Earth Month 2014

Happy April, Wolfpack! Today marks the beginning of Earth Month at NC State. As an institution that has spearheaded research in every discipline, particularly in education, technology, and science, NC State is leading our country (and world) again by teaching us how to adopt sustainable practices that will help our planet.

Student decorated Brickyard chalk art during Earth Day activities.Change Your State, an initiative of the Sustainability Office, has put together a very exciting and comprehensive collection of Earth-friendly events. You’ll have the chance to attend screenings of inspiring films, lectures, live music performances and utility plant tours. The celebration kicks off with an Earth Fair on April 9 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. in the Brickyard.

Of course the Health Center is celebrating Earth Month, too. To complement the mission of Change Your State, we want to help you to Change Your State of Wellness! On Monday, April 14 from 7 p.m.-9 p.m. in the Witherspoon Student Center’s Sankofa Room, Health Promotion is offering free salsa lessons. Begin your week of studying and paper-writing with some fun.  The event offers a chance to socialize with true and new friends, get moving and enjoy some yummy food to sustain you so you can return to your schoolwork refreshed and full of endorphins.  Health Promotion will also be at Centennial Campus on April 22 from 4 p.m.-7 p.m. at “Party Like It’s Your Death” with stress reducing fun, including therapy dogs to get your puppy fix.

Also sponsored by Student Health, along with Campus Police, is a Medication Drop Off on Saturday, April 26th from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. in the parking lot behind the Student Health Center. If you have expired or unused medication lying around, don’t trash it or flush it. Medications can poison our landfills and water systems if not thrown away safely. Bring them to the free, public Medication Drop Off event to protect our planet.

Earth Month reminds us to cultivate all seven dimensions of wellness, but one dimension in particular: environmental. Environmental wellness involves maintaining a way of life that minimizes harm to the environment. It also involves being aware of the unstable state of the earth and the effects our daily habits have on the physical environment. NS.FarmWorkday.7844

Think about what you do everyday, from the food you eat, to the clothes you wear, to the transportation you use. Can you make a small, consistent change in your daily routine that can make our planet a little healthier?

A few ways to increase your environmental wellness include:

  • Conserve water and other resources;
  • Reduce, reuse, recycle;
  • Minimize chemical use
  • Attend as many 2014 Earth Month events as you can!

How to stay safe over spring break (so that you have fun)

Who’s ready for spring break? Though the semester has been flying by, especially with several snow days, we could all use a breather next week. We deserve to blow off a little steam. In fact, blowing off steam can give us the energy we need for the final push of the semester. Just remember that relaxing and having fun during spring break comes with a responsibility to keep ourselves safe, and to watch out for our friends, as well.

Even if we’re not going on an MTV-inspired spring break trip, many of us will be traveling next week. Or, some of us might be staying in Raleigh. Regardless of where we’re going or what we’re doing over spring break, all of us plan on having fun next week. To ensure that we actually do have fun, we need to make smart decisions.

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Check out these tips on how to stay safe over spring break so that we blow off steam without putting our physical or mental health at risk.

With alcohol:

  • We all know that alcohol may be a part of college life.  In fact, a 2012 study found that among full-time college students, 60.3% were current drinkers, 40.1% identified as binge drinkers, and 14.4% identified as heavy drinker. So during spring break, when we have more time to relax and have fun, we need take extra precautions (Source).
  • Before going out, have your ride home planned. Drinking and driving has fatal consequences.
  • Go out in groups and with people you trust, especially if you’re in a new city. You might make this your new mantra: Go out with your friends. Go home with your friends.
  • Know the liquor laws of wherever you’re traveling. In North Carolina, a .08 blood alcohol content means that you are legally intoxicated and not allowed to drive.
  • Avoid alcohol energy drinks. They lead to “wide-awake drunkenness,” which makes you feel less drunk than you are. A study at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine found that students who mixed alcohol and energy drinks had double the risk of being injured, driving while intoxicated, being taken advantage of sexually or taking advantage of another sexually (Source). Stay away from the Vodka Red Bull’s.
  • Just a reminder, the legal drinking age is 21 in the States.

With sex:

  • To be safe and have fun, you MUST be able to ask for and give consent. This means that you need to ask for and receive verbal permission from your partner to engage in sexual activity with him/her. A clearly verbalized “Yes” or “No” is considered to be consent.
  • No glove no love. Use protection when having sex. To prevent STI’s and pregnancy, make sure that you or your partner wears a condom. Buy only latex or polyurethane condoms lubricated with a spermicide. Look for condoms with a reservoir tip. Check the expiration date. If you feel the condom break or slip during sex, pull out and put on a new condom.
  • You can get FREE condoms at the Student Health. Just fill out this self-care request form and take it to the pharmacy.
  • Here is some additional information about condoms from Student Health.

