Still adjusting to college life? No worries. It’s normal.

It’s normal to feel awkward, lost, confused, homesick, lonely (along with so many other emotions!) when you’re in college. This fall semester especially is a huge adjustment. We have been living in isolation so long it may be even harder than usual to start or re-start a social life. Lots of students are struggling to feel connected on campus this semester – whether they admit it to you or not. 
Here are some tips from students like you that helped them adjust and make students feel a bit more connected to campus. 

  • You aren’t alone. Lots of people feel the same way as you, even if they aren’t talking about it. You are not the only one who is having a difficult time. This is a transition for everyone and it can be overwhelming.
  • Keep your door open. Whether your residence hall room door, your office door, your carrel – the “window” to the rest of the world leaves space for some interactions that might not otherwise happen. 
  • Find a space on campus that you enjoy. This could be a tree to study under, a favorite spot in the library, the Union, or an office on campus, such as the LGBTQ Center or Women’s Center
  • Talk to people in your classes. Did someone ask a thought-provoking question in the discussion? Tell them so—it can lead to a great conversation that you can continue over lunch or coffee. Also, forming study groups is a great way to get to know people while also helping each other.
  • Join a club or organization. Getting involved is one of the best ways to meet people. In addition to being a place of higher education, college is also an ideal time to try something new or connect with people who have similar interests. Check out a sport, service or political organization, or a religious or cultural group on campus. Joining a club or organization gives you an opportunity to meet friends who have similar interests, and for many clubs you can join at any point throughout the year. HeelLife.unc.edu is one spot to explore.
  • Know your resources. There are lots of people on campus who want to help you adjust and who understand it can be rough. The Learning Center is a great place to visit to talk about adjusting to the college workload and college-level writing.  CAPS can be a great resource to talk out how you are feeling, especially if these feelings persist. Several peer and affinity-based support organizations exist to help you feel less alone that you can look for in the Mental Health Hub. All of these resources are covered under student fees, so it costs you nothing but a bit of time to take advantage of them!
A UNC student bikes across campus with fall leaves on the trees.

On Grief and Healing

This has been such a difficult weekend, few weeks, semester, few years. Death in our community is tragic, and when connected with the many challenges being experienced this semester, it’s no wonder that things may feel a bit heavy or overwhelming.

Support yourself

  • Give yourself time and space to fully experience whatever feelings are coming up for you. Explore your own feelings without feeling pressure to perform them for others.
  • Connect with people – from neighbors to loved ones to mental health professionals. Lean on people around you to help work through the stages of grief however they show up for you. 
  • Ease up on the demands you place on yourself this week.

Support others, if you can

  • Send that message / make that call. Start by reaching out to the people around you who may be struggling. Just a simple, “How are you doing, really?” is perfect.
  • Focus on asking open-ended questions. 
  • Give time and space for the answers. “I’ve got lots of time and am fine talking with you about this,” is a great way to show you’re ready to listen if that’s true for you. Refer to resources when appropriate.
  • Engage in meaningful activities. There are many opportunities to provide support or process with fellow students, and we’ll do our best to share those in our Instagram stories and Twitter feed. There is healing in solidarity. 
  • If you’re a TA, do what you can to support your students.
    • Be flexible. Excuse students from assignments if appropriate, give extensions, change class routines, etc. These are all not only permissible but encouraged to help all our students in these difficult times 
    • Be explicit about your support. In an email or during class, make clear your concern for your students and your availability to talk or meet with them, e.g., “please feel free to contact me personally or by email or to respond to all if you have thoughts or feelings you would like to share. This is a hard time and we need to be there for each other.”
You are enough, just as you are.
The staff at UNC Healthy Heels are committed to systemic changes to support the health and wellbeing of UNC students and work collaboratively with stakeholders throughout UNC and the community towards that goal. There is much work to be done. Join us in our efforts by getting involved in ways that fit your needs.

POV: You’re Trying to be Outdoorsy After Sitting Inside for a Year

Carolina Adventure Chronicles | Part One: SUP, Supper, & Sunset 

I’m nearing the end of my time at Carolina, and as such, I have made it my personal mission to do and experience everything that UNC has to offer. This means saying “yes” to more invitations and jumping on all the events and opportunities I passed on in prior years. 

