From the Hilbert College Wellness Center – The Importance of Sleep

by Kirsten Falcone, RN

Getting Your Zzzs:
The Importance of Sleep

The impact of consistently obtaining a good night’s sleep can never be overemphasized, especially on a college campus. On the other hand, chronic sleep deprivation seems to be at an all-time high. The following is a review of the importance of sleep, and how to acquire it.

A recent statistic from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals that 1 in 3 adults doesn’t get enough sleep. According to the CDC, sleeping at least 7 hours each night is required “to promote optimal health and well-being.” Most health professionals recommend 7 to 9 hours.

Conversely, sleeping less than 7 hours per night puts you at risk of:

  • Developing a chronic condition, such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, stroke, and frequent mental difficulties,
  • Elevated stress hormones,
  • Mood swings,
  • Slower response time,
  • Confusion, and lack of focus,
  • Poor decision-making, and
  • Unnecessary risk-taking.

In our everyday lives, these could translate to poor job performance, grades, relationships, and also driving or operating machinery.

The number of sleep-deprived adults can be considerably higher in college communities. As the nurse in the Hilbert College Wellness Center, most of my sick patients are sleep-deprived, acquiring fewer than six hours per night. There are many excuses for this, such as living with a loud roommate, studying for a test, going out late at night, working at a night job, or just not being that motivated or self-controlled. Many students are unaware of how important sleep really is.

Sleep is probably THE most important health practice! Here are some reasons. While you sleep, your brain is forming pathways for learning and storing memories. Your body is building up its immune system and healing damage caused throughout the day. Hormones called cytokines, which are produced during the night, are crucial for your immune system to fight infection and inflammation. During the day, a compound called adenosine is built up, and it is only broken down again by getting enough sleep. If you miss a few nights of sound sleep, the adenosine will build up and cause sleepiness during the day. Another substance, a hormone called melatonin, makes you naturally feel sleepy at night, but that can be reversed to daytime sleepiness, if you don’t fulfill your nighttime sleep requirements.

Going to bed at the same time every night, say 10:00 or 11:00 p.m., allows your body to cycle through sleep stages, each with a specific purpose. The four stages must be experienced in chronological order for sleep to do its job. In addition, the beginning of the night presents longer stages than the end of the night. For example, non-REM deep sleep, considered the “restorative” stage of sleep occurs mostly in the first half of the night. Knowing this makes it clear that going to bed at the same time every night is crucial to maintaining good health.

If you know you have gotten off-track, here are some ways to improve your sleep habits:

  1. Get enough exercise and fresh air during the day, so you are sleepy at the right time. Make sure this is not within two hours of your newly established bedtime, though.
    (https://hilbertcommunity.wordpress.com/2017/02/03/from-the-hilbert-college-wellness-center-dont-be-a-couch-potato/)
  2. Eat healthfully. When you fuel your body properly, it just runs better overall. Also, don’t eat any large meals just before bed. Indigestion may wake you up!
  3. Use caffeine only in the morning. Caffeine is a stimulant, and it will disrupt your sleep.
  4. Avoid alcohol and nicotine. Alcohol may help put you to “sleep” at the beginning of the night, but it has been shown to cause lighter, less fitful sleep, and it actually interrupts sleep halfway through the night, as well as causing dehydration. Nicotine (in cigarettes) is a stimulant that leads to lighter than normal sleep.
  5. Establish a “bedtime” again, and stick to it. Your parents were right to enforce this, and now you know why.
  6. Don’t take a nap longer than 20 minutes, or past 3:00 p.m. This may make it more difficult to wake up fully, and then to go to sleep at your predetermined time.
  7. Wind down at night by dimming lights, turning off the TV and electronics (including your cell phone!), and taking a hot shower or bath before bed. Have a comfortable bed and pillow, and keep the room temperature cool.
  8. Put a DO NOT DISTURB sign on your door, if you live in a community that stays up late.
  9. Wear ear plugs, if necessary.
  10. For chronic insomnia, see a doctor who can help you determine the cause of your sleeplessness.
  11. Avoid sleeping pills. These are habit-forming, and should be used only as a last resort and only occasionally.
  12. Don’t rely on sleeping in on the weekends. This may erase some of your sleep debt, but not all of it. It will also make it much more difficult to get to sleep at the proper time on Sunday night.
  13. Learn how to manage time. Ultimately, going to bed at the right time, rather than studying for that test until the wee hours, will help you do better on your test the next day. It would be even better to schedule study time during the daytime.

Remember the words of Ben Franklin, “Early to bed and early to rise make a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” Sweet dreams!

