10 Quick and Easy Ways to Manage Stress

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

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

 

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

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You choose. Just like the playground equipment says.

 

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.

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

 

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

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Sunsets in the mountains count as a reward.

 

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.

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Olympic speed not required.

 

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.

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

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Cats can be your guide here.

 

Be Aware of 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).

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

 

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.

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

 

Enjoy Yourself. It has been shown that happier people tend to live longer, have less physical problems, and are more productive. Look for the humor in life when things don’t make sense. Remember, you are very special and deserve only the best treatment from yourself.4095175043_45e133d60c_z

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

 

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

 

 

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

    Choose by Tony Webster, Flickr Creative Commons

    Love yourself by Quinn Dombrowski Flickr Creative Commons

    Sunset by Sara Stahlman

    Sprinting by Adi Probowo, Flickr Creative Commons

    Relaxed cat by Robin Zebrowski, Flickr Creative Commons

    Cinderella by DirkJan Ranzin, Flickr Creative Commons

    Happy by Franklin Hunting, Flickr Creative Commons

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. 

55 Easy Ways to Build Your Resilience

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.

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A plant that can grow out of something that’s NC State red? RESILIENT.

Common characteristics of resilient people

  • Caring and supportive relationships within and outside her family
  • A positive view of herself and confidence in her strengths and abilities
  • Skills in communication and problem solving
  • The capacity to manage strong feelings and impulses

How does one build resilience?

There are loads of ways to build resilience. We’ll give you 55 of them.

Build resilience by making connections

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Connection builds resilience. Especially at sunset by water.

Physical Connections

  • Dance, swim, walk, run, play – preferably with others
  • Connect physically in ways that feel safe: a hug, a kiss
  • Take vacations with family and friends

Psychological Connections

  • Let folks know different aspects of you
  • Engage your intelligence n a new area – go to an art museum, history exhibit, sports event, auction, theater performance
  • Practice receiving from others

Emotional Connections

  • Spend time with others whose company you enjoy
  • Stay in contact with important people in your life
  • Identify comforting activities, objects, people, relationships, places and seek them out

Spiritual Connections

  • Spend time with nature
  • Find a spiritual connection or community
  • Spend time with children

Academic Connections

  • Take time to chat with classmates
  • Talk to your professors
  • Have a peer support group

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.

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“Orange faced insurmountable odds when confronted by blue and wisely folded.”

Physical Problem Solving

  • Take time off when you’re sick
  • Get enough sleep
  • Wear clothes that you like

Psychological Problem Solving

  • Make time away from the computer
  • Make time for self-reflection
  • Have your own personal psychotherapy
  • Write in a journal
  • Notice your internal experience – thoughts, feelings, beliefs, attitudes – non-judgmentally
  • Say no to extra responsibilities sometimes

Emotional Problem Solving

  • Do not blame yourself for events you cannot control
  • Make note everyday of three things you appreciate
  • Have a period of quiet, reflective, non-goal oriented time every day

Spiritual Problem Solving

  • Be open to not knowing
  • Try at time not to be in charge or the expert
  • Be aware of nonmaterial aspects of life
  • Identify what is meaningful to you and notice its place in your life
  • Meditate or pray
  • Sing, listen to music

Academic Problem Solving

  • Make quiet time to complete tsks
  • Set limits with group projects
  • Balance your classes so that no one day is “too much”

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.

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Move toward your goal and don’t be afraid to ask for help, young Stormtrooper.

Physical Baby Steps to Reaching Any Goal

  • Eat regularly (e.g., breakfast, lunch, and dinner)
  • Eat healthy
  • Exercise
  • Get regular medical care for prevention and when ill
  • Get massages

Psychological Baby Steps to Reaching Any Goal

  • Take day trips, or mini-vacations
  • Focus and take action on matters that have the highest priority for you
  • Write down daily affirmations of yourself, i.e., what you like and value about yourself

Emotional Baby Steps to Reaching Any Goal

  • Love yourself
  • Reread favorite books, review favorite movies
  • Allow yourself to cry
  • Find things that make you laugh
  • Express your outrage in social action, letters, donations, marches, protests

