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 For Yourself on Monday - Sleep Well

Get scentsational sleep by using aromatherapy. Lemon balm or lavender oil can reduce stress and anxiety and support sound sleep. A 2005 study in the journal Chronobiology International found that intermittent exposure to lavender oil during sleep increased participants' depth of sleep, leading them to awaken more quickly and with increased vigor. Stop by the SEE today from 1-3 pm in the Breezeway to smell some scents and a chance to win a sound pillow.

Essential Oils can be used for more than helping you get your 8 hours in. If you’re trying to quit smoking, using aromatherapy can be an additional help in the tough battle to quit smoking. In combination with other smoking cessation methods, using the different aromatherapy oils can reduce the cravings for nicotine and provide a sense of calm in its place. There are a number of different essential oils that may help reduce the craving, including peppermint, cinnamon, and black pepper. See what helps you on your journey to be smoke-free. And if you’d like more information about being smoke-free check out HKB on the breezeway from 11-2pm today!

Got Stress? Studies have shown Eucalyptus eases stress and calms the body and mind, while Spearmint can ease mental fatigue and stress. Another way to relieve some stress is to get a weekly back-rub from Stressbusters at the MSE library, from 8-10 pm. If you are a fan of Stressbusters let us know by liking us!


Weekend Sip Tip: Plans for Halloween


Halloween weekend can mean candy, costumes, and craziness.  If your plans include partying with alcohol, think about ways to keep yourself and your friends safe; try stopping at buzzed, staying together, and looking out for one another.  If you are looking for something to do that doesn't include drinking, we have some options for you, too.

If you like a good scare with friends there are haunted houses, museums, farms, and more in the area that you could check out.  Or try something in the city, like the Halloween parade in Patterson Park: http://greatbighalloweenparadeoflightandluminaria.wordpress.com/.

If you're feeling crafty, you could plan your own costume contest or fashion show.  If you want to go beyond the runway, you could turn your room into a haunted house (or maybe your whole hallway can get in on it too!).

For those hoping for a night in, try a night of horror movies- fright fest 2011 style!  Or go for the cheesy “horror” movies- like the Scream movies or I know What You Did Last Summer (and the Summer Before…).  Just get some friends, tubs of popcorn and enjoy!  

If you're feeling more service oriented, consider contacting a local organization that works with youth to help plan a haunted house or Halloween party that’s safe and fun. Most organizations look for volunteers that can dress up, help with activities, and make the event fun for kids.  

Or if you'd rather get some exercise in while donating your time and money, try doing a Halloween Run/Walk.  There are tons going on in the area, including the Baltimore Walk Now for Autism Speaks or the 5k walk/1 mile fun walk for the Brent A. Rosenberg Walk for Maryland's Children and Family Fair starting at the YMCA on 33rd.

Or if you have the time and a ride, you could check out the amusement parks nearby for Halloween Fun.  There's Six Flags in Maryland, Kings Dominion in Virginia, and Hershey Park in Pennsylvania.

There are so many things you can do to have fun this weekend, and take a break from the rigors of homework and studying.  We’d love to hear what fun things you came up with- so let us know if you’d like to share!


Hump Day: Stress Killer


Midterms are in the air and stress levels are high.  The meditation session just isn't cutting it and spending time in the library is just adding to the pressure.  So what can you do?

One effective way to reduce your stress is to have (safer) sex.  If you're in a monogamous relationship this stress release could be a short text away.  Just remember to keep it safe to avoid any further stress or worry.

Studies from the journal of Biological Psychology have found that people who engaged in sexual intercourse had better responses to stress than those that had not.  They also found that hugs from loved ones could reduce stress and blood pressure (in women).

If you choose to have sex in the hopes of reducing your stress be sure to practice safer sex methods, such as, using a condom and other forms of birth control/STI prevention. Also, be sure the sex partner you choose is someone you are comfortable with.  You can ask yourself these questions to be sure; "Do I want to have sex with this person? Do I respect him/her? Does s/he respect me? Am I happy to be with this person?" If you feel good about your partner then the stress relief method could prove beneficial.  And the fun can begin!

And if no partner is in sight or you prefer to go solo, you can give yourself a hand to reduce stress, too.  Plus, going it alone significantly reduces your chances of spreading STI/STDs.  Major stress reliever!


Happy Food Day!

A project of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, National Food Day celebrates the changed place of healthy food in the national consciousness. Think of it as an extension of Earth Day, with people coming together for panel discussions, plantings, documentary screenings, and, of course, dinners.

The idea behind Food Day is to bring all the stakeholders together: foodies and farmers passionate about sustainable agriculture and urban vegetable gardens; activists who fight against food insecurity and in favor of fair treatment for farm and restaurant workers; environmentalists intent on preventing pollution; parents and public health officers battling childhood obesity.

