Resilience is How You Recharge (not How You Endure)

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.

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Jumping over an official to make a left-handed grab likely requires some resilience.          But there are better examples.

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.

A resilient person tries really hard, then stops to rest, then tries again.

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.

What is recovery?

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.

If you really want to build resilience, you can start by strategically stopping to rest.

Ideas to help:

  • Have tech free time. Apps like Offtime or Unplugged to create tech free zones by strategically scheduling automatic airplane modes.
  • Set a timer to take a cognitive break every 90 minutes when you’re studying to recharge your batteries.
  • Don’t do work over lunch. Instead spend time outside or with your friends — not talking about school.
  • Get good sleep!
  • Balance your class schedule so that no one day is overfilled.
  • Take day trips or mini-vacations, preferably outdoors.
  • Find things that make you laugh.
  • Give yourself permission to get distracted. Sometimes those distractions can be brain breaks.

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. 

6 Tips for Finals Success

Finals makes many students feel anxious, intimidated, and stressed. Feeling overwhelmed by the difficulty of making through final exams is a common theme for UNC students. Exam success can still be in your future! Here are 6 tips from the UNC Learning Center that might help you or your friends:

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Photo: “Finals Week Sping 2012-005” by Penn State. Flickr Creative Commons.

1. Prioritize to help make decisions about how much time to allot to prep for each exam.

  • Which exams will be hardest?
  • What portion of my grade is each exam worth?
  • How much time should I spend on each exam based on how I answered those questions?

2. Find out what you know. 

Use your syllabi to make a list of key concepts you need to know for the test.

Hide all notes and books and test your understanding on each key concept. Ask yourself how well you can summarize main ideas, do sample problems, recall facts from memory, and apply concepts in a new way.

Finally, rate yourself. How did you do? Rate your skill and understanding on each bit of content from your list using this sample scale: 3= I know this well | 2= I know this some | 1= don’t know this at all

3. Make a smart study plan.

Make a study guide, merging main ideas from class notes and readings.

Find ways to actively engage with the material and stay accountable to learning. Reviewing lecture notes and assigned readings can often be too passive.  Use active study strategies to practice the content you rated with a 1 or 2:

  • Make mind maps, time-lines, or flashcards.
  • Study with a partner.
  • Teach concepts to someone else.
  • Write or speak aloud the main ideas.
  • Generate higher-level thinking questions to test yourself with.

4. Make a smart study plan (part deux).

Once you’ve selected study tasks for the concepts you rated 1 and 2, estimate how much time you will need to complete them. Look over your calendar and lay out a plan, noting exactly what you will be doing and for how long. Break down studying into specific, discrete tasks. “Study Chem” is too vague.  “Complete practice problems from chapter 3” is specific. Estimate how long each task might take and compare it to available time.  Create an “appointment” to complete practice problems.

5. Test yourself.

When you’ve completed your Study Plan, it’s time to test yourself again. Hide all your materials and test your understanding on concepts you rated 1 and 2 the same way you did in Step 1.

  • Can you do a problem from memory?
  • Can you restate or rewrite what you learned?
  • Can you teach these concepts to a friend?
  • Can you answer questions you generated (not simple recall!)

Still stuck on a particular concept? Keep practicing!

6. Come to the Learning Center!

In addition to the strategies above, you can come to the Learning Center for our Study Boot Camps. Find out more about our Boot Camps and other services such as Academic Coaching and Peer Tutoring at http://learningcenter.unc.edu/.

This blog article was written by Bob Pleasants, Assistant Director of the UNC Learning Center. It has been edited for clarity and reposted. 

Friends with (Grade-Improving) Benefits: Finals Edition

Connecting with others during college, and especially stressful study season, has often been viewed as a distraction from success. But recent research is showing the clear benefits of friends to both your personal well-being and academic success. Bonus: both you and your buddies reap the rewards of friendship!

Here are ways you can help each other succeed during Finals Season:

Support each other’s work.

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Even pets can help!

You can help your friends in so many ways – and doing so will help you too!

  • Use study groups to amplify your learning.
  • Teach each other the information you’ve learned.
  • Quiz each other on information you’ll need to know.
  • Proofread each other’s essays.
  • Hold each other accountable to study goals.

