What’s in a Name? Considering Name Brand Vs. Generics When Purchasing Food

Picture this:

You’ve made your grocery list, or you swing by the store to get some staples for the week ahead. Like many of us, you’re on a budget, so you’ve got an eye for deals and saving money. As you scan your food options, you notice that in addition to the many eye-catching (and slogan-worthy) brands offered for your favorite foods, there are also those more plain, but much cheaper options. And you ask yourself: Is saving the money worth it? Is that food going to be as good?

I’ve often wondered this myself, and took some time to learn about the differences between generic and name brand foods. Continue reading

Sexual Health Resources at Student Wellness This Fall

Previously known as CHECS appointments, Student Wellness offers sexual wellness education appointments with a trained health educator to individuals as well as student pairs. Topics for these appointments include but are not limited to:

  • Contraceptive option consultations and education;

    Photo "Devious Question"  by  Zita, Flickr Creative Commons
    Photo “Devious Question” by Zita, Flickr Creative Commons
  • HIV testing and counseling;
  • Well Woman’s Exams questions;
  • Post-diagnosis STI management questions; and
  • Other concerns or questions relating to sexual health.

When are educational appointments available?

For the Fall 2014 semester, sexual wellness education appointments will be offered:

  • Tuesdays, 1PM-3PM
  • Wednesdays, 10AM-12PM
  • Thursdays, 10AM-1PM
  • Fridays, 10AM-11AM

How does a student make a sexual wellness education appointment?

Because of limited availability and space, students should call Student Wellness at 919-962-WELL ahead of time to schedule an appointment. Depending on demand, there are usually available appointments within the week. Walk-in appointments may also be available if other appointments are not yet scheduled.


Free HIV Testing at World AIDS Day!

Photo "World AIDS Day, December 1" by  Sully Pixel, Flickr Creative Commons
Photo “World AIDS Day, December 1” by Sully Pixel, Flickr Creative Commons

Every year on December 1, people worldwide write to increase awareness and testing for HIV on World AIDS Day. This year Student Wellness and other campus partners will be celebrating this day on December 2 by offering a free, confidential, fast HIV testing in the Union from 10am-4:45pm. For more information visit the Facebook event for the day.


For further questions about these appointments and World AIDS Day, please contact sexualwellness@unc.edu.


How to Overcome Inbox Overload

“Ding,” goes my computer.
“Whirrr,” goes my vibrating smartphone.

Without even thinking about it, like one of Pavlov’s dogs with a bell, I instantly check my email. It might be 9am and I just got to work, or it might be 9pm and I’m watching television with my partner. I just can’t help myself.

When I went to the beach for vacation this summer, I tried something I had never done before. I turned my work email account off on my phone. To some of you this may seem like no big deal, but I’m willing to bet there are others of you out there that understand the terrifying moment when you choose to disconnect from this mega form of communication.

Photo "Dangerous Inbox"  by  Recrea HQ, Flickr Creative Commons
Photo “Dangerous Inbox” by Recrea HQ, Flickr Creative Commons

For the first 12 hours I found myself checking that little notification bubble, and, I will admit, was actually let down when it remained fairly low. I felt tempted to turn on that Outlook® account again, just to make sure I wasn’t missing anything important. It was so hard to let go of the satisfaction of being connected and the anxiety of a cluttered inbox. Never mind that this time was supposed to be about relaxing, spending time with family, and disconnecting from the work world- I felt like I still needed to know what was going on.

And why shouldn’t it? The Radicati Group, a technology market research firm, found that the average person who uses email for work (and I would count being in college as “work”) sends and receives about 110 emails per day. That study was conducted in 2012, so I would not be surprised if the number is even higher today. Email is a form of communication we have grown to rely on; it’s a fast and easy way to get answers and pass along information without having to speak face-to-face or over the phone. But the flip side of this convenience is that people are able to reach us at any time, and the lines between school/work life and personal life grow more and more tenuous.

In a global media study conducted by faculty at The University of Maryland, they found that college students all over the world actually exhibited physical and emotional signs of withdrawal when asked to go 24 hours “unplugged” from technology. Other studies have shown that “email overload” can contribute to stress, decreased productivity & concentration, and is connected to feelings of burn out.

So, what can we do about this? Even as I write this blog, that little red notification bubble has continued to increase. Here are a few tips for managing inbox overload–or the “email beast”–that I’ve found useful:

    1. Empty your inbox. As emails come in, filter them into organized folders. This can help prevent the “inbox buildup.”
    2. Be the boss of your email. Set boundaries that work for you. This can be as simple as “I don’t check my email during class,” or not checking email after a certain time of day. Hold yourself accountable with some reinforcement, such as rewards for sticking to your goal for a set amount of time.
    3. Control the flow. Similar to emptying the inbox, control the flow of emails by setting a window of time each day that you concentrate solely on responding and sorting emails. Don’t let yourself get caught in the frantic email answering between classes—rather, sit down and focus only on the task at hand.

