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.


End of Finals 2012!

Today is the LAST day of finals for Fall 2012.  Good luck to any of you who have finals today.  And for those of you who know you rocked your finals or are just happy you are done with them-- take time to celebrate.  Not sure how to celebrate-- consider a lesson from this guy:


Power Through Finals

How will you power through this week of finals?

Eat fruitfully -- Keep healthy foods in your study area and eat well this week.  Junk food will derail your study sessions and lead to early crashes.  With nutritious foods, like fruits and veggies, your brain can keep going for hours and hours.

Keep going -- You may want to give in or just give up, but don't let yourself-- you've come so far!!  You are so close to the winter break period and then you will be able to get a much needed reprieve from all of this.

Reward yourself -- Did you study the amount of material you planned to today?  Give yourself something as a reward-- maybe a special drink from The Daily Grind or a break to take your favorite fitness class at the gym.  Do something you enjoy for you-- as long as it is something that won't set you back.  For example, meeting friends for dinner versus going out for a happy hour that turns into 4 hours and too many drinks.  You deserve to have some fun; just remember to set yourself up for success.

Stay positive-- Use the power of positive thinking to see yourself succeeding and you will have a better chance of doing so.  Keep encouraging words and reminders nearby to keep you from getting discouraged.  Repeat to yourself "I can do this!" and imagine the grade you want on your test.

CHEW's Well, Do Well!!  You can do this!!  


Stay calm and study on


Remember, you will be okay.  No matter what happens with these tests and papers, you will still be okay.  Do your best, study as best you can, and remember to breathe and know you will be okay.

Use these tips to keep calm as finals take over these next number of days...

1.  Take breaks-- away from your study area.  Go for a walk. Meet a friend for lunch or dinner.  Take a workout break.  Do something to stop your brain from going into overdrive and give it a much needed and deserved break.

2. Get exercise  -  it will help you focus when you need it!  It will also give you more energy and help you sleep better at night.

3. Remember to sleep- don't skimp on sleep.  Your brain functions best when it's been rested.  All-nighters might work for you once in a while, but lack of sleep has been proven to lower brain functioning and memory retention.  Get sleep to get the grades you want.

4. Eat right - snack with health in mind.  Keep healthy snacks nearby when you are studying and avoid sugar crashes that will leave you hungry for more and low energy.  Complex carbs, veggies, and fruits will give you the staying power for a solid study session.

5. Make lists - get organized.  The satisfaction of crossing something off your list, even if it's "take a shower" will feel like a great accomplishment over this week.  Get yourself organized and give yourself credit for all of the things you do!

6. Take advantage of Stressbusters!  Free 5-7 minute back rubs are the perfect mini break and stress reliever.  Find an event (we have 3 across campus today), request Stressbusters for your hall, student group, or team, or come to Mellow Out Monday at 8pm on 12/17 on Q-level.


Stressed to Smashed

After a long day of classes, exams, work and everything else- sometimes you think the cap to your day could really just be unwinding with a beer.  And that's fine.  Have a beer while catching up with your friends or watching your team play is certainly one way to relax after a long week.  When one beer turns into 5 beers in the span of 1 quarter of an NBA game.... that's another story and leading into some dangerous grounds.

If someone is so stressed out that having a relaxed evening with alcohol is out of the question, then doing something without alcohol would be the safer option.  Often, we find when someone is extremely stressed, it's best to release it in a productive and healthy manner, like talking it out, listening to music, or getting a good workout in.

When alcohol is turned to as the solution, they may find more stress at the end of the night.  When the person wakes up the initial stress remains and more problems will have likely developed.  Or as a sophomore student from the Duke University study explained, “I don’t binge drink because I like to stay in control of myself—I don’t want to end up in a dangerous or negative situation,”... “My stress levels would increase if I was perpetually hung over.”

If you plan to drink and are also stressed try using at least one of these strategies to "stay in the blue zone" and wake up feeling ready to take on your day.