After spending nearly 18 months cooped up inside my house, I felt particularly drawn to Campus Rec’s outdoor expedition programs through Carolina Adventures. These expeditions transport students to scenic locations around North Carolina and surrounding states to do activities like backpacking, climbing, and kayaking. I was lucky enough to attend the most recent trip and the first trip held since March 2020: SUP, Supper, & Sunset.

First things first, SUP is an abbreviation for Stand-Up Paddleboard. It’s like a surfboard, but larger, more buoyant, and generally more stable in waves. In other words, it’s one of these:

I grew up by the ocean, so water sports were definitely up there on the list of things I’d missed since coming to UNC. I’d only been paddle boarding a handful of times before, and while I’m generally more of a kayak person, any excuse to get out on the water sounded like a good time to me.

Details & Departure

A few days before the trip, I received an email with loads of details about what to expect, what to bring, and where to meet. I appreciated how clear and communicative the Carolina Adventures staff was, and they seemed more than happy to answer any questions I had. 

The suggested items to bring were pretty standard: mask, bathing suit, water shoes, towel, water bottle, and snacks. The actual paddleboarding would take place Saturday evening on Jordan Lake (about 30 minutes south of campus), but we were set to depart from the Carolina Outdoor Education Center (OEC). 

FYI: the OEC is a hidden gem, and if you haven’t been yet, you’re missing out! It’s only a 10-20 minute walk from campus and has hiking trails, a disc golf course, tennis and sand volleyball courts, a climbing wall, and even a ropes course with ziplines!

Ropes Course at the Outdoor Education Center (OEC)

I arrived at the OEC around 5:00 PM on Saturday. The sun was just beginning to sink in the sky, but the heat from the day still lingered. I couldn’t wait to get in the water. 

I walked down one of the steepest hills I’d ever seen and sat at a wooden picnic table overlooking some tennis courts. There, I met one of the trip leaders. To my surprise, she was the same year and major as me. It turns out that a lot of the employees at the OEC are undergraduate students, which made the experience feel all the more casual. 

The “Meeting Spot” next to the tennis courts

As more students began to filter in, our trip leader gave us some medical forms to fill out and water bottles to take with us on the trip. Once everyone had gathered — 10 students in total — we began introductions. The group was a mix of undergrad and grad students of all skill levels. Several people had never touched a paddleboard before; one person used to work as a paddleboard instructor. One thing I liked was that there was never any sense of judgment or expectation that you should know what you’re doing. We were all students, and at the end of the day, we were there to learn.

Another thing the Carolina Adventures staff encouraged was the idea of “Challenge by Choice”. We all have a comfort zone. There are activities and situations that fit within our comfort zone, those that push the boundaries of our comfort zone, and those that far exceed our comfort zone. Where these boundaries begin and end is highly variable and up to the individual to determine. “Challenge by Choice” means choosing to take steps outside your comfort zone at your own pace and by your own motivation. Doing so provides opportunities for growth and personal achievement.

Challenge by Choice Chart

We played a few icebreaker games as the trip leaders loaded the trailer. Then, we packed into the van and began driving to Jordan Lake — paddleboards in tow. 

FYI: Jordan Lake is huge — 14,000-acres huge! This reservoir is surrounded by numerous access points with over 1,000 campsites, 14 miles of hiking trails, boat launches, beaches, and swimming areas!

Paddleboard Prep & Pizza

Thirty minutes on the road felt more like 10, as I had some fun conversations with my fellow paddleboarders. The excitement emanating from everyone on the bus was palpable. 

Once we arrived at the Farrington Point boat launch at Jordan Lake, we filed out of the van and began to help the trip leaders prep the paddleboards. We untied the boards from the trailer and hoisted them down onto the ground. The trip leaders pumped air into them, and a few of the students volunteered to help secure the fins and ankle straps.

The intense heat from earlier in the day had abated, and the air felt pleasantly warm. We gathered in a circle under the tree canopy for the “supper” portion of the evening. The trip leaders unveiled two of THE LARGEST PIZZAS I had ever seen from none other than Benny Capella’s. Each slice was bigger than my head. It took two people to carry one box. If you’ve ever wondered what a 28” pizza looks like, let me put it into perspective for you:

After we finished up dinner, the trip leaders ran through some safety instructions and suited us up with paddles and personal flotation devices (PFDs, formerly known as life jackets). Then, we were ready to go.

