Around finals time, all of UNC rallies around students to support your well-being. Here are the events happening on campus. Know of more? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Around finals time, all of UNC rallies around students to support your well-being. Here are the events happening on campus. Know of more? Email us at email@example.com.
There are certain times of year that are decidedly not fun to be single. Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve, the weeks leading up to my senior prom, and standing in line to ride the Ferris Wheel at the state fair are just a few examples. And at first glance, an entire month centered around healthy relationships and relationship violence awareness may not seem inclusive of single people either. Relationship Violence Awareness Month (RVAM) rolls around every October, right around the time people start going on dates to pumpkin patches and planning fun couple’s Halloween costumes. However, when you look closer, RVAM is a lot more inclusive than third wheeling your roommate and her S.O.’s pumpkin-spice latte date.
Relationship Violence (RV) encompasses a lot more than just intimate or romantic partners. It includes anyone in any kind of relationships – friends, roommates, co-workers, acquaintances, causal sexual partners, group project members, professors and more. All of these relationships could potentially become unhealthy or even abusive. Carolina chooses to focus on RV in RVAM rather than the traditionally celebrated DVAM (domestic violence awareness month) because it’s a better representation of the variety of relationships here at UNC. So clearly, even perpetually single Tar Heels like me can benefit from RVAM programming.
So amidst the cute hayride dates and football games, we can take time to make all of our relationships a little healthier. Even the oldest, strongest, relationships aren’t conflict free (my roommates can attest to that one). Arguments, disagreements, and general annoyances crop up, and learning how to handle those can make all the difference.
How are we supposed to go about addressing these conflicts? The secret lies in communication. Letting problems continue to go unresolved can turn small issues into big ones, so setting aside some time to talk can really make all the difference. When you do, experts from the National Domestic Violence Hotline suggest to keep a few things in mind:
For other helpful tips about resolving conflict, check out these lists of communication suggestions from the National Domestic Violence Hotline and loveisrespect.org, or check out this image for what not to do when resolving conflict. If you’re feeling confused about what is going on with a relationship, check out this page on examples of unhealthy or abusive actions or this list of questions to ask yourself.
Even though all relationships have their moments of conflict, it is never okay for you to feel intimidated, controlled, or powerless in the relationship. If someone is threatening you, humiliating you, or treating you disrespectfully, you may be experiencing relationship abuse. If this is the case, look here for a list of services on or around campus that can help.
To continue learning about Healthy Relationships, take this module created by the LGBTQ Center and Student Wellness! It provides great guidance on how to sustain healthy relationships and local resources you can access. This module is centered on the experiences of LGBTQ+ people.
For more information about on and off campus resources, check out safe.unc.edu
This blog was written by Izzie Hirschy, a Student Wellness Violence Prevention Intern and UNC honors student double majoring in Political Science & Peace, War and Defense with a Social and Economic Justice Minor. She’s also the assistant Vice Present for New Member Education in Delta Advocates.
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.
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. Choose your people wisely!
Love Yourself by showing yourself compassion. 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.
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!
Exercise Your Body since your health and productivity depend upon your body’s 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.
Relax Yourself by taking your mind off your stress and concentrating on breathing and positive thoughts. Dreaming counts, along with meditation, progressive relaxation, exercise, listening to relaxing music, communicating with friends and loved ones, etc.
Try this 2 minute yoga routine by UNC CAPS’ Linda Chupkowski.
Be Aware of Yourself. 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).
Feed Yourself/Do Not Poison Your Body. 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.
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 very special and deserve only the best treatment from yourself.
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.
Sunset by Sara Stahlman
Resilience is often misunderstood. A lot of people think of football players when they think of resilience – able to take a hit, pick themselves up off the turf, and go for another play. Well-meaning students trying to celebrate resilience might support each other staying up until 3am trying to finish a paper.
A resilient person is a well-rested one. When an exhausted student goes to class, he lacks cognitive resources to do well academically, he has lower self-control, and he’s often moody AF (not sure we can use that abbreviation here, but we’re going to because moodiness from not sleeping is for real).
Overwork and exhaustion are the opposite of resilience.
Resilience is the adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or stress. It means rebounding from difficult experiences.
The more time a person spends in their performance zone, they more time they need in the recovery zone. So the more imbalanced we become due to overworking, the more value there is in activities that allow us to return to a state of balance. In other words, the value of a recovery period rises in proportion to the amount of work required of us.
Most people assume that if you stop doing a task, like working on your Bio Chem homework, that your brain will naturally recover. When you start again the next morning, you’ll have your energy back. But we are confident that most of us reading this has had times where we lie in bed for hours, unable to fall asleep because our brain is thinking about all the things we need to do. If we lie in bed for eight hours, we certainly have have rested, but we can still feel exhausted the next day. Rest and recovery are not the same thing. Stopping does not equal recovering.