With the sun:

  • Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer…and the most preventable. Many of us will be in the sun a lot next week (skiing/snowboarding counts!)
  • Wear SPF 30 or more.
  • Choose self-tanner or airbrush tanning over the tanning bed
  • Protect your face with SPF lip balm, sunglasses, hats, and visor
  • Stay hydrated. The sun makes you sweat, which zaps your body of energy and fluid. Drink 6-8 glasses of water every day over spring break.
  • Check your body for moles that have changed shape or size before and after your trip. Make an appointment at Student Health if you notice a difference.

We need to blow off steam during spring break so that we return to school with the energy to finish the semester.  Making smart decisions about alcohol, sex, and sun exposure, will ensure that we stay safe while have some much-needed fun.

NEDAwareness Week is here!

Today kicks off a week dedicated to an issue that affects all of us: eating disorders. That’s right, we’re all affected by eating disorders because they are a global epidemic. If you haven’t experienced an eating disorder yourself, you probably know someone, or have heard of someone who has. In fact, if you have ever had obsessive thoughts about your weight or food intake, you have experienced disordered eating. As a community, we have a responsibility to do something to help.

Three CHASS admissions students inside Tompkins hall. Photo by Marc HallIn order to take action toward resolving this epidemic, we need to know exactly what we’re dealing with:

-Eating disorders are classified as a mental illness in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM-IV)

-The most common types of eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulima nervosa, and binge-eating disorder.

-In a study by Harvard Medical School, 25% of participants with anorexia or bulimia were male.

-Nearly 20 million women will experience an eating disorder at some point in their life.

-An estimated 5% of the U.S. population has undiagnosed bulimia.

-Binge-eating disorder affects up to 4% of the general population*

*Statistics found via NEDA and The Alliance For Eating Disorders Awareness

Serious stuff, right? The perfect time to take action toward a global recovery from eating disorders is now, during National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, founded by The National Eating Disorders Association. From today until March 1st, NEDAwareness Week focuses on raising awareness of the impact that eating disorders have throughout the world.

This week, take one, simple action toward raising awareness of and providing accurate information about eating disorders. You can choose from a variety of events on campus.

Love Your Genes: February 25th, 7p.m. @ the Campus Cinema
Step Off the Scale!  Accepting our own beauty and strengths is a challenge for both men and women.  Join us for an engaging evening with Johanna Kandell, founder of The Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness, to learn how to combat the pressure of having the “perfect body” and how to help someone who may be experiencing an eating disorder.

Jean Swap: February 27th from 3-7p.m.@ the Student Health Center
Since February 11th, students of all shapes, sizes, and genders have donated their gently worn jeans, which will be washed, sorted, and available at the official Jean Swap.  Come to Student Health and pick up a pair of jeans that make you feel great in your body.

Build-a-Wall Project: ongoing, Women’s Center and outside of Health Promotion
Ever get sick of those airbrushed, unrealistic images of women in the media? What if we changed those images into something positive? The Build-a-Wall project involves creating a collage of unrealistic, often shame-inducing images of women, then covering those images with bricks that feature a body-positive message. You can build a wall in your dorm with friends, or contribute to the ones at the Women’s Center and Health Promotion.

Operation Beautiful:

DSCN1710NC State participated in Operation Beautiful last year, and we encourage you to participate to celebrate NEDAwareness Week. The mission of Operation Beautiful is to end negative self-talk or “fat talk” through anonymous, positive notes in public places for other people to find. A Post-it note with a simple, yet powerful message of “You are beautiful” or “You are enough” posted in a public area can change someone’s entire perspective about her/himself.

In honor of the “just do one thing” philosophy of NEDAwareness Week, try leaving an anonymous, positive Post-it note in a public place. The happier we can make each other feel about ourselves, the less power eating disorders have in the world.

Avoid the flu in 2014

Though we’re in the early weeks of the spring semester, we’re knee-deep in the winter season. Many wonderful things accompany winter: hot chocolate, cozy sweaters, and the occasional snow day.

But one not-so-wonderful thing faces us during the winter months: the flu, also known as influenza. Flu symptoms include high fever, headache, weakness, dry cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, and occasional diarrhea and vomiting. These symptoms can keep you bedridden for days, or even weeks. You miss class, work, and countless social outings. Getting the flu does not a fun winter make.

In order to enjoy the winter season and perform at your best in and out of the classroom, you must take several precautions.