Smooth Sailing & Sunset

The boards proved to be a bit cumbersome to carry, but the walk to the water’s edge was only about 25 yards. I slid the nose of my board into the water, attached my ankle strap, waded out a few feet, hopped on the board, and pushed off of the sandy bottom with my paddle. 

My first “Challenge by Choice” was standing up. I set my paddle down on the board, placed my feet shoulder-width apart in the middle of the board to give myself more stability, and stood up. For a few moments, I was sure I would go flying into the water. I wobbled and teetered and tottered until I found my center of balance and came to a rest. 

The group waited for everyone to get situated on their boards before paddling east toward a bridge. We chatted amongst ourselves as white egrets flew overhead and blue herons stood stoically by the shoreline. 

We crossed under the bridge, and the lake opened up into another expansive section with an island at the center. We paddled past the island, gliding through gentle waves as the setting sun softened the sky to a pastel blue.

We paused at an outcropping of trees and several of the students (myself included) jumped into the water for a swim. The water was surprisingly warm — even warmer than the air at that point. After splashing around for a while, someone in the group challenged all of us to a race. Call it my second “Challenge by Choice” of the day. 

We lined up. I lowered my stance on my paddleboard to increase my balance. At the word “Go!”, I surged forward, furiously paddling with two strokes on each side of my board. I charged ahead, and with no predetermined finish line in sight, I paddled until my arms begged me to stop. Behind me, I heard boisterous cheering and the occasional splash as someone from the group lost their balance and fell headlong into the water. 

The group started back toward the shore just as the eastern sky turned a milky lavender color. The full moon, a vibrant pink and the largest I had ever seen, was just peeking above the trees on the horizon. I stared in awe and tried to follow the barely perceptible track of its upward movement. By the time we rounded the corner at the bridge, the moon had fully revealed itself from behind the horizon. It cast a wavering spotlight on the lake water down below. The western half of the sky was an artwork all its own. The sun, brushing up against the treeline, set the sky ablaze with color. The surface of the water was illuminated in a brilliant golden glow, while everything to my front was silhouetted black against it. 

Sunset over Jordan Lake

We reached the shore just as night fell and packed up the paddleboards. Before heading out, we did some reflecting on our experiences: the roses, the buds, and the thorns. The most common roses were the scenery, meeting new people, and learning something new. The most common thorn was the bugs (note to self: pack bug spray). We returned to the Outdoor Education Center around 9:30 PM and said our goodbyes. 

Truthfully, I had an amazing time on this trip, and I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone at UNC. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I signed up for several more trips this semester (Carolina Aventures series???). 

Signing up was easy at https://stayactive.unc.edu/ under Programs > Expeditions. Spots on each trip are limited, so only sign up if you are certain you will be able to go. Trips vary in their level of intensity and typically happen on weekends, although some trips happen over extended breaks. For example, Carolina Compass is a 4-day backpacking and rockclimbing expedition exclusive to first-year students that takes place over fall break. Be sure to read the details of each trip thoroughly before deciding, and don’t hesitate to reach out to staff with questions. 

These trips can be a fun activity to do with friends, but don’t be afraid to sign up by yourself. In fact, most people on the SUP trip had signed up by themselves. If you’re looking to step outside of your comfort zone and make new connections, I really recommend it. The casual environment and common interest (being outdoors!) make it really easy to get to know people. 

The friends we made along the way

Amp Your Mask

Masks work to help prevent COVID-19 infections.

  • Comfort – Remember, the best mask is the one you’ll wear. So find one that is comfortable.
  • Fit – the mask should fit tightly over your nose and chin with no gaps. A bendable nose bridge is important for ensuring a good fit.
  • Filtration – the mask should have 2 or more layers of material. Certain materials, such as those in surgical masks, are designed to remove small particles by making particles collide with and stick to the fibers of the material.

Amp up your mask game! 

⭐⭐⭐Good:

  • Any cloth or surgical mask is better than no mask.

⭐⭐⭐⭐Better:

  •  Double mask with an ASTM-certified surgical mask and a tight-fitting cloth mask. A surgical mask is an excellent filter, but by itself fits poorly and leaks. The cloth mask or fitter is intended to improve the fit of the surgical mask.
  • Or use an ASTM-certified surgical mask with a fitter to seal the mask to the face.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Best:

  • A KN95.
  • A tight-fitting cloth mask with a high-quality filter.

More mask tips – including masks for beards, how to wear gaiters/buffs to be more effective, and how to wash and remove masks – can be found at the CDC website.

