountable than large ones.

5. Get What You Have Been Missing

We are talking about some quality time with your college friends. Nothing beats reconnecting with the very people you share every day of your college life with. These people get you and share your experiences. Make a date to connect and catch up before classes start.

Heading back to college doesn’t have to be painful or dreadful. In fact, when you do it right, it is an experience that you can actually look forward to. The best method is to plan before break even begins, but you can start now, even as you head back and give yourself the smoothest possible transition.

5 Introvert-like Ways to Stay in Touch During the Winter Break

introvert

Winter break might not seem like it is long enough except for when it comes to missing the friends that you spend nearly every day and night with. There is no reason to suffer through missing each other when there are so many easy ways to keep in touch. Here are a few easy ways of keeping tight when distance separates you from your besties.

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What is Social Media for Anyways?

If it isn’t for keeping an eye on every detail of your friend’s lives then it is pretty much useless. Respond to posts, tweets and messages. Make sure to tag your best pals in your own posts to let them know they are on your mind.

Facetime!

Seriously, there is absolutely no reason to let the fact that you are temporarily on opposite sides of the country challenge your friendships when you can facetime. Set up a few facetime dates before you even finish that last exam.

Learn How to Use a Stamp

Maybe your grandmother hooked you up over the holidays with some fancy old timey stationary. Instead of letting it sit there, unused for the next decade send a sweet, handwritten note to your friends. Just remember to get out into the mail as soon as possible because the post office just isn’t as fast as a text. Here is an excellent article on how to impress your friends with the elegant art of letter writing.

Friends that Game Together Stay Together

You can still hang out with your friends and even explore some crazy new scenarios when you play interactive games together. Use a platform such as Steam to choose which games to play and connect through a community. Gaming can add an intriguing new element to your relationships and you can really get to know people in a new way through gameplay. There are plenty of options for every interest and the type of gaming technology that is available to you. Most games require little more than a computer with average capabilities.

Connect in the Usual Ways

Did you and your friends get together every week to watch Broad City or The Walking Dead? Do you have a regular table for martinis on Thursday night? Do you shoot hoops every Wednesday after your afternoon class? There is no reason to break away from these regular college life customs. In fact, finding a way to still make them happen when the miles separate you can really strengthen your friendship bonds. Whatever it is that you and your friends do together, plan to keep doing it while on break. Facetime each other from the local bar for happy hour, chat while watching “your show”, brag up how well you did at the gym and how you are going to dominate your next hoops game. Not only will you stay close, but you might even gain a new appreciation for the little events that you often take for granted.

Holiday break is a time that is meant to be relaxing and restorative both physically and mentally. Missing your friends can really put a big ugly dent in how much you enjoy your time away. Don’t let that happen. Keep your friendships a priority and share your experiences with each other during break, but keep a few bits quiet. After all, you still want something to share when you all meet to catch up.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Holidays

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Holiday breaks are a great time to de-stress and reboot for the next term. The problem is that most of us don’t really know how to effectively use our time off. Instead of coming back refreshed and ready to go, you might feel more tired and stressed than usual. If this is your reality, consider these easy ideas for enjoying and getting the most out of your holidays.

Use the Time to Reconnect

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If you are headed home for the holidays, chances are you will have the opportunity to spend time with family and old friends that you haven’t seen for a while. Take advantage of every opportunity to reconnect. This means that you should tag along to visit your grandparents, or make an effort to get in touch with your best friend from high school. Keeping connected to these ties reminds you of what is important, who you are and where you are going. At the risk of sounding soggy, these relationships helped to make you who you are today, so have some fun and spend some time nourishing them.

Keep Up a Routine

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While at school you have a fairly rigorous routine of classes, studying, working out, volunteering, working, and socializing. When you take a break from all of that it can knock you off center enough that you might feel anxious or depressed. The answer is to create a temporary routine instead of wasting hours on your phone or sleeping until noon. Eat breakfast, work out, and make a few plans. Keep it low key, but give yourself just a bit of structure.

