How to Have Great Sex…ual Health

Healthy sexual relationships can positively impact our well-being. Use these strategies to help keep everyone safe and healthy. 


Only you know when you’re ready for sex. Listen to yourself and consider your motivations, feelings, and boundaries. Sex comes with inherent risks – are you comfortable with the potential consequences? Are you clear about what you hope to gain? Remember that learning about intimacy and your own sexuality is a lifelong process.


What is sexy to one person might not be sexy to another. The best way to find out what a partner enjoys is to ask. It can feel difficult to talk about sex, but communication is critical and can also be hot. Pay attention to verbal and non-verbal cues from your partner. Tell your partner what makes you feel good and also what doesn’t. Ask and listen for the same insight from them. 

Get Consent

It’s critical to establish clear and enthusiastic consent from all parties involved and to communicate about boundaries, preferences, and desires. It’s best to talk about consent when clothes are on and emotions are chill. That way, no one feels rushed and everyone can voice excitement or concerns that they might have. Everyone deserves to know what they are consenting to, so reflect on what your partner may need to know before sex, like your STI status, how you protect yourself from STIs, and which contraceptives you use. 

Reduce Your Risks

You can use a latex or polyurethane barrier to help prevent sexually transmitted infections. You can get free latex or polyurethane barriers at Campus Heath, Student Stores Pharmacy, Student Wellness or in the Carolina Union. If you’re trying to prevent pregnancy, use a form of birth control. At Campus Health, contraception can be prescribed by a gynecology provider, primary care provider, or a pharmacist.  

By prioritizing sexual health, people can enjoy the physical and emotional benefits of intimate relationships while reducing the risk of potential health issues. Check out S.H.A.R.E. for additional sexual health education and resources.

Spread the Love

This Valentine’s Day, celebrate love in a diversity of ways! Some ideas:

Show the Community Love


Give your time and energy to make your community stronger.

Show Yourself Love

Have Some “Me” time

It’s easy to prioritize everything else – coursework, extracurriculars, jobs, relationships. Find a balance by loving yourself this Valentine’s Day too. 

Show Your Circle Love

Hang out

Spend time with those nearest and dearest to you – your “inner circle.” These are your besties, your ride-or-dies, your significant other, your roommates. Here are some fun ideas to spend time together regardless of your relationship status:

  • Watch a good movie
  • Eat or make yummy food together
  • Video chat with people you adore who are far away
  • Play some games

Ideas for Your Well-being Days

Ideas for Your Well-being Days

The recurring well-being days allow for our campus to have a break from classes to focus on mental health and overall wellness. The first of the spring semester are Monday and Tuesday 2/13 and 2/14. For some, these days may add more stress – the typical rhythm of your week is disrupted, you may fear that you’re missing out on fun activities, or you might just not know what to do with the extra time. Use this time for YOU! Some ideas:


Take some time to calm your mind, draw inward, and think deeply about your health and well-being. Be honest with yourself – it’s not about how you should feel. Consider what currently is feeding you, creating stress, pushing you past your comfort zone, getting you where you want to go, and connecting you with warm relationships. You could meditate, journal, go for a reflective walk or run – just take time to slow down and focus on your needs.

Do Self Care

  • Sleep. Go to sleep a bit earlier and wake up when your body is ready.
  • Eat. Use your extra time during the long weekend to focus on eating yummy, nutrient-dense foods. Cook yourself (and your friends?) an amazing meal or gather people you adore at a favorite place to eat.
  • Move Your Body. Spend time doing an activity that you like. Choose something that feels just right for today – you don’t have to push yourself hard, but take the time to do something active that you love.
  • Relax. Read something for fun. Watch a show you enjoy. Snuggle under a blanket. Do something that lets your body and mind rest and recharge.

Set Up Your Environment for Success

How can you improve the environment of your space to better support your health and well-being for the rest of the semester?

  • Bring in more sunlight. Move your workspace as close to the window as possible, strategically place mirrors, pull open curtains during the day.
  • Remove clutter. Get rid of what no longer serves you and keep things that bring you joy. Start small – pick one drawer to clean out today.
  • Incorporate your senses. Plants, art, photos of people or places you love, good smells, calming sounds – all of these can help you feel grounded, connected, and less stressed.

