Monday, May 17, 2010

Summer Stress and Travel

In college, the weather really has nothing to do with the beginning of summer. It could be fifty-seven degrees out, and there will be troupes of beach-ready grads and undergrads, diligently laying in the cold windy air-- "soaking up the sun." This isn't just a habit born out of irresponsibility: Oh. no. This is a habit built on the tradition of grade-posting.

"Yeah... grades getting posted are stressful and nerve racking, but it's better than finals because I can access all of that anxiety about something that matters without having to study anymore. It is Christmas morning every morning for a few days, but slightly more demented," says one up-and-coming senior.

I wasn't completely sold on this highly artificial season-break in the beginning of May, but it seems to hold water, especially since I myself was at the beach (water was around 60 degrees) yesterday.

Well, yes, there is a point to all of this: the most important thing to remember about the end of the school year is that we can all go a little crazy by the middle of this month, and that whatever you decide to do to burn off steam, make sure you take some precautionary measures if you're traveling to a new place, whether it's a city with alternate water sources or a different country with a whole separate bacteria lexicon.

When the human body undergoes mental and physical stress, it's no secret that it's often weakened by that experience and sometimes the "leisure" activities that we reward ourselves with (flying to see a friend in Mexico on a 2am flight after finals) can often drain our systems even further if we don't take proper care to secure our bodily surroundings.

I know a couple (John and Ali) who decided to woof for the summer on a farm in Hawaii. ("Woofing" is a term that describes farming on land for room and board.) They're living in a tree house and are both really excited, set to leave within 24 hours of their last final. Even though they're staying within the United States, without an already-healthy immune system, they'd be almost certain to contract illness in the environment.

"We're bringing a water purifying pen and some re-hydration salts for the first few days, just to make sure," John says.

This summer, wherever you travel, keep a close eye on your physical health. If you're traveling to a foreign country, make sure you are aware of your stress level, your sleep level, and your food intake; these are simple ways to insure that your body will make a seamless transition into your summertime environment. For everything else, there's Passport Health.