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.


Halloween BOOz

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

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

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


SEE: Benefits of Aromatherapy

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

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

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

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

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

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


Fat Talk Free Week!

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

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

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


SEE a Flash of Fitness

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

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

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

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

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

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


SEE Mindfully

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Avoid the Bubble- a PEEPs suggestion

Real PEEPs Talk:

Hey y’all!

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

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

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

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

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


SEE Tip from PEEPs: All-Nighters No More!


SEE Tip: All-nighters No More!
A SEE Tip provided by PEEPs, the peer health education group on campus!

Thinking about pulling an all-nighter before your first midterm of this semester? While you may take this time to go over all the materials covered in the lectures, you may not be getting the best results.
Sleep deprivation (total or partial) has a negative impact on cognitive functions, including attention and working memory. As we sleep, our brains are consolidating the memories encoded and stored during the day, incorporating the new information into the pre-existing memory structure. While the waking brain encodes information, it is during the sleeping stage that the brain really works for memory retention.[1] Also, even a short nap would help to recall information. A study done at Harvard University shows that even naps shorter than 90 minutes can boost memory. 33 students were asked to memorize 60 pairs of unrelated words, solve a maze puzzle, and copy an intricate figure, and a 45-minute nap boosted the performance of students with good initial learning of the information. [2]
So the night before a big test, some restful sleep is probably more helpful than an all-nighter!
Have you ever pulled an all-nighter for a test? Do you think sleeping well help your academic performance?

HKB Quit Tip: How much money do you think a smoker might save by quitting?  A pretty good amount, depending on how much the person smokes.  The lowest cost for a pack of cigarettes in the U.S. is in Virginia and Missouri at $5.25 a pack.  The cost in Maryland is $7.75, while the highest cost is $12.85 in New York. [3]  Try using this calculator from Quit Now to see how much a person could end up spending on cigarettes in a week, a month, a year, etc.

Mellow Out Monday Tip: Getting enough sleep each night keeps stress levels balanced.  Avoid trying to cram everything into one night and pulling all-nighters.  They leave you exhausted, stressed out, and vulnerable for other health problems.  Sleep more for lowered stress!

If you feel the stress levels creeping up, stop by Q level tonight in the MSE. Stressbusters will be there giving FREE back rubs from 8-10pm!  Don't let your stress control your life-- take control by taking a seat with a Stressbuster!

[1] Alhola P, Polo-Kantola P. Sleep Deprivation: Impact on cognitive performance. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. Oct 2007; 3(5): 553–567.
[2] Simon H. Learning while you sleep: Dream or reality? Harvard Men’s Health Watch. Feb 2012.
[3] http://www.theawl.com/2014/08/how-much-a-pack-of-cigarettes-costs-state-by-state


Weeding out the facts

Earlier this week, marijuana was decriminalized in the state of Maryland.  The bill reduces the penalty for small amounts of marijuana possession from a 90-day prison term and $1000 fine to a civil fine starting at $100.  In other words, possessing 10 grams or less of the substance will now be considered a civil offense, rather than a criminal offense, and the punishment will be less severe (no jail time and increasing monetary fines, as necessary for multiple offenses).

For anyone wondering, this does not mean that the use of marijuana is legal.  Recreational marijuana  use continues to be illegal in Maryland.

So, what does it really do to our bodies?

Marijuana over-activates the part of the brain that influences memory, pleasure, perception, and coordination, causing the “high” and other effects that users experience. These effects include altered perceptions and mood, impaired coordination, difficulty with thinking and problem solving, and disrupted learning and memory.  Some users may feel more relaxed, while others may feel anxious.  The effects can vary for each person, which can make it difficult to predict how one's body might react to the drug.

"Smoking marijuana can also cause many of the same respiratory problems experienced by tobacco smokers, such as increased daily cough and phlegm production, more frequent acute chest illnesses such as bronchitis, and a greater instance of lung infections, according to NIDA."  However, there does not appear to be a connection between lung cancer, specifically, and marijuana use, according to some recent studies.

There is a lot to still learn about marijuana, and likely more will come out as studies become more abundant.

We also know that most JHU students have never used marijuana, according to a recent survey of undergraduates.  Through that survey we learned that a students think more people are using than really are; in fact, they think nearly 82% of our campus had used in the last 30 days.  However, the reality is less than 18% had used marijuana in that time frame.  Talk about overestimating the amount of drug use that is happening on campus.  So if you're not using marijuana, know that you are in the majority at Hopkins.  And with the potential for slower brain functions and all, should we really be surprised that Hopkins students are avoiding the memory shrinker?

Sources: drugabuse.gov 
NCHA JHU Survey, 2014