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.


Video: Stop the Spread!


STI Awareness Animation from Digital Media Center on Vimeo.

Created by JHU students during "Animating Behavior Change", a 3-week course taught in January 2010 by the Digital Media Center, and the Center for Health and Wellness, with assistance from Public Health Studies department.


Tip of the Week: Alleviating Allergies

You may soon notice some itchy eyes and runny noses as allergy season comes into full bloom in Baltimore. Even though the warm weather is a welcome change from winter, the flowers and trees bring a whole new reason to reach for the tissue box. As the Benadryl and Clariton packs start flying from the shelves, there are some other home remedies you can try that have been found to be very effective among allergy sufferers.

While it may not be possible to avoid exposure to allergens, there are ways to limit it. Wear sunglasses to block pollen from eyes and keep your windows shut. If you're one of the unfortunates without air conditioning and closed windows are not an option, consider an air purifier to filter out allergens flowing in from the outdoors. If you've spent a lot of time outside, take a nice long shower afterward. The steam will help open your nasal passages, plus you'll be rinsing off any residue that could transfer to your sheets and room.

If avoiding the allergens didn't work and you start to feel the effects, eyedrops or a warm washcloth can help ease the itchiness and puffiness of eyes often associated with allergies. You can also try a neti-pot. This device looks like a small teapot. You fill it with a saline solution and while leaning forward, pour the solution in one nostril until it drains out the other side. This flushes your sinuses of any mucus or trapped particles that can be causing your sinus pain or pressure. It can also help to prevent sinus infections from developing. Symptoms of sinus infections include headaches, nasal pressure, stuffy or runny nose, and facial pain that do not go away for several days, even with OTC medication. If you suspect a sinus infection, visit the Student Health and Wellness Center for treatment. Simply call 410-516-8270 to schedule an appointment.

In the News: A Touching Study

A recent article by the NY Times cites that there is evidence to support that even a little touch goes a long way. Researchers are finding that even brief, momentary touches can convey a wider range of emotions than gestures or words. The article states that researchers have begun to study the effect that physical touch has on how people think and behave. In fact, students who received supportive touch from a teacher were more likely to volunteer in class than those that didn't receive a touch. They also found that touch can reduce stress levels because it reduces levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. Click here to read the full article.

Need some stress relief? Let Stressbusters melt away your stress every Monday from 8-10pm at the MSE Library, Q level.


SEE for Yourself on Monday!

SEE Tip: This week, improve interpersonal communication and reduce stress by getting more sleep! In a recent study, sleep deprivation was associated with lower scores on Total EQ (decreased global emotional intelligence), Intrapersonal functioning (reduced self-regard, assertiveness, sense of independence, and self-actualization), Interpersonal functioning (reduced empathy toward others and quality of interpersonal relationships), Stress Management skills (reduced impulse control and difficulty with delay of gratification), and Behavioral Coping (reduced positive thinking and action orientation). Killgore WD, Kahn-Greene ET, Lipizzi EL, Newman RA, Kamimori GH, Balkin TJ. Sleep deprivation reduces perceived emotional intelligence and constructive thinking skills. Sleep Med. 2007 Aug 29.

Learn more about sleep tonight!
Come to Sleep Deprivation 101 and learn from an expert panel on sleep: Dr. Linda Gorman, Dr. Samer Hattar, and Dr. Richard Allen.
Remsen 101; 6-8 p.m. (Sponsored by SEE for yourself on Monday)

Quit on Monday from HKB: Unsure of how to curb the cravings? Think of ways to fill the physical void of cigarettes by substituting items with a similar payoff. If you are used to having something in your hands, keep silly putty or paper clips in your pocket. You can play with them to keep your hands occupied instead of reaching for a cigarette. Used to the oral fixation? Try gum, lollipops, or fireballs. Not only will this keep your mouth busy, but it's been found that the mint from gum can curb menthol cravings, and cinnamon can recreate the burn that many find soothing from cigarettes. All these tools are available through HKB Quit Kits. Email hopkinskicksbutts@gmail.com for more information!

Minimize Monday: When every household in the America trades their 25oz. bottle of petroleum-based liquid dish soap in for a 25oz. plant-derived liquid dish soap, such as Seventh Generation liquid dish soap, Americans will save 129,000 barrels of oil. If that sounds like a huge amount of oil, you’re right! It’s enough to heat 7,400 American homes for a year! Make the change that will make a difference. Click here to learn more about Seventh Generation plant derived products. Brought to you by the Sustainability Office. Join the Sustainable Hopkins listserv and receive weekly updates on sustainability related events and announcements: https://lists.johnshopkins.edu/sympa/info/sustainable_hopkins

Stressbuster Sound-off!

Looking for a way to Mellow Out this Monday?
Take a tip from a Stressbuster:

As a Senior at Hopkins sometimes I need a mini-vacation. Even a 5 minute vacation can be absolutely amazing. If nothing else is available, I listen to relaxing music.