For more information, visit these Web sites:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2016/p0215-enough-sleep.html

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Guide to Healthy Sleep:
http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/files/docs/public/sleep/healthy_sleep.pdf

 

From the Hilbert College Wellness Center – Winning Health Battles, with Proper Hygiene

by Kirsten Falcone, RN

“The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”:
Winning Health Battles, with Proper Hygiene

Every day, everywhere we go, we are surrounded by opportunistic germs and parasites. Some are “good,” some are “bad,” and some can even be “ugly.” They could be on your doorknobs, countertops, hand rails, toilet, in your food, clothing, sheets, the gym you frequent, or even in your own reusable water bottles. Some exposure to germs can be “good” for you and strengthen your immune system; they can be beneficial, and you shouldn’t “wipe” them out. In fact, even some “bad” germs can benefit you by strengthening your immunity to invaders. But, how you approach these “bad guys” can make a difference between being sick frequently, and rarely coming down with an illness at all.

It isn’t enjoyable to contemplate these bad guys, but, face it. This is reality. As the gunfighters in westerns prove, you can’t win a fight without bullets. There are consequences for practicing poor hygiene. Since information is power, you don’t want to be low on ammunition. You should stand ready and armed with knowledge! Here is a short list of the most common assailants for which to be vigilant.

Hygiene-related illnesses and diseases are caused by villains, such as fungi, viruses, bacteria, or parasites. Colds and the flu, as well as plantar warts, are caused by viruses. Bacterial illnesses include dental caries and swimmer’s ear. Athlete’s foot and ringworm are fungal. Lice (whether body, pubic or head), and pinworm are parasitical. And chronic diarrhea and recreational water illness have various causes.

The following are some general tips for everyday personal hygiene:

  • Wash your hands. It is the best way to avoid getting sick! (Wash Your Hands – Recent Article)
  • Don’t touch your face, nose, ears, eyes, or mouth, with soiled hands. Conversely, don’t touch your face with clean hands and forget to wash your hands afterward.
  • Brush your teeth and tongue two to three times per day. Floss once per day.
  • Bathe regularly, and keep your nails clean and short.
  • Foot hygiene: Athlete’s foot and plantar warts can be avoided by wearing sandals in public bathrooms or shower areas.
  • Clothing hygiene: Wear clean clothes, change underwear and socks daily, don’t wear someone else’s shoes or soiled clothing, and wear clothing that is appropriate for the season and the circumstances.
  • Sexual hygiene: Find one partner for life, preferably. (See below for link to article on STDs.)

The following are tips for keeping a clean environment:

  • Cleaning your home: First wash surfaces with an appropriate cleaner and warm water, to remove dirt and grime. Use paper towels or washable rags. Always disinfect rags or sponges before reusing them, or toss them out. Dust, open windows to ventilate, and open the curtains to let the sunshine in.
  • Disinfecting your home: After cleaning, use a germ-killing solution, such as a bleach or vinegar solution, to sanitize surfaces, such as door knobs and handles, countertops where food is prepared, faucets, and anything that gets handled frequently.
  • Wash out your reusable water bottles every day, and let them air dry. (See the link below for water bottle hygiene.) Bacteria thrive around the caps of water bottles, especially those that still have a moist environment inside.
  • Don’t share personal care tools (e.g. toothbrush, nail clipper, comb, towels, glasses, cups, utensils).
  • Keep your refrigerator clean, to kill mold and mildew (fungi).
  • Food: Wash fruits and vegetables before eating, checking expiration dates on canned and bagged items. Don’t eat cooked food, such as a casserole, that has been sitting out at room temperature for more than two hours. Even reheating won’t kill the germs that will make you sick. Just toss it out. (“Waste it!”)
  • Wash sheets, towels, workout clothes and underwear in hot water and use a hot clothes dryer.

If you follow these guidelines, you will most likely be healthier, feel ill infrequently, and appear a great deal healthier, too. In other words, you will prosper in disarming the “good,” killing the “bad,” and dodging the “ugly.”

For more information on everyday hygiene, visit these Web sites:

Personal hygiene
CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention):
https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/hygiene/body/

Personal hygiene checklist
WellnessOwners.com:
http://wellnessowners.com/personal-hygiene-checklist/

Household cleaning tips
CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention):
https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/emergency/cleaning-sanitizing/household-cleaning-sanitizing.html

Water bottle hygiene
SFGate:
http://homeguides.sfgate.com/bacteria-grow-keep-reusing-water-bottles-79320.html

Article “How Clean Should We Be?”
WebMD:
http://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/how-clean-hygiene-germs#1

Protecting yourself from sexually transmitted diseases
WebMD:
http://www.webmd.com/sexual-conditions/guide/sexual-health-stds#2-5

From the Hilbert College Wellness Center – Alcohol Alternatives for St. Paddy’s Day

by Kirsten Falcone, RN

Stay Lucky!
Alcohol Alternatives for St. Paddy’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day is on a Friday this year, and that means many college students will find opportunities to enjoy the festivities. But, since 21 is the legal drinking age, it’s worthwhile to look at some alternatives to drinking alcohol that could be equally as enjoyable or more so.