Help Someone Else

If you have the capacity for it, the well-being days are also a great time to support the people around you and strategize for broader impact.

  • Support a friend. Do you know someone who has had a tough time recently? Reach out to them to check in. Invite them to do something you both enjoy.
  • Serve others. Choosing to help others also benefits the helper! Volunteering is an act of self-care and offers many benefits for your health including finding a sense of purpose and passion. And of course it also helps an organization or another individual! Seek out service opportunities on a well-being day if you can.
  • Consider your communities. Use your influence for good in the spaces where you have some control. Consider how you can adjust to better offer structure, infuse flexibility, create a safe atmosphere, allow time for self-care, and advocate for systemic shifts in well-being on campus and in your groups.
  • Learn and advocate. Use some of your long weekend by learning to be a better mental health supporter and advocate. Visit the Heels Care Network and explore to better understand the mental health resources available and how you can help. Consider connecting with an organization or training to be a better advocate.

The well-being days next week are a time for you to meet your needs, and if you have the capacity – to help address the well-being of all community members. We are in this together here at Carolina. Thank you for being a part of our community of care!

How is your sleep these days?

Sleep can be elusive on campus. We are all still adjusting after winter break, but whether you have 8 am’s or all afternoon classes, improving your sleep gives you the energy to better perform in most aspects of your life.

Take control of your sleep with these simple (but sometimes difficult!) strategies:

  1. Plan your schedule around your internal body clock. There are those who are early risers and those who are night owls. Learn when your body and brain are most energized and reserve that time for your highest priority tasks.  
  2. Try starting a consistent sleep routine. Maintain the same sleep schedule every night. Eventually your body will earn to become tired and wake up at specific times. You make it harder for your body to adjust and when to get energy by switching up your schedule. Make the time when you get up for the day as consistent as possible.
  3. Be active in the morning. A quick stretch or morning walk will give you a boost of energy to get started with the day. Studies also show that you will tend stay more alert. Heart-pumping exercise right before you try to sleep can get in the way of relaxation.
  4. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep. For most college students this is the range of time you need. Daytime napping weakens sleep drive, making it more difficult to fall asleep at night, so avoid naps if you can. If you just can’t keep your eyes open, set an alarm for a 20 minute nap – short enough to recharge you but not long enough to disrupt evening sleep.
  5. Unplug before bed. Try putting away electronics and do something that relaxes you during the hour before bed, such as listening to music, doing gentle yoga or meditation, or reading a book. 
  6. Recognize your patterns. If you are sleeping through your lecture it may be time for a change! It is a sure sign you are not getting enough sleep in class. Find a way to switch up your routine.  

If you’re still struggling to sleep, consider connecting to mental health supports via or your primary care provider (remember – Campus Health appointments can be made online).

Change is Hard!

Starting is easy; continuing is much more difficult. 

Late afternoon scene at the Old Well on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

Change does get easier as you keep going. Remember there are no magic pills for change and that the science of habits shows that change is possible:

Reflect on your routine. Reflect on tasks you need to accomplish, your feelings towards them, what you need to accomplish them, and how you feel when you’re done. Consider how your routine is working so far and what habits have begun. Write out hurdles and find ways to overcome them.

Adjust as needed. Be thoughtful, analytic and strategic in adjusting your routine. Consider the results you seek. Structure healthy habits like meals, sleep, exercise, showers, nutrition and study times into your daily schedule.

Turn routines into habits.  Routines can eventually becomes habits, tasks that you’ve done so often, that you brain finds them rewarding in themselves. Habits are set into motion by triggers, context clues that signal your brain to start. Outsourcing repeated tasks to habits allows you brain to more easily manage your daily life and more complex challenges. 

Create a habit. Start by convincing yourself that the change isn’t a big deal. Break down big tasks (get through the semester, for example) into smaller and specific actions (a daily study time). Create triggers – like visual cues or certain times of day. Then stick with it! Remember most behaviors you want to turn into habits aren’t as gratifying as activities like mindless scrolling, so try to make the behavior more pleasurable. Not through rewards afterwards, but while doing the thing. Studying with friends, perhaps? Moving your body while listening to your favorite music or podcast? Find what’s going to motivate you.

