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April 28, 2008 | by  | in Opinion |
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Student Health Service

Coughs, Colds and Influenza: A Major Headache for Students

This winter 20 per cent of the New Zealand population will develop influenza and it is likely that 4,000 of you will be infected. Influenza is a serious illness, and is not the same as having a bad cold. With influenza you will be quite sick for seven to ten days and you may need others to care for you.

Students are more susceptible to respiratory tract infections (RTIs) as they often live in close contact with each other. Colds and the flu are spread in small droplets dispersed in the air by sneezing or coughing, or by hand to hand contact. Rubbing your nose, mouth or eyes after contact allows the virus to enter the body. Your risk of infection increases with stress, physical inactivity, smoking, poor nutrition and tiredness.

The symptoms of RTIs such as high fevers, headaches, sore throats, body aches, runny nose and a phlegmy cough are painful and annoying, and can affect your study. The treatment is bed rest, plenty of fluids, regular paracetamol, and time.

Regularly washing your hands, especially before eating, reduces viral spread and helps protect yourself and others.

Another proven and safe option to protect you from contracting influenza is to have the influenza vaccine. Influenza immunisation is FREE for many people until the end of June, including people with asthma who use a preventer inhaler, and those with epilepsy, diabetes, and many other ongoing physical health conditions. Ask your doctor.

VUWSA have purchased a limited number of vaccines for students who are not otherwise eligible.

On Wednesday April 30, there will be a free influenza vaccination clinic at the Te Aro campus, between 11.30 a.m. and 1.30 p.m. at the Student Services Suite next to the common room on the ground floor.

Please contact the Student Health Service for more information about how you can get the influenza vaccination, or check out our flu web page:

Get Off on the Right Foot with a Free Counselling Service Group Programme

On Wednesday 19 March a group of students attended the launch of the 2008 Lunch Time Lecture Series sponsored by Vic’s Counselling Service – “Getting off on the Right Foot? You Can!” This first lunchtime lecture, held in one of the Union Building meeting rooms offered students a chance to meet three of the Service’s education group programme facilitators and to find out a bit about the groups provided to help students get off on the right foot and stay on track with life and study in 2008.

Sharon Renfro, a counsellor here at Victoria, is coordinating the regular lunchtime lectures this year and has a range of mental health experts and researchers lined up to provide cutting edge information on often contentious issues such as the antidepressant debate, party drugs, stress and resilience and other topics of interest.

Have you ever wished that you had not waited to the last minute to start an assignment or to study for that big exam? Glenda Weston, who leads a group on procrastination – a serious issue that can get students behind in their work and generate debilitating anxiety – led students in an exercise that helps to identify and increase understanding about procrastination. The exercises she uses in her group are interactive and engaging and promote insight into recurrent behaviours of putting things off to the point that one’s success is threatened. Glenda helps students to design and use effective strategies to manage the urges to procrastinate.

Do you struggle with unhealthy eating and/or body issues and find that you are eating foods that don’t help you to think? Tania Coombes, who has developed an innovative group called
Body Sense, used sultanas to demonstrate how the relationship with food can reflect other unresolved emotional issues that impact on our lives. As a nutritionist she brings solid information to her groups that help people to deepen the understanding of the role food plays in our lives. Proper nutrition is essential for good cognitive functioning as well as emotional health and well being.

Is it hard to focus and pay attention to what is going on in class? George Packard, who runs courses on meditation and grounding, led students through a grounding exercise that calms the mind and promotes being in the moment – the here and now. The exercise was simple to use and can be integrated into the daily activities of a person which improves focus and the ability to attend. The ability to focus and to attend are key strategies to effective learning and performance.

As students talked about their experiences during the exercises, the nods around the room helped people to realize that they are not alone in their experiences that impede success. Just knowing that these are common issues and that there is help lowers anxiety and helps ease worries. Counselling Service is there for you to help you succeed at Victoria.

These groups and many others are free for students. The groups provide a proactive way for you to get off on the right foot and stay on track. By meeting with other students you also get to share often similar experiences. To learn more about the groups offered by the Counselling Service go to their website, stop by at 2 Waiteata Road (behind the library) and get a brochure on the groups that they offer, or call 463-5310.

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About the Author ()

Salient is a magazine. Salient is a website. Salient is an institution founded in 1938 to cater to the whim and fancy of students of Victoria University. We are partly funded by VUWSA and partly by gold bullion that was discovered under a pile of old Salients from the 40's. Salient welcomes your participation in debate on all the issues that we present to you, and if you're a student of Victoria University then you're more than welcome to drop in and have tea and scones with the contributors of this little rag in our little hideaway that overlooks Wellington.

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