  1. Eat a meal before going out, and have some food while you drink.
  2. Drink water throughout the night.  Avoid getting dehydrated.
  3. Know that it's okay to say "no" when someone offers to buy or bring over a round.  If you don't feel comfortable, you can try leaving for the bathroom or ask a friend to get some fresh air with you.
  4. Stay with your same group the whole time.
  5. Before going out, call someone to talk about what's causing you stress.

And remember...


Hump Day Quickie

Consensual, protected sex can have many benefits-- improved health is among them!  

Source: weheartit.com        via: CSPH

Need protection?  Free condoms are available at the Health and Wellness Center and the CHEW office in Levering 115!  Want to order a different brand like Durex or Trojan? We've got you covered.  Go to JHU Condom Sense to order packs of 12 at a discounted rate of $4/pack. 


SEE Tip: Eat for your brain

SEE tip:  It's crunch time -- finals are way too close and deadlines are quickly approaching.  But you're brain is shutting down.  What the heck are you going to do?!

Try eating foods for that promote brain activity, not something that will just keep you awake.  Avoid the skittles and red bull.  Instead, try drinking green tea for a short term fix of focus, energy, and a boost of anti-oxidants.

No one wants to be the person with the growling noises coming from their stomach.  Avoid going into an exam on an empty stomach.  Instead, try eating something like a whole wheat flat bread with peanut butter and sliced bananas which will give you a solid boost of complex carbohydrates.   Just don't eat too much before the exam or long study session-- food comas may result.

For more brain power tips, stop by the Levering Dining Entrance today from 12pm-2pm for tips, trivia, and giveaways with PEEPs.

HKB Quit Tip: A common deterrent for smokers to quit the habit is around concerns of weight gain.  While it is possible that a person may gain around 4-10 lbs, research shows that with maintenance and guidance this can be avoided or may actually be needed for the individual's body.  If weight gain is a concern for a smoker that you know, advise them that it is possible to quit and keep weight under control.  

For many people, it's as simple as keeping a pack of carrots nearby, as they would have done with a pack of cigarettes.  That hand-to-mouth reflex can be fulfilled through the carrots, rather than a low nutritional value-high caloric intake snack which could lead to weight gain.  With healthy snacks nearby, weight gain is less likely and there is a smoother path to cessation.

Mellow Out Monday:  The holidays are here, along with finals, and lots of stress.  Unfortunately, for many people stress can lead to mindless and binge type eating behavior.  To help yourself in the long run, keep your living space stocked with easy to grab healthy snacks, like pre-sliced apples or pre-cut veggies and hummus.  By having healthy snacks nearby, you'll be able to concentrate more on your studies, rather than worrying over what to eat and feeling stressed out about what you are putting into your body-- you know it's healthy!  

Want another great way to reduce stress?  Head over to MSE on Q Level tonight for a FREE back rub from Stressbusters!  Come by starting at 8pm tonight for 5-7 minutes of stress reliever awesomeness!  


Liquid Courage- the key to invincibility?

"Liquid courage" can give someone the nerve to talk to the hottie they've been eyeing all night.  It can help someone feel more comfortable with new people.  On the flip side, it can also give someone the lack of logic to avoid doing something they'd normally never do because of the inherent risks.  

The "liquid" or alcohol can promote relaxation and increase sociability for people when they are sticking to about a drink an hour and using safer drinking methods to "stay in the blue zone".  This means people are drinking water or straight juice/soda, avoiding drinking games, or eating while drinking to help ward off the dangerous aspects of drinking alcohol.

Drinking too much and going beyond the "buzzed" level can reduce the brain's ability to process properly. This means things like perception, motor functioning, and reaction times are all affected. Things like this have led to embarrassing dance moves, tripping over stairs, doing the straw dance, and sloppy hook ups-- to name a few.

Beyond the embarrassing moments are the more dangerous ones.  Nearly 600,000 college students are unintentionally injured while drinking each year.  Imagine trying to get to classes, the library or anywhere else on this campus while using crutches.  (Talk to some people that are currently doing it-- they'll assure you, it's not fun).  