Ask for help. Everyone needs help sometimes. Start a conversation now with classmates, your TA or professors, a tutor, learning center advisor, or writing coach to help you with your classroom success.Share your goals with someone in your life and ask them to help you be accountable. Check in with them regularly. 

Make time for self-care. Take time each day to relax and care for yourself. Do something every day for something you enjoy. Take a day off when your body or mind needs it. Use your weekends to recharge!

Even if you only end up doing a few more healthy behaviors, or making your academics a bit easier for yourself this semester – that’s still success. Being a little bit more healthy or knowledgeable is a million times better than being frustrated and changing nothing. Change is a direction – not a destination! 

Pace Yourself.

Everyone’s journey looks a little different. Explore yours. 

Congratulations on surviving week one, whether you are a new transfer student, a first year who survived their first semester at Carolina, or a senior who just made it through their last first week of classes. Remember that your path may not look like your peers’. Look below for strategies to make your personal experience at Carolina your best experience.  

Find Your Network!

Find groups of peers who are going the same direction that you are. Find people that you want to be associated with in terms of your field of study, organizations, and networks. These people will often influence path in terms of your goals. 

Find people to match your pace.

Once you find your network, find individuals or groups within that network who match your pace. Carolina is an ambitious environment to be surrounded by. Competitive or not, it may pay off to find a group of peers or individuals around you that match your pace! Whether as study friends, accountability partners or for social vibes, it will pay off to be around other. Collaborate Network. Brainstorm. Support each other. 

Take the Long View!

You have already fought half the battle by choosing to your own path. Now it’s up to you to maintain it. It is very easy to fall into the clutches of imposter syndrome and comparison. However, looking forward and focusing on your own goals (whether that is joining a certain organization, finding an internship, achieving high honors, or securing a job), your plan to get there and your own pace will give you much more peace in the long run. Reassess as needed.

Adjusting Back to Campus

Rameses with sunglasses. Welcome back Tar Heels.

Thrilled to see some of your favorite people again.
Annoyed by the lines of students everywhere you turn.
Worried about classes.
Excited about the semester ahead.
Transitions almost always mean complicated emotions, daily challenges, and usually some sense of excitement for the potential ahead. No matter what you’re felling about being here, we want you to make the most of your spring semester. Some ideas to help you get started:

Accept your feelings. You feel what you feel! Adapting to any change takes energy. Be compassionate with yourself.

Look ahead. Focus on the future. Visualize who you want to be, what you want to learn, and where you want to end up by the end of this semester. The bigger picture can help when the daily slog is tough.

Remember the “yet.” All change takes time and practice to get used to it all. Add “yet” to the end of critical self-talk. “I don’t know anything about this material….yet.”  And then take it one step at a time to work towards the end result that you seek.

Build relationships. People are – heels down – the best part of being at UNC Chapel Hill. And the best marker for happiness is having warm relationships. Everyone you encounter on campus can become a relationship that offers warmth, support, humor, or joy. Be intentional this semester about building connection. Be curious, listen to understand, and make time for the people you adore. Connection can help you navigate these challenges with people who are facing similar circumstances.

Attend a Week of Welcome event, a campus effort to celebrate and support students at the beginning of each semester with fun events, informational fairs, and late-night programs. A full listing of WOW events are available on Heel Life.

Start organized, stay organized. Time is finite; activities are seemingly infinite. Prioritize as best you can! Schedule time for the activities that are important to you and needed to meet your goals. The Learning Center has a great semester planning tool that might help linked from their “Calendars and College” page.

Ask for help. It’s easy to feel a bit lost at the beginning of the semester. You haven’t quite found your routine yet and everything feels new. Ask your friends, your professor, anyone you trust when you have questions or need help. And remember, if you can’t find the support you need around you, use the filters on the Heels Care Network website to find supportive resources that best fit your needs including a Peer Chat staffed by LSN

Four Emotions Of Winter Break

You have arrived home, with friends, or wherever you are spending Winter Break. The post-exam slump is over. You are in the groove of spending time with loved ones, relaxing, and trying to work on whatever it is you plan to fit into the holidays.  