Here are some of my suggestions for a mini music vacation:

-Listen to a song from the early 90s. The tackier, the better. It's the quickest way to take you back to childhood- especially if you're playing with Play-Doh at the same time.

-Listen to theme songs of shows you used to watch during less-stressful times in your life. I like the Pinky and the Brain, Ducktales, and Tiny Toons theme songs the best.

-Or make a playlist of speedruns of video games you used to play as a kid. I love listening to the entire soundtrack of Super Mario World. It's especially nice if it's a game you've beaten multiple times- it'll energize you into beating the big bosses lurking in your problem set.

-Some people swear by classical or jazz. I don't, personally. But a lot of people do.

-And, of course, no one can remain stressed out for long when listening to Bob Marley!

Mini music vacations are great because there's an endpoint. Keep it to one song, or two. Then you can go right back to work.

--Garvi Sheth, Stressbusters Co-coordinator--

But that's not the only you way you can relax. Each week, Stressbusters offer FREE 5-minutes massages to students! Come to Q-level of the library every Monday from 8-10 to check out Stressbuster's Mellow Out Mondays!

Weekend Sip Tip

It's easy to get carried away during a fun night out with friends. The trouble is, that fun night can easily turn into a very rough morning. A good way to help pace yourself is to use technology to your advantage. Before drinking, set several alarms on your phone to go off throughout the night. When you feel your phone vibrating, take that as a hint to take a break from alcohol and grab a glass of water. Not only does this give you a break from another alcoholic drink, but you are also keeping yourself hydrated. Since the majority of hangover symptoms are due to dehydration, you're helping yourself have a better night AND a better morning. And as always, Stop@Buzzed!

Challenge yourself! Take the Stop@Buzzed Challenge!


Tip of the Week: Stick with Seasonal

Now that spring has sprung, a whole new crop of seasonal foods are available. Not only are seasonal foods healthy, but they are also environmentally friendly. When you purchase foods in-season, they are more readily available from local farmers meaning there is less travel time between when the food is picked to when you eat it. This results in you receiving a fresher product more rich in nutrients, plus with the cuts to travel time, less fuel is burned to harm the environment. Some seasonal spring foods include: asparagus, beets, mushrooms, peas, spinach, raspberries, and strawberries. Check out a local farmer's market to get your seasonal foods!


In the News: Health Care Reform

Love it or hate it, the newly passed health care reform has sparked heated debate nationwide. While many consider this a victory for human rights and health, others question the constitutionality of the bill, many are concerned about what it means for the future of their health care, and some are left confused or in the dark about many of the provisions. Whether you are in support or in opposition of this new law, it is important to be informed. Linked below is the full text of the Reconciliation Act of 2010.

What are your thoughts on this act? Here's your chance to sound off. We want to hear your questions, concerns, and support. We do ask that you keep your opinions respectful and appropriate. Any defamatory, derogatory, or explicit comments will not be posted. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and everyone's opinion deserves respect.

Link to full text: http://www.opencongress.org/house_reconciliation

WANTED: Peer Health Educatiors!

PEEPs Peer Health Educators are now accepting applications for new members!

What can you gain from PEEPs?

EXPERIENCE: gain valuable public health and leadership experience. Learn directly from campus experts. Develop useful skills and knowledge for the future. Great resume booster!

OUTREACH: Increase Homewood student awareness of various health issues through tabling, group collaboration, awareness campaigns, social marketing, and events.

EDUCATION: Prepare and present fun and interactive health education programs to on-campus populations. Utilize public speaking, presentation, and communication skills.

All undergraduates and majors are welcome to apply!

To learn more, or to apply, visit http://jhu.edu/health/peeps.html.
Applications due by April 3rd to Levering 115 or emailed to bgwinn1@jhu.edu


SEE for Yourself on Monday!

SEE Tip: Minimize. Whether you are running errands or going to the library, consider walking or biking instead of driving. It’s better for your body, your mind, and the earth, too!

Quit on Monday from HKB: Looking to quit smoking but unsure of where to start? Free resources are available. Not only does HKB offer quit kits, but you can call 1-800-QUIT-NOW to recieve free cessation support and materials via the phone. Take the first step toward quitting today!

Mellow Out Monday: Laughter is the best medicine and one of the best stress-busters there is. Conjuring up a big belly laugh out of nowhere might be impossible when you're under stress, but there are ways to utilize this stress management technique. Rent a comedy or flip through the TV and find a funny sitcom and take a half hour break while you beat some stress. The internet is another place to find laughter. Laughter can be found anywhere, you just have to look for it.

Want more stress relief? Go get a backrub from a Stressbuster at the library on Q level every Monday from 8-10 pm.

Weekend Sip Tip

Warm weather have you craving some frozen concoctions? Keep in mind that sugary mixed drinks such as frozen daiquiris, pina coladas, and alco-pops contain many empty calories. A typical serving can contain anywhere from 220 to over 300 calories! While that drink may cool you down, it may not be the healthiest choice. If you do choose to drink, choose low calorie options or use healthier mixers like fresh fruit juice or flavored water. And most importantly, rehydrate often and Stop@Buzzed!