No one needs another thing to stress over around here so be mindful with your decisions around alcohol. If you choose to drink, plan the night ahead of time.  Think of what you have to do in the days ahead and plan how many drinks in the night you can reasonably have and be at your optimal level to get everything done.  Planning ahead can make a big difference and keep you safe from riskier situations.


Hump Day Debate: Rx or OTC

If birth control was sold over the counter, like aspirin, do you think women would be more inclined to buy it?

Recently, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommended that oral birth control, like the pill, be sold without a prescription.  It is their belief that this will reduce unplanned pregnancies (about half of all pregnancies) with women in their 20's being most at risk.  

What do you think are the pros and cons of moving birth control pills from the pharmacy to the counter? 

Comment here or on the CHEW Facebook page.

Source: http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/20/health/birth-control-over-the-counter/


SEE for Yourself: Tea Time!


SEE Tip: After a few days of delicious food, sleep, and relaxation, it can be a harsh snap back to Hopkins with the last push of the semester to get through.  Don't let things like poor sleep, unhealthy eating, and losing focus slow you down.  Take care of yourself, sleep well and finish strong.

If you're having trouble getting to sleep, try to avoid caffeine at least 5 hours before going to bed.  Caffeine's effects can be felt for HOURS after being ingested which can mess with your sleep schedule.  It won't necessarily make you more productive either- as you just feel more jittery and frustrated that you can't sleep and can't study.  And nobody wants that.

If you want to drink something to help you move towards "sleep mode", put down the coffee or energy drinks, and try a glass of water or herbal tea instead.  A 2011 study from Phytotherapy Research found that low doses of herbal tea can help foster better quality sleep for healthy individuals.

Want to try some for free before making it a regular part of your routine?  Come by the SEE for yourself table in the MSE on Q Level from 6-8pm tonight for FREE "Well Rested" herbal tea! Focus on getting some much needed rest for the tail end of the semester.

Stop by for some tea and sleep well tonight!

Kick Butts News Update: Did you hear that the cost for some tobacco products may be going up in Maryland?  

A health care coalition is advocating for a dollar increase in the current tax rate for tobacco products like cigarettes, cigarillos and little cigars.  If this proposal is passed, a pack of cigarettes could cost about $7.29 in Maryland.  Cigarette tax increases have been proven to lower smoking rates in the past. 

Knowing what a pack would cost if this is passed, do you think current smokers might be more likely to consider quitting?  Come and discuss at tonight's HKB meeting in the AMR 1 TV Room at 6pm tonight.

Mellow out Monday Tip: Are you so stressed that your sleep has been suffering? Try a cup of herbal (caffeine free) tea as you study at night.  The tea will help to calm you with it's soothing powers (aka: herbs)  allowing you to sleep soundly.  

Another easy and (FREE) way to help induce a good night's rest and lower stress levels is with a back rub from Stressbusters.  Have you had one yet?  If you have- come back for another back rub!  If not, get your first back rub- it's never too late to start doing something good for your body.  You just need 5-7 minutes with a Stressbuster to feel better, less stressed, and ready to head towards a good night's rest.  Come find Stressbusters on Q level of the MSE starting at 8pm tonight!


Happy Thanksgiving, Hopkins!


Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy the break!  

Hump Day is full of thanks

With Thanksgiving tomorrow, we began reflecting on the importance of thankfulness.  We started to list reasons why we are thankful and came up with things like our health, family, friends, educational opportunities, being at a beautiful campus each day, and getting to talk to interesting people about what we're passionate about- health!

Since today is Hump Day we wanted to focus on being thankful for current relationships and relationship statuses.  Respond on Facebook or in the comments with reasons why you're thankful this Thanksgiving Eve for your relationships/statuses. 

To get you started-- here are some things to be thankful for -- for those in a relationship:

I am thankful to have my partner in my life.

I am thankful that my partner listens well..

I am thankful that my partner likes to dance.

I am thankful for skype-- to keep my partner and I close, even when we're far apart.

For those who are single:

I am thankful to have options when it comes to dating.

