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.


Weekend Sip Tip: Energy Bust


The University of New Hampshire is considering a plan to ban energy drinks on their campus in the hopes of becoming the "the healthiest campus community".  The health effects of energy drinks have been debated for years. Do you feel it is fair to ban these beverages?

Energy drinks aren't all evil, but they are not created equal.  Some have the caffeine equivalent to a cup of coffee, while others may have 4 cups worth in just one can.  If you drink these, realize what's going into your body.  Many of the products list that their ingredients can have significant health effects, but most of those claims are scientifically unsupported.  Beyond the ingredients are the effects energy drinks can have, which include, sleeplessness, irritability, and nervousness.  Have you seen or experienced some of these symptoms?  Not so pleasant, right?

If energy drinks are mixed with alcohol the effects are not just unpleasant- they are dangerous.  Energy drinks can mask the effects of alcohol. This means a person may not know how drunk they actually are, and can seriously hurt themselves or someone else.  If you choose to drink, avoid these risky situations and try keeping it decaf- and Stop@Buzzed!


CHEW on this: Hump day goes the distance

Studies have shown that 75% of college students have been in a long-term relationship (Stafford, 2005).  With so many, it is likely that you or someone you know is currently in a long-term relationship.  So, here are some tips for the long-distance game.

 You aren't mind readers- how else will your partner know what you're thinking unless you tell them?  

Using what you got!
We're in the booming technology generation- use it to your advantage!  Plan skype dates, face time, facebook chats, and so many other ways to talk to your significant other without it costing you a penny!  

But, just because it doesn't cost much doesn't mean it has to feel cheap or insignificant.  Skyping can still be as romantic as a night out, or even a night in if you both dress the part.  This could mean dressing up for your skype date or "sharing" a tub of popcorn while watching a new movie you both wanted to see together.

Person time!
Make time to see each other- it's fun!  But remember, not every time will be magical- don't put pressure on yourselves to keep it conflict free (it actually makes for more stress and unnecessary arguments).  Enjoy spending time with each other when you can!

Also, remember to share the traveling responsibilities and costs.  If one person has a car and does all of the driving, perhaps the other can pay for gas or find public transportation to equal out the traveling that is being done.  Talk to each other about the travel load and be sure it feels equal to you both.

Keep USPS in business!
Try sending snail mail to your long distance love.  Life gets stressful and everyone could use a care package every once in a while.  Emails and online chats are great, but sometimes a card that has traveled for miles brings back that personal touch.

Clear and Fair Expectations!
How often do you both need to speak to each other on a weekly basis?  What happens when one person needs to cancel to meet for a school project?  Is it okay to dance with other people at a party?  Be sure to set boundaries and clear expectations with each other.  Those expectations must also be fair for each of you, and if they don't seem fair, talk about it.

Protect Yourself!
Even if you and your partner are monogamous, it is important to use protection every time if you are being sexually active.  If you or your partner uses hormonal birth control, like the pill, it must be taken  as prescribed, including on days/weeks when you don't see each other, in order for it to work effectively.  For discounted condoms, consider using the JHU Condom Sense program which offers a variety of brand name condoms for $4 a pack.

As with all relationships, communication is the key for keeping a relationship steady. 

"And ever has it been known that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation." 
- Khalil Gibran


Good Advice from your PEEPs

It is often difficult to find a space to work. While the tendency is to migrate towards the library, the repeated surroundings can make you lose your concentration. If in need of a change of scenery here are some great spots across campus:

1. Levering Hall

The lobby and study area of Levering Hall tend to be quiet which make them a perfect spot for reading. If you avoid lunch hours, Levering Hall food court is a great place to go as well. You can eat while you study and enjoy the brand-new remodeling.

2. Barnes & Nobles

Again, this spot is dependent on the time of day. When it comes to a coffee shop, it is best to go at an off-time during the day such as the early afternoon. An added bonus is the hospitality: no one will ask you to move unless it is closing time.

3. 3rd Floor/ 4th Floor Gilman

The upper levels of Gilman feature groups of seats right by the stairs. This spot is perfect for complete solitude. The level of the floor makes for a beautiful view past the glass window.

4. Study Rooms

Almost every dorm has one, might as well take advantage! The study rooms allow you to create a learning environment while still being close to home. These will come especially handy in the winter, when any distance can stop you from journeying for homework.