10 Quick and Easy Ways to Manage Stress

Organize Yourself. Take better control of the way you’re spending your time and energy so you can handle stress more effectively. There are loads of tips and tricks online, or you can visit the Learning Center and talk with an academic coach to get tips especially for you.

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The port-a-john folks can do it and so can you!

Control Your Environment by controlling who and what is surrounding you. In this way, you can either get rid of stress or get support for yourself. Consider the people and places around you that give you joy as well as those that are a vortex of negativity or a force for good. Choose your people wisely!

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You choose. Just like the playground equipment says.

Extend compassion to yourself when things get hard or when you mess up. Know that you deserve compassion just like you would show a friend.  Everyone goes through difficult times and challenges. You are not alone.

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Sending yourself love notes and leaving them in the rain is optional.

Reward yourself by planning leisure activities into your life. It really helps to have something to look forward to. What are the activities that make you feel refreshed? Plan one for your next break!

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Sunsets in the mountains count as a reward.

Move your body – your health and productivity depend upon its ability to bring oxygen and food to its cells. Exercise your heart and lungs regularly. Move your body a minimum of three days per week for 15-30 minutes. This includes such activities as walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, aerobics, etc. We have a whole article dedicated to ideas to incorporate more movement into your life.

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Olympic speed not required.

Relax by taking your mind off your stress and concentrating on breathing and positive thoughts. Sleep, meditation, progressive relaxation, exercise, listening to relaxing music, communicating with friends and loved ones, etc.

Rest as regularly as possible. Sleep 7-8 hours a night. Take study breaks. There is only so much your mind can absorb at one time. It needs time to process and integrate information. A general rule of thumb: take a ten minute break every hour. Rest your eyes as well as your mind.

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Cats can be your guide here.

Be Aware of distress signals such as insomnia, headaches, anxiety, upset stomach, lack of concentration, colds/flu, excessive tiredness, etc. Remember, these can be signs of potentially more serious disorders (i.e., ulcers, hypertension, heart disease), and at the very least are markers that you might be overdoing things.

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Pay attention to your body! (drivers do not have access to the muffins).

Fuel yourself. Eat a balanced diet. Avoid depending on drugs and alcohol. Caffeine will keep you awake, but it also often makes it harder to concentrate. Your body responds to what you put in it – so be mindful of how you feed yourself.

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Balanced diet is great – bonus if you can actually balance plates.

Enjoy yourself. It has been shown that happier people tend to live longer, have less physical problems, and are more productive. Look for the humor in life when things don’t make sense. Remember, you are unique and deserve the best treatment from yourself.

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What ideas do you use to support your stress management? Leave us a comment below!

This article was written by Sara Stahlman, Marketing and Communication Coordinator for Campus Health and CAPS. She uses nature and play to manage her stress – usually at the same time. 

  1. Image credits:Organized by saird, Flickr Creative Commons

    Choose by Tony Webster, Flickr Creative CommonsLove yourself by Quinn Dombrowski Flickr Creative CommonsSunset by Sara StahlmanSprinting by Adi Probowo, Flickr Creative CommonsRelaxed cat by Robin Zebrowski, Flickr Creative CommonsCinderella by DirkJan Ranzin, Flickr Creative CommonsHappy by Franklin Hunting, Flickr Creative Commons

Answering students’ questions about close contacts, quarantine, and isolation at UNC

We know pandemic protocols have become complicated, and we also know y’all have a lot of questions. Here’s an overview of the Contact Tracing process, guidelines for close contacts, and links to the quarantine and isolation guidance.

Contact Tracing Process

  1. POSITIVE TEST: It all starts when someone tests positive for COVID-19.
  2. CONTACT TRACING INITIAL CONVERSATION: Contact tracers reach out to the person who tested positive to determine who in their circle was a potential close contact. The positive person’s name and information remains confidential.
    • WHO COUNTS AS A CLOSE CONTACT? A close contact is someone who has been within 6 feet of an infected person for more than 15 minutes cumulative time, regardless of whether a face mask was worn by either party. If you are not contacted or if a positive case is not in your household, then you are not identified as a close contact. For example, people who are at least six feet apart in a classroom or group setting will typically not be considered a close contact. 
  3. OUTREACH TO CLOSE CONTACTS: The contact tracing team will reach out to individuals who are potential close contacts and advise on next steps based on that individual’s specific situation.