So in honor of Food Day, Bon Apetit!

SEE for Yourself on Monday - Exercise Well

For this week include some type of strength training in your weekly exercise regimen no matter what your fitness goals are. Resistance training provides many health benefits. Resistance exercise is any exercise where muscles contract against an external resistance with the objective of increasing strength, tone, mass, and/or muscular endurance. The resistance can come from dumbbells, weight machines, elastic tubing or bands, cinder blocks, cans of soup, your own body weight (for example, pushups), or any other object that forces your muscles to contract. Results occur when you train consistently over time. For more tips and a chance to get a free SEE t-shirt stop by the Breezeway today from 1-3 pm.

Mellow Out Monday: Yoga postures are a form of strength training, making you more resilient and flexible, which in turn relieves physical tension. It also uses deep breathing, which triggers the body’s relaxation response. Sound interesting? Check out the Rec Center for yoga classes. Also be sure to get a weekly back-rub from Stressbusters at the MSE library, from 8-10 pm every Monday or from 12-2 pm at the Gilman Atrium on Thursdays.

Quit on Monday: As many of us know, smokers who began smoking when they are young have a particularly tough time quitting as they get older. However, a recent study has found that young, male smokers who exercise have more success when trying to quit. If you are interested in quitting, try going for a walk or doing an extra rep at the gym. You may find the power to hold off on the craving to smoke is possible with a little sweat!


Sip Tip: Eat, Drink, and Be Hydrated!

Going out this weekend?  If you plan to drink alcohol, remember to eat a meal rich in healthy carbohydrates and protein and drink lots of water beforehand.  Try going out with friends to a fun, new restaurant or making dinner together.  It can be a delicious way to start the evening, and can help reduce the chances of having a rough morning the next day.

Having food in your system before you drink will help slow the absorption of the alcohol.  This allows the night to last longer as you stay in the blue zone and have fun with your friends.  And remember, to stay hydrated throughout the night by having water or other non-alcoholic beverages with dinner and during your night.


Hump Day: Hooking up


Think everyone is hooking up?   Think again.  In a recent study, 90% of students thought the "typical" student was hooking up at least two or more times during the year.  But really, only 37% of students reported two or more hook ups. 

And when it comes to "hooking up" there are countless definitions for it; from a one night stand, to making out, to some kissing and cuddling.  Any of these can apply when talking about hooking up which can be confusing, rumor-producing, or even comforting for some, right?  But, if hooking up for you means having sex, consider using protection.  

The Center for Health Education and Wellness provides free Lifestyles brand condoms at different events on campus.  We also have the Condom Sense program which offers reduced rate Durex and Trojan condoms to students.  If you are having sex, use your head and wear protection.


Food for Thought


Seasonal Food Spotlight: Adding Apples

Hi, I’m Diane, and I’m your new registered dietitian (RD). What this basically means is that after years studying nutrition and 1200 hours in a supervised practice internship, I get to spend all day talking about delicious foods that can help you be as healthy as possible. Which is great, because I love food.

Lately I’ve been stocking up on apples. Apples contain heart-healthy soluble fiber and phytochemicals in a portable, delicious little package. Plus they’re in season right now, which means you can easily stock up on affordable, fresh apples at your local grocery store or farmer’s market. Although they’re great on their own, here are four other ways to add apples to your diet:

1. Mix equal parts peanut butter and vanilla yogurt. Spread on apple slices and enjoy.

2. Add thin apple slices to sandwiches for a satisfying crunch.

3. Cut apple into thin, small pieces (slightly bigger than shredded carrots). Microwave for 15-30 seconds. Add apple slices and cinnamon to pancake batter and cook.

4. Looking for a healthier dessert? Thinly slice an apple and spread pieces on a baking sheet or glass pan. Top with a little butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon, nutmeg, and/or allspice. Broil for 5 minutes or until apple starts to brown.

Submitted by Diane Blahut, MS, RD, LDN. Diane is available for individual appointments on Tuesdays from 8:30-5 at the Student Health and Wellness Center. For more information on RD credentials, click here .


SEE for Yourself on Monday - EAT WELL


Eat breakfast – even if it’s on the gtry 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).  For more tips and free give-aways stop by the SEE table at the Breezeway today from 1-3 pm.

Quit on Monday tipThink secondhand smoke isn’t harmful?  Think again!  In a study from the IOM it is reported that secondhand smoke exposure could cause heart disease, including a heart attack. Even a brief exposure can trigger your cardiovascular system to respond negatively and damage your blood vessels. This means, even if you don’t smoke but you pass through a cloud of smoke, you are at risk.  Want to reduce the damage to your body while on campus?  Click here to sign the Hopkins Kicks Butts petition for a Smoke Free Campus.

