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.


Feeling Comfortable with Ourselves- a note from PEEPs

Do you know that body image remains a key factor of self-esteem to American women? One study found that 63% of female participants identified weight as a higher factor in determining how they felt about themselves, over family, school, or career. Results from other research reveal that 86% of all women are dissatisfied with their bodies and want to lose weight.[1] Body image is not only what women care about, men too, have ideal body images that they desire and constantly compare themselves to. Every day we may wonder: why don’t I look like those people in the movies and TV shows. The answer may seem easier than you think: because “we” are not “them.”

Here are a few things to consider for helping you feel more comfortable about the how we look the way we are:

  • Appreciate yourself in the mirror: Your body maintains and nourishes your life, with which you are able to experience the world.  Know that human bodies come in different shapes and sizes naturally. [2]
  • Treat your body with love and respect: Find your favorite method of exercise and do it regularly. Be mindful about each meal and choose nutritious food that you enjoy.
  • Understand that emotions are skin deep: Recognize that emotions and feelings underlie a negative body image and a positive body image. Knowing how you feel emotionally at the moment may help identify what actually causes negative experiences.
  • Media is powerful, but our mind can be even more powerful: acknowledge the fact that images portrayed in the media are not the most common body shapes in the population, and it would be mistaken to put such expectations on the majority who are just not that way naturally.

Check out this cute little video – Comfortable: 50 People 1 Question
“If there is one thing you could change about your body, what would you change?”

[1] Nicole Hawkins, PhD, Ways to Overcome a Negative Body Image, http://www.byui.edu/counseling-center/self-help/eating-disorders/negative-body-image
[2] UT Dallas, Self-Help: Body-Image, Counseling Center Resources. http://www.utdallas.edu/counseling/bodyimage/


SEE Tip: Get Motivated for the day!


SEE Tip: Some days it can be really difficult to get out of bed in the morning.  Maybe you were up until 2am working on a paper, or the weekend was full of fun, but that made it pretty tough to get to bed at a decent hour on Sunday night.  Whatever your reason- waking up for some people can be pretty unpleasant.

Instead of hitting the snooze option for eternity, try some motivators to get yourself out of bed.  Before going to bed, write a list of the things you are going to do the next day.  When you wake up, you can glance at the list and start thinking of all the ways you are going to tackle that to do list.  Your brain will start functioning and eventually your body will give in, too.  Soon, you'll be up and moving - ready to take on the day.  

Another tip to get yourself up for the day is to set an alarm that will put you in the mood to start your day.  Avoid obnoxious alarms that might irritate you or ones that have soothing tones that will only make you want to sleep longer.  Instead, try something different- maybe choose a song to set the tone you hope to have for your day: 

Or one last motivator could simply be the idea of more sleep to come later.  Promise yourself a nap sometime between 11-2pm and use that as motivation to get your morning tasks accomplished and get you to that nap time.  Ideally, you'd want your nap to be between 10-20 minutes to get an energy boost and reduce chances of sleep issues later; however, it may depend on your schedule as to what is really best for you.

If you want to try napping as a motivator, stop by the Sherwood Room in Levering Hall today for a quick nap!  We'll have our Nap Zone set up with yoga mats, eye masks, SEE blankets, calm music, and more!!  Stop by between 11am-1:30pm for a nap today!

HKB Quit Tip: Motivation is an essential component to any behavior change.  For tobacco users, being motivated to quit and stay quit takes continuous motivation.  What motivates you to be tobacco free?  Some people are motivated by the cost-savings (about $400 in annual savings for a pack/week smoker).  Others are motivated by the increased ability to breathe better and therefore perform better for athletic related tasks.  So what is your motivation to be (or stay) tobacco free?  Tell us here!