I am thankful to have flexibility in my life and not have to check with anyone else when wanting to change my plans.

I am thankful to avoid "couple drama".

I am thankful to have time with my friends without feeling like someone is calling for my attention.

For those who prefer to be undefined:

I am thankful to go unlabeled.

I am thankful for those who have shaped my past and who will be a part of my future.

I am thankful for the opportunity to be social, date, and whatever else may be in store.

I am thankful for good friends to laugh at awkward moments.

Wherever you fall-- let us know what you are thankful for.  And be sure to share what you are thankful for with someone else, your significant other, friend, family member, whoever.  Start the thankful conversation and let the positive energy spread!

Enjoy your Thanksgiving break!


SEE: Glows in the Dark


SEE tip: Don't get bored or too routine with your workouts.  Research has found that varied workouts produce solid results for the body and help keep people interested and engaged in workouts.  So this means, workouts don't get mundane; instead, they stay fresh and remain a priority.   Another bonus, by trying new workouts, different muscles are challenged.  Perhaps your workouts on the treadmill aren't hitting the ones you'd get in a boxing class or a yoga class.   With over 600 muscles in the body, it's necessary to try different workouts to strengthen each of them.

If you aren't sure what you want to do - try a fitness class.  The Rec Center offers a number of great classes with trained fitness instructors who can guide you if you have any questions.  Learn more about the classes here.

Want to try a class before buying a card? You can do that!!

Try Glow in the Dark Zumba today at 4:45pm!  
This class isn't normally offered during the year (the non-glow version is though and it rocks!).  
Zumba is appropriate for all fitness levels and beginners are very welcome!  
Come and get your glow on!

HKB Tip:  Last week was the Great American Smoke Out which encourages people to quit smoking.  Do you know a smoker?  Did they try to quit-- or even go without smoking for just that day?  Could they go longer than one day?  Giving up an addiction like smoking isn't easy, but with support it can be all that much easier.  Show a person that you are proud of them- for that day, hour, or however long they could hold off. 

Want to know more about tobacco prevention, quitting strategies, and JHU's efforts for going smoke free?  Come to the Hopkins Kicks Butts meeting next Monday at 6pm in the AMR 1 TV Room!

Mellow Out Monday Tip: Exercise not only provides physical benefits; it can also provide a great stress reliever.  "Scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem. About five minutes of aerobic exercise can begin to stimulate anti-anxiety effects" (ADAA).  Now there's a reason to get to Glow in the Dark Zumba today at 4:45pm! 

If you've tried exercise, and the stress is still there or you couldn't get 30 minutes in for the gym-- could you squeeze just 5-7 minutes into your day for stress relief?  If you thought yes, come to the MSE on Q level for a FREE back rub from Stressbusters to reduce your stress in a matter of minutes.  


Sip Tip: Drinks and Distress

You know those "Don't be THAT GIRL" t-shirts?  Well, they are talking about someone you know or have seen right?  For sure, this person is not the majority and their actions don't represent the rest of Hopkins-- as our studies have shown.  However, have you ever wondered why that girl is acting like THAT GIRL?  What is going on in there to make it happen?

According to a study of first semester college women who were studied over a three month period, researchers found a connection between high risk drinking and emotional states. Those women who acted without hesitation combined with those who acted recklessly with their selves were more inclined to drink more and act with less regard for their own well-being.

Makes sense based on what we've seen right?  Those that are more distressed, emotionally in turmoil, and feeling impulsive are more likely to drink to a risky point and participate in activities that involve more risk, perhaps crossing North Charles without looking for cars or continuing to drink beyond one's own limits.

These behaviors can be dangerous and aside from the "That Girl" stigma, it can also lead to possibly fatal ends.  If you or a friend are having a stressed out, impulsive type of night, try talking it out first.  Instead of bottling up (or drinking it down), talking to someone can be a safer way to let out the stress.  Call your closest friend from High School, talk to your roommate, or call your parent/sibling/ If that's not going to cut it, try journaling or playing some music and belting out some tunes that relate to exactly what you're going through (any suggestions will be gladly accepted in the comments!).  And if drinking is the plan- consider ways to do so safely.  Stick to one type of alcohol-- avoid mixing with energy drinks-- and try to stick to 1 to 2 drinks an hour.