Affirm each other.

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A high five while jumping in the snow is one of the best affirmations.

Celebrate efforts together. After y’all have been studying for a while, find something healthy and fun to do 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 everyone will feel more supported when others notice the time put into studying instead of the grade received.

Support healthy behaviors.

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Generally doing anything that makes you feel like a kid again counts as health-supportive.

When you celebrate study sessions or the end of finals, do it in a healthy way. Move your body together – go for bike rides, walk and talk, play a round of golf – whatever sounds fun to everyone. 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 during finals and always!

Avoid stress competition.

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Stress is not a competition.

We know the typical answer to “how are you doing?” – especially during finals – is “stressed” or “busy.” But this perpetuates the idea that to survive at UNC means being constantly stressed. A better answer? “I have been working hard.” Or tell your friend something fun you recently did and asking them what they’ve been doing to take a break.

Listen.

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Even the walls recognize the importance of listening.

Feeling genuinely heard and accepted is one of our most important needs, and it doesn’t go away during finals.  Providing empathy and acceptance is one of the most soothing things one can do for another.

As the listener:

  • Try to give your full attention.
  • Show that you are listening by maintaining eye contact.
  • Use body language to show you’re paying attention. Nodding your head and mirroring your friend’s feelings with your facial expressions can make people feel heard.
  • Listen non-judgmentally – meaning resist the impulse to judge who is right or wrong, good or bad, should or should not have done something.
  • Try not to make assumptions.
  • Reflect back what you hear and ask the person with, “did I get it?”
  • Ask, “What would help?”
  • Don’t be too quick to “fix” the problem or give advice.  Make sure you show you understand what the other person’s needs and feelings are first.

Be like family.

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Hugs for the win!

What did your family do to support you during high-stress times? Some ideas:

  • Cook each other dinner.
  • Ask if your friend needs anything when you head to the store.
  • Invite your friend to join you on study breaks.
  • Walk together to get to study locations.
  • Make your shared living spaces environments that are great for studying and connecting.
  • Find healthy ways to celebrate when classes or a big final are over.
  • Be authentic with each other.

Ultimately, you help create the vibe on campus during finals and the community you need to be successful. We guarantee that supporting your friends and the benefits you’ll reap in return will be worth it.

This blog was written by Sara Stahlman, Marketing and Communication Coordinator and revised for finals. 

Mindfulness During Finals Season

Finals season might be a daunting time to try something new, but if you’re going to try anything to help you be successful during finals – try mindfulness.

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A busy mind – especially during finals.

It’s a practice, for sure, but even with one session, you brain will be shifting it’s patterns of worry and anxiety to paying more attention to the present moment with intention, without judgment, and with an attitude of acceptance.

You could start by focusing on how your breath feels, noticing that you’re feeling tired, noticing how the warm sun feels on your skin. You don’t need to do anything about your experience, you just need notice it and then simply turn your attention to whatever comes next.

If you want to do more, consider meditation. You do not have to be part of a special group to start a meditation practice. You can practice alone or with a group of friends.

Basic Meditation

  1. Find a comfortable place to sit, whether it’s in a chair, on a mat, on the floor, just wherever works best for you.
  2. Sit in a dignified way – not too ridged and not slouching.
  3. You can keep your eyes open or even half open. You can also close them if that’s comfortable. Just try to avoid falling asleep.
  4. Now, bring your attention to the sensation of your breath. Notice how the cool air feels as it enters through your nostrils.
  5. Now move your attention down to your chest and belly. Notice how the chest and belly expand out with each inhalation, and contracts or flattens out on the exhalation. See if you can count at least 5 exhalations.
  6. If you notice that your focus starts to drift away from your breath and to your thoughts, for example, just notice that this has happened and slowly, without any judgment, bring your full attention and awareness back to the sensation of the breath. Just be sure that you don’t beat yourself because your mind wandered
  7. Try and keep your attention on the breath for just 10 minutes. It’s not easy, but keep at it!

If it’s easier, you can do this with audio instead of written instructions.

Walking Meditation

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Beach not necessary, but a bonus if you’ve got one!