Mellow Out Monday Tip:  Using stress as a motivator can change how we react to stressful situations.  Instead of shutting down or feeling frustrated, the stress can drive us to achieve beyond what we thought possible.  However, we need to be careful and listen to our bodies when using this motivation tactic. We must understand what our bodies need to react properly and safely.  At times, people who are stressed will sacrifice sleep.  This sleep deprivation can actually work against the positive side of stress, as the body is not well equipped and will not function as well as it good.  The lack of sleep can also be deceiving-- letting a person think that they have done something amazing, when really they could have done better had they been fully rested. For example, re-read a paper you wrote that seemed really good at the time, but was produced in a sleep-reduced state.  You'll likely see some areas that you'd change now, right?

Do yourself a favor and get your rest.  This way when stressful times come into play, you can handle them like a well-rested, highly functioning champ!

Need help getting into a sleepy, more restful state?  Try stopping by Stressbusters tonight in Q Level from 8-10pm in MSE for a FREE back rub.  


Sip Tip: Don't believe the hype

There has been a lot of hype touting the benefits of alcohol, but before people run to happy hour, we have to look for the evidence.

As it turns out, the evidence is a bit harder to prove that alcohol can be beneficial.  In fact, there isn't a health agency that currently advocates or recommends the use of alcohol as a health aid.  This is likely do to the abundance of other options for the same benefits.  For example, red wine has been noted for it's antioxidants.  However, it's unlikely that a doctor would begin to recommend that patients start drinking wine.  Often, these same benefits are available in other ways, such as, the foods we consume like fruits and vegetables.  Instead of believing the media hype, consider investigating what's recommended and what's necessary for your individual health.

Lastly, be mindful of the details.  If someone is a wine drinker already, they may be able to claim some benefits from the alcohol.  However, if they go over board, they lose the health benefits and can quickly be at risk for more health concerns.  When it comes to alcohol, going overboard can happen within a sip or two-- for women, the potential benefits are found within one (5oz) glass of wine or less, and for men they can find those benefits in up to two glasses of red.  If moderation isn't something that comes easy for a person, particularly around indulgences like alcohol, they are less likely to get those health benefits, and instead will find themselves at higher risk for the unpleasant/unhealthy side effects of alcohol use.


V-Day and Sexual Health- A PEEPs Perspective

V-Day and Sexual Health- A PEEPs Perspective

So, Valentine’s Day is coming up, aka single awareness day, right? Well, regardless of whether you have that special someone or not this year, February is the perfect month to learn about sexual health so that we can all be more cautious.

A huge part of sexual health is prevention of STDs. Although not all are necessarily fatal, these conditions can seriously impair one’s health and ability to be sexually active for the long term. Additionally, a lack of treatment can lead to certain types of cancers, infertility, and pelvic inflammatory disease. So, whether you’re thinking about becoming sexually active, already are, or never have been, it’s important to trust your partner and make sure that he or she is healthy before engaging in sexual activity.

Approximately half of all sexually transmitted diseases annually, which is around 20 million, occur among those aged 15-24 years old, so that includes college students. Some common sexually transmitted diseases among college students are chlamydia, genital herpes, gonorrhea, and syphilis. Sexually transmitted disease are primarily transmitted by body fluids, such as saliva, blood, and semen. However, intercourse is not the only way to obtain an STD. So, it’s crucial when engaging in any type of sexual activity to either know what your partner has or use protection, such as oral contraception or condoms.

Getting tested together isn’t something to be embarrassed about. Because you can know firsthand what you and your partner have, there’s no uncertainty. It’s also a great way to know that he or she cares about their own and your health.  


SEE Tip- SHAG week edition: The Aphrodisiacs


SEE Tip: We often hear about aphrodisiacs and think of oysters.  I'm not sure about you, but oysters are just not something that I come across all the time.  The good news, there are are plenty of other aphrodisiacs out there, and more accessible ones, too.

Another believed aphrodisiac is the avocado... like we need another reason to get the guac at Chipotle. But seriously, avocados have been used for centuries as a sex drive stimulant, and as a way to boost the immune system.  Plus, they provide additional nutritional goodness like healthy fats, magnesium, and more potassium than bananas.