Submitted by Amelie-Francoise Nkodo, a member of PEEPs (a Peer Health Education student group)


SEE for Yourself on Monday - Exercise WELL

Increase brain cells—exercise for 30 minutes one day this week. Research has shown numbers of brain cells increase in people who exercise. Specific increases were observed in the hippocampus, a part of the brain central to learning and memory function (source: The Society for Neuroscience). For tips on where to get your fitness on stop by the SEE table today at the Breezeway from 11-1 pm. 

QUIT on MONDAY tip: Are you trying to quit smoking, but you're concerned about the effects it might have on your body or how hard breaking the habit will be? Numerous studies have shown that those who add exercise to their weekly routine will be more successful in their quest to quit smoking. Exercise improves the capacity for a person to quit smoking while also assisting in weight management and overall healthier living.

MELLOW OUT MONDAY tip: Feeling stressed? Try attending a yoga class at the recreation center. Yoga has been practiced for more than 5,000 years, and yoga-goers often report feeling less stressed, more focused, and generally happier after a yoga class. Come chillax with the Stressbusters every Monday from 8-10 pm at the MSE library, Q-level.


Sip Tip: Reality Check


It's pretty common to think that everyone else is "doing it".  You know, drinking.  It's college after all, and we've all seen what to expect.  We've seen Van Wilder and Old School, sang "I love College" and "Keg in the Closet", and thought is this really what college will be like?

Now that you've been here for sometime, you tell us- is that what your life is like at Hopkins?  What about for everyone else here? Do you think most people at Hopkins are living that kind of college life? 

According to the NCHA survey of Johns Hopkins students, Hopkins students believe that 96% of the campus has used alcohol in the last month.  However, students self-reported about their own drinking habits on that survey, and we learned that over 40% actually have not had alcohol in that same time frame.  That's nearly half of the campus!  So, while you may think everyone is drinking, the reality is that it isn't as much as you may think.  

So, is it possible that these songs and movies are selling us something that doesn't exist in reality?  


CHEW on this: Hump Day gets vaccinated


Lately, there has been some misinformation spreading about the HPV vaccine. So let's clear some of it.  This vaccine prevents serious health risks, including cervical cancer and other cancers, as well as the spread of genital warts caused by HPV infection.  Sounds like some good stuff to guard against right? 

The HPV vaccine is given in 3 doses.  There are two types of HPV vaccines available which are Gardasil (remember all of those "one less" commercials) and Cervarix.  Both protect against cervical cancer in women, but only Gardasil can be administered to both women and men to prevent the spread of HPV and certain cancers in both genders.  Women and men ages 9-26 can be immunized with Gardasil.  Women ages 9-26 can be immunized with Gardasil or Cervarix.

It's true that vaccines aren't fun to get, and every vaccine comes with at least some risk. Studies have shown the risks for the HPV vaccine are relatively minor, including, possible side effects of soreness, slight fever, dizziness, and possible fainting (which is common for teenagers who receive vaccinations). It is important to take precautions, like planning extra time if needed for resting after the shot is given and talking to the doctor ahead of time about any concerns.

Consider the research, talk to a doctor, and come to your own conclusions.

More information can be found here: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/hpv/vac-faqs.htm


SEE for Yourself on Monday!

EAT WELL by taking time to have breakfast even if it’s on the go try fruit, cereal, yogurt, or an energy bar to get the day started right. Research has found that university students perform better on memory tests when they have eaten breakfast (source: Benton, David & Sargent, Julia, Breakfast, blood glucose and memory, Biological Psychology, 33 (1992) 207-210).

 QUIT on MONDAY tip: Have you recently quit smoking cigarettes?  Congratulations! It’s not an easy thing to do.  Have you noticed when you eat certain foods that the cravings can be worse, depending on what you eat?  It’s not in your head, studies have shown that certain foods enhance the craving to light up, especially when those foods were associated with smoking.  To keep those cravings at bay, stick to fruits, veggies, soda, or whatever you don’t link to your past smoking habits.  For instance, if you used to have a cigarette with your morning coffee, try switching to tea in the mornings.