You can do this as you’re walking between classes, or anywhere on campus, and no one has to know that you’re doing it (unless you want them to know).

  1. Bring your attention to your feet, and notice what it feels like to have them firmly on the ground. You may notice how your shoes and socks feel on your feet.
  2. While lifting each foot and leg off the ground, try to notice how it feels to lift your foot and leg into the air.
  1. While alternating each foot and leg, notice the experience of your weight shifting as you move forward.
  1. Bring your awareness to your upper body and pay attention to your arms as they swing and any other motion you feel in your upper body as you walk.

Audio file version! 

Moving Meditation for Individuals in a Wheelchair

Use a wheelchair? No problem! You can do this too!

  1. Bring your attention to your arms and hands as they move back and you get ready to push your wheels.
  1. You may notice how the muscles in your back squeeze together or how your shoulder muscles stretch.
  1. Notice what your hands feel as they grip your wheels.
  1. Finally, see what you experience as you start to push your wheels. You may feel the muscles in your biceps and triceps flexing and stretching. Don’t worry if you don’t notice this. Just bring your full attention to what you do feel.

You’re now on your way to having your own mindfulness practice. Now, go out there and start giving your attention to each moment! You never know what you might discover.

Originally posted in 2014, this post has been updated for clarity. In 2014, Dennis Carmody was an MPH candidate in the Health Behavior department at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and enjoying his summer practicum with the great folks at UNC Student Wellness.

Finals Nutrition: Fuel your Brain

For many people, the nutrition facts found on the back of food packages are confusing. They are meant for the general population, and thus cannot provide the information necessary for individual dietary needs. Your individual needs are based on your gender, age, size, physical activity level, and many other factors.

According to UNC Campus Health’s registered dietitian, most students only need to follow one simple rule to eat healthy during finals and otherwise: MyPlate.

 Image courtesy of ChooseMyPlate.gov.
Image courtesy of ChooseMyPlate.gov.

MyPlate is an easy nutrition guide. It reminds us to fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables, with the other half split equally with grains and protein. Following MyPlate means you’re more likely to eat balanced meals and snacks that meet your nutritional needs.

Think about a “typical” American breakfast. 1/2 of it as fruits and veggies? That’s not going to happen with a bowl of cereal or oatmeal, or a plate of bacon and eggs. Eating the nutrient-dense colorful fruits and veggies takes a bit of effort and creativity!

Some examples of a well-balanced meal:

  • Spaghetti with heavy-on-the-veggies sauce plus a salad on the side.
  • Pizza with veggies on top and a salad on the side.
  • Breakfast salad (e.g. eggs and bacon on top of greens and roasted veggies)
  • Quinoa salad

A well-balanced snack can use the Plate method as well, or think about making sure each snack has fat, fiber and protein.

  • Yogurt and granola with berries on top
  • Fresh veggies and hummus
  • Almonds and kale chips
  • Good ol’ raisins and peanuts
  • Apple and nut butter

These can be tough to find on campus – so plan ahead and bring them with you!

Finals is a tough time, but will be even tougher if you don’t nourish your body and brain.

If you are interested in receiving more information about nutrition, make an appointment with Nutrition Services at Campus Health Services.

This post was adapted from one by Justin Chu, a former nutrition graduate student and program assistant at Student Wellness. 

5 Money Strategies for UNC Students

Managing money as a college student is not easy. Tuition, housing, food are all expensive – not to mention the costs of extracurricular activities (the fun stuff!).  Some ways to help your finances stay afloat in college:

  1. Make yo’self a budget! This is the most important step. You need to know how much money you have saved as well as income – wages, scholarships, etc. Then you need to try to think through what expenses you might have. This isn’t always easy! But think through costs such as school supplies, food outside your meal plan, personal care items, laundry, cell phones, subscriptions, etc. Then try managing your budget and tracking expenses. This can be done by hand, using a digital spreadsheet, or just signing up for an online personal finance management tool like Mint.com.
  2. Separate wants from needs. These are personal decisions. After a few months on campus and tracking expenses (again, super easy with Mint.com or other applications like it), you will be able to see patterns and put a plan into action to minimize unnecessary spending. Some students get out as much cash as they can spend on “wants” each week and only pay with dolla’ bills. Once they run out, they wait until next week for more.american-express-89024
  3. Use, don’t abuse, credit cards. College is a great time to start building credit, a crucial aspect for leasing an apartment, purchasing a car, and someday buying a house – but it’s easy to build up loads of debt while at UNC. To build credit, pay off your credit card every month. That means you can only spend on the card what you have in your accounts already.
  4. Research loans and financial aid. Understand what your student loan debt will be upon graduation and plan how you will pay it back.
  5. Shop smart. Textbooks are one of the biggest college expenses – find ways to make that expense cheaper. Look at your monthly recurring  charges. Subscription services add up – are there any you don’t need? Cell phone bills can often be made cheaper with family and friends plans or using a pay-as-you-go version. Coupons and sales are everywhere. There are almost always ways to minimize costs on purchases!

I Manage Money Shirt Design 2018

Employing basic money management now will set you up for success later. Plus good financial habits help you handle more and more responsibility around money when you move on from UNC. For more tips:

CashCourse.org has accurate, easy to understand and college-centric financial management information. Just make yourself a free account using your UNC email address. It covers loans, saving for spring break, studying abroad,  jobs, taxes and more.  There are even worksheets and tools that you can use to help get your finances in order, meet a savings goal or determine your spending allowance.

The Dean of Students Office provides financial literacy events on campus such as “Ballin’ on a Budget” and “Swiper, No Swiping. Debunking Credit Myths.” You can hop into one of those or request one for your organization.

Overcome Imposter Syndrome

High achieving folks (ahem, UNC students) and self-doubt go together like PB&J.

Have you ever felt like you don’t deserve your accomplishments? That you’re in over your head and someone might notice?  If so, you’re not alone. The tendency to diminish obvious evidence of our abilities is called “imposter syndrome.” And it is an issue for many successful people.

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Psychologist Pauline Rose Clance, a therapist who worked with undergraduate students, noticed that while many of her clients got good grades and had all the markers of being a successful person, they believed they didn’t deserve to be at their college. Some went so far as to think that their acceptance had been an admissions error. Clance knew these fears were inaccurate, but she also recalled feeling the same way herself while in grad school. She decided to study that feeling of fraudulence.

Who feels like an imposter?

Feeling like an imposter is an almost universal experience of humanity. It’s not a disease. It’s not tied to mental health issues. There is no level of accomplishment that puts these feelings to rest – people as highly revered as Maya Angelou and Albert Einstein expressed feelings of imposter syndrome. Clance researched people with diverse gender identities, races, ages, and occupations, and found imposter syndrome virtually everywhere, though more prevalent in underrepresented or disadvantaged groups.

Where do these feelings of being an imposter come from?

People who are highly skilled or accomplished (people like YOU) tend to think others are just as skilled. This can turn into feelings that they don’t deserve praise and opportunities over other people.

Plus, everyone can be susceptible to pluralistic ignorance – where we doubt ourselves privately but think we’re the only ones who do so because no one else voices their doubts.

We can never really know how hard the people around us work, how difficult they find certain tasks, or how much they doubt themselves.

If everyone has imposter syndrome at some point, why is it a problem?

Intense feelings of imposter syndrome can prevent people from changing the world! They might avoid sharing their great ideas or applying for majors, internships and jobs  where they would excel.

How can I overcome my feelings of being an imposter?

TALK ABOUT IT. Hearing that advisors or mentors or friends have experienced similar feelings of imposterism can help relieve those feelings. You are not alone in your experiences!

COLLECT THE GOOD STUFF. Many of us shrug away compliments and hold onto criticism. Soak in the praise. Revisit positive feedback. Make yourself a “smile file” of nice notes from people you love or good comments from professors and read through them when you’re feeling down.

THINK DIFFERENT THOUGHTS. We all can learn to think like a non-imposter. No one likes to not know the answer or have an off day. Instead of thinking “wow I’m full of BS” you could think “I can come up with things to say on the fly that people find useful.” It’s reframing imperfections. It’s finding the good in what you do. Even if you don’t believe it – that’s ok.

