FLASHBACK FRIDAY: 11 Healthy Things to Do For and With Your Partner During Finals

I will keep this short so you can go back to studying.

As you know, finals are here.  Having a significant other during finals can provide critical social and emotional support during this stressful time.

Here are some things you can do to support your partner during finals:

  1. Support them in their efforts to refrain from Facebook, Twitter, and texting.
  2. Make them study food (peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, trail mix , or egg and cheese on a biscuit!) to help them stay focused.  Not eating enough during stressful times can increase fatigue, and being hungry can be a distraction from studying.
  3. Save their favorite study spot while they are taking a break or an exam.
  4. Offer up your place to study if they have loud roommates.
  5. Do their laundry so they can sleep a little longer.
  6. If you are stressed, find a constructive way to share that stress with them without stressing them out too.
  7. Take care of their pet while they study in Davis all day so they do not have to worry.
  8. Make them a care package with healthy snacks, batteries for their calculator, and highlighters.  This may brighten their week 🙂
  9. Try not to share germs if you have the flu or a cold.  Tips on handwashing can be found here: http://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/
  10. Give them a hand, neck, or back massage to relieve tension from all that typing.
  11. Encourage them to take study breaks, get exercise, and plenty of sleep. All of these things are critical for remembering facts and doing well in stressful situations.

You can also relieve finals related stress by watching a movie, taking a walk, playing video games, or taking a nap together.   Yes, sex is a stress reliever too – but  be sure you talk about it first and are using a form of contraception, or it could be a bigger stressor than stress reliever !

If you have additional suggestions Tweet, Facebook, or comment below.

Happy Finals! You can do it!


You can probably describe your ideal partner. You might have a more difficult time describing what a healthy relationship means to you.  Your ideas about healthy relationships can help you make choices and communicate  expectations.  Here are just a few characteristics of healthy relationships:

The list could go on.

We know that this list should never include violence or abuse. In all relationships, behaviors and words should be non-threatening.  Ask these questions if you think you may be in an unhealthy relationship. If you believe you might be in an unhealthy relationship, consider your options. You are always welcome to come to Counseling and Psychological Services without an appointment Monday – Friday 9-12 and 1-4 or you can call 919-966-2281 as a 24-hr crisis line.

Let us know what being in a healthy relationship means to you. Leave a comment below, tweet at us (@UNCHealthyHeels), or post a message on our facebook page!

This post was edited on 10/2/2015 with updated contact information, social media links. Also edited for clarity. 

Tips For Having A Summer Roommate

Summer is here! No matter what your plans are hopefully you already have housing arranged.  If you are staying in Chapel Hill trying to figure out what’s next or starting an internship or job in another city, your housing situation might  involve a  roommate.  This roommate could be a person you barely know or have never met face-to-face.

Living with a stranger can be convenient and a great way to develop a new circle of friends.  However, a summer roommate can be very different from living with someone for an extended period of time.  Because the situation is supposed to be temporary, either or both parties may not feel the need to get to know each other and therefore may not vocalize their expectations very well.  Most of the time this can be ok because summer schedules are busy and you may not even see each other that much. However, because summer schedules can be lax and sporadic  things can go wrong or get annoying.   If this happens, a lack of communication from the beginning and an unclear understanding of how the other person handles conflict can make life stressful.

So, here are some tips for living with a summer roommate you don’t know very well or at all:

Before you move in

  1. Know who else has a key.  (Stay updated on this as the summer progresses.)
  2. Understand how the security deposit works. If there is damage to the property will both or all roommates lose their security deposits or just one person?  Will the check be held or cashed?
  3. Take pictures of everything to document the move-in conditions.
  4. Contact the property owner directly and make sure they know you are there.
  5. Get a copy of the original lease.
  6. Make a copy of everything you sign.
  7. Understand how parking works.
  8. Know how you and the roommate(s) will split the cost of utilities.

Within a few days of moving in make an effort to get to know the other person, maybe invite them to dinner.  This will make it easier to discuss the following up front:

  1. Rules about any and all types of guests  (Weekends, after 5pm, overnight, long-term)
  2. How the bathroom will be shared
  3. Noise
  4. When front and back doors will be locked
  5. How often and who will clean and take out the trash on trash day
  6. Parties and what will be served at the parties. If you are uncomfortable with what is being planned speak up and offer an alternative that you are comfortable with.
  7. What you are willing to share (e.g., cleaning supplies, food, and space)
  8. Expectations regarding cleaning before ALL/BOTH of you move out

Do you have suggestions for living with someone you  do not know very well during the summer?  Leave a comment below, Tweet us @UNCCampusHealth, or share your thoughts on our Facebook wall!