MELLOW OUT MONDAY stress less tip: Eating well will increase your physical, mental, and emotional stamina. Fueling yourself with nutrient dense foods can boost your immune system, help you maintain a healthy weight and help you feel better about yourself. Need a quick fix? Let Stressbusters melt your stress away with a 5-7 minute seated back rub tonight at the MSE - Q-level from 8-10 pm.


Sip Tip: Defining Stop@buzzed


Have you heard “Stop at buzzed” and wondered, what does that even mean?  It’s not about keeping your phone on vibrate while in class or ducking for cover when faced with a swarm of bees.  It’s about making safer choices if choosing to drink alcohol. 

Stopping at buzzed is a reminder for those that drink that they can still have a good time and not go overboard.  By staying in “the blue zone” and “stopping at buzzed” the effects one may be looking for like, mild euphoria, increased sociability, and some feelings of relaxation can be felt throughout the evening. However, if one goes beyond “the blue zone” effects that are not desired will result, including some potentially embarrassing or even life threatening situations. It can be the difference between a fun night to remember and foul night to forget.

Using the BAC charts below, a person who consumes alcoholic beverages can track their drinks and use the BAC chart as a reference for staying in the blue zone and helping them to stop@buzzed.


Good Advice from your PEEPs


Back to School Survival Guide (Part 2)

Step away from the computer. And iPad. And Blackberry. I’ll be the first to admit that my Blackberry runs my life. But at the same time, technology overload can ruin a study session – so shut off your phone, print out your notes (for those of you worried about sustainability, you can recycle them later), and find a place to get your work done. Without the added distractions of Facebook chat, BBM, and email, you’ll be able to think more clearly and focus more intensely on everything you need to get done. And don’t worry, that video of a cute kitten won’t disappear from your Facebook wall if you don’t see it within the first five minutes.

Submitted by Kristan Rosenthal, member of PEEPs


CHEW on this: Hump Day Savings


College students have lots of money, right?  Unfortunately, that's not so true.  Money can be tight, especially in college.  If the expense of birth control is getting too high, here are some options that may help:

  1. Go Generic: Ask your doctor if there is a generic version available.  Generic brands are cheaper than the brand name and have the same efficacy rate.
  2. Bargain Shop: Check out different pharmacies to see what they charge.  Bonus for students on the JHU Student Health Insurance Plan, the Student Health and Wellness Center offers birth control for patients that is usually inexpensive and convenient!
  3. E-condomize: Stick to using condoms as the main form of birth control, particularly, if being monogomous isn't in play.  Be sure to use the condom as directed in order for it to be effective against pregnancy and STIs. Condoms are given away for free on campus, or other brands can be bought through our Condom Sense program at a discounted price.


Staff Spotlight


My name is Dr. Wendy Kjeldgaard and I want to take this opportunity to introduce myself to you all. I am a new senior staff psychologist and the eating disorder program coordinator at the Johns Hopkins University Counseling Center. My position offers me a variety of opportunities to work with undergraduate and graduate students at JHU. I offer individual psychotherapy sessions for all students and will be running a therapy group this fall for people who want to learn ways to eat healthier and cope with stress.

I’ll also be providing a number of programs, presentations and events this year on topics like the media’s influence on standards of beauty and how to improve your body image. Lastly, I’m always available to talk to any of you if you have concerns about yourself or a friend or just want some information on eating disorders or on body image. Drop in and see me at the Counseling Center at our new location: 3003 North Charles Street, Suite S-200. I am ready and happy to help!

Healthy Advice: It's important to pamper yourself sometimes...you don't have to spend a lot of money, but doing something self-soothing, like getting a pedicure or buying yourself a nice smelling bottle of body lotion or getting a 5-minute massage can do wonders for your mood and is a way of caring for yourself

Fun fact: I just moved here from Africa; I have a border collie who does Agility courses and knows all the names of her different toys; I'm a huge comedy buff; I can make a mean loaf of foccacia


SEE for Yourself on Monday!

SEE Tip: This week consider taking a 20-30 minute nap during the day to sneak in some extra zzz’s and improve alertness. According to the National Institute of Health’s Guide to Healthy Sleep, short naps can improve alertness and focus, but naps that last longer than an hour can make you groggy and disrupt sleeping patterns. For more sleep tips, stop stop by the SEE table on the Breezeway between 11-1 pm. 