Internal recovery is the short periods of relaxation that take place throughout our day – via short scheduled or unscheduled breaks, shifting our attention, or changing to other tasks when the mental or physical resources required for task completion are depleted.
External recovery refers to actions that take place outside of scheduled work – so evenings, weekends, holidays, vacations. If after your day you lie around and get riled up by news you read on your phone or stress about the paper you have due on Monday, your brain hasn’t received a break from high mental arousal. Our brains need rest as much as our bodies.
In other words – it’s taking time to do things that are fun and enjoyable. It’s doing different things like going outside and moving your body. It’s letting your brain take a rest by unplugging and getting good sleep.
Ideas to help:
But when all’s said and done, the best person to tell you how to recharge is YOU. You know what makes you feel refreshed – do those things! At least one of them every day.
This article was adapted from Resilience is About How You Recharge Not How You Endure to make it more relevant to UNC students by Sara Stahlman, Marketing and Communication Coordinator for Campus Health Services and CAPS.
Resilience is the word of choice these days for what differentiates between college students who thrive and those who just survive.
Resilience is process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress. It means bouncing back from difficult experiences.
There are loads of ways to build resilience. We’ll give you 55 of them.
Build resilience by making connections
Build resilience by learning to avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems, by accepting that change is part of living, by keeping things in perspective. Learn about yourself from the situation.
Physical Problem Solving
Psychological Problem Solving
Emotional Problem Solving
Spiritual Problem Solving
Academic Problem Solving
Build resilience by moving towards your goals, even (or especially) in small steps, by taking action instead of “wishing it would go away”. Maintain hope: visualize what you want, rather than worry about what you fear. Nurture a positive view of yourself.
Physical Baby Steps to Reaching Any Goal
Psychological Baby Steps to Reaching Any Goal
Emotional Baby Steps to Reaching Any Goal
Spiritual Baby Steps to Reaching Any Goal
Academic Baby Steps to Reaching Any Goal
In Housing: Talk to your RA about activities on your floor that can increase feelings of connection, reach out to someone on the floor who is shyer than you are. Practice problem solving when conflicts arise with your roommate or others on the floor, talk with your RA about how to approach sensitive interpersonal situations in the residence hall.
In Campus Recreation: Participate in an intramural sport team, get a new buddy to go with you to work out. Establish a regular exercise routine. Take a yoga class, establish a workout program.
In Counseling and Psychological Services: Join a therapeutic group, resolve any personal issues that present a barrier to close connections. Talk to a therapist about negative feelings and mood before they become more troublesome. Learn about mindfulness and other relaxation skills; learn to meditate, develop emotional regulation skills.
In classes you take: Say hello to someone in your class, participate in a study group, try to get to know one of your instructors better. Use your classes to notice emerging strengths, pay attention to what is going right for you in class on a regular basis, instead of focusing only on what might be going wrong.
At University Career Services: Build the capacity to make realistic plans and take steps to carry them out, talk to a career counselor about your short-term and long term plans. Get help putting together your resume, plan on getting an internship.
In Student Wellness: Get information to help you understand a holistic perspective on health and wellness, and use this knowledge to make healthier and safer decisions in areas that are important to college students like stress, sleep, alcohol and drugs, sexual health, and financial wellness. Become a peer advocate for an issue you feel strongly about.
Written by Sara Stahlman, Marketing and Communication Coordinator for Campus Health Services and CAPS
Resilience by Jimmy Hiliaro, Flickr Creative Commons
Connecting with others in college has often been viewed as a distraction from the ultimate goals of your education. But recent research is showing the clear benefits of a social network of friends to personal well-being and academic success. Bonus: all parties reap the rewards of friendship!
Here are ways you can help each other succeed:
Any of your friends can proofread your papers or remind you of due dates. And you can build friendships from your academic interactions.
These types of friendships have been shown to have the most positive academic impact on everyone’s academic success.
Celebrate efforts together. After your friend has been studying non-stop for an exam, go to a soccer game together to celebrate being done studying. As a reminder: focus on the effort rather than the outcome. An A on a test is great, but your friend will feel more supported when you notice the time she put into studying instead of the grade received.
Hang out while moving your body – go for bike rides, walk and talk, play a round of golf – whatever sounds fun. Be body positive and food positive – no body- or food-shaming allowed! Encourage sleep and find ways to help your friends sleep well. Earplugs, white noise machines, and light-blocking window shades or eye masks are helpful gifts to friends or roommates.
We know the typical answer to “how are you doing?” is “stressed” or “busy.” But this perpetuates the idea that to be a UNC student means you’re constantly stressed. A better answer? “Life is full right now.” Or telling your friend something fun you recently did and asking them what they’ve been doing to take a break.