First, let’s review a little about drinking alcohol. Drinking alcohol is generally not healthful or smart. In fact, the only alcohol recognized as beneficial is one glass (five ounces) of red wine per day for women (two for men). If you do happen to drink beyond what is considered healthful, here are some guidelines to follow:

  • One (serving-sized) drink per hour is all your liver can metabolize. If you damage your liver, contrary to hearsay, it does not always grow back to normal. (Think fatty liver and cirrhosis.)
  • Serving sizes: If you choose to drink alcohol, be aware of these serving sizes:
    • Beer—12 ounces
    • Liquor—one ounce
    • Wine—five ounces.
  • Stay hydrated. In order to prevent dehydration, drink eight ounces of water per hour. (This will also help ward off a hangover the next day.)
  • Don’t binge drink, which is defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) as imbibing five or more drinks for men, or four or more drinks for women, in a two-hour period.
  • Designate a driver. Make sure one person is a designated driver, or arrange another mode of transportation.

Some reasons to avoid alcohol: Drinking alcohol damages liver tissue, sometimes permanently. Brain tissue is permanently damaged by drinking alcohol (something to “think” about, if you are a serious college student). It can also lower inhibitions and make you act in a way you would not normally act. Alcohol is a depressant, and so somebody who drinks alcohol regularly is more likely to develop mental health side effects, such as chronic depression. Alcoholic beverages are also highly caloric, with very little nutritional value. If you put junk into your body, you will get junk in return. It is not the best choice for an ambitious college student.

So, then, what are some alternatives to drinking that green beer? Many Web sites address ideas for alcohol-free celebrations. (See below for links.) Here are a few good ideas:

  • Attend a mass or church service. Patrick is considered a saint, so this would be appropriate! Learn more about St. Patrick at http://www.history.com/topics/st-patricks-day.
  • Host an alcohol-free party in your residence hall, and substitute green beer with other beverages that are already green, or with green food coloring added.
  • Attend a St. Patrick’s Day parade. The parade in Buffalo this year is on Sunday, March 19 at 2:00 p.m. along Delaware Avenue. http://st-patricks-day.com/buffalo-st-patricks-day-parade/
  • Dress in green all day (or all weekend).
  • Buy an Irish beverage, such as a Shamrock shake or Irish coffee.
  • Sip a non-alcoholic beverage if attending a party where alcohol is served. Adding a bit of green food coloring will make it more festive.
  • Find a fish fry. Fish fry Friday is hard to miss during the Lenten season.
  • Learn how to Irish step dance. There are videos online. Here is one to try: http://www.learntodance.com/irish-step-dancing-online/
  • Host an Irish movie night. Suggestions from http://childcare.wvu.edu/files/d/1e9d9345-045b-438f-9f57-da806da298d2/st-patricksday.pdf: “Waking Ned Devine,” “The Snapper,” “Intermission,” “The Crying Game,” “My Left Foot,” or “The Commitments.”

Finally, you’ll be glad you resisted the temptation to drink because it’s much more fun to be in control, you won’t have a hangover when you need to study, you will not be suffering from the consequences of decisions made when under the influence, you will actually remember the fun you had and the memories you made, and your waistline, liver, brain, and overall health will thank you. Making the right choices will empower you and not depress you!

For more information on enjoying an alcohol-free holiday, visit these Web sites:

Alcohol facts and statistics
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/alcohol-facts-and-statistics

Non-alcoholic St. Patrick’s Day Drink Recipes
ModernMom.com
http://www.modernmom.com/3734d268-3b48-11e3-94be-bc764e04a41e.html

More Non-alcoholic St. Patrick’s Day Drinks Recipes
Holidappy.com
https://holidappy.com/holidays/Non-Alcoholic-Drinks-for-St-Patricks-Day

Fact sheet about alcohol and your health
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/alcohol-use.htm

Ideas for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day without alcohol
Symptomfind.com
https://www.symptomfind.com/healthy-living/alcohol-free-st-patricks-day/

Related news stories
USAToday.com
http://college.usatoday.com/2014/03/17/st-patricks-day-emphasizes-need-for-collegiate-alcohol-abuse-recovery-programs/

From the Hilbert College Wellness Center – Stay Healthy on Spring Break

by Kirsten Falcone, RN

Stay Healthy on Spring Break

springbreakSpring Break is quickly approaching, and some college students choose to travel south for much-needed warmer weather, sunshine, and relaxation. In order to benefit the most from spring break, there are some key health items to remember.

Protect yourself from the sun. The shortened daylight associated with the winter months has taken its toll on