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6 Tips for Living in a College Dorm With a Chronic Illness


Heading off to college for the first time is scary. For those with a chronic illness it can be even scarier. However, there are things you can do to make your transition and experience a little smoother. Here are my top tips for dorm-living with a chronic illness.

1. Tell your roommate.

This may not seem like a big thing, but it can make all the difference in the world. Especially if you are living with an invisible illness, it can be easy to not bring it up and to pretend it isn’t a big deal. But, if things get hard to manage it is better if the person you’re sharing a space with knows what’s wrong. Having an ally can make a huge difference.

2. Use a disinfectant!

This is a lesson I learned the hard way. With a weakened immune system I found myself getting sick so much more in college, especially when I was sharing a space. If your roommate is sick, or when cold and flu season comes around, wipe down shared surfaces and try to keep things clean. It can make a big difference.

3. Know your limits.

It’s so easy to get swept up in the social aspects of college. Living in a building with your friends 24/7 is exciting! But, those all-nighters, and constant activity can start to take its toll. Learn your limits and know when you need to take a step back and rest. Your friends will understand.

4. Keep some easy meals on hand.

You may not always feel well enough to venture out to the dining hall. Always try to have some frozen dinners, good snacks, teas, or any other foods you like available. Those will be a lifesaver on the days you feel terrible and don’t want to trek across campus for some questionable dining hall food.

5. Get a good planner.

Find a place to keep track of all your assignments in one place. This can be a planner, a whiteboard above your desk, or any other system that works for you. This can help you stay ahead of your work so if you get sick you won’t fall far behind. The last thing you want is to remember an assignment you forgot when you already aren’t feeling your best.

6. Take time for yourself.

Sleep. Go to the campus gym. Find some self-care activities that make you feel good.

 Getty Image by James Woodson

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