FEELINGS ARE THE LAST TO CHANGE. If you’re struggling with feeling like an imposter, it’s not going to change immediately upon reading this article. All changes happen in a similar pattern: start with intention, move to action and change your behavior, practice that new behavior over and over again. At some point, that behavior becomes second nature – and finally, it’s just who you are.

“First, it is an intention. Then it is a behavior. Then a practice. Then second nature. Then it is simply who you are.” -Brendon Burchard

Remember:

  • You did so many things that got you to UNC.
  • You know how to do difficult things.
  • You belong here.

Learn more

If you want to dive in deeper, take an online questionairre by Pauline Rose Clance, the psychologist who originally studied imposter syndrome. If you find that you have imposter experiences, remember that you’re not alone.

This article was compiled from information from TedEd, How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome and Mindful.org

 

5 Quick Tips for Roommate Success

Having roommates can be the absolute best – you can enjoy each other’s company 24/7!  On the other hand, you can be around each other 24/7.

Even if you’re BFFs or instantly make a connection, there will likely be moments when y’all get on each other’s nerves. Here are some ideas to make living with someone a bit easier:

  • Communicate. We recommend using I statements and observing a situation without judgment. You can learn more in the video below. Relationships Video Still.PNG
  • Don’t Borrow. Everyone deserves to have their things be safe in their home. One of the biggest sources of friend conflicts is borrowing that goes wrong. Your friendship is worth more than that! So we recommend avoiding borrowing things from friends unless you’re prepared to replace it if it gets broken or lost. Can’t afford to replace it? Don’t borrow it in the first place.
  • Find common ground with cleanliness. Likely one of you will want things more clean than the other. Meet in the middle!
  • Respect each other’s need for sleep. Everyone has different patterns and there will likely be times when one of you decides to be awake when the other is asleep. Talk through how to handle this. What should happen if one of you comes home and the other is asleep? What if one of you needs to wake up early before the other?
  • Take breaks. Work to ensure that everyone gets time in the space by themselves at some point.

If you live in a residence hall, your Resident Assistant can help support you and your roommate through conflicts. If you’re off campus, choose those roommates wisely, and perhaps talk through things before you move in together.

Some of your roommates will likely be your friends for life, so try to build a relationship that inspires lifelong trust and respect. We promise it’ll be worth it.

 

Get outside! Best nature areas to explore near UNC.

“Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit.” -Edward Abbey

The woods and water can be an integral part of your UNC experience -and you don’t have to go far to find them.

The triangle region is full of outdoor spaces to camp, hike, run, and paddle.

Ask any outdoor enthusiast and these spots will be on their list of adventures while at UNC. Explore them! We start with those closest to campus and swirl outward across the state.

Learn more about these spots – and then, go play outside! (pro tip: Don’t feel comfortable adventuring on your own? Check out Carolina Adventures Expeditions! They provide gear, guides and routes for some of these fantastic adventures.) Continue reading

Pro Tips for Sun Protection

The best way to defend your skin from damage and long term skin issues is to protect your skin early and often from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. The most common sun protection method is using a quality sunscreen.

What should I look for in a sunscreen?

  • At least SPF 30. Pro tip: Going above 30 SPF doesn’t offer much greater protection.
  • Broad spectrum. Pro tip: this means the sunscreen covers both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Water resistant. Pro tip: This is especially important for water exposure or sweating.

How much sunscreen should be applied?

One fluid ounce (enough to fill a shot glass) is the amount generally considered enough to cover exposed body areas, although this varies based on a person’s body size. Apply and rub in to all exposed body areas.

How often to reapply?

Apply 20 minutes before sun exposure and reapplied at least every two hours under dry conditions. Apply more often if in water or sweating. Pro tip: Every two hours is tough to manage, so also seek shade, wear a hat, and wear protective clothing when possible.

Pro tip: if you are using bug spray, the sunscreen should be applied first, followed by the bug spray; avoid sunscreen/bug spray combination products because they have different reapplication schedules.

What are the differences between the different sunscreen types – chemical vs. barrier?

Chemical sunscreens (such as oxybenzone) are very popular and work by absorbing and filtering harmful UV radiation from penetrating the skin. This sunscreen type is often colorless and remains as a thin layer on the skin.

