College Life Logo

How to Study when Sick: Tips for the Freshman Flu

by College Life
Updated on November 24, 2023

Introduction weeks are over, classes are about to start and the freshman flu lurks in hidden corners. While being sick is a chore, falling ill right at the start of the school year can be a major setback. It's safe to say that runny noses and fever dreams don't help with productivity. But who says that finals can't rhyme with the flu? If you're like me and happen to be both bed and book-ridden here are a couple of tips to get you through your first couple weeks of classes.

Pomodoro it

The Pomodoro method consists of working in 4 sets of 25 min with a 5min break in between each round and a longer break ranging from 15 to 30 min after 4 sets. The division of the Pomodoro into 25/5/15 is completely up to you. Many people customize their Pomodoro timing to best fit their workflow. The most important aspect is that alternation between mid-sized work sessions and short breaks which can keep you focused on the task at hand for longer. What makes the Pomodoro Method perfect for studying when sick is that each task is naturally divided into feasible increments. You can even take 5 min naps during your breaks! Check out the best timers for the Pomodoro method in our article about improving study habits.

Get moving

Yeah, it's tempting to stay holed up in your room surrounded by textbooks and/or tissues. However, sometimes a breath of fresh air is exactly what you need to get some energy. Just taking a 5 min walk (bonus points if it's during your Pomodoro break) can help clear your head and potentially your sinuses. If you don't feel like going outside, take some time to stretch and relax your muscles. Exercise is a great way to get your blood flowing which will make you feel better.

Drink some water

I'm pretty sure that water is in every listicle out there from dealing with skincare to depression but it's worth the emphasis: don't forget to drink water and stay hydrated! Water helps produce saliva and mucus which are both very handy when fighting a sore throat or a dry nose. Water also helps regulate your body temperature. Our bodies are 60% water so it's needless to say that it plays a vital role in the basic maintenance of our bodies. No matter the pace you've decided to study at you need to stay hydrated in order to maintain said pace and eventually get better.

Proactively study

When you're sick, you don't have the leisure to passively intake information and hope it sticks. Start by dividing all you have to study into small realizable steps and ordering them by priority. This will help you get through the day without feeling overwhelmed. Make flashcards and test yourself on key terms. Instead of repeatedly reading information, by writing it down you engage with the material in a different way. Have a group video call where you explain and present some of the information with your friends. Again, this is another way of engaging with the material: if you can explain a concept well then you probably know it. Don't focus as much on rote memorization as much as contextualized understanding.

Healthy snacks

Studying and being sick are both physically draining activities that when combined tend to have a negative effect on each other. Along with water, food is what will get you through a last-minute cram session without crashing. Why healthy? Though it is tempting to eat your exhaustion and stress away, you do still need to take care of yourself. Food is fuel so you'll need the best kind if you plan to study when sick.

Get comfy

get comfy

A cozy environment may induce napping but comfort is always worth it. Grab some tea, coffee or hot water, blankets and whatever painkillers you're on to create an environment that's both studious and soothing. Studying when you're sick is hard enough. There's no need to make it worse by sitting at a badly lit desk for 5 hours straight surrounded by empty packets of tissues. Create a space you want to be and study there.

So you've written 5 to-do lists, went boxing, ate some carrots, drank 5L of water, incarnated hygge and you still don't feel okay... what now? Most of the time students are victims of the belief that every occasion is the last. If you're too sick to study and can't make it to class then don't go. There's no point in worsening your physical and mental health for something that definitely won't impact your life as much as you think it will. You can take resits, or ask for an extension or even god forbid take that class again. Nothing is worth ruining your health for, not even the illusion of a college degree.

If it's really bad, don't forget to take advantage of your health insurance and go to a doctor. Don't have Dutch health insurance yet? Check out Swisscare International Student Insurance if you’re a student within the EU/EEA.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Table of contents
Share this article