Take an Info Detox

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How many times an hour do you look at your phone? Do you jump every time you get a notification? Does the current political climate have your eyeballs exploding across the café? You have instant access to every thought of every person you have ever met, instant access to new sources, both fake and reliable and instant access to more information that you could possibly use in your life time. The average social media user comes in contact with as many as 285 pieces of content daily. It is time for an info detox. Here are three steps to start your detox:

  • Send out emails and messages to all of your contents stating that you will be low key for a few days. Resist the urge to reply to all of the responses you get.
  • Allow yourself 10 minutes, three times a day to check in.
  • Avoid apps and sites that tend to suck you in.

Think of the Future

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You want a break from responsibility, so thinking about your future during the holidays might not be a narrative you are interested in. Just listen for a minute. You have goals, right? That is why you are in college, after all. Your daily college life is just too busy to tend to some basic upkeep and maintenance. Now is the time to rehash your resume, look and apply for scholarship opportunities, contact graduate programs and get serious about finding that internship. Getting these things checked off your list will make you feel more accomplished and less burdened when you head back to class.

Relax!

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You don’t have the opportunity to do it often, so now is the time to just chill. Mental Health America outlines why rest is important and offers some suggestions for making it happen. This is your break, and it is well needed and deserved. If you are having trouble slowing down and unwinding after a stressful round with finals, here are a few ways to help you slow it down:

  • Go for a walk outside. Seriously, get some fresh air.
  • Indulge in a Netflix binge. Allow yourself one or two nights to binge on complete seasons of your favorite shows or catch up on movies.
  • Read some stuff for pleasure. Make it something more substantial than tweets.

Follow this advice and when you step foot back on campus after holiday break you will be your absolute best, most refreshed and mentally recharged self.

Best 2016 TV Shows to Turn Your Holidays into a Cool Adventure

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There is no better way to decompress and leave the stress of college behind for a couple of weeks than indulging in the best TV shows of the year. Here are 5 of the hottest, binge worthy shows of the year that will up the cool factor of even the most boring holiday break.

Stranger Things: Supernatural. Take 2

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The storyline of Stranger Things entangles the emotions of small town deception with supernatural nuances. A series of unusual events lead up to the disappearance of a child, which begins to destroy the structural matrix of the community. What you are soon to discover is that there are always multiple layers, some of which are terrifying. You will no doubt get hooked into the story immediately and it carries you as you become more emotionally invested with each episode. Binge watch it here.

Westworld: Utopia in Action

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Westworld is a show that will not only spice up the slow days of your holiday, it can also illicit some intriguing convo with your friends. The premise of the show is a western themed amusement park where anything goes. High paying clients can enter Westworld and live out there most dangerous fantasies through virtual means with supposedly no consequences. Westworld will make you uncomfortable, in a good way. You will be provoked into thinking about some of the darkest areas of humanity, philosophical ideas and how scientific concepts intermingle with human condition. Fun, deep and more enjoyable than any psychology class. Learn more about Westworld here.

Girls: Good Old College Movie

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Chances are that when you watch Girls you will find a little bit of yourself or someone that you know in the characters. With a storyline based on the experiences of a group of women in their early twenties, there is plenty here that will not only allow you to relate, but also see things from a new perspective. Girls embodies every college female with experiences that will anger you, make you laugh and at times even feel embarrassed for the characters. The tone is a little dark and cynical at times, which IMHO, fits the mood of a holiday break perfectly. With five seasons of history, there is plenty here to late night binge watch before starting the rumored final season this February. Check out the official site here.

Game of Thrones: No Way Escaping It

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Ok, you might think that this show is so popular that it must be lame. But, there is a reason that this show gets more hits daily than any other show. The plot is rich, savage and entangled with nine families fighting over control of mythical lands. Combine this with a once dormant race set on destruction and you have a blend that equals an adventure and adrenaline cocktail. The cast is amazing, the stage and special effects awe inspiring and the script writing is intelligent and thorough. Game of Thrones is a guilty pleasure to get lost in while taking a break from reality. Just getting into the series? Get up to date here.

Pretty Little Liars: The Return of the Gossip Girl?