Next steps: General Guidelines for Close Contacts

Remember, contact tracers will advise on next steps based on that individual’s specific situation. Here is general guidance:

Aysmptomatic close contacts can be tested at the Carolina Together Testing Program based on the timing in the chart above.

Any symptomatic close contacts should be tested at Campus Health as soon as symptoms arise.

If you test positive, notify Campus Health and follow isolation instructions.

As a member of the UNC-Chapel Hill community, you are required to comply with the COVID-19 Community Standards which include reporting a positive test, participating in COVID-19 contact tracing, and taking appropriate follow-up steps as directed by health officials such as entering quarantine or isolation or taking a COVID-19 test.

Tips for Physical Activity this Fall

Keep yourself active on campus this fall with these tips from Exercise Is Medicine at UNC:

  • Aim for 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week or 75 minutes of vigorous activity – walking, running, cycling or swimming would all qualify.
  • Perform resistance training twice a week. Work on all large muscle groups with compound movements.
  • Spend time outside. Research shows that exercise performed outside is more enjoyable and has mental health benefits.
  • Take advantage of UNC fitness and recreation resources such as group fitness classes, workout reservations, and outdoor adventures.

Exercise Is Medicine is a program at UNC Chapel Hill promoting physical activity as a vital sign of health.  EIM encourages faculty, staff and students to work together toward improving the health and well-being of the campus community by:

  • Making movement a part of the daily campus culture
  • Assessing physical activity at every student health visit
  • Providing students the tools necessary to strengthen healthy physical activity habits that can last a lifetime
  • Connecting university health care providers with university health fitness specialists to provide a referral system for exercise prescription

To learn more visit https://exss.unc.edu/exercise-is-medicine/eim-at-unc-chapel-hill/

Tips for Getting A Good Night’s Sleep

Sleep is one of the most important parts of maintaining a healthy body and mind. As a college student, you have lots of things that can work against you when it comes to getting the sleep you need (academic commitments, busy schedules, late night meetings, roommates and stress, just to name a few). The consequences of poor sleep can be major. Did you know people who have poor sleep have poor attention, decreased memory retention, increased likelihood of getting sick and increased likelihood of having an accident? Fortunately, we have some simple, easy to follow suggestions that will have you catching Zzz’s in no time.

Woman with eyes closed laying on a pillow

Sleep Hygiene

You may have heard this term before. Sleep Hygiene are the basic strategies we should all be following to give ourselves the best chance at getting a good night’s sleep. Read through this list and see if there are any ways you could make some changes to improve these sleep promoting behaviors.

  1. Limit Caffeine: No more than 3 cups per day. No caffeine in the late afternoon or evening hours (at least 4-6 hours before bed).
  • Limit Alcohol: May help you fall asleep at first but can lead to sleep disruption and make sleep less restful.
  • Exercise Regularly but not Close to Bedtime: Regular moderate exercise can improve quality of sleep.
  • Try a Light Bedtime Snack such as Milk, Peanut Butter, or Cheese: These foods contain chemicals your body uses to produce sleep and can make you drowsy. Avoid big meals close to bedtime.
  • Keep Your Bedroom Quiet and Dark: Noise and light can disrupt sleep; try white-noise machines or ear plugs to screen sounds if noise is unavoidable. Use eye masks if light is unavoidable.
  • Keep your Bedroom Cool: Temperatures above 75 degrees Fahrenheit can disrupt sleep.

Other Sleep Improvement Guidelines

While Sleep Hygiene strategies are a necessary foundation for quality sleep, they are unfortunately not sufficient. Here are some additional tips for improving and maintaining good sleep habits.

  1. Select a Standard Rising Time:  Set the time and stick to it every day, regardless of how much sleep you get each night. This will create a stable sleep pattern.
  • Use the Bed Only for Sleep and Sex: Do not read, watch TV, eat, study, use the phone or computer, or do other things that require you to be awake. These activities unintentionally train your brain to be awake in bed.
  • Get Out of Bed When You Can’t Sleep: Never stay in bed for extended periods of time without being asleep; this will increased frustration and worry about not sleeping and make it harder to sleep. It also creates a negative association with your bed/sleep time. If you are awake for 15-20 minutes, get out of bed no matter the time of night. Leave your room if you are able. Engage in relaxing, non-stimulating activities and don’t return to bed until you are ready to sleep.
  • Don’t Worry, Plan or Problem-Solve in Bed:  If your mind is racing, get out of bed and go to another room until you are able to return to bed without the worry. Consider setting aside time earlier in the night to worry so it’s less likely to follow you to bed.
  • Avoid Daytime Napping: Napping weakens sleep drive, making it more difficult to fall asleep at night.
  • Avoid Excessive Time in Bed:  Go to bed when you are sleepy but don’t go to bed so early that you spend more time in bed than you need; this can make sleep worse. Determine how much time you “need” for sleep and stick to it.