Allow your emotions to run their course, but not run your life.  Don't let your emotions lead you into being "That Girl"-- talk to someone, get help, and feel better.

Source: http://health.usnews.com/health-news/news/articles/2012/11/08/impulsive-college-women-at-risk-of-drinking-problems-study


It's hump day, but I'm not really into it...

So, it seems like your partner really wants to amp things up, but school is weighing heavy on your mind right now and sex is the last thing you feel up to doing right now.  How do you say no without offending the person?

Honesty!  Tell the person what's going on- chances are s/he will understand and appreciate the truth more than anything else.

Having sex should be fun for all parties involved and each person should have equal say in what's happening and be of sound mind to participate.  If you aren't into it for whatever reason (i.e. family issues, friend drama, midterm mania) let the person know that now is a crappy time for you.  Or if you can't think of something right away, try excusing yourself to figure out how you want to say it.  And remember, the person you are with should be accepting of your not wanting to have sex.  That's part of being in a relationship -- respect.


SEE the small things

SEE tip:  Healthy eating can be a challenge, especially when trying to do a complete overhaul.  Try to start small.  Set a small, attainable goal for yourself and as you feel more comfortable and accomplished with that goal, set another.

For example:  If you don't eat many vegetables, but want to increase the amount of veggies you eat.  Make it a goal to add one serving to your day.  You don't have to eat salads for lunch and dinner, but just start small and eventually you might find yourself eating the salads voluntarily.

Come set a goal with PEEPs today at the FFC from 5:30-7pm tonight.  We are here to help and want to see you succeed!

HKB news:  This week is the Great American Smokeout where smokers across the U.S. are encouraged to make November 15th their Quit Day.

Come find an HKB member on the Breezeway this Thursday to learn about ways to quit, play the quick match game, and get a free "quit cold turkey" sub!

Mellow Out Monday tip: Like trying to eat healthy, taking small changes to reduce your stress can have a big impact on your health.  As you make positive changes in your eating, notice your stress levels-- do you feel less stressed when you are eating more healthy?  Most report feeling that way!  If you want another stress relief boost (and who doesn't, right?), stop by the MSE Library on Q-level today for a FREE back rub from Stressbusters from 8pm-10pm tonight.  Eat well and bust that stress!


The Gender Debate Continues: Alcohol Edition


Men and women have a number of differences so it should be no surprise that differences are found in drinking levels. Not only are women drinking less heavily on average, they are also recommended to drink less in moderation than men for their health.

You may have heard that drinking alcohol can actually have health benefits.  Of course, this comes with moderation.  The recommended number of drinks for receiving those benefits for men is about 2 drinks per day and for women is one.  (Just a reminder, these are standard sized drinks for measurement, like a 5 oz glass of wine or 12 oz bottle of beer).

Why are men given the extra drink?  It turns out that one more drink can negate the positive effects and potentially lead to an increased chance for certain diseases, including various forms of cancer, for women who have more than the moderate recommendation.

While doctors are still trying to understand exactly why females respond differently to alcohol than males, they have a few theories.  One theory relates to the lack of hydration in a woman's body compared to a man's.  This means a woman is more likely to have a higher BAC level than a man who has been drinking at the same rate and is the same weight- simply due to the body's lack of water.  Another theory concludes that the enzyme that metabolizes alcohol in women does so more slowly than men.  An additional theory believes that the woman's hormones, like estrogen might play a role.

The theories may still be under review, but the proof is there-- additional consumption beyond the recommendations can lead to some dangers to one's health.   If you choose to drink, consider your health and even if you're only thinking of tomorrow, keep in mind how your body will need to function the following day or two.  Alcohol has both short term and long term effects-- play it smart, moderation is key.


The Blues- in the pack and in the brain.


According to a recent survey, women suffering from depression and/or stress are less likely to consistently use contraception. The study found "overall, women used contraception consistently 72 percent of the time. The most common forms of contraception were oral birth control or condoms. For women with depression, the odds of using contraception consistently each week was 47 percent lower than for women with less severe symptoms. For those with stress, the odds of using contraception consistently were 69 percent lower."

On our campus, we know that about 16% of our female population has been diagnosed with depression, according to a recent survey of Hopkins students.  And more than that reported feeling symptoms of depressions.  With so many women on our campus dealing with depression and stress symptoms we encourage anyone who is struggling with depression or stress to consider the Counseling Center as a resource.  Whether it is for an information sheet, a one on one session with a counselor, a group session, or whatever meets the needs at the moment.  If the Counseling Center isn't the best option for you, try the student group, APTT which is available to you in AMR 1 and Wolman most evenings of the week.  For details check their website.

Unprotected sex can cause added stress on any person.  A way to help reduce the risk is choosing the right birth control method.  If being highly stressed or depressed makes someone forgetful then taking birth control pills might not be the best plan since they have to be taken daily and preferable on a timely schedule.  Perhaps something like the IUD, Mirena, which is inserted by a doctor and is good for up to 5 years, or Implanon which is inserted by a doctor into the patient's arm and lasts for 3 years,  or other methods that don't require daily reminders would be more beneficial.

This study reminds us that mental health is something to consider when choosing the birth control method that's right for you, just like we do with heart disease history, family history, drinking and smoking habits, and more on your doctor's intake form.  All of this information helps a patient and the doctor decide what would be best for the person to use and be successful.  The additional stress of an unexpected pregnancy or resulting STI are extremely stressful.  To be on the safer side, consider life style and all realms of health when choosing a birth control option.

And if one is trying to protect against STIs, know that condoms are the way to go-- keep some handy-- just in case.


A message from a PEEP... Feed your soul.


Overwhelmed? It’s the time of year when many of us start to lose count of the nights we’ve spent in the library, or have more exams than we do hours of sleep, and start to feel like things are getting out of hand. Just because that’s a common Hopkins (and, actually just a college) experience does not mean that it’s healthy! Here are some tried and true -- at least in my past three (almost four) years here—methods of multitasking wellness into your day. Consider it a little loving for the part of you that needs it the most, your soul!

1)      Go for a run (or a walk)—Remember exercise? Yeah, me neither, thanks to all the papers/exams/other things I need to accomplish. Even a little bit goes a long way for your mood, your body, and your productivity! Take just twenty minutes to crank out a run. Bring a buddy and up your multitasking ante, social time just got cardio in it!

2)      Go to APTT- With locations in Wolman and the AMRs, whether you’re looking to go to CharMar for a quick dinner or Late Night at the FFC, you can set aside five minutes to vent your frustrations to one of the fabulous, trained peer listeners of APTT. With the weight of the world off of your shoulders, you can hit the books in peace.  P.S. If you needed another reason to go, they have candy. Sugar = energy = you can get some more work done? (At least for a short burst...)

3)      Get some ice cream- If you have a sweet tooth, there’s no shame in indulging it once in a while! Head over to Coldstone with your friends for fifteen minutes of stress free relaxation! Then grab coffee or tea at Starbucks and head back to the library, or wherever it was you were being productive!

4)      Netflix, Hulu Plus, or whatever your guilty pleasure is- Why would I recommend what has easily wrecked my productivity for the past few years? Well, sometimes you need to clear your mind. And creativity does come in the least expected places, so maybe while you watch an old episode of Grey’s Anatomy with your roommate, you’ll find inspiration for your term paper. Or better yet, you can learn some of that biology you’ll need for the MCAT, obviously. An hour with a friend does the brain a whole ton of good, so make at least an hour a day for a little shamelessly bad TV with the ones you love.

The point here is clear—balance is key! Make taking a break a social event, so you’ve accomplished seeing your friends, or maybe commit to eating all your meals away from your books! The semester will be over before you know it, so don’t let the good times fly by too!

With best wishes for a healthy and successful semester,
A member of PEEPs