The truth is, this time can be special, but it can also be extremely hard. You will face many emotions in the next few weeks. This may be frustrating when all you want to do is take a break.  

It is important to process these emotions so you can experience the break in a healthy way. Here are our thoughts on how to deal with four emotions you may encounter this Winter Break:  

  1. Excitement 

You have not spent time with your loved ones for a while – enjoy it! Perhaps you have plans you are looking forward to – live in the moment. Treasure the joy of the memories you are making. Stay present. As the excitement may taper off, it will be easy to seclude yourself to whatever makes you most comfortable. It is important to spend time in safe spaces but remember that healthy in-person connection is vital to your well-being.  

  1. Exhaustion 

You have worked hard! Rest – you deserve it. Take time to breathe and remember that seclusion and virtual isolation is not the best form of relaxation. Consider taking a hiatus from the digital world, for whatever length of time seems best to you. Spend time in places, doing activities, with people that make you feel whole.  

  1. Hesitation 

One of the worst feelings moving into winter break is the hesitation that stems from change. You have been away for months, and change is inevitable. This change – whether in places, or people, can bring up confusing emotions: sadness, grief, anger, hurt. Face the raw emotions. Then, approach each moment with gratitude. Gratitude has been found both experientially and scientifically to be a powerful tool. Focus on the wonderful moments you can have, even if it is not the way it was.  

  1. Grief 

Similarly, returning home or to loved ones can cause grief. Loved ones may be gone, or people may have moved away. You may miss being with your people on campus. Loss is excruciating, whether it involves death or not. Be kind to yourself. Take time to grieve. Be patient, and do not expect your emotions to be linear. Spend time with loved ones – soak up the love around you. 

Permission to Love Yourself

Permission slip: We grant you permission to love yourself just as you are. no waiting periods. no exceptions.

You’re allowed to love yourself exactly as you are – right now. 

You have permission to love yourself without exception. You didn’t need it from us, but we’re giving it to you anyway. 

You’re brilliant and uniquely you. You’re not a project that needs to be fixed. 

During this time of year, you might hear resolutions from people that want to change everything about themselves and their lives. No one needs to be reinvented to be loved! 

You might have resolutions that you’re planning, and that’s fine (we do have some tips for setting resolutions that stick).

Remember that you will be you every single day until you meet those goals, and then you will still be you once you reach them. You have permission to love yourself right now and during that whole journey. Don’t put it off until you reach a goal.

Friend, you’re worthy of being loved right now. 

Wrapping Up the Semester

It’s (Almost) Time to Take a Break

By the end of this week, many folks on campus will feel lighter with fewer responsibilities. It feels good to wrap up the loose ends of the semester – final projects and exams, saying goodbye to friends, packing up your things, preparing for travel and holidays. 

Even with that lightening of our loads, anytime the rhythm of our day shifts, it can feel difficult. Here are some strategies to help you stay healthy and well as you shift from all-out academic mode to your winter break. 

  • Manage your free time: At the beginning, the extra time can feel like a gift! But the adjustment to free time can be a struggle after a while or, for some, right away.
    • Start by taking time to relax.
    • Consider making a plan or list of things you would like to do over break.
    • Schedule some of your time with things that make you feel good!
  • Prep for family & friends: Plan ahead for family and friend encounters.
    • What questions or conflicts typically arise?
    • How do you want to respond?
    • Make a list of coping skills that work for you.
  • Focus on you: 
    • This break can provide you time to focus on how you’re feeling, what you might need, and how to make a plan moving forward.
    • Support your holiday wellbeing with strategies from Student Wellness.
  • Take care of your mental health: Many people experience a worsening of mental health symptoms around this time of year. If this happens to you, you aren’t alone!

Healthy Haps this Week

Monday 12/5

Tuesday 12/6

Wednesday 12/7

Thursday 12/8

Friday 12/9

Saturday 12/10