Have a great summer everyone!

Five Things to Know About Support for Sexual Assault Survivors at UNC

1. Help is available 24/7.  Information for survivors is always available on the SAFE@UNC website (safe.unc.edu/get-help).  Survivors can also reach someone 24/7 by calling

  • 911
  • The Orange County Rape Crisis Center Hotline: 1-866-WE-LISTEN (866) 935-4783
  • The Family Violence Prevention Center of Orange County 24-Hour Hotline: 919-929-712.

2. Survivors can receive medical attention regardless of gender identity or expression.  If survivors are a UNC student, they can see a forensic nurse examiner in the Women’s Health department of Campus Health Services (919-966-2281) or the UNC Hospitals Emergency Department regardless of gender identity or expression.

3. Survivors can speak out.  Project Dinah has a blog (http://speakoutunc.blogspot.com/) where survivors can write about their experiences with sexual assault and interpersonal violence.

4. Survivors can find a safe place to live.  If a survivor feels unsafe in their residence hall room or apartment, UNC Housing and Residential Education may be able to provide a temporary, private and confidential “Safe Room.”  For more information contact the Office of the Dean of Students (919-966-4042).

5. Survivors can participate in group or individual therapy at Counseling and Wellness. Survivors can walk-in for a first time individual session Monday through Friday, 9:00am – 12:00pm and 1:00pm – 4:00pm. Survivors can view group therapy options at http://campushealth.unc.edu/cws/counseling-services/group-therapy.

Want to know more about resources for sexual assault survivors?  This month in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) there will be numerous events on campus about  sexual assault prevention and resources.

Visit http://saam.web.unc.edu/and follow @oneactcarolina, @UNCSAAM@ProjectDinah, @UNCCampusHealth and #SAAM on Twitter for more information about the following events:

April 3 – SAAM KICK-OFF EVENT: SOARS (Story of a Rape Survivor) performance

April 4 – Sustaining Healthy Relationships in LGBTQ Communities Workshop

April 4 – Darkness to Light: Stewards of Children Training to prevent child sexual abuse

April 9 – Passive Program in the Quad

April 9 – Checking In: What Bystanders Can Do to Prevent Relationship Abuse

April 9 – “Consuming Inequality: Gender, Media, and Violence”

April 10 – Film Screening: “Human Trafficking in Moldova”

April 11 – Sustaining Healthy Relationships in LGBTQ Communities Workshop

April 11 –  Human Trafficking 101 Teach-In at the Campus Y

April 12 – Just Music: a local musician fundraising concert to benefit International Justice Mission

April 12 – Take Back the Night with keynote speaker Alexis Pauline Gumbs

April 13 – Rape Free Zone

April 17 – Orange County Rape Crisis Center Shout Out!  Against Sexual Violence

April 19 – The Naked Truth: How the Media Shapes Us

April 21 – Orange County Rape Crisis Center Because Parents Matter Summit

April 25 – SAAM Celebration at the Crunkleton

Friendship, “Friendship,” Friendship?

Even Facebook and Google+ know there is a difference between “close friends” and everyone else:  acquaintances, frenemies, and someone you interned with last summer.  During your time at Carolina you’ll probably have every type of “friend” imaginable.

Healthy friendships can make you happier and feel supported as you make your way through life.  In healthy friendships both parties support each other during difficult times, look out for each other, listen, do not pass judgment, and make each other laugh.

Sometimes it may seem like your relationships with others are healthy when they really are not.  Therefore, sometimes it is important to assess the relationships in your life.

Here are a few types of “friendships” you may encounter that could potentially be unhealthy and some tips on dealing with them:

The Party Foul: This is a friend that you go out with, but who actually doesn’t have your best interests in mind.  For example, this person doesn’t step up and watch your drink or step in when someone starts to harass you.  This person may also have a tendency to encourage you to drink more or more often than you planned to.  While this person may be the life of the party, if they exhibit any of these behaviors, then they are actually jeopardizing your safety when you need someone you can trust by your side.