Feeling genuinely heard and accepted is one of our most important needs. Providing empathy and acceptance is one of the most soothing things one can do for another.
As the listener:
What did your family do to support you that you loved? Some ideas:
Ultimately, you have an opportunity at UNC to create the community you need to be successful here. Sometimes that takes a bit of vulnerability to put yourself out there or to be honest with someone about your current challenges, but we guarantee it’s worth the effort.
Having trouble getting connected? If you’re in the residence hall, check in with your RA or Community Director staff. If you’re not living on campus, look into student organizations that fit your interests.
This blog was written by Sara Stahlman, Marketing and Communication Coordinator.
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. As you’ll notice the actual use versus perceived use is pretty striking…
37% of students report no use of alcohol in the past 30 days, but the perception is that only 7% of students have not used alcohol in the past 30 days.
82% of students report no use of marijuana in the past 30 days, but perception is that only 16% of students have not used marijuana in the past 30 days.
88% of students report no use of other drugs in the past 30 days, but the perception is that only 22% of students have not used other drugs in the past 30 days.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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:
Remember, we all came to college with a goal in mind. Keep your eyes on the prize!
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.
Sleep. Wonderful, elusive sleep. When you sleep well, you mind is rested and your body is restored after the wear and tear of everyday life. People who get 8-10 hours of sleep a night have been found to run faster, have lower stress levels, avoid accidents, and live an overall happier life. But what happens when our commitments interfere with our sleep schedule?
Being in college can–unfortunately for many–mean sacrificing getting a proper night’s sleep in order to balance academics, extracurriculars, and a fulfilling social life. The negative effects of sleep deprivation are well documented, and can range from impaired memory and critical thinking skills, weight gain, and even severe health problems like heart disease over time. You can implement proven techniques that support normal, quality nighttime sleep and full daytime alertness.
What are some things you’d want in your sleep sanctuary? Let us know in the comments!
This blog was originally posted in September 2016 by Kristan Rosenthal. It has been edited for clarity.
What percentage of your day are you moving your body in diverse ways? If you’re anything like me, it’s a struggle to get a workout in once a day for an hour. And even if I do that, I am still only four percent more active than someone who doesn’t exercise at all. While that four percent absolutely makes a difference, what we do the other 23 hours of the day are much more important than the one hour of exercise.
We have engineered movement out of our lives. We don’t walk places anymore. We no longer harvest and prepare our own food. We no longer chew things that are tough anymore. Those with new cars don’t even have to turn their head to back up in vehicles because of the backup camera.
If you had the choice, do you think you would sit as much as you do? Would you walk as little as you do? Would you think of exercise as something that has to be scheduled?
Our bodies were designed to move in a variety of ways. If you really want to move more, you have to add diverse movements into every day.
We spend the majority of our waking hours in a seated position and most often it’s the exact same one: sitting in a chair. Katy Bowman, biomechanist and writer, says we’re overdosing on sitting in the same way we overdose on carbs and sugar.
Here are some ways to start changing how you sit:
The soles of your feet have lots of nerve endings. Before people wore shoes, our feet passed along sensory information to the brain to help make decisions about how and where we walked. Shoes cut off the communication between our feet and the natural world. So…
The real difference between exercise and movement is that exercise is done purely for health benefits. The downside of exercise is the reliance on repetitive motions that can cause injuries and tension.
Natural movement is a similar physical process to exercise, but occurs throughout your day, not just in a gym. Your natural movements are also less predictable, engage more of your body and aren’t scheduled.
Here are some ways to increase the health benefits of your natural daily movements:
The more you can move throughout the day, the better. The more fun it is, the more often you’ll want to do it.
Often, incorporating more movement into your day requires multitasking with movement and your other responsibilities. Be sure to also do some movements each day with attention. Consider what messages your body is learning through the soles of your feet. Think about what smells you take in and what messages your body learns when the breeze touches your skin. Think about all the tiny movements in your feet and ankles when you walk across uneven surfaces. One of the easiest ways to do this is to leave your phone at home and take a walk through the woods, looking for interesting mini-adventures on the way. Balance on a log. Climb a tree. Look for animals. Jump from rock to rock. And do it all with awareness. You’ll be amazed what you gain from the experience.
To learn more about this philosophy of movement, check out articles and books by Katy Bowman.
This article was written by Sara Stahlman, Marketing and Communication Coordinator with Campus Health Service.
Living in a small space is virtually guaranteed on campus. Residence hall rooms are one of those small spaces – and they also provide connection with other students, resources and groups on campus. One technique to stay healthy on campus is to set up those small spaces for your academic success. Here are our tips to do just that: