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.


Can we really trust the free condoms?

Something we hear at least once a month is something along these lines, "Don't the free condoms from the CHEW/the health center break more easily than other condoms?"

So the short answer: No. They work equally as well as other brand name condoms.

The longer answer:  The free condoms, typically Lifestyles for our campus, are tested rigorously to make sure they do not break, tear, or fail.  If they are used correctly, they are just as effective as the condoms you can choose to pay for.  Of course, you have that option, too:  JHU Condom Sense.

So why are we giving out free condoms?  I mean, free giveaways usually aren't really free... you usually have to do something, right?  Well, in this case, no.  All we ask is that people use these freebies to have safer sex when they might not have otherwise.  It's a lot better for our community as a whole when people are being safer by reducing their risks for HIV, STI/STDs, and unplanned pregnancies.

One thing to look out for are condoms marked as "novelty" or "for entertainment purposes".  All condoms used for safer sex purposes should be cleared by the FDA to prevent STDs and unplanned pregnancy so that bacon flavored condom might not cut it.... but check the packaging to be sure.

If you have had trouble in the past with free condoms, you may want to make sure you have the proper fit, amount of lubricant (more is usually better), and that you are generally putting them on correctly.  For instructions on how to put a condom on, check out the video below.


SEE for Yourself: Sleep More, Stress Less


SEE Tip:  Is stress keeping you from getting a good night's sleep?  Are you kept awake by the mounting number of to do items on your planner, the big exam you have in two days, or a fight you had with a good friend?  You are not alone.  The stress of the day is linked with a lack of sleep in many individuals.  Furthermore, continued restless nights add to the stress by piling on more issues for the next day.  When a person does not get a full night's rest, s/he is more likely to suffer from a lack of focus and energy leading to more mistakes.... and more stress.  What an awful cycle!

The lack of sleep can mess with more than tomorrow's exam result.  Aside from adding on more stress, sleep deprivation and sleep restriction have been linked with obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and immune functioning issues.

But don't lose sleep over this!  Practice some stress relieving strategies to feel better during the day, and ease you into a peaceful sleep at night.  Things like organizing your notes before bed, making a to do list, practicing yoga or meditation, or even listening to relaxing music can help to soothe some stress.

You can also stop by the RELAX! Party sponsored by FSI and CHEW where there will be free massages from Stressbusters, Tea Time, a cozy corner, and make your own sleep sachets!  Lots of opportunities to improve your sleep for the night ahead.  Come to Levering's Sherwood Room (near the cafe) from 11-1!

HKB Tip: A survey from the American Lung Association found that 6 out of 10 former smokers were not able to quit successfully on their first quit attempt.  If you or a friend has tried once before, but had trouble staying quit use this Thursday's national Quit Day known as the "Great American SmokeOut" to provide some incentive. On this day, hundreds of other current smokers will be quitting the habit.  You are not alone with your plans to quit the addiction to tobacco, and there is support like 1-800 QUIT NOW which provides a quit coach and a supply of nicotine replacement products, as well!  You can do this!

And join Hopkins Kicks Butts and the O'Connor Recreation Center this Thursday from 5:30pm-6:45 for a FREE (no class card required) KICK the Habit Kickboxing and Zumba fusion fitness class.  There will be free t-shirts for raffle winners!!

Mellow Out Monday Win:  You have two chances to mellow out with Stressbusters today!

RELAX! Party sponsored by FSI and CHEW, Sherwood (Levering), 11am-1pm
Free massages from Stressbusters, Tea Time, a cozy corner, and make your own sleep sachets, and more!

Mellow Out Monday, MSE on Q level, 8pm-10pm

Free backrubs!! Why say anything but YES?! :)


SEE for Yourself: Exercise the body and the brain!


SEE Tip from PEEPs: Combat stress with exercise and other healthy behaviors

What exactly is stress?
Stress is a response to a demand that’s been placed upon you, whether it’s related to school, work, relationships, or anything else going in your life. It can certainly help you accomplish tasks and meet challenges, but when stress doesn't subside, it can harm you both physically and mentally.

How can you relieve stress?
There are many ways to manage stress!  Here are some suggestions:

Healthy diet: Make sure you’re eating well and getting all the nutrients you need. Eating junk food may help you feel better temporarily, but healthy foods are better for your body and will keep you happier in the long run.

Exercise: Engaging in physical activity can be an immediate stress reliever and help you manage stress in the long run too. Try to aim for 30 minutes a day, but if you can’t get to the gym or go outside, even a few minutes of exercises like lunges, crunches, and push-ups will help you feel more relaxed.

Sleep: Try to get the recommended 8 hours of sleep a day. In order to be at your best, you need to get adequate amounts of sleep. Even a quick nap during the day can help you feel more rested and better able to concentrate.

Socializing: Having healthy relationships is key to helping with stress. Try to make time to hang out with friends or talk on the phone with family members. They can help take your mind off of whatever is stressing you out, or they are there to listen if you need to talk about it.

Relaxation techniques: Last but not least, there are tried and true methods to manage stress. These include meditation, deep breathing, and visualization. This website explains how to do each of the techniques: https://www.uhs.uga.edu/stress/relax.html. You’ll be surprised at how even doing them once a day makes you feel more relaxed!

HKB Quit Tip: The Great American SmokeOut is approaching on November 20th.  If you're a current smoker, join the nation and make next Thursday your quit day for tobacco products.  You can do it!  If you are interested in support for quitting, call 1-800-QUIT NOW for one on one assistance and access to nicotine replacements like the patch or the gum to help fight any intense cravings.  You can KICK the habit!

Join Hopkins Kicks Butts and the Recreation Center on Thursday, November 20th at 5:30pm for a Kickboxing and Zumba fusion workout in honor of the Great American SmokeOut!  Come KICK the habit with us, and win a free HKB shirt!

Mellow Out Monday: Some days the stress we feel can be overwhelming and leave us feeling like we don't know what to do about it.  Try to be prepared for these kind of days (we all have them) and have a list of things you like to do to reduce your stress ready for you to choose from.  One thing that is on most people's lists of stress relievers is exercise, but try and be specific.  Maybe it's zoning out with a new playlist on the treadmill, or meeting up with a friend who you can vent to while you go for a walk around campus.  Find options that work for you, and then have the list ready for those moments when you need it.

Another thing on  your list can always be Stressbusters!  If you're feeling stressed, be sure to stop by Q level in the MSE for a FREE backrub from Stressbusters from 8-10pm tonight.


SEE a healthy snack portion


SEE Tip: Do you struggle with mid-afternoon hunger, but you're stuck in class without options? Avoid this common dilemma with easy to grab and go snacks like an apple, string cheese stick, or a serving of your favorite pretzels. Have trouble with sticking to the actual portion size? Try measuring out the serving size for your desired snack and then using a clip to close the bag or portion out all the servings ahead of time if you have the space and storage abilities.

Stop by the breezeway from 11:30-1:30 today for a chance to win a chip clip for a healthy portion helper!

Don't forget! Tonight at 8pm is your chance for a free back rub from Stressbusters!! Stop by the MSE on Q level for your moment of relaxation today.


Halloween BOOz

Halloween falling on a Friday could mean lots of options for a social life this weekend!  From the Peabody Costume party, to Fells Point, to staying near campus with friends, or going out around campus....there is definitely going to be lots to do.

 If your activities include drinking alcohol, consider some ways to stay in the blue zone. Pace yourself with each drink. No need to rush to the next drink. Sip, savor, and socialize.  Also, BYOW - bring your own water! Or make sure wherever you are going well have some available. You can put some in your cup after each drink to stay hydrated and reduce the nasty effects that can come with dehydration. You can also wear a costume that makes it difficult to drink...something like partial mask or makeup that you may not want to smear or ruin (#forthegram).

Mainly, keep in mind that this weekend can be fun with lots going on. Recovering from a hangover or a regrettable moment (like getting sick all over your super creative Harry Potter costume) may not be the ideal way to spend it. So don't be "that guy" or "that girl". Instead, stay in the blue zone and stop at buzzed.


SEE: Benefits of Aromatherapy

SEE Tip: Aromatherapy can be a natural way to improve sleep quality.  Researchers at Wesleyan University found that students who smelled lavender before going to bed at night slept more deeply and woke up with more energy than those who did not.[1]  Additional research supports the findings that calming scents, like lavender and vanilla, can aid in better sleep.

Want to try it out for yourself?  Stop by the PEEPs table on your way to the FFC tonight between 5:30-7 to make your own lavender sachet to be placed by your bed for a better night's sleep!

HKB Quit Tip: A study from 2013 found a potential link between aromatherapy and cravings associated with nicotine.  The researchers had 20 participants sniff a drop of black pepper or angelica oil from a tissue when cravings would arise.  They found that both worked, though the cravings appeared to drop more dramatically for the group using the black pepper.  The researchers noted that the study was too small to be statistically significant, but it provided useful information for those who are interested in quitting and may need an aid when cravings creep up. [2]

Mellow Out Monday: Did you know when you're stressed your sense of smell becomes sharper?  That's definitely useful if your stress is caused by being stranded in the woods and you need it to sniff out food and potential attackers.  However, this is Hopkins, and chances are you're dealing with papers and exams, and what you are smelling is that person who hasn't left D-level in 3 days.  Instead of letting the stress and smells over-power you, try aromatherapy to bring you to a calmer place.  With just a few drops of an essential oil like lavender, sandalwood, or chamomile, you can reduce your stress levels and smell something much more pleasant. [3]

If you want some more stress relievers, stop by Stressbusters on Q level tonight starting at 8pm!  Get a free backrub and feel refreshed for the week ahead!

1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16298774
2. http://www.prevention.com/health/healthy-living/aromatherapy-curbs-nicotine-cravings
3. http://www.prevention.com/mind-body/natural-remedies/how-aromatherapy-soothes-stress


Fat Talk Free Week!

Today marks the official last day of Fat Talk Free Week.  Of course, it doesn't have to stop here-- every day can be a fat talk free day.  Instead of focusing on what's wrong with our bodies, we can focus on what's right with them.  Thank our bodies for allowing us to smell the flowers, feel the wind blowing against our skin, and so many other amazing things.

To celebrate the final official day of Fat Talk Free Week, and all the Love Your Body celebrations of the last two weeks- we are asking you to share the name of someone you aspire to be like, and what is about that person that makes you want to be like them, one that is not based on physical appearance.  Examples include: because of their kindness, aptitude in science, dedication to soccer, their commitment to helping others, social skills, etc. Please consider sharing this on our Facbook page, Twitter, or Instagram!

And Happy FTFW to all!  You are all amazing, talented, and incredible individuals.  Thank you for being you.


SEE a Flash of Fitness

SEE Tip: If you have lag time in between classes, use the time to fit in a quick, but effective workout!  Studies show this can be just as (or more even) than spending an hour at the gym.  It can be anything from interval walking to more high intensity training.  If you have 15 minutes between classes, and you only need 5 minutes to get to class, how about you spend 10 minutes getting in a "flash of fitness"?  If you do that three times, that gets you 30 minutes of a workout-- all effective, and without forcing you to go to the gym or lose other valuable moments of your day.

Stop by the Gilman Quad today starting at 11:15am to jump start your Flash of Fitness with some ideas and win a prize for breaking a sweat with PEEPs.

HKB Tip:   In the last 25 years, we've seen a 47% decrease in cotinine, a measurement taken in non-smokers to study the secondhand-smoke exposure.  This steep decrease shows a high likelihood that laws like the indoor air act, which prohibits smoking within public places, is having a significant impact on improving the health of the population, and reducing the chances of exposure to chemicals found in second-hand smoke; 70 of which are cancer causing.

Want to talk more about second-hand smoke or the benefits of going smoke-free?  Stop by HKB's meeting tonight at 6pm in the AMR I TV room!

Mellow Out Monday Tip:  If you're feeling super stressed, try a Flash of Fitness by going for a walk/run.  The change of environment and body movement can help reduce the stress you may be feeling, and can even help you work through a problem that was getting to you in your previous state.

If you're still feeling stressed, try the benefits of touch.  Get a free back rub from a Stressbuster!  Stop by Q level in the MSE starting at 8pm tonight!


SEE Mindfully

SEE Tip: As part of Love Your Body Week, when it comes to eating well, consider practicing the art of mindful eating.  To get started, try some of these tips:

1. Try sitting at a table, rather than on a couch or bed.
2. Before picking up the food to eat, take a few deep breaths to allow your mind and body to settle and relax.
3. Appreciate the food in front of you.  Where is it from?  How did it get to your plate?  How does it look?  What about smell?  What do you like about it?  How does it feel (either in your hands or mouth or both)?

4.  How is your mind responding to the food?  Is it too hot, too cold, bland, or spicy?  Take your time to chew the food and allow your mind to process what you are doing and how you feel about it.
5. If you notice your mind wandering, try to bring your attention back to what you are doing to stay present in the moment.
6.  Once you are done, take a moment to notice if you are satisfied by your meal, and if so, move on with the next part of your day.

Want to practice mindful eating with a snack?  Stop by the Breezeway today starting at 11:30am for a mindful bite with the PEEPs!

HKB Quit Tip: When it comes to practicing mindfulness, it turns out that incorporating this practice into one's daily life can actually help smokers cut down on how much they smoke.  In a recent study, it is believed that the practice of mindful meditation may have helped smokers use more personal control and be better able to cope with their symptoms of the addiction to nicotine.

Mellow Out Monday:  Fall break is upon us, but before we get there, of course, there are about 2 midterms and a paper to get through first.  Instead of feeling overwhelmed and stressed by everything, try taking three deep breaths and repeat this mantra: I will get through this.  Why?  Because you will.  Also, because deep breathing promotes calmness in the body by increasing oxygen to your brain and stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system.  Yes, simply breathing (but deep breathing in particular) can help reduce stress.

Another way to bust stress?  Try Stressbusters tonight starting at 8pm on Q level in MSE for a FREE back rub!


Avoid the Bubble- a PEEPs suggestion

Real PEEPs Talk:

Hey y’all!

Are you stuck in the bubble yet? “What bubble?” You ask. Well the Hopkins bubble! This term basically refers to never leaving the four corners of the Homewood campus and no, going to the medical campus does not count.

Can you count how many places you have been in Baltimore that is not associated with Hopkins? Are you thinking, “I’m in Baltimore but there’s literally nothing to do around here!” Well think again! There is oh-so-much to do in this amazing city! Did you know that just a few weeks ago, Baltimore celebrated the 200th anniversary of the Star-Spangled Banner with a free festival? Tall ships, Navy ships and the Blue Angels arrived at Baltimore’s famed Inner Harbor to celebrate our national anthem. There were fireworks downtown, naval seals at the harbor, and flight demonstrations all around Fort McHenry and Federal Hill. 

Now, you may not even know where those places are and I challenge you to go forth and seek! Personally, I take the JHMI to Penn station and then hop on the Charm City Circulator (the purple line), otherwise known as the “free bus.” Yes, I said free! This bus is geared towards getting visitors around Baltimore, it stops in most if not all of the historical places in Baltimore so not only do you get a free ride, you also learn so much about the city along the way. Here is the link to the circulator times and schedule: http://www.charmcitycirculator.com/content/schedule.

Many times during my freshman year, I gave so many excuses such as, “Oh I have so much work” or “Brody is my new home” and things like that. But to be honest, you only live once! Even if you have so much work and no time at all. You could also join a group that volunteers off campus. There are so many service groups, performance groups, and others that volunteer at schools, jails, hospitals and so on. Here is a link to where you can find many of these groups: http://www.csc.jhu.edu/studentgroups.shtml

Now that you have been provided with all of this knowledge, I cannot wait to see you exploring!  Tell us about what you find here: facebook.com/jhupeeps