Good nutrition and healthy eating habits can help you through your stressful times now, not just prevent a heart attack 30 years down the road. 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. In addition, get a free back-rub at the MSE Q-level every Monday from 8-10 pm.



Weekend Sip Tip: stopping at buzzed

Last week, we wanted to know how those who choose not to drink respond when asked to drink. There were some great responses, including saying "I don't drink", "I'm not drinking tonight", and "I don't like drinking".  We really appreciate the thoughts and if you have more please add to the comments.

This week, we want to hear from those that choose to drink and "stay in the blue zone".  The "blue zone" refers to drinking approximately 1-2 drinks an hour, resulting in a BAC of .01-.06.  Typically, a person will feel more social, talkative, relaxed.  They will also feel less alert and have some impaired judgement due to the alcohol in their system.

For some, it can be tough to know where the line is when drinking.  They might end up going too far and drinking too much, resulting in a bad hangover or worse.  Here are some things we've heard of how people know if they are in or near the Blue Zone.

"More likely to dance"
"Feeling a funny feeling on the tip of the nose- that's my clue that I've hit the peak of my buzz. I can stop drinking and just enjoy my night".
"If I just have 1 drink for most of the night, I still have a good time with my friends.  I don't always feel the buzz, but whatever, I'm still having fun."

So, for those that have been in the blue zone, what does the "blue zone" feel like or look like for you?  How do you find the blue zone for yourself and how have you stopped at buzzed?


Hump Day: HPV prevention for XY


Hey guys! Ready for shots?  Not your flu shot (though if you haven't gotten that, you may want that too), and we're not talking about the party anthem. We're talking about the HPV vaccine.  

The HPV vaccine may seem like it's only for women and girls, but the FDA has approved the vaccine for men and boys to receive, too.  It helps to prevent the spread of HPV, reduces certain types of cancer risks, and keeps genital warts at bay.  

Interested in protecting yourself and others from HPV?  Come to the Student Health and Wellness Center to get yours!


Fall Break - Take Time to Relax!


With almost a month of school under our belts, midterms are beginning to start and work has definitely piled up. Though it’s easy to get overwhelmed, there are plenty of ways to decompress and forget about everything going on, if not for just a couple of minutes. First and foremost, you can go get a free backrub from CHEW’s very own Stressbusters! You can also go get a massage with the licensed therapist on campus! If you want to stay in your room and take a break, try meditation! This is my personal favorite way to take just twenty minutes out of my day and forget the world. This works best right before bed.

• Shut off your phone, close your laptop, turn down the lights

• If you like calming background music, go ahead and play some (think sounds of the ocean, light piano, etc.)

• Sit up straight on your bed or on the floor, keeping your legs extended outwards

• Empty your mind of thought by thought. Try to count backwards from 50 to 1 to get into the groove if you’re having trouble.

• If you have a ton going on in your mind, focus on not thinking. You can imagine a place, a person or an object that gives you peace.

• Focus intensely on the image that gives you the most peace- for me it’s a picture of my family on the beach. I just imagine that our dog, Timmy, is there too and suddenly nothing else matters to me.

• Breathe in and out deeply, counting to at least five (slowly). Let the toxins of stress and fear leave with each exhale

• Tense up the muscles in your body group by group, starting with your face and head all the way down to your toes. Once you have tensed each group, gently release them. Take your time. Appreciate the feeling of freedom as your muscles relax.

• Keep your eyes closed, let your mind wander through gentle thoughts. Whenever you are ready to come back to the world, gently open your eyes and make sure to thank your body for supporting you each day!

I know midterms are stressful (and don’t end until December) so try to set aside a block of time each day for yourself. I bet you’ll feel healthier and less stressed as time goes on if you practice meditation regularly!


Weekend Sip Tip: The non-drinker's guide to going out

Most people come to college with the intention of getting a high GPA, meeting new people, and preparing for a great future.  Some believe the best way to accomplish these goals is by choosing to abstain from drinking alcohol.  For those that don't drink, but still like going out with friends who do- sometimes it can be tough.  If you choose not to drink and sometimes don't know what to say when someone pushes a drink in your direction, we have some suggestions for you to try.

If someone says...
"Let's do a round of shots!"
You could say...
"No thanks. Last time I did shots I puked up the rest of the night."

If someone says...
"Relax. Just have one beer."
You could say...
"I'd love to, but I have a bet with someone to see how long I can go without drinking".  (Even if that someone is yourself).

If someone says...
"Why aren't you drinking?"
You could say...
"I don't drink."  
"You should've seen me last night.  I need a break." (Even if you weren't drinking the night before). 
"I'm taking the night off." 
"I have to meet a friend really early to workout/study so I'm keeping it low key tonight."

