Disclaimer: The information, articles, and tips portrayed on this blog, while based on research, do not constitute medical advice. The opinions expressed are meant to educate and inform, but not to dictate lifestyle choices or personal beliefs. These articles are meant to provoke thought on issues surrounding college health and to inform the Hopkins community of healthy information and resources.


SEE Tip: Breakfast for Extra Credit!


SEE Tip:  Forget asking about extra credit (and not just because your professor will look at you sideways for it), try eating well for better grades. Sound too good to be true?  Turns out the studies support it (1).  Those who eat breakfast, particularly a breakfast with a healthy balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrates will tend to have higher functioning brains, which allows for better memory retention, cognition, and concentration (2).  All of these areas are keys to improving your GPA.

Start today with eating breakfast and see what just a week of eating well can do for you.  If you like how it helps, consider continuing for another week and so on!  If you're near the FFC, why not run in and grab something?  If you're on your own, try some instant oatmeal with fruit (like a banana) in it.  Very simple and can be made in a short amount of time-- so why not give it a try?

Bonus for Charles Commons Residents!  If you're leaving for class between 8:45am-10:30am, the PEEPs will be handing out FREE breakfast at the security kiosk- so feel free to grab some on your way to class and start your week on the right foot.

HKB Myth Busting: Hookahs are often thought of as a safe and fun way to socialize.  However, hookah smoking is just as dangerous to one's health as cigarettes.  Often people are confused by the water component and think that the dangers are being filtered out, but in fact, hookah smokers are exposed to the same diseases as cigarette users, including oral cancer, lung cancer, stomach cancer, cancer of the esophagus, and even fertility issues (3).

Mellow Out Monday:  Having a rough week?  It seems to be going around...  Instead of letting the stress overwhelm, consider tackling small problems one at a time.  You'll need to eat throughout this hectic week, right?  Try getting some snacks prepared so you avoid the effects of hanger, and you can power through the week of studying and writing with healthy food options.  Be sure to start your day with breakfast so you can be fully energized for the day ahead, as well.  Simple foods like toast with nut butter and sliced bananas can go a long way!

If you are still feeling stressed, consider taking a break.  Walk away for a minute to get some fresh air and a new perspective on whatever is stressing you out.  Sometimes taking a break is what our brain needs to help power through the tough moments.  And if that's still not working, or you could really use a back rub after your hard work (and being hunched over for 7 hours) be sure to stop by Stressbusters on Q Level in the MSE for a free 5-7 minute back rub!

1. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0195666312002541
2. http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/benefits-eating-breakfast-students-7697.html 
3. http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/tobacco_industry/hookahs/


Feeling Comfortable with Ourselves- a note from PEEPs

Do you know that body image remains a key factor of self-esteem to American women? One study found that 63% of female participants identified weight as a higher factor in determining how they felt about themselves, over family, school, or career. Results from other research reveal that 86% of all women are dissatisfied with their bodies and want to lose weight.[1] Body image is not only what women care about, men too, have ideal body images that they desire and constantly compare themselves to. Every day we may wonder: why don’t I look like those people in the movies and TV shows. The answer may seem easier than you think: because “we” are not “them.”

Here are a few things to consider for helping you feel more comfortable about the how we look the way we are:

  • Appreciate yourself in the mirror: Your body maintains and nourishes your life, with which you are able to experience the world.  Know that human bodies come in different shapes and sizes naturally. [2]
  • Treat your body with love and respect: Find your favorite method of exercise and do it regularly. Be mindful about each meal and choose nutritious food that you enjoy.
  • Understand that emotions are skin deep: Recognize that emotions and feelings underlie a negative body image and a positive body image. Knowing how you feel emotionally at the moment may help identify what actually causes negative experiences.
  • Media is powerful, but our mind can be even more powerful: acknowledge the fact that images portrayed in the media are not the most common body shapes in the population, and it would be mistaken to put such expectations on the majority who are just not that way naturally.

Check out this cute little video – Comfortable: 50 People 1 Question
“If there is one thing you could change about your body, what would you change?”

[1] Nicole Hawkins, PhD, Ways to Overcome a Negative Body Image, http://www.byui.edu/counseling-center/self-help/eating-disorders/negative-body-image
[2] UT Dallas, Self-Help: Body-Image, Counseling Center Resources. http://www.utdallas.edu/counseling/bodyimage/


SEE Tip: Get Motivated for the day!


SEE Tip: Some days it can be really difficult to get out of bed in the morning.  Maybe you were up until 2am working on a paper, or the weekend was full of fun, but that made it pretty tough to get to bed at a decent hour on Sunday night.  Whatever your reason- waking up for some people can be pretty unpleasant.

Instead of hitting the snooze option for eternity, try some motivators to get yourself out of bed.  Before going to bed, write a list of the things you are going to do the next day.  When you wake up, you can glance at the list and start thinking of all the ways you are going to tackle that to do list.  Your brain will start functioning and eventually your body will give in, too.  Soon, you'll be up and moving - ready to take on the day.  

Another tip to get yourself up for the day is to set an alarm that will put you in the mood to start your day.  Avoid obnoxious alarms that might irritate you or ones that have soothing tones that will only make you want to sleep longer.  Instead, try something different- maybe choose a song to set the tone you hope to have for your day: 

Or one last motivator could simply be the idea of more sleep to come later.  Promise yourself a nap sometime between 11-2pm and use that as motivation to get your morning tasks accomplished and get you to that nap time.  Ideally, you'd want your nap to be between 10-20 minutes to get an energy boost and reduce chances of sleep issues later; however, it may depend on your schedule as to what is really best for you.

If you want to try napping as a motivator, stop by the Sherwood Room in Levering Hall today for a quick nap!  We'll have our Nap Zone set up with yoga mats, eye masks, SEE blankets, calm music, and more!!  Stop by between 11am-1:30pm for a nap today!

HKB Quit Tip: Motivation is an essential component to any behavior change.  For tobacco users, being motivated to quit and stay quit takes continuous motivation.  What motivates you to be tobacco free?  Some people are motivated by the cost-savings (about $400 in annual savings for a pack/week smoker).  Others are motivated by the increased ability to breathe better and therefore perform better for athletic related tasks.  So what is your motivation to be (or stay) tobacco free?  Tell us here!

Mellow Out Monday Tip:  Using stress as a motivator can change how we react to stressful situations.  Instead of shutting down or feeling frustrated, the stress can drive us to achieve beyond what we thought possible.  However, we need to be careful and listen to our bodies when using this motivation tactic. We must understand what our bodies need to react properly and safely.  At times, people who are stressed will sacrifice sleep.  This sleep deprivation can actually work against the positive side of stress, as the body is not well equipped and will not function as well as it good.  The lack of sleep can also be deceiving-- letting a person think that they have done something amazing, when really they could have done better had they been fully rested. For example, re-read a paper you wrote that seemed really good at the time, but was produced in a sleep-reduced state.  You'll likely see some areas that you'd change now, right?

Do yourself a favor and get your rest.  This way when stressful times come into play, you can handle them like a well-rested, highly functioning champ!

Need help getting into a sleepy, more restful state?  Try stopping by Stressbusters tonight in Q Level from 8-10pm in MSE for a FREE back rub.  


Sip Tip: Don't believe the hype

There has been a lot of hype touting the benefits of alcohol, but before people run to happy hour, we have to look for the evidence.

As it turns out, the evidence is a bit harder to prove that alcohol can be beneficial.  In fact, there isn't a health agency that currently advocates or recommends the use of alcohol as a health aid.  This is likely do to the abundance of other options for the same benefits.  For example, red wine has been noted for it's antioxidants.  However, it's unlikely that a doctor would begin to recommend that patients start drinking wine.  Often, these same benefits are available in other ways, such as, the foods we consume like fruits and vegetables.  Instead of believing the media hype, consider investigating what's recommended and what's necessary for your individual health.

Lastly, be mindful of the details.  If someone is a wine drinker already, they may be able to claim some benefits from the alcohol.  However, if they go over board, they lose the health benefits and can quickly be at risk for more health concerns.  When it comes to alcohol, going overboard can happen within a sip or two-- for women, the potential benefits are found within one (5oz) glass of wine or less, and for men they can find those benefits in up to two glasses of red.  If moderation isn't something that comes easy for a person, particularly around indulgences like alcohol, they are less likely to get those health benefits, and instead will find themselves at higher risk for the unpleasant/unhealthy side effects of alcohol use.


V-Day and Sexual Health- A PEEPs Perspective

V-Day and Sexual Health- A PEEPs Perspective

So, Valentine’s Day is coming up, aka single awareness day, right? Well, regardless of whether you have that special someone or not this year, February is the perfect month to learn about sexual health so that we can all be more cautious.

A huge part of sexual health is prevention of STDs. Although not all are necessarily fatal, these conditions can seriously impair one’s health and ability to be sexually active for the long term. Additionally, a lack of treatment can lead to certain types of cancers, infertility, and pelvic inflammatory disease. So, whether you’re thinking about becoming sexually active, already are, or never have been, it’s important to trust your partner and make sure that he or she is healthy before engaging in sexual activity.