QUIT TIP: Are you a stressed out smoker?  Often, smokers use cigarettes to reduce their stress levels.  But research has shown that smokers actually have higher levels of stress than non-smokers.  While in the moment, smoking may feel like it’s taking away stress, it’s really only hiding it temporarily.  The stress returns and must eventually be dealt with.  So, in the time it takes to smoke a cigarette, about 7-15 minutes, in what other ways could you reduce stress?  Some things we’ve heard include taking a 10-15 minute walk, doing deep breathing exercises, or compiling a prioritized task list. Think about what works for you!

MELLOW OUT MONDAY: Let Stressbusters melt your stress away every Monday at MSE Library, Q-level, from 8-10 pm. starting today. We're also currently recruiting new members. To find out more or request an event click here.


Sip Tip: Not exactly Juicy Juice

Have you ever heard someone say, "I don't know how I got so drunk, I only had 2 drinks"?  Then come to find out those drinks were actually two solo cups of Jungle Juice.  Is a solo cup equivalent to one drink?  The answer is No. A solo cup of jungle juice can actually hold anywhere from 4-6 drinks, which means your friend may have really had about 8-12 drinks.

Looking at the cup below, the standard drink sizes for different alcoholic beverages are shown.  If you choose to drink and use a solo cup, pour your own drink so you know how much alcohol is in the cup.  You can also swap between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, or switch to water or mixers.  And if jungle juice or other pre-mixed alcoholic drinks are being consumed, remember only the person who made the mix knows what is actually in it, including how much alcohol was used and the types of alcohol. As a way to ensure a good night out, remember to stay with friends, make a plan with each other for the night, and hold each other to those plans.


Advice from your PEEPs


Back to School Survival Guide

Welcome back to Hopkins, and a warm welcome to all the new freshmen! After three months of summer, friends, the beach, and no classes, getting back into the swing of things can be a bit of a challenge. As a current senior, I’ve been through the transition many times and have finally figured out a few simple tips to ease myself back into the daily grind AND stay healthy (and sane!) while doing it - it only took me three years to figure out! Over the next few weeks we'll feature a few good habits to start now that you’ll thank yourself for later on in the semester:

  •  Make a plan, and stick to it. As a serial overachiever (and don’t deny it – many of us are), I have learned to plan my life down to the minute. After add/drop period is over, and you have a fairly set schedule, sit down and look at how you’re using your time during the week. Have class at noon twice a week, but have to be up for a 9 am every other day? Try getting in the routine of waking up at the same time every day, and using those extra morning hours for a trip to the gym! It’ll boost your energy and make you more productive. Have random hours off midday? Instead of using them for a nap, do work in between classes. You won’t have to worry about sleeping through your next class, and getting your work done earlier in the day will allow you to have more free time at night to use as you please – you could socialize, try out new clubs, go to events, or even just add an extra hour of sleep at night! Scheduling your time wisely can also help decrease your stress; by keeping on top of your work on a daily basis, you won’t have to cram everything into weekends or the nights before midterms.
  • Stay tuned for more tips.

Submitted by Kristan Rosenthal, member of PEEPs

Happy CHEWsday!

Whether decreasing stress, getting more sleep, or increasing physical activity, healthy behaviors have a huge impact on your performance as a student. Based on a 2009 ACHA-NCHA survey, the majority of factors that Hopkins students rank highest for negative social and academic impact were health related (lack of sleep, stress/anxiety, cold/flu/sore throat, and pregnancy to name a few!).

At CHEW, we strive to create and sustain a learning environment where healthy behaviors are an integral component to academic and individual success. To keep ahead of the academic curve and keep your health in focus, sign-up to receive a weekly email with health tips and updates to help you be a healthier (and more successful) JHYou! To register, visit: http://tinyurl.com/chewsnews


Sip Tip: Don't get Cuff'd

The first week of classes is wrapping up and Friday night is calling like a Katy Perry song.  Before singing "T-G-I-F", take a look at what happened to this girl on the new MTV reality show CUFF'D when things got out of hand.  

If you choose to drink and want to avoid the cuffs, stay in the Blue Zone. You can do this by alternating alcoholic drinks with water or other non-alcoholic beverages, pacing yourself, and eating before, during, and after you party.