Amy Wongsarnpigoon, Nurse Practitioner here at Student Health, lists the top 5 ways students can avoid the flu:

1. Get the flu shot. Fortunately, you can get the flu shot at the Student Health Pharmacy. Many insurance carriers cover the cost. Otherwise, you just pay $25. The shot is typically administered from October-March. Details here.

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2. Wash your hands often, especially after using the bathroom and before eating. Use soap and water or hand sanitizer. Also, avoid touching your face, eyes, and nose.

3. Avoid sharing drinks, utensils, and cups.

4. Avoid contact with sick people. If your roommates are sick, minimize the time you spend in shared space. If possible, your roommates should stay somewhere else until they aren’t contagious anymore.

5. Decontaminate all surfaces in your living and work space. Use antibacterial wipes.

 

If you happen to get the flu…

  • Don’t freak out. There are many things you can to recover without infecting your roommates or falling miserably behind in your classes.
  • Get plenty of rest, drink lots of liquids, and consider taking over-the-counter (OTC) medications to relieve symptoms. You can get OTC medications at the Student Health Pharmacy.
  • Seek medical attention immediately by contacting Student Health or calling 9-1-1 if your symptoms improve but then return with a fever and a worse cough, or if you experience difficulty breathing, pain or pressure in your chest, fainting, or severe vomiting.
  • As soon as possible, notify your instructors that you are sick.
  • Notify the people with whom you’ve had close contact, if the contact occurred while you were contagious (1 day before symptoms and 7+days after)

The flu is serious business. But do not let fear of becoming infected rob you of a fun, productive winter season. If you follow the above suggestions, you’ll cruise through the winter months with a cup of hot chocolate in one hand and an A+ paper in the other.

 

New Year’s Resolution Check-in

The start of the 2014 spring semester is a perfect time to take stock of your New Year’s resolutions. Checking in now with the resolutions you set on January 1st can help you remember exactly what you want to do or change in the new year.

Here are a few tips that can help you follow through with your resolutions for 2014:

1. Refocus. Revise.

Think about all of the resolutions that you set for yourself at the start of 2014. How important is each one to you? Now that we’re a few weeks into January, some of your resolutions might not feel as pressing or meaningful to you; that’s okay. Focus on the one or two that get you really excited and motivated to get started.

Maybe you need to revise your resolutions so that you feel more confident about accomplishing them. Try setting small, specific goals with a measurable outcome of success. Ex. Instead of improving your grades this semester, can you set the goal of making an A in two of your classes by studying each subject for 1-2 hours daily?

2. Focus on the feeling.

How do you want to feel after accomplishing your New Years resolution(s)?

Maybe getting an A in two of your classes will make you feel proud and smart. Start feeling proud and smart NOW. We often make the mistake of thinking that we can’t feel the way we want until we accomplish our goal. But what we don’t realize is that embodying those feelings in the present helps us accomplish our goal quickly. Think about it. If you want to feel smarter and prouder, and you go to class every day feeling stupid, inferior, and intimidated, then you won’t be motivated to study or ask for help. By semester’s end, you most likely will not end up with your desired grades.

But if you start doing things today that help you cultivate feelings of pride and intelligence, then you’re much more likely to study, participate in class, talk to your professor, and get A’s.

Make a list of 3 things that will help you feel proud and smart TODAY, not just after you get two A’s. Maybe you can get up at the same time every morning. Maybe you can make a To Do list for school tasks every day.

3. Check your perspective.

Remember that January 1st is not the only time we’re allowed to set goals. We put so much pressure on ourselves to decide exactly what we want to change in our lives starting January 1st. What if we made monthly or weekly resolutions instead? Try viewing the end of the month or week as an opportunity to set resolutions.

4. Take action. Now.

List three tangible actions that you can take this week to move towards accomplishing your goals. Here are some resources that can help:

Health Promotion: Support on fitness, nutrition, contraception, stress, relationships

Counseling Center: Support on personal, academic, career problems

University Recreation: Information on group fitness, personal fitness, intramural and club sports

Undergraduate Tutorial Services: Support on study skills, subject knowledge, writing/speaking skills

Career Development Center: Support on career exploration, finding jobs and internships, interview practice