Adapted from Edinger & Carney, 2015 by Anna Lock, PsyD and Coordinator of the Integrative Health Program

Not Drinking or Getting High? No problem.

Pretty much every movie about college plays on the stereotypical party scenes. Do those kinds of parties happen sometimes? Sure. But the vast majority of college students choose not to drink or be high most of the time.

Don’t believe us? Here are some selected stats from UNC’s National College Health Assessment. This is a survey done by campuses throughout the country to learn about health trends. These numbers are from UNC only.

38% of students report NO use of alcohol in the past two weeks.

89% of students report no use of marijuana in the past two weeks.

96% of students report no use of other drugs in the past 3 months.

Whoa.

But numbers are numbers. Experiences matter too – and in my experience (I got my undergrad degree at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, a top party school then and now), I knew no person who was drunk or high all the time. We all were sober at least sometimes – some of us more than others.

Here’s what I learned:

1. Own your choices (and it’s ok to keep a drink in your hand).

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Most advice on staying sober at parties begins with how to hide that you are sober. “Keep a drink in your hand,” or “drink club soda with a twist and say it’s a vodka tonic,” are advice often given to those who aren’t drinking. Adhering to these suggestions lets you exist among less-than-discerning drunks without them noticing your lack of intoxication. But it also facilitates the false narrative that everyone is drinking – and the only way to have fun is to drink.

Pretending to drink can be an easier entry into the world of partying sober, so if you are feeling uncomfortable without something in your hand, by all means, get yourself a non-alcoholic beverage.

But, if the folks you’re hanging out with are uncomfortable with you being sober, that’s on them. Show the world that you can still have fun sober! Talk about why you are making the decision – whether it’s for tonight or forever.  “I’m training for a marathon,” “I don’t like losing control,” “I find that I enjoy myself more when I’m sober,” “I am in recovery,” or “I just don’t drink/use” –  whatever your reason is, own it. There’s no shame in that choice – again, EVERYONE chooses to be sober sometimes.

2. Find your people.

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My friends are the kind of people who (regardless of sobriety) wear costumes, storm empty dance floors and sing while biking home. I have self-conscious friends too, but I always gravitated towards those folks who could be publicly silly. Those are my kind of people – who are yours?

I promise there are people at UNC who have ideas similar to yours about what makes for fun and connection. Notice the students who don’t participate in the all-night beer pong or those who avoid getting high – befriend them. Make some friends through mutual interests like sports or student orgs. People dedicated to training or pursuing an interest likely have less interest in partying.

3. Have fun!

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Some of my favorite memories of partying from college came from the anticipation of a party – hanging out in our dorm room, getting dressed, listening to music, and eating dinner together. Get excited for going out even when you’re not using drugs and alcohol. And once you’re at the party, enjoy yourself! The parties I went to sober often included plenty of folks who were not sober, which meant that the main thing holding me back from being my outgoing, silly self was me. I soon realized I could be sober and have a great time. Really.

4. Do things besides party.

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When I do party, I usually play games or dance. Standing around and chatting never held much interest for me. So finding fun ways to interact while sober came naturally to me. Here are some things I did in college besides party:

  • Concerts. I saw some great bands live – many for free! – while in college.
  • Break bread. Eating together is the ultimate community-builder. Host a potluck or visit a favorite local restaurant.
  • Enjoy a live sports game. My friends and I became the loud fans at every home volleyball game. By the end of my time as an undergrad, we knew most of the players and had spent hours of enjoyment cheering on our team (and gently heckling the other teams). We liked volleyball because one voice could be heard throughout the gym – but any sport will do. UNC has an amazing men’s basketball team (duh) AND loads of other amazing D1 and club sports teams who would love for you to become their biggest fans.
  • Play!  I had friends who kept a running tally of their card game scores on the walls in their dining room. We loved playing games together – intramural and pickup sports, board games, cards, charades, sardines (it’s like reverse hide and seek! And super fun to play in public spaces). Create or find opportunities for the activities you find fun without substances and encourage others to do them with you!
  • Host parties that revolve around doing something besides drinking or getting high. Schedule a mystery night, plan party games that require skill and critical thinking, show movies, run a book club, hold a cooking competition, etc. When people are focused on an actual activity rather than simply gathering, there is often a lot less pressure to drink and a lot more pressure to stay focused on the tasks at hand.