How to deal: If this type of person is in your life, try talking to them about their behavior at parties and any changes you think they could make to help you feel safer going out with them.  If their behavior does not change or they are not willing to listen, consider finding new people to party with.  Go here for more about having a safe and healthy social life or participate in a One Act  training session (and take your party buddy with you!).

The Stresser:  Everyone stresses about grades, papers, and due dates because doing your best academically is important.  However, when a person says that they want to study with you, but then just overshares their stress rather than reviewing the course material, they are probably just increasing your stress level and distracting you.

How to deal: If The Stresser does not tone it down after you tell them that they are stressing you out; think about distancing yourself from them in academic contexts.  For example, if they approach you in Davis tell them that you are sorry they are stressed but you have a big deadline looming and you need to get back to work, but that you would be happy to meet up with them after you turn in your paper or take your test.

The Competitor:  This person gets competitive with you regarding everything from leadership positions to physical fitness to Twitter follower numbers.  Being around this type of person could be motivating, but is often just stressful.

How to deal:  Just be happy for this person and tell them that you are.  Also, share your successes with them, don’t be shy!   Hopefully they will be happy for you.  If this person is making you feel bad for not being what they think is a superstar, make a list of all the things YOU HAVE accomplished.  If these accomplishments align with YOUR goals, then there is no need to worry about what they are doing.

The Friend With Benefits:  This is a person with whom you are having causal sexual encounters.  You think to yourself any variation of the following: “It is not serious, but it could be.  I’m just not sure right now.  It is just fun, no big deal.”  While having a FWB can be fun and your emotions about it may in flux, the relationship may carry some unwanted health consequences.

How to deal: To make sure that the situation does not get out of control, get tested regularly for STDs and have safer sex by using barrier protection methods correctly with each encounter (more info on the many aspects of safer sex here).  Also, talk with your FWB about your limits.  Just because you did something with them once does not mean you have to do it with them again or go any further.  Your consent is needed every time. Testing, protection, and confidential advice on sexual health are available at Campus Health.

 You don’t need to aggressively delete people from your life if a few aspects of the relationship are not perfect.  However, if you identify a relationship that is consistently unhealthy take the time to talk with that person.  Friendships can look different to different people, and your friend may not realize the negative effect they are having on you.  A quick talk and a few changes may drastically improve the friendship.

If you think you need help navigating friendship choices or relationships with others make an appointment with a CWS counselor by calling (919) 966-3658 or just walk in anytime Monday through Friday between 9:00am – 12:00pm and 1:00pm – 4:00pm.

As always, comment below, Tweet us @UNCCampusHealth, or post on our FB page!

How to: tell if the internet is giving you true information about having sex

If you fact check what you hear about sex while riding the P2P (which we very highly recommend), most likely you turn to the internet because it is private and quick. However, like the information you hear on the street or from friends, it is not uncommon for information on websites to be outdated or inaccurate.

When you look up sexual health information on the internet ask the following questions before you believe or try what you read:

1. When was the last time this site was updated? 

If the site was not updated recently, try to find a newer source.  Statistics can change from year to year, and updated information may be easier to understand and more accurate.

2.  Is that it?

Avoid websites that provide simplistic answers to sexual health questions. Often if a website provides a minimal amount of information, it may be omitting valuable instructions or information relevant to your biological sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation.  It may also not disclose all of the resources available that you need to safely perform a sexual act.

To avoid these limitations and make the safest decisions, get multiple perspectives by visiting a few different sites and using multiple search terms.

3. Who wrote this?

If the page is published by another university (with a URL ending in .edu), a valid health organization like Planned Parenthood, or a government agency (with a URL ending in .gov), then chances are the information is correct.  Message boards and advice columns will rarely provide factual information. You can use advanced search in Google to specify that you want results from pages that end in .gov or .edu.

If the page is written by an individual, double-check their credentials and the sources they provide  before following their advice. Usually there is a link at the bottom of the page that says “about us.”  Not everyone with a webpage is a true expert or thinking of your best interests.

4. Does information on the site sound reasonably accurate?

If it does not, then you should not do it.  You can better assess the accuracy of sexual health information on the internet by knowing the basics.  Refresh your knowledge about the type of sexual activity you want to have and the sexual health services that are recommended before searching for specific, and perhaps unique, sexual health topics you are curious about.

