COLUMN: That time of year

When the leaves fall down, so do people

Mmmm … Ah yes, fall. Autumn. The equinox.

Hayrides, football, cider mills … oh, the joys. Nothing is more beautiful than when the excitement of summer transitions to the chill and lethargy of winter. The greens are replaced by yellows, reds and browns, symbolizing the maturing of summer’s ignorance, naivety and bliss to a time of steady focus and quiet reflection.

And as the leaves and trees bloom with color, so do they bloom with mold, dust, mildew and stale, dead pollen.

Stock up on tissues and cough drops, kids. Things are about to get messy.

If allergies don’t bother you, then surely other infections of the sinuses will.

The common cold seems to change hands more often than Bulldog Bucks these days. Phlegm is measured in liters akin to Pumpkin Spice Lattes. One may spot it flowing in puddles and streams throughout the North Quad, spiraling, swirling. Fall becomes suddenly less beautiful, doesn’t it?

It’s easy to become ill this time of year. Students discover less sleep than they did during the lazy days of summer, sleeping in until the crack of noon. They march across campus in misty, drizzly and flat-out downpouring weather. The stress of balancing classes, work and social activities combined with these other factors compromises our immune systems.

And then comes the sniffling, the sneezing, the coughing, the emails to professors announcing regret for missed attendance.

We need to be diligent this time of year. We need to act practically.

And sleep is most important. Study early — don’t put it off. Hard work is meaningless if you miss a test or due date because of influenza. Last-minute cramming leads to less time in bed … which could mean more time in bed later. Or worse, in a hospital bed. Party less. Large amounts of alcohol can add stress to your body.

Eat healthy. Pizza every day may lead to fewer vitamins that prevent such illnesses.

And limit your exposure to bad weather. While writing this, I, myself, am suffering a terrible cold. I missed class this morning, and I blame it — in part — to having recently worked two hours in the rain as a convenience store attendant. When it gets cold, you get a cold. That’s why it’s called a cold. Whoever started the myth poor weather does not correlate with poor health is an idiot. We’ve known for thousands of years that terrible weather can lead to illness. Pack an umbrella. Dress in layers. Avoid too much outdoor activity in the drizzles of early autumn.

In a 19th century British novel, being stuck in the rain meant certain death. And ghosts.

Get a flu shot. If you in work food service, maybe call in sick. Fast food restaurants and the like infamously operate with skeleton crews. Angry idiot bosses like to pressure employees to work while ill. I hate them. You should hate them, too. They’re probably more to blame for flu epidemics than anyone.

So that’s all I have to say on the matter. My advice is nothing new; mostly just a rant. Enjoy the fall, by all means, but don’t be stupid. Wash your hands, get sleep, eat healthy and be smart. Because it’s easy to succumb to poor health. It’s simply that time of year.