Tip of the Week: Think Outside the Gym

Getting tired of the same cardio routine? Step off the treadmill and get to stepping outside! With the warmer weather, there are plenty of activities that allow you to socialize, relieve stress, and get some cardio in. Try ultimate Frisbee, toss the football around, take a walk around campus, or find a new jogging trail. When you find an activity that you enjoy, you're more likely to stick with it. Just remember when spending time outside to slop on some sunscreen and protect your skin!

PEEPs Anonymous: Submit your questions!

We are now accepting anonymous questions about your health and wellness. Simply leave an anonymous comment on this post, and a trained peer educator will screen your submissions and choose one lucky question to answer each week. Whether you need sexpertise, healthy tips, or are just feeling inquisitive, we're here to answer those questions you may be too shy to ask!

NOTE: The answers will be reviewed by health professionals at Johns Hopkins for accuracy, but this Q&A forum does not constitute medical advice. It is simply an outlet to talk about health issues on campus.

In the News: A Not-So-Sexy Stat

The Centers for Disease Control have released results from a new survey that indicate roughly 1 in 6 Americans between 14 and 49 have genital herpes. The study also found that young women (21%), African Americans (39%), and gay and bisexual men have a higher prevalence. Another health risk is the number of sexual partners. Those with 10 or more partners have a prevalence of 27%, compared to the 4% of those with only one partner. Based on 2007 data from JHU's Student Health and Wellness Center, 10 cases of genital herpes (18%) were diagnosed of those students that came in for STI testing.

What's more shocking is that of those Americans with genital herpes (HSV-2), 80% of them don't even know that they are infected with this chronic disease. This is in large part due to the lack of symptoms that many experience. While most people associate herpes with itchy, painful blisters and sores around the genital region, many people have very mild or no symptoms at all. Despite a lack of symptoms, it is still possible to transmit genital herpes to other sexual partners.

While there is no vaccine or cure for genital herpes, it is possible to protect yourself. Since herpes is spread from skin-to-skin contact, the best method is to avoid any genital contact. This includes outer touching, not just sexual intercourse. If you do 'bump uglies', be sure to use a condom or dental dam every time to lower- but not eliminate- your risk. Be conscious of your number of sexual partners, and ask any potential partners if they have been tested. If you fear you may have genital herpes, or any other STI, testing is available through the Student Health and Wellness Center. Simply call 410-516-8270 for an appointment.

To learn more, visit: http://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/Newsroom/hsv2pressrelease.html


What can CHEW do for you?

We may be the office you never knew you knew! The Center for Health Education and Wellness can be seen all over JHU's campus through our student groups, events, campaigns, and free giveaways. Maybe you just never realized who was behind the messages. We are the health promotion arm of the Student Health and Wellness Center (no, we are not the same office contrary to popular belief). Our mission is to provide health education programming and health promotion to the student population to foster a healthier JHU community. How do we do this? By offering a variety of programs and opportunities that support and affirm student health and wellness through the delivery of fun and interactive programming and outreach. If this isn't sounding familiar to you, perhaps you'll recognize one of these:

PEEPs Peer Health Educators: PEEPs (Preventative Education & Empowerment for Peers) are part of a peer health education program designed to provide a setting in which students can discuss and explore health issues. PEEPS are trained to present health information on a variety of topics such as men’s/women’s health, sexual health, nutrition, stress management, and alcohol, drugs, and tobacco.

Stressbusters: Stressbusters provide free five minute back-rubs to other students and staff at events or meetings to promote relaxation. You can become a stressbuster: the requirements are stress free and the training is for life!

Hopkins Kicks Butts: HKB is JHU's Anti-Tobacco Coalition. They are dedicated to raising awareness about the harm and dangers of tobacco use. Through tabling, campaigns, policy change, and outreach, HKB works to make Homewood a healthier, smoke-free environment.

SEE for Yourself on Monday: The SEE Campaign (Sleep, Eat, Exercise) is all about helping JHU students maintain a healthy balance of rest, exercise, and nutritious eating that can have a positive influence on performance. The SEE for Yourself campaign challenges every student to take time out once each week to balance their lives and improve their health!

Stop@Buzzed: The Stop@Buzzed Campaign is an alcohol awareness message that asks students who choose to drink, to drink responsibly. By staying within a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .02 to .06, you can feel all the euphoric 'buzzed' effects of alcohol without the negative and unhealthy consequences. So if you do drink, choose to Stop@Buzzed!

Condom Sense: Condom Sense is a program that allows students to purchase brand name condoms for a fraction of the price! For just $4/pack of 12, students can receive Trojan, Durex, or Variety packs. To order, simply visit this site!

Want to learn more? Visit our blog regularly for updates on upcoming promotions, current events, notes from our student leaders, and tips to keep you healthy and well.
So until next time, CHEW on this!