Here are some sites where you can refresh your sexual health knowledge :



Medical Details About STDs and Testing


Social Situations, Relationships, and Safer Sex


5.  Is this site asking me to buy a product?

If a website tells you that your sexual health and pleasure depend on buying a product then it probably is not providing the best information.  Check with your health care provider before buying a product, especially medications, from a website.  Chances are you probably do not need it to have safer sex, and it may even hurt you.

That said, if you are curious about a certain branded type of contraception (e.g., Mirena the IUD or NuvaRing, a hormonal birth control) do visit their website to learn more about the product.  A visit to a website can help you formulate questions to ask a health care provider.  However, it is imperative that you talk with a health care provider about which methods fit your reproductive goals and are medically best for your body.

Hopefully these tips will help you make sure that the sexual health information you get from the internet is factual.  However, if you ever have any sexual health questions contact Campus Health at 919.966.3658!  You can make an appointment to talk about your concerns confidentially.

More information about understanding health information on the internet can be found here.

What are your thoughts about looking up sexual health information on the internet?  Comment below, on FB, or Twitter!

Celebrating Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day UNC!!

Here are a few tips for having a healthy and happy Valentine’s Day…


1.    Spread the love.  Commit a random act of kindness for someone else.  You can find inspiration here.

2.    Use condoms if you choose to have sex.  Sexually Transmitted Diseases and unintended pregnancies are not ideal valentines.  Using a condom will reduce the odds that either event will occur.

FREE lubricant and condoms (including flavored and extra-large) are available throughout the Campus Health building. Stop by!

3.    Limit alcohol use if you choose to drink.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests limiting alcohol use because it can lead to physical injuries.  UNC CWS adds that excessive alcohol use  impairs an individual mentally, and that in terms of sexual assault, force can include the use of substances and/or the use of alcohol or other drugs.

4.    Continue to respect your partner’s boundaries when it comes to sex.  Just because it is Valentine’s Day does not mean that their boundaries will change. More about consensual sex can be found here.


1.    Feel Lonely.  If you are single, remember that there are plenty of single people out there.  If you are single, celebrate with your friends or family by having a Valentine’s Day party or a movie marathon.

2.    Spend money excessively. You may feel pressure from peers or all the red and pink around you to go all out for your partner.  However, grand gestures can cost a lot of money.  If you decide to spend money, maybe it would be better to buy small items for your partner throughout the year rather than spend a lot of money at one time and deal with the financial stress soon thereafter. 

 Save money on celebrating Valentine’s Day by cooking a great meal at home (recipes for two can be found here), test driving fun cars for free this weekend, or going on a hike at Duke Gardens.  Free e-cards are available here, here, and here.

  3.    Send sext messages; you never know where they might end up. One survey found that among young adults, 37% of females and 47% of males say that they have had sexts intended for someone else shared with them.   

 4.    Light candles. Candles are a fire hazard.  Flameless candles that use light bulbs instead of fire are available at many area stores. Remember that if you live on campus the UNC Community Living Standards state that:

“Storage of any item(s) that may pose a fire hazard in a residence hall room is prohibited. Items may include, but are not limited to any open flame source (e.g. celebratory or decorative candles), incense, hookah pipes, live cut trees (e.g. Christmas Trees) or flammable liquids.”

Do you have any tips for celebrating Valentine’s Day?  Post a comment below, tweet us @UNCCampusHealth, or post on our Facebook wall!


Thanksgiving Break To Do List: Eat, sleep, end relationship….

The Thanksgiving Break Break Up is also called a Turkey Drop (1, 2, 3).  Turkey Drops happen around Thanksgiving when students return home and find that they are no longer interested in their high school sweetheart, or when people in a budding romance realize that it will never reach full bloom by the end of the year.

Breaking up can be stressful. So here is some advice about what to do if you are part of a Turkey Drop.

  1. If you are ending the relationship, consider the other person’s feelings.   You do not have to remain best friends, but try to part on good terms to reduce the stress.
  2. Consider that if geographical distance has been a problem in the relationship, the other person may feel the same way you do.
  3. Finals will be around the corner when you return to campus, and you may experience a variety of emotions as a result of the break-up.  Contact Counseling and Wellness to gain perspective and learn coping mechanisms to prevent break-up related emotions from interfering with finals.
  4. Consider any follow-up steps you need to take to end the relationship.  Do you want to erase the former significant other from all aspects of Facebook?  Do they have things at your place that need to be returned or vice versa?  Considering these factors and taking action may help you move forward.
  5. Make time for friends and doing things that you enjoy.  This will relieve some stress and provide a pleasant distraction.