Barrier, or physical, sunblocks (such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide) physically block harmful UV rays from reaching the skin. Barrier sunblock can provide high protection from thsunscreene sun, but a quantitative SPF is difficult to specify. Some folks find this sunscreen unfavorable because it is visible on the skin (pro tip: If it’s visible, it can function properly). There are colorful options that can be fun, or you can go for the nose-specific “Dad style” of barrier sunblock application modeled by The ‘Hoff.

What about parts of my body I can’t apply sunscreen to?

Protect your eyes! Look for sunglasses that promote UV400 protection; these filter out 99.9% of UVA and UVB rays. Lips need protection from the sun too! Use a lip balm that has SPF protection.

What about clothing with UV protection?

UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) is similar to SPF in that it is a quantitative system used to describe how much UV protection clothing provides. For reference, most clothing typically has a UPF of ~6, while most sun protective fabrics have a UPF of 30 and others can exceed a UPF of 50! These are great options if you are going to be outside on a boat all day or doing other activities where applying/reapplying sunscreen may be difficult.

What else am I forgetting about sunscreen?

  • Check expiration dates! Yes, sunscreen can expire, and when it does, you will be frustrated and burnt. Expiration date locations on products vary, so be sure to look over bottles before applying! See below for examples of expiration date locations:expiration
  • Apply on cloudy and cold days This is especially important to note for your face when skiing; the white snow can reflect the sun’s rays back up to your face to intensify the damage.
  • Don’t forget the tops of your feet; take off those flip flops when applying sunscreen.
  • Scalps can and do burn. To my fellow short-haired folks: rub in sunscreen to the scalp. If you part your hair, apply sunscreen to the exposed line. Wearing a wide-brimmed hat is a good option or addition for head/scalp sun protection.
  • There are also several makeup brands/products that contain SPF. Give these options a try to protect yourself from your daily excursions into the sun’s harmful rays.

How to treat/manage sunburn if it happens?

  • Take cool baths/showers.
  • Apply moisturizer that contains aloe vera or soy to soothe burned areas. You may also apply a thin layer of OTC hydrocortisone to particularly uncomfortable areas to help with redness, itchiness, and inflammation. (Note: hydrocortison is only for small sections of the body, only for use less than 4 times per day and at most, only to be used for 13 consecutive days.
  • Drink extra water.
  • If appropriate, you can also take over-the-counter NSAIDs (ibuprofen or naproxen) to help with pain and reduce inflammation. Be sure to take NSAIDs with food, plenty of fluids, and as directed by the package or your healthcare provider. If you are taking any other medications, ask your pharmacist or healthcare provider to ensure NSAIDs are safe for you to use.
  • Avoid using products that end in “-caine” (such as benzocaine).
  • If your sunburn forms into blisters, keep the blisters intact. The blisters are there to aid skin healing and protect against infections.
  • If the sunburn is over a large surface area of your body, or if you are worried an infection has set in, see your healthcare provider to see if prescription medications are warranted.

Can some medications that can enhance sunburn possibility?

Yes! Several medications can enhance sunlight sensitivity of your skin. Check medication labels and/or ask your pharmacist or healthcare provider if medications you take can cause increased risk of sunburn. Examples of common medications that can have this side effect include:  Tetracyclines (e.g., doxycycline, minocycline); Thiazides (e.g., HCTZ); Sulfonamides (e.g., sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim); Phenothiazines (e.g., promethazine); Quinolones (e.g., ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin). If you are taking any of these medications, be sure to take special care of your skin by wearing sun-protective clothing and reapplying sunscreen with any sun exposure for the entire duration you take the medication and even a few days after your last dose.HHS Sunscreen

Be sure to look for SPF 30+ products available at the Health Heels Shoppe in the basement of UNC Campus Health Services and at the Student Stores Pharmacy for your sun protection needs.

John Taylor Schimmelfing is a Pharmacist at Campus Health Services. John graduated from Elon before obtaining his PharmD from the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy. He also happens to be a National, World and Junior Olympic jump rope champion, which clearly qualifies him as an expert on all things jump rope related such as whether jump rope is two words or one (it’s two!). 

Sources:  American Academy of Dermatology; American Melanoma Foundation

Post originated in 2016. It has been edited and updated for clarity.