      Photo Ready to Start This Friday  by  Jabiz Raisdana, Flickr Creative Commons.
      Photo Ready to Start This Friday by Jabiz Raisdana, Flickr Creative Commons.
    4. Unsubscribe like your life depends on it. Remember at Fallfest when you signed up for every listserv for every organization you might ever want to join? I’m willing to bet your inbox has doubled with emails since that wonderful night a few weeks ago. Now that you have had time to settle in to the semester, go back and unsubscribe to the listservs that you haven’t read at all. You can also set up filters so that these emails automatically go into folders you can read later if you aren’t ready to un-commit yet.
    5. Take time to disconnect. While it might not be realistic or even desirable to go a day without email, set aside time to disconnect. Put up an away message, or simply turn off your email notifications until you are ready to focus on giving those messages the responses they deserve. Instead, use that “ding” or “buzz” free time to have coffee with a friend, take a walk around campus, or go to a performance you’ve been dying to see.

De-Clutter For Clarity

Whether it’s the tradition of spring cleaning, or the demands of our busy chaotic lives, I’ve noticed that the concept of “de-cluttering” seems to be a hot trend lately- websites ranging from Oprah to zen blogs to Buzzfeed are talking about ways to simplify our lives through the process of “de-cluttering.”  But why is “stuff” bad? And in the craziness of our daily lives, who has time to de-clutter?

Why is clutter a bad thing?

organizeDisorganization has been linked to increased stress and decreased productivity, not to mention greater risk of injury (because you are far more likely to trip and fall if your space is a mess!). On the flip side, simplifying your space can help save time and money, decrease germs, and promote focus.

So why is it so hard to get rid of things? 

Even though it seems clear that clutter impacts our emotional, physical, and environmental wellness, it’s still really hard to let go of things. Why is that? A recent study at Yale found that the same area of our brain that fires when we burn our tongues on hot coffee or stub our toes also lights up when we get rid of items. So it feels painful for us to give things up.   Another study showed that just holding or touching an item can cause emotional attachment. So of course it’s hard to throw that item away – you feel invested!

Now, of course this might not be true for everyone. There is a full continuum of “messy” to “neat” types of people out there, which means that tossing stuff is easier for some than others. Overall, though, tidying up your physical, social, and virtual spaces increases clarity in a world full of chaos.

Here are a few tips to get the de-clutter process kicked off:

  1. Focus on one thing at time. Take 10 minutes a day to focus on one de-clutter task: the pile of laundry on the floor, your desk, emptying your backpack. Don’t feel like you have to clean up your whole life all at once- baby steps!
  2. Monitor your social “clutter.” Clutter comes in many forms, including the things we put on our calendar. Be ruthless about saying no or postponing new commitments if your life feels too busy to manage.
  3. Tackle your virtual and mobile world. Take a minute at the end of the day to clear off your computer desktop. Control what phone notifications you receive (do you really want to know every time a celebrity tweets their post-workout snack?). When we are online, we are bombarded with a constant flow of information, so be proactive about setting filters and systems that work for you, not against you.
  4. Don’t worry about perfection. Striving towards simplicity won’t look the same for everyone. Figure out what your “perfect storm” of stuff is and set an attainable de-clutter goal. If you have a roommate, it’s good to talk through what works for them, too- your styles may be different.


Summer Health, Mythbuster Edition

It’s hot. It’s muggy. It’s summer.  As July flies by, many good people have passed on advice about ways to stay prime in the summertime.  But are some good-intentioned tips really old wives’ tales?  I looked up some common do’s and don’ts of summer health to see if they should be taken to heart or thrown out the window.

1.       True or false?  Scratching a mosquito bite will make it worse.

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Summer is almost halfway done, and I’m sure no one wants to think about returning to the grind of classes, homework, etc.  But there is a way to keep your brain powered up and your memory rockin’ during the summer months: learn a word a day!

Not only will learning a word a day help your memory, it can also come in handy in the future when writing papers, or taking tests like the GRE, where vocabulary knowledge makes up a considerable portion of your overall score!  Plus, you can wow your friends with fun facts- for example, did you know that Chandler is not just a character on Friends, but is also a… Continue reading

Sit Up Straight, Like Your Mama Told You

Recent research (some conducted right here at UNC!) has shown that sitting for long periods of time can be detrimental to your health, and that using laptops can cause wrist, shoulder and neck problems that can lead to headaches and other issues.  Studies also show that generally poor posture can be linked to chronic back pain and can cause long term spinal damage down the road.

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Healthy Tips for your Summer Shindig!

One of the best parts of summer is having the extra time to socialize with people and enjoy some fun in the sun.  Those cookouts, pool parties, and beach excursions don’t always lend themselves to the healthiest choices, neither for you nor the environment.  Here are a few tips to keep your summer shindigs fun AND healthy!

  Continue reading

Hydrate or Die

Summer is here and it’s already a hot one.  Most people know that drinking water is important, but it is especially crucial in the hot summer months when it is far easier to get dehydrated.  So here’s a list of tips (in no particular order) to keep you refreshed and hydrated every day:

  1.   Eat your water.  Fruits and veggies naturally contain a lot of water, so eating these nutrient rich foods not only keeps you hydrated, but keeps  you healthier overall.
  2. Make water taste better.  Sometimes it’s easy to get sick of plain old water.  Adding fresh fruit or veggies, like cucumber, to change the flavor of water can be a great way to turn up the taste.. Plus, it will make you feel like you’re at a spa! Continue reading

To Bonnaroo and Beyond: Festival Scene Safety

It’s that time of year again- people are buying their tickets, packing up their cars and road tripping to music festivals across the country. Whether you are headed to rock out at Bonnaroo, chill at The Hangout, or experience Burning Man, here’s a few tips to maximize your experience by staying safe (and hydrated) while you groove to the music.

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