Spiritual Baby Steps to Reaching Any Goal

  • Be open to inspiration and grace
  • Cherish your optimism and hope
  • Contribute to causes in which you believe
  • Read inspirational literature

Academic Baby Steps to Reaching Any Goal

  • Identify aspects of class that are exciting and rewarding

How campus can help:

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 Academic Advising: Talk about choosing a major or how the curriculum for your major is going, use the Learning Center to help organize your academic work and prevent procrastination

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

 

Photo credits:

Resilience by Jimmy Hiliaro, Flickr Creative Commons

Connection by Adam Pomerinke, Flickr Creative Commons

Orange Folds by Bill Sutton, Flickr Creative Commons

Baby Steps by Kristina Alexanderson, Flickr Creative Commons

Not Drinking or Getting High? No problem.

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

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

Whoa.

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

Here’s what I learned:

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

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

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

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

2. Find your people.

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

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

3. Have fun!

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

4. Do things besides party.

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

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

Remember, we all came to college with a goal in mind. Keep your eyes on the prize!

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. 

Move more. Move better.

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.

1. Diversify sitting

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:

  • Consider how many hours you sit every day and compare that number to the number of hours you are awake.
  • Standing more is an option, but don’t only stand in the same position for long periods of time.
  • Create different areas to work in your living space so you sit or stand in different positions and for shorter amounts of time. The more diversity and awareness we can add to our resting positions, the more our body will be working throughout the day to hold ourselves up.
    • Instead of sitting at your desk, try sitting on the floor – without something to lean against.
    • When you are in a chair, sit on the edge so you have to hold your body upright.
    • Use a stool.
    • Sit on your shins.
    • Squat.
  • Whenever possible, move instead of sit. Listen to your books on tape while you go for a hike or prepare your dinner. Use a study group and share the reading load so you can move more and sit/read less.

2. Walk With Bare Feet

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…

  • Walk around in bare feet when you can.
  • Most of the flat perfect surfaces you walk on throughout the day aren’t available in the natural world.
    • Consider buying a cobblestone mat for your home to stimulate the soles of your feet.
    • When you walk barefoot, seek out diverse ground – walk on sand, woodchips, grass, rocks, dirt, etc.

3. Rethinking Exercise

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:

  • Walk as much as possible. Better yet, go for a walk on an uneven surface.
  • Don’t avoid cleaning up; view it as an opportunity to move your body in a variety of natural positions. Vacuum, wash the dishes, put things away on high shelves, squat down to pick something up and stand up again and repeat.
  • Work in different areas if possible and get up from your desk at least once an hour. Spend an hour at the library. An hour in a stool at a coffee shop. An hour at your standing desk. An hour on the floor.
  • Incorporate nature and fun into your movement. Climb trees, swim in lakes, balance on rocks, jump from one thing to another, dance, play games, swing, etc.

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The more you can move throughout the day, the better. The more fun it is, the more often you’ll want to do it.

Focus.

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.

8 Tips for a Healthier Dorm Room

IMG_2498Living 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:

  1. Minimize stuff. It’s tempting to pack every. single. thing. from your room at home, but resist that urge. Start with the bare essentials and add more later. The more minimalist you can go, the better. You can always bring back what you really miss the next time you visit home.
  2. Maximize storage. Loft your bed so you can fit more things under there. Worried about the height? Bed risers can give your bed just enough boost to give you more storage underneath.
  3. Get your Zzzzs. Bring a black out eye mask and ear plugs. If your roommate has a different sleep schedule than you, you’ll need to deal with it. Always put eye masks on and earplugs in before going to sleep.
  4. Create some calm. Adjust the lighting with lamps (but not multiple-bulb light fixtures or halogen lamps, those aren’t allowed in UNC housing), white holiday lights, or battery powered candles. Add some calming scent with lavender or diffusers. Incorporate plants into your space such as bamboo.
  5. Decorate. Hang photos or posters that inspire you to fulfill your goals at college using temporary mounts or blue tack removable adhesive. Photos of family and friends can also offer a sense of familiarity. Add color with your bedding and furniture.
  6. Stay organized. The room is small – so have a place for everything and take a few minutes each day to put things in their place. Shoe caddies, extra hangers, under the bed storage, and cloth storage bins all make a difference. And make your bed! It’ll take a minute but will help make your room look more inviting and comfortable.
  7. Snack on foods that nourish you. Residence hall rooms at UNC allow a 6 cubic feet fridge to be used, and larger kitchen areas are available to the community. Ideas for nutrient-dense snacks:
    • Nuts
    • Seeds
    • Dried fruits
    • Fresh fruit
    • Veggies, especially snackable ones like carrot sticks, celery, snap peas, peppers, edamame
    • Bars, especially protien-, nutrient-filled ones without preservatives. Look for few ingredients and words you recognize.
    • Peanut butter
    • Hummus
    • Yogurt
    • Granola
    • Oatmeal
    • Avocado
  8. Communicate. Living with so many people in such close proximity requires good communication. Set up expectations with your roommate right away and revisit as needed. Let your neighbors know when something they do impacts you. Connect with your residence hall staff when you need help.