Remember, we all came to college with a goal in mind. Keep your eyes on the prize!  For more information around alcohol decisions visit alcohol.unc.edu.

If alcohol and drugs are getting in the way of your goals, you can always connect with Student Wellness to talk about strategies to reduce your risk.

And y’all are our best resource. If you have other ideas to share with UNC students on this topic – send ’em our way!

This article was written by Sara Stahlman, Marketing and Communication Coordinator for UNC Campus Health Services. 

Wellness Checklist for Incoming UNC Students

noun_Checkbox_798260.pngEstablish healthy habits.

  • Schedule physical activity, healthy eating and stress reduction like you schedule your classes. If you schedule it into your day now, you’re less likely to skip it later. Bonus points for adding in social support – like by joining an intramural or club team, or scheduling fun fitness activities with friends.DSC_2340

noun_Checkbox_798260.pngFind and explore spaces to help you stay healthy at UNC.

  • Campus Rec offers 10 facilities that host all kinds of fitness classes, outdoor adventures, team sports and aquatics. You have already paid to access these facilities in your tuition and fees so take full advantage!
  • Dining Services alone has 14 locations across campus, plus there are many options nearby in the community. Look for diverse options and nutrient-dense, yummy food!
  • Campus Health hosts a wide range of services including Sports Medicine, International Travel Clinic, Nutrition Services and more. Counseling and Psychological Services is located in the same facility.
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noun_Checkbox_798260.pngFind local health care. Connect to a primary care provider and pharmacy.

  • You have already paid for services at Campus Health through tuition and fees, so you can come see a provider during the week at no further cost to you!
  • You can also schedule Campus Health appointments when it’s convenient for you online.
  • Campus Health offers same day care visits for urgent needs 7 days a week during the semester (weekend visits have a service charge associated with them that is not covered by the health fee or insurance – but all other days are already paid for with your student fees!).
  • Visit one of the two on-campus pharmacies – Campus Health Pharmacy or Student Stores Pharmacy to get the prescription and over the counter items you need. Most items available at lower costs than other pharmacies.
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noun_Checkbox_798260.pngMake your mental health a priority.

  • Start making friends! You are now in community with more than 5000 UNC students also new to campus. Some of your soon-to-be lifelong friends are among them.
  • Get involved in campus organizations that interest you. This is one easy way to find people with similar interests. Search for what fits you using Heel Life.
  • Seek professional help before things get awful – ideally as soon as you start to feel overwhelmed. Initial visits to Counseling and Psychological Services are available Monday – Thursday from 9-12, and 1-4 and Fridays 9:30-12 and 1-4. These have already been paid for in tuition and fees!
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noun_Checkbox_798260.pngGet involved for a better UNC and a better you.

  • Grow your leadership skills, your intellect and your circle of friends by getting involved in something larger than yourself. Loads of opportunities exist on Heel Life.
  • You can also get involved in health through Student Wellness!
    • Attend a health-related event on campus.
    • Connect with Student Wellness or CAPS to provide education and outreach to your student group.
    • Join a Peer Health Organization.
    • Register for a workshop or training.
    • Visit Student Wellness for resources, a piece of fruit, or cup of coffee. On us!

noun_Checkbox_798260.pngFind a system that works for you.

  • Use a planner or an app to stay organized and proactive about your health and well-being.
  • The Learning Center offers amazing resources including test prep, academic coaching, peer tutoring, workshops and a website full of resources (all at no cost!).
  • The Writing Center helps students become stronger, more flexible writers. Work with coaches face-to-face or online at any stage of the writing process, for any kind of writing project. And check out their online resources for tips about many common writing challenges.

We know you want to stay healthy at Carolina, and we are here to help! Reach out if you have questions @UNCHealthyHeels or healthyheels@unc.edu.

Adapted from The Ohio State University

Photos 2 and 3 by UNC Chapel Hill