Additional information about dealing with break-ups can be found here.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Do you have ideas about how to move on from a Turkey Drop?  If so, tweet at us, post on our Facebook wall, or comment below!

Does absence make the heart grow fonder?

Studying abroad can be a hectic time.  School work, travel, learning a new language, and maybe an internship demand a lot of time.  For many students, new cities and experiences also change the way they view themselves and their lives.  With all of this in the mix, many may tell you that going abroad is bad for your romantic relationship at home.

However, it appears that relationships can last through a stint abroad. A study of 283 college students found that only 34% of students who had a significant other when they went abroad broke up while a partner was abroad or just after they returned home.   About 36% of those who broke up said that studying abroad did not really contribute to the breakup.

Being apart from a partner can bring additional stress into your life while you are abroad.  Poor communication while you are apart can lead to disagreements, and a lack of trust can strain the relationship.  Of course, when you are trying to make the most of a once in a lifetime opportunity, relationship problems are the last thing you want to think about.

Here are some tips for being in a romantic relationship while studying abroad:

Before You Go Abroad:  Talk with your partner about how and how often you want to keep in touch.  Will they come visit you?  Will you go visit them?  Phone, iChat, gChat, Skype, or  email?

Also, get an understanding about the state of your relationship.  Is your relationship completely committed or just sort of casual? Understanding what your partner thinks about your relationship can help both of you set boundaries for your behaviors while you are apart.

When You Are Apart: Take an interest in each others’  ‘routine’ and keep the other person updated on any thoughts or feelings that are going on.  If you are in a location where internet access is intermittent check out cheap ways to talk on the phone.  Some suggest setting up a joint blog where you can share your experiences with each other.

When You Get Back: Adjusting to life in The States when you return may be difficult or stressful.  These feelings may influence your relationship. Let your partner know what you are thinking/feeling.

Also, make sure that you spend time with your significant other when you get back.  During your time abroad you may have made new friends or developed new interests that you do not share with your partner.  These divergent interests can make spending time together a little harder.

Go Ask Alice also has great tips on coping with the stresses of long distance relationships.

Have a great trip!

Reference: Wielkiewicz, R.M. and Turkowski, L.W. (2010). Reentry Issues Upon Returning From Study Abroad Programs. Journal of College Student Development, 51(6), p. 649-664.

Go Ahead and Bring It Up

Communication is an important part of healthy relationships because it can build trust, improve your sex life, and facilitate understanding. However, questions like ‘What’s your number (of sexual partners)?’ and ‘What was your last relationship like?’ tend to be avoided in conversations with partners.

A study asked male and female college students to list topics they avoided  discussing with their romantic partners. The results show that the most avoided topics of conversation are past romantic relationships and sexual experiences.

Study participants said that they avoided talking about past relationships because they wanted to respect their partner’s privacy, did not want to be compared with past partners, or thought that discussing the past may threaten closeness in the relationship. Some even disliked discussing the past because they did not want to know if their sexual experience level differed from that of their partner’s.

A lot of people probably share the concerns found in this study, and obviously you do not want to know everything about a person’s past on a first date. However, eventually talking about past sexual experiences can protect your health (you may learn about your partner’s STD status), and talking about past relationships may bring a new level of understanding to the current relationship.

Here are some tips for communicating about your past:
• If your partner brings up a past relationship, don’t immediately change the subject because you think their past is none of your business. Give it a second and listen; you may learn something worth knowing (good or bad).
• Find your own way of telling your partner that they are not in a competition with your past.
• Keep it honest.  Never lie about what happened between you and another person, your health, or your sexual history.

Getting to know each other is part of being in a relationship. So go ahead and bring the past up. Your health and the health of your relationship may benefit from doing so.

Reference: Anderson, M., Kunkel, A., and Dennis, M.R. (2011). “Let’s (Not) Talk About That”: Bridging the Past Sexual Experiences Taboo to Build Healthy Romantic Relationships. Journal of Sex Research, Volume 48, Issue 4, p.381-391.