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If you are over teen dramas that are filled with dull, stereotypical plots, then getting hooked on Pretty Little Liars might be the coolest thing you do this holiday. This show is seven seasons deep into the lives of four girls whose commonality is a missing friend and some pretty tense, dark secrets. Each of the main characters has her own subplot that really digs into the emotions and trials of young adult life. What might seem trivial at first ends up being deep and sucking you all the way in. Keep your PLL knowledge current by following their tweets.

These shows are some of the best 2016 had to offer and they are reason enough to say “Not going out tonight, sorry not sorry”. Push aside obligatory appearances this holiday season, watch some Netflix and actually have a cool break.

9 Simple Yet Scientifically Proven Hacks to Beat Winter Infections

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It seems like all of your friends and roomies are passing around the latest bug, but you have somehow managed to escape unscathed? It could be luck, or it might be that you are smart enough to know how to avoid catching the season’s viral and bacterial trash.

Here are 9 health hacks to keep you on top of your winter survival game.

1. Be Greedy

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It goes against the lessons you learned when you were a kid, but you need to stop sharing. This includes your water bottle, dipping into your friend’s spicy noodles at lunch, cosmetics, razors, deodorant, towels, etc. These types of surfaces hold onto dangerous bacteria and viruses such as norovirus, mononucleosis, and strep.

2. Hydrate

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Water is the number one most important thing you can put into your body, and chances are you are not getting enough. Water makes up more than half of your body and it is necessary for all of your bodily functions. This study helps to illustrate how dehydration has an effect on your entire body including cardiovascular and central nervous function. Water helps keep your digestive system healthy, which is important for your overall health. It also reduces headaches, improves your mood and gives you legit energy. Commit to drinking 8 ounce glasses a day, more if you are drinking alcohol, caffeine or aren’t feeling well.

3. Hit the Sheets

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In this case, we mean hitting the sheets alone, because my friend you need some serious sleep. Regular sleep is essential for your immune system to function properly, and those with poor sleep habits tend to have difficulty arming up against common infections. Aim to get 8-10 hours a night of uninterrupted sleep, even if it means skipping out on that late study session or half off college wine night.

4. Bow to the Power of Alcohol

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Kickin back with friends and a drink isn’t going to kill you, but overindulging and not acknowledging the power of alcohol might make this cold and flu season significantly more uncomfortable for you. Alcohol contains a high amount of sugar, which can impair your white blood cells’ ability to fight infection. Besides, drinking alcohol is likely to cause mild dehydration, drink nutritionally empty calories and possibly make suspect decisions that could further compromise your health.

5. Beware of Eating on Communal Surfaces

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You might be allowed to bring a snack into class or the library, but it really isn’t a good idea. This article will bring out the inner germophobe in you, but to sum it up the average desk area contains up to 100 times more germs than a toilet seat. Now, consider that those college desk areas are communal and that number multiplies. If it isn’t meant for eating, it probably isn’t being cleaned the way an eating surface should be.

6. Wash Your Hands

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Look at your hands. When was the last time you washed them? Your hands are carrying germs from every single thing that they have touched since then. The number one way that germs are spread is through poor hygiene. We are not talking about not taking a shower or skipping out on deodorant, this is straight up about hand washing. Wash your hands regularly, not just after you use the bathroom, and get a good suds going when you do.

7. Do Your Chores

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Lines such as towels and sheets hold onto bacteria and viruses and should be washed regularly. Also, sanitize those countertops, door handles and any surface that is touched repeatedly by multiple people.

8. Channel Your Inner Physician

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Follow your doctor’s advice. If the doctor says to rest, then do it. If you are prescribed medication, then take it until the prescription is gone. If you don’t know why this is important, here is WHO’s reasoning. Also, never take medication that isn’t prescribed for you.

9. If You Do Get Sick…

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Slow down and take care of yourself. If you keep pushing, you are likely only going to make things worse. Rest, hydrate, medicate, binge on Netflix and let your body recuperate.

Staying healthy with the stress of classes, relationships and communal living is difficult, but not impossible. Your health is your number one asset. Protect it with these health hacks and you just might make it through alive and healthier than ever.