Student Organizations: Database of student clubs and groups

Celebrate Earth Day 2013 at NC State

NC State is celebrating Earth Day 2013 with week of free events focusing on “Barn to Brick: Sustainable Food and Agriculture at NC State.” Campus events will be running from April 13th-April 18th and local Raleigh events will be held on April 20th. Among the activities centered around healthy food and wellness, there will be plenty of giveaways throughout the week including gift cards to retailers and restaurants. The fun will kick off on April 13th where students are invited to plant seedlings among their fellow students and faculty to promote the growth of fresh food on campus to be served in the dining halls. Join us on April 16th on the Brickyard for the “Grow Your Wellness” health fair which will be based on the seven dimensions of wellness and will feature an array of interesting and interactive activities and giveaway items for students. There will also be free t-shirts given to the first 500 students who explore all the dimensions! One of the largest campus events this spring will be the April 17th Earth Day celebration on the Brickyard. Rounding out the campus activities is a farm feast held outside Fountain Dining Hall on the 18th where students can take part in an outdoor picnic and enjoy live music from the bluegrass band, Mandolin Orange. The celebration will continue with local events like Live and Local on Hillsborough Street and a Planet Earth celebration at the Museum of Natural Sciences on April 20th.

For more information regarding these events and more, visit Earth Day 2013 for a full description of what’s to come.

Healthy Skin is In, Say Yes to SPF!

Spring is right around the corner and now that we are getting that extra hour of sunshine, it’s the perfect time to talk about the importance of protecting your skin from the sun. Skin Cancer is the most common form of cancer in the US and is also the most preventable form of this disease. North Carolina has the 10th highest reported rates of Melanoma, the lethal form of skin cancer, in the country. Many teens and young adults do not think about cancer at this stage in their lives but Melanoma is the second most common type of cancer in those that are 15-25 years of age. Certain high risk behaviors like tanning bed use and irresponsible sunbathing habits are said to be linked to these incidence rates. Coincidentally, women 18-25 comprise 70% of the consumer base for the tanning bed industry. Ironically, appearance is the driving force behind decisions to tan but appearance of the skin can be negatively affected by this behavior on a long-term basis. Moreover, the sun (real or artificial) is responsible for 90% of the visible signs of aging. Remember, tans fade but the damage is there to stay. It looms underneath the skin and surfaces little by little in the form of freckles, sun spots, and hyperpigmentation.

UVR can be emitted both from natural sunlight and artificial sources like tanning beds. Neither is safer than the other but tanning beds can release up to 12 times the amount of UVR than the sun at mid-day. In fact, in one 10 minute session, certain high pressure tanning beds can produce the equivalent of being out in the sun for four hours. While it is true that sunshine can give you a healthy dose of Vitamin D, you only need a few minutes in natural sunlight to achieve this. Keep in mind that overexposure to UVR can cause skin cancer, premature aging of the skin, and eye damage which should always be taken seriously. One can help protect themselves from the harmful effects of the sun by doing the following things:

  • Stay out of tanning beds! Those that start tanning before the age of 34 increase their risk for skin cancer by 74%.
  • Get checked out by a Dermatologist if you notice anything suspicious. Visit skincancer.org to learn how to do a self-screening.
  • Wear SPF 30 or more if in the sun for prolonged period of time and SPF 15 or 20 on a daily basis.
  • Protect your eyes and face with sunglasses, hats, or visors.
  • Use lip balm with SPF if spending time outdoors.
  • Seek shade whenever possible.
  • Know your skin type. If you burn easily, take extra precaution in the sun.
  • Opt for self-tanners or airbrush tanning over tanning beds and outdoor sunbathing.
  • Know the facts. For more information visit skincancer.org

Sleep Your Way to Good Health

While students may think that insufficient sleep is just par for the course when you’re in school, it can actually be a serious problem with effects that are linked to a number of health issues. College students are often juggling several activities pertaining to school, work, and relationships which can add up to a lot of late nights and little time to sleep. The widespread use and around-the-clock availability of technology can also play a role in forming irregular sleep patterns. Not only can a lack of sleep result in feelings of sluggishness and inability to concentrate the next day but it can also take a physical toll by increasing one’s risk for chronic diseases, obesity, and depression. In a study of adult sleep behaviors, 43.7% of adults 18-25 reported unintentionally falling asleep at least once in the past month while 4.5% reported having nodded off while driving. In order to avoid any harmful effects that may ensue if sleep is not made more of a priority, it is important for students to learn about good sleep hygiene. On February 5th, students are encouraged to attend the sleep event located at the Rec Center at 6:30pm where they can take advantage of relaxation activities such as chair massages and meditation. The chair massages begin at 5:30 and are on a first come first serve basis.

Sleep Hygiene:  n education with the goal of effecting behavior modification, thus leading to a healthy sleep pattern. Behaviors that support healthy sleep include daily exercise, daily exposure to natural light, a regular sleep schedule, and relaxation exercises in the evening.