Approximately half of all sexually transmitted diseases annually, which is around 20 million, occur among those aged 15-24 years old, so that includes college students. Some common sexually transmitted diseases among college students are chlamydia, genital herpes, gonorrhea, and syphilis. Sexually transmitted disease are primarily transmitted by body fluids, such as saliva, blood, and semen. However, intercourse is not the only way to obtain an STD. So, it’s crucial when engaging in any type of sexual activity to either know what your partner has or use protection, such as oral contraception or condoms.

Getting tested together isn’t something to be embarrassed about. Because you can know firsthand what you and your partner have, there’s no uncertainty. It’s also a great way to know that he or she cares about their own and your health.  


SEE Tip- SHAG week edition: The Aphrodisiacs


SEE Tip: We often hear about aphrodisiacs and think of oysters.  I'm not sure about you, but oysters are just not something that I come across all the time.  The good news, there are are plenty of other aphrodisiacs out there, and more accessible ones, too.

Another believed aphrodisiac is the avocado... like we need another reason to get the guac at Chipotle. But seriously, avocados have been used for centuries as a sex drive stimulant, and as a way to boost the immune system.  Plus, they provide additional nutritional goodness like healthy fats, magnesium, and more potassium than bananas.

Feeling like something sweet?  Chocolate is another aphrodisiac.  All the chocolate lovers, rejoice!  It is believed that the stimulating properties of chocolate are similar to the ones felt when falling in love, and can release serotonin in the brain, which is associated with elevated moods and sexual arousal.

For an added boost, strawberries are also in the aphrodisiac category (more for their ability to keep the joints less inflamed-- not such a sexy sounding reason).  But if you were to combine chocolate with the strawberries- you've just doubled your aphrodisiac intake!  ;)

Want to learn more about sexual health?  Check out Trivia Night at Nolan's tonight, 7:30pm!  We'll have a special SHAG week category of the trivia, so be sure to make it and other events this week!





SEE Tip: Aroma induced Sleep


SEE Tip:  At this time of year, it can be so tempting to curl up in bed all day with a great list of Netflix tv shows to catch up.  Unfortunately, that's not so realistic with our being in week two of classes already.  At this point, all those healthy habits we enjoyed over the break are starting to escape our grasp- sleeping for 8 hours has turned into sleeping for 6 hours and eating well balanced meals has turned into a smash and grab of free food, no matter the nutritional value, and exercise seems like something only people on athletic teams fit in... because they are required to do so.

But wait, it doesn't have to be this way.  Each Monday we focus on different health habits to help re-focus each of you, and keep your health as a priority.

Today, we are focusing on sleep; a crucial component to health that will impact your decisions, your grades, and your overall well-being.  Sometimes it can be tough to fall asleep when the stress of the day is weighing on you, though.  As a way to overcome these sleep distractions, and allow yourself to relax, you can try a variety of methods:
  • Guided Visualization - As you lie in bed, tell your body to relax from head to toe.  Start with top of your head then move towards your eyes, mouth, shoulders, and so forth until you get to the toes.  Feel each part of your body relax and lose the tension that it was holding onto prior.  You can picture yourself in a relaxing environment (perhaps at the beach or in a field of puppies).
  • Before going to bed, write everything out.  
    • If you tend to think about everything you have to do the next day, consider writing it out as a to do list; instead of trying to remember it all for the next morning.  
    • If you tend to worry about some bigger issues that are going on in your life, try writing out how you feel about it.  
      • If you aren't a big writer, you can draw something or find something else that represents how you are feeling -- often getting it out in some form can help ease your mind.  And don't worry, you don't have to post it to social media necessarily.  Find a space that feels safe for you- a journal, a blog (private or public), or social media-- whatever works for you!
  • Aromatherapy- The benefits of aromatherapy, particularly the uses of essential oils like lavender, can help promote sleep, increase relaxation, and reduce anxiety.
If you're curious about aromatherapy, stop by the PEEPs table tonight in Nolan's from 5:30-6:30 to make your own lavender sheet and pillow mist for better sleep tonight!

HKB Quit Tip: In a 2012 study comparing smokers and never smokers, researchers found "a number of insomnia-like sleep impairments" in the smokers compared to the never smokers.  Often, obstacles like sleep difficulties are not realized by smokers.  These sleep issues can exasperate health issues suffered by smokers.  In other words, tobacco in itself is harmful, but if you add in the dangers of low quality sleep- a person's health can be at an even greater risk.

Mellow Out Monday Tip: As we enter the second week of classes, sleep might be lessening and anxiety might be increasing.  To counteract this, one could try aromatherapy, particularly using lavender essential oil to help increase feelings of relaxation and reduce anxiety levels.  In a study of nursing students from 2014, the researchers found that students who had been exposed to lavender for 21 nights prior to their final examination had lessened their anxiety, stress, and improved their overall sleep quality.  If you want to try your own attempts for aromatherapy, stop by Nolan's from 5:30-6:30 tonight to make your own lavender spray with PEEPs.

If you want additional relaxation and better chances for quality sleep, stop by Stressbusters tonight from 8-10pm, our first mellow out Monday of the semester!  Look for the "We Will Calm You" shirts on Q level in MSE and let Stressbusters work out your stress!


How to Stay Healthy in the Winter - Tips from a former JHU intern!


 Hi Johns Hopkins! I am a Penn State student who had the joy of being the Fitness Intern at the Recreation Center during the Fall 2014 semester at this wonderful institution. I was asked to write a few articles for this blog and I thought I would share a few tips on how to maintain your health and fitness throughout the winter.

Exercise is STILL Important
It’s so much easier to give an excuse in the winter to not exercise because of the colder temperatures outside, but you still need to get moving! If you’re a runner, make sure you wear lots of layers, gloves, and a hat to ensure that your entire body is covered. If you’re snowed in from going to the gym, there are plenty of free YouTube channels devoted to uploading complete workouts, most without equipment! A few fan favorites are Tone it Up, Blogilates, Tony Horton Fitness, and Scott Herman Fitness. Jackie Lebeau, Assistant Director of Fitness at the O’Connor Recreation Center, encourages students to go outside and participate in winter activities during the season. Winter brings outdoor activities like skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and ice skating. Exercise doesn't have to be strenuous in order to be effective so don't forget about winter recreational activities like sledding, snowball fights and building snowmen! We're only blessed with snow for a few months each year so get outside this winter and take advantage of the outdoor exercise opportunities!”

Enjoy your Comfort Food in Moderation
Most people associate winter with eating lots of mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, and sugar-loaded hot cocoa. While all of these foods are absolutely delicious, it is important to remember that while trying to live a healthy lifestyle involves eating these “guilt foods” in moderation. The best tip I can recommend is to allocate one meal per week as your “cheat meal” and eat a moderate (not the entire bowl!) serving of the comfort food of choice. This way you can indulge in your favorite foods without budging the scale. There are also plenty of recipes online that swap out the “evil” ingredients in your favorite foods. I recommend looking up spaghetti squash, cauliflower mac and cheese, and cauliflower mash potatoes. I can promise you that while you are getting in your daily intake of veggies, you will hardly notice the difference!

Take a Multivitamin
It’s hard to get enough of your RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) of most nutrients through food alone. Make sure you take your multivitamin during a meal that has a little bit of fat and with a glass of water to help absorb all of the nutrients.


Make sure that you get between 7-9 hours of sleep in order to keep your immune system in check. College students are notorious for being the poster children for sleep deprivation, which makes it easier for illness to spread. For example, the recent meningitis outbreak at University of Maryland. Also make sure that you use hand sanitizer, wash your hands frequently, and keep alert for any outbreaks of any illnesses in the area.  


SEE the boosting power of breakfast


SEE Tip:  You hear it over and over again, "eat breakfast", "Breakfast is the most important meal of the day", and blah blah blah.  And the thing is, it really is important.  Often people skip it because they aren't hungry first thing in the morning, or because they are in a rush to get to class after hitting the snooze button a little too many times.   However, missing breakfast means missing out on some pretty great benefits.

Eating breakfast:

  • improves memory and academic performance
  • improves the ability to maintain weight 
  • improves consumption of nutrients
  • balances hunger levels throughout the day

SEE the PEEPs in Wolman and Charles Commons starting at 8:40am for a healthy breakfast bite 
to start your last week of classes right! 

HKB Quit Tip:  A 2013 study from Columbia found that of cigarette smokers who had their first smoke first thing in the morning (within 30 minutes of waking up), they were more at risk for head, neck, and lung cancer than those who would wait beyond that point.  While both groups were at risk for cancer, it seems that having the cigarette first thing, and likely breathing in more deeply, was greatly correlated with the forms of cancer.  As a way to reduce the risk, try putting off your first cigarette of the day by an hour from when you normally do.  See how that feels for you, and see if you can do it.  If you can do that, see if you can push it back by another hour the next week, and continue to see how late you can wait to have your first cigarette.

Mellow Out Monday: Stressful days can be tackled by something as simple as eating yogurt.  Grab some yogurt for the probiotic benefit which has been linked to lowering depression and anxiety (in mice), and providing a healthier digestive tract.

If you are looking for continued stress relief, check out Mellow Out Monday in the MSE on Q level starting at 8pm tonight.  Get a FREE back rub from a trained stressbuster and feel better fast!