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Sleep:

  • Sheets (UNC residence hall mattresses are 36″x6″x80″)
  • Comforter/quilt
  • Bedside caddy
  • Bed pillows
  • Throw/blanket
  • Alarm clock (it can be helpful to turn your phone OFF at night)
  • Earplugs
  • Eye mask

Study:

  • Desk accessories
  • Laptop (if desired) with accessories and sleeve
  • Desk lamp
  • Bulletin board, pushpins
  • Light bulbs
  • Power strip with surge protection and cord fire protection
  • Dry erase board and markers
  • Book light

Relaxation:

  • Speakers
  • Headphones/ear buds
  • Floor cushions/backrest
  • Area rug
  • Fan
  • Frames and wall art
  • Blackout window panels
  • Floor lamp (non-halogen, single bulb)
  • Room fragrances (such as aromatherapy)
  • Little white holiday tree lights
  • Battery operated candles
  • Comfy chairs
  • Crate or small table for coffee table
  • White noise machine

Organizing:

  • Shoe storage
  • Stacking drawers
  • Closet organizers
  • Luggage
  • Batteries
  • Purse organizer
  • Hangers
  • Emergency first aid kit
  • Small tool kit
  • Hooks for hanging bathrobes, jackets
  • Drawer organizers
  • Closet curtain/rings/rod (for Hinton James, Craige, and Eringhaus. All other residence halls provide moveable wardrobes with doors)

Wash:

  • Towels (for your body and for cleaning your room)
  • Washcloths (for your body and for cleaning your room)
  • Laundry basket/hamper
  • Shower tote/caddie
  • Hair supplies
  • Robe
  • Slippers
  • Toothbrush and holder
  • Drying rack
  • Soap holder and soap
  • Hand vacuum

Eating:

  • Small fridge (max 2’x3’x1′ or 6 cubic feet)
  • Plates and bowls
  • Glasses, cups and/or mugs
  • Cutlery and utensils
  • Can/bottle opener
  • On the go travel mug
  • Water bottle
  • Bag/chip clips
  • Water pitcher and filters
  • Food storage
  • Lunch bag
  • Toaster, blender, coffee or tea maker and/or air popcorn maker as desired

Medication Safety

Medication (3).pngCollege may be the first time you’re responsible for managing your health and medicines on your own. Here are 4 easy tips for using your medicines safely.

#1: Follow Directions
You hear it in your classes all the time, but following directions applies to your medicines too. Taking too much or too little of your medicine may make you sick. Be sure to use your medicines as directed – read the directions on the label and ask your healthcare provider how much you should take and when.

Use Medicines as Directed.

  • Read the directions on the label and ask your healthcare provider how much you should take and when.
  • Never skip taking your prescription medicine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you stop taking your medicines.
  • Only take the suggested dose.

Avoid Common Problems.

  • Don’t share medicines.
  • Don’t use medicine in the dark where you can’t see what you are taking.

#2: Ask Questions
Your professors encourage you to ask questions about assignments, so why not ask your
healthcare provider about your medicines? Campus Health Pharmacy and Student Stores Pharmacy can explain the facts about every medicine you take, including prescriptions, over-the-counter medicines, and vitamins. They can tell you about any side effects or special warnings, and if there are any types of food you should avoid while taking the medicine.

Ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist to tell you the facts about each medicine you take.

  • What is the name of the medicine?
  • What is the active ingredient(s)?
  • What is the medicine for?
  • How much do I take and when should I take it?
  • What does it look like?
  • When does it expire?
  • Are there any side effects or special warnings?
  • What should I do if I start having side effects?
  • Can I take it if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?
  • What other medicines or foods should I avoid?

#3: Do Not Use Expired Medicine
Just like that yogurt that’s been sitting in the back of your fridge, your medicines expire too. Check the box or the prescription label for the expiration date before taking any medicine, or dietary supplement. Expired medicines may not work or may make you sick. If you’re unsure of a medicine’s expiration, just ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist! They can help make sure all of your medicines are safe to take.

#4: Store Safely
It may be convenient to keep your medicines in plain sight to help remember to take them, but it’s important to store medicines safely. Put your medicines away after each use, and keep them out of sight. Medicines can cause harm if taken by the wrong person.

Ask your doctor, nurse or pharmacist how you should get rid of unused medicines. Find out if you should:

  • flush it down the toilet or sink.
  • put it in a sealed plastic bag with coffee grounds or kitty litter and throw it in the trash.
  • drop it off at a drug take-back program in your community.

Be sure to scratch off your name and personal information before you put empty pill bottles in the trash.

Make sure that children can’t get to medicines including patches that you put in the trash.

If you are a UNC community member and have questions about your medication, call Campus Health Pharmacy at 919-966-6554.

 

Other than Salt-n-Pepa, does anybody actually talk openly and honestly about sex?

sexual communicationOther than Salt-n-Pepa, does anybody actually talk openly and honestly about sex? Turns out the answer is YES for Carolina students!  91% of UNC-Chapel Hill first years say they’d communicate with a partner about what they want in a sexual situation.  Now, we know that all first- years are not the same; different groups of students have different attitudes and beliefs. However, interestingly enough this statistic doesn’t change a whole lot across different gender identities, races, and sexual orientations (ranges from 88%-93%).

 

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Alicia Keys Photo by Intel Free Press, Flickr Creative Commons

Not convinced?  Famous musical artists across the decades would agree with 91% of UNC first-years, and have rather good advice and examples of how to communicate about sex. Salt-n-pepa kicks us off with the obvious, “let’s talk about sex, baby, let’s talk about you and me”. Coldplay chimes in about getting it on with, “Turn your magic on, to me she’d say ,…  ‘Oh you make me feel like I’m alive again’”  John Legend and Marvin Gaye (respectively) ask for affirmative verbal consent singing, “I just need permission, so give me the green light” and “I’m asking you baby to get it on with me, I ain’t gonna worry, I ain’t gonna push, won’t push you baby”.  Lauryn Hill talks about what she likes singing, “The sweetest thing I’ve ever known is your kiss upon my collar bone.” And then there’s Alicia Keys showing us how to set some boundaries, “There’s an attraction we can’t just ignore, but before we go too far across the line I gotta really make sure that I’m really sure.”

 

 

 

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Coldplay Photo by pinero.beatriz, Flickr Creative Commons
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John Legend Photo by Fantasy Springs, Flickr Creative Commons

 

 

 

 

 

 

Speaking of talking about sex… what does “sex” refer to anyways?  Study after study after study has shown that everyone defines sex very differently.  So, for the remainder of this blog, we’re going to focus on “sexual behavior/ activity”, which can include wide a range of behaviors done with ourselves or others including hugging, kissing, vaginal sex, holding hands, oral sex, abstinence, (mutual ) masturbation, different forms of physical intimacy, anal sex, the list goes on.  Some people have oral/ anal/ vaginal sex, other people are sexual in other ways, and some other people choose to abstain from some/ all of these things! Side note: it turns out lots of UNC students are abstaining in lots of different ways as well; click here to learn more! Moral of the story is, no matter what kinds of sexual behaviors you are or aren’t engaging in with other people, learning to talk about wants/needs and boundaries is important, and practice can help. 