Tips for Practicing Good Sleep Hygiene

  • Avoid Stimulants: This category includes soda, coffee, and energy drinks which can disturb a restful night’s sleep.
  • Create a Peaceful Environment: Minimize distractions such as noise and bright lights.
  • Stick to a Sleep Schedule: Try to go to sleep at the same time each night.
  • Avoid All-Nighters: Pace yourself throughout the semester to avoid the need for cram sessions.
  • Aim for 7-9 Hours: Adults should be getting somewhere between 7-9 hours per night.
  • See a Health Provider: If you are experiencing trouble sleeping, consult with your health care provider.

Help Protect the Pack This Flu Season, Get Vaccinated!

The flu has reached epidemic proportions in the US with 47 states still reporting widespread flu activity at this time. Given the nature of this situation, students are urged to make an appointment with Student Health Services on campus to receive a flu vaccine if they haven’t done so already. Vaccines are also available at a variety of additional locations including pharmacies and walk-in clinics. Students can utilize the pharmacy services, also located in the Student Health Center, for OTC medications and assistance with their prescriptions.

Not to be confused with the common cold, the flu can last up to seven days and is most commonly characterized by symptoms of fatigue, body aches, cough, and sore throat. Receiving the flu vaccine can reduce one’s need to seek medical treatment for their illness by 60%. In accordance with the flu vaccine, one can strengthen their immune system by eating a healthy diet, getting adequate sleep, and washing their hands often.

Prevention is key when it comes to dodging the flu this season but for those that are already experiencing flu symptoms, there are general things that can be done to help alleviate some of the discomfort that accompanies the illness.

  • Anti-Viral Medications: These types of medications can be taken to both prevent and help treat the flu and should be taken within the first 48 hours from the onset of symptoms. Anti-Viral remedies can slightly reduce the duration of the flu and can help prevent severe flu complications. These medications can also be prescribed as a preventive treatment to those who are not sick but have come into close contact with someone who is. It is important to consult a physician to make sure it is safe for you to take any medication.
  • Over-the-Counter Antihistamines & Decongestants: The choice of medication will depend on what your symptoms are. If you have nasal or sinus congestion, a Decongestant may help. Consult with a pharmacist when purchasing OTC medications to make sure you are a good candidate for taking them.
  • Drink More Liquids: Aim for at least eight cups per day. Doing so helps keep your respiratory system hydrated.
  • Breathe Aromatic Steam: To help clear your nasal passages, fill the bathroom or sink with steaming water. Add a teaspoon of Vick’s Vapo-Rub (OTC treatment) or a couple of drops of Eucalyptus oil, known for clearing bronchial passages, to the water. Drape a towel over your head and lean over the steam to help reduce congestion and nasal discomfort.
  • Warm Compress: If your head is throbbing, apply a warm (not too hot!) compress to your cheeks and sinuses to help reduce the pain.

For more information:

Call the Student Health Center at (919) 515-7107 to make an appointment for a flu vaccine. Student Health Center Pharmacy (919) 515-5040

Bringing the Heat to a Winter Workout

As we head into the winter season, the motivation to stick to a workout routine may drop off right along with the temperature. Particularly for those that exercise outdoors or are heading home for the holidays but do not have access to a gym. Despite the change in weather, it is important to continue to maintain a fitness routine even if exercising outdoors is the only viable option. This may not sound like much fun at first but it turns out that performing physical activity in cold weather can be very invigorating. Because the body is forced to work harder in the cooler temperatures, endorphin production is increased which leads to a happier state of mind. In addition, exposure to natural sunlight can help fight depression. Exercising in cold weather is one of those things that you may have to talk yourself into doing at first but once you’re finished, you’ll feel great and be more likely to do it again. There are things to keep in mind when preparing to exercise outside during the winter season in order to stay safe and protect the body from harsh weather conditions.

  • Protect Your Hands, Feet, and Ears When It’s Cold: When it’s cold, blood flow is concentrated in the core of the body. Wear a thin pair of tighter fitting gloves underneath a pair lined with wool or fleece.
  • Dress in Layers: The first layer should be a thin synthetic material which draws sweat away from the body, followed by a fleece and topped off with a waterproof layer. Avoid cotton close to the body because it stays wet.
  • Consider Decreasing the Intensity of Your Workout: A cooling muscle causes it to become weaker.
  • Warm Up Longer & More Vigorously: Doing so heats up the body and gets the muscles prepared for the workout.
  • Exercise in the Afternoon: If possible, choose the afternoon for your workout when temperatures are highest.
  • Sometimes It’s Just Too Cold to Exercise Outside: Keep an eye on the windchill factor in order to determine the appropriateness of an outdoor workout. Early signs of Hypothermia include weakness, shivering, slurred speech, and confusion.