There are lots of ways to pass up an offer to drink- what ways have you come up with that have worked?

Suggestions taken from Facts on Tap


Hump Day: Bedroom Anxiety


New relationships can be fun and exciting.  But for some, they can also provoke anxiety, especially when it comes to the bedroom.

When should it happen?  
How should it happen?  
Who goes where?  

So many questions! But are these questions asked aloud?  One person in the relationship might be ready to move things to the next level, but the other may not be.  How do they know- unless they ask?  If you are in a relationship and considering sexual intimacy, talk to each other about it. It may be awkward at first, but it is worth it in the end.

And before it gets hot remember to ask, how are we being safe?  The anxiety that was felt before can quickly return if this question isn't answered.  And many more questions arise:

Why didn't we use protection?
What if I get an STD?
My ______ is going to kill me!

Before freaking out, look into the options to prevent pregnancy and STDs.  These include condoms for STD and pregnancy prevention and barrier methods and hormonal methods for pregnancy prevention.  For access to discounted rate condoms, check out the Condom Sense program for JHU students which offers 12 pack/$4 on a variety of name brands.


Good Advice from your PEEPs


Midterms 101: How to Stay Sane

Midterms are upon us, and with that comes a whole lot of stress. Don’t let the midterm season get you down, here are some time-tried ways to keep your cool, get the grades, and still have time for a little break here and there.

Start Early- Most people wait until the weekend before their big exam to do their major studying. If you do that, you will more than likely be overwhelmed and have to put all of your other work aside to study. It sounds a lot easier said than done, but taking 30 minutes a day to study for an exam even just a week before you would normally start will put you in good stead before the weekend comes.

Take Breaks- Even with a perfect attention span, your brain gets tired sometimes. Put in a good hour of studying without interruptions, and then take a ten-minute break. During that break, do not do anything related to school. Read a leisure book, a magazine, anything. Grab a snack, call a friend, but whatever it is, take a break.

Get Help- If you’re struggling with a certain subject area or some material that you know will be on your upcoming exam, don’t panic. There are many resources on campus including tutoring at the Learning Den, contacting your professors via. email, Office Hours or Blackboard. If you start studying early, you won’t get stuck in the rush of last minute questions!

Be Okay- We all want to do well. Sometimes, though, it’s not necessarily possible to get an A+ on an exam without driving yourself over the brink. In situations like these, do your best to just be okay with whatever happens. Let it be. One grade is not worth emotional suffering.

Sleep- We all know that eight hours of sleep is the recommended amount for each night. If you can’t get that much, it is vital to get at least six hours a night. More than that, sleep helps your brain to ingrain information and process it. So when you’re studying, start early, don’t sacrifice your shut-eye!

This midterm season, be balanced. Take a break to go for a run at the Rec Center. Eat healthy. Get the sleep you need. Support your friends; they’ll support you too. Have a successful midterm season!

In health,
PEEPs member, a peer health education student group


SEE for Yourself on Monday - Sleep WELL


SEE TIP: Research shows that napping is good for your health. The Harvard Health Letter offers some tips for napping:
      • Keep it short. A 20- to 30-minute nap may be ideal. Even just napping for a few minutes has benefits. Longer naps can lead to grogginess.
      • Find a dark, quiet, cool place. Reducing light and noise helps most people get to sleep faster. Cool temperatures are helpful, too.
      • Plan on it. Waiting till sleepiness gets so bad that you have to take a nap can be dangerous if you’re driving. A regular nap time may also help you get to sleep faster and wake up quicker.
      • Don’t feel guilty! A nap can make you more productive at school.
Help us find the best places to nap on campus besides your room. Click here to complete our one question survey.

QUIT ON MONDAY TIP: Smoking is significantly linked to sleep problems, including falling asleep in the evening and staying awake during the day. A research study found that smokers were more likely to have sleep disturbances than non-smokers due to their nicotine dependency.  Smokers often have trouble staying asleep, as they are prone to wake up during the night with nicotine cravings, and as a result, they are less alert in the morning than non-smokers.  If you are having difficulty sleeping and you smoke, this may be another reason to consider kicking the habit.

MELLOW OUT MONDAY TIP: Sleep and stress have a love-hate relationship. If you are suffering from an imbalance of sleeping and stress the most important thing to do is find out what is causing the stress. Once you discover the underlying problem, get rid of the stress (if possible) and sleep will follow. Your new stress-free sleep will actually be able to keep you from getting too stressed during the day, letting you go out into the world well-rested, feeling awake and able to take on the challenges of the day. For sleep tips click here. Come chillax with the Stressbusters every Monday from 8-10 pm at the MSE library, Q-level.