Back to the point. If someone is interested in being sexually active, or is sexually active, why does everyone think talking about it with the people involved is such a good idea?  The long and short: talking means everyone is on the same page and everyone will have a better experience if there is clear communication. Loveisrespect.org would say that you’re the only person who knows what’s on your mind, so your partner won’t know unless you say it!  Along the same lines, you can’t know what your partner is thinking or wanting until you ask them and talk about it. We don’t always know how to talk about sexual activity, especially since we don’t always see representations of this in the media, and because we don’t often learn about how to communicate on this topic in school or from our families. However, it’s important for everybody to talk about what they like, don’t like, and what their boundaries are.  It’s also super important to listen to your partner, and respect the things they say and the boundaries they set.  Even if they have previously consented to intimacy, but do not desire to this time. This will show the person that what they say matters to you, and they’re more likely to trust you and listen to you as a result.

Some people think talking about being sexual is for folks in serious, long-term, committed relationships, however, this is just as, if not more, important for people who choose to have casual/ short-term sexual interactions! Why’s that?  Casual/ short-term sexual interactions often occur between people who don’t know each other well, and/or are interacting sexually for the first time.  Therefore, talking about expectations, limits and boundaries for sex (in ways that are comfortable, clear, and sexy) is even more important to make sure everybody is on the same page and having an equally positive experience. There are also people who choose to abstain from some or all sexual behaviors.  Do they need to talk about being sexual?  Absolutely!  Making sure there are clear lines of communication about what everyone wants in these situations is more important than ever so that everyone’s boundaries are understood and respected.

Sound hard/ challenging/ uncomfortable?  It’s easier (and sexier) than it sounds!  And, if someone knows what you like (and you know what they like), and everyone knows what’s on and off the table, it’ll be a lot more safe and satisfying, too. Here are some phrases our sexual wellness counselors recommend to get you started!

  • Do you want to…?
  • How would you feel about…?
  • How far do you see things going?
  • What do you want to do?
  • Would you like it if I…?
  • I want to…
  • I don’t want to…
  • That sounds amazing
  • Nope, not for me
  • I’m down to do… but I’m not into …

Still perplexed? Click here to take a free online course about creating and sustaining healthy relationships, INCLUDING skills around how to communicate and talk about sex in healthy ways. While the information is applicable to people of all sexual orientations and gender identities, these modules are centered on the experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender/Trans*, Intersex, Queer, Questioning, Two Spirit, and Same Gender Loving communities. Whether you are looking to strengthen your own relationship skills or support others in their relationships—this course is for you!

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Have additional specific questions?  Make a free private SHARE appointment to talk about talking about sex.SHARE

We encourage you to think about one way you or a friend could communicate about healthy relationships and sex in an open and positive way.  If you or your friend feels uncomfortable talking about this, remember that 91% of your peers and several pop stars have your back and support talking it out! Continue reading

Supporting Healthy Bodies at UNC: Navigating Obesity, Eating Disorders, and Weight Bias

When discussing health, you’ll notice a trend between two approaches – weight normative and weight inclusive.

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Screenshot from American Heart Association, 1/25/2015

The weight-normative approach includes the many principles and practices that emphasize achieving a “normal” weight when defining health and well-being. This approach rests on the assumption that weight and disease are related in a linear fashion, with disease and weight increasing in tandem. Under the weight-normative approach, personal responsibility to make “healthy lifestyle choices” and maintain “healthy weights” are emphasized.  The approach prioritizes weight as a main determinant of health and as such, weight management (calories in/calories out) as a central component of health improvement and health care recommendations.

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Photo Credit: Prevention Magazine

Instead of imagining that well-being is only possible at a specific weight, a weight-inclusive approach includes research-informed practices that enhance people’s health regardless of where they fall on the weight spectrum. Under this paradigm, weight is not a focal point of treatment or intervention. Instead the weight-inclusive approach focuses on health behaviors that can be made more accessible to all people. These are behaviors such as exercising for pleasure, eating when hungry and stopping when full.

So is one better than the other? We’ll look at three questions to figure that out:

Continue reading