Feeling like something sweet?  Chocolate is another aphrodisiac.  All the chocolate lovers, rejoice!  It is believed that the stimulating properties of chocolate are similar to the ones felt when falling in love, and can release serotonin in the brain, which is associated with elevated moods and sexual arousal.

For an added boost, strawberries are also in the aphrodisiac category (more for their ability to keep the joints less inflamed-- not such a sexy sounding reason).  But if you were to combine chocolate with the strawberries- you've just doubled your aphrodisiac intake!  ;)

Want to learn more about sexual health?  Check out Trivia Night at Nolan's tonight, 7:30pm!  We'll have a special SHAG week category of the trivia, so be sure to make it and other events this week!





SEE Tip: Aroma induced Sleep


SEE Tip:  At this time of year, it can be so tempting to curl up in bed all day with a great list of Netflix tv shows to catch up.  Unfortunately, that's not so realistic with our being in week two of classes already.  At this point, all those healthy habits we enjoyed over the break are starting to escape our grasp- sleeping for 8 hours has turned into sleeping for 6 hours and eating well balanced meals has turned into a smash and grab of free food, no matter the nutritional value, and exercise seems like something only people on athletic teams fit in... because they are required to do so.

But wait, it doesn't have to be this way.  Each Monday we focus on different health habits to help re-focus each of you, and keep your health as a priority.

Today, we are focusing on sleep; a crucial component to health that will impact your decisions, your grades, and your overall well-being.  Sometimes it can be tough to fall asleep when the stress of the day is weighing on you, though.  As a way to overcome these sleep distractions, and allow yourself to relax, you can try a variety of methods:
  • Guided Visualization - As you lie in bed, tell your body to relax from head to toe.  Start with top of your head then move towards your eyes, mouth, shoulders, and so forth until you get to the toes.  Feel each part of your body relax and lose the tension that it was holding onto prior.  You can picture yourself in a relaxing environment (perhaps at the beach or in a field of puppies).
  • Before going to bed, write everything out.  
    • If you tend to think about everything you have to do the next day, consider writing it out as a to do list; instead of trying to remember it all for the next morning.  
    • If you tend to worry about some bigger issues that are going on in your life, try writing out how you feel about it.  
      • If you aren't a big writer, you can draw something or find something else that represents how you are feeling -- often getting it out in some form can help ease your mind.  And don't worry, you don't have to post it to social media necessarily.  Find a space that feels safe for you- a journal, a blog (private or public), or social media-- whatever works for you!
  • Aromatherapy- The benefits of aromatherapy, particularly the uses of essential oils like lavender, can help promote sleep, increase relaxation, and reduce anxiety.
If you're curious about aromatherapy, stop by the PEEPs table tonight in Nolan's from 5:30-6:30 to make your own lavender sheet and pillow mist for better sleep tonight!

HKB Quit Tip: In a 2012 study comparing smokers and never smokers, researchers found "a number of insomnia-like sleep impairments" in the smokers compared to the never smokers.  Often, obstacles like sleep difficulties are not realized by smokers.  These sleep issues can exasperate health issues suffered by smokers.  In other words, tobacco in itself is harmful, but if you add in the dangers of low quality sleep- a person's health can be at an even greater risk.

Mellow Out Monday Tip: As we enter the second week of classes, sleep might be lessening and anxiety might be increasing.  To counteract this, one could try aromatherapy, particularly using lavender essential oil to help increase feelings of relaxation and reduce anxiety levels.  In a study of nursing students from 2014, the researchers found that students who had been exposed to lavender for 21 nights prior to their final examination had lessened their anxiety, stress, and improved their overall sleep quality.  If you want to try your own attempts for aromatherapy, stop by Nolan's from 5:30-6:30 tonight to make your own lavender spray with PEEPs.

If you want additional relaxation and better chances for quality sleep, stop by Stressbusters tonight from 8-10pm, our first mellow out Monday of the semester!  Look for the "We Will Calm You" shirts on Q level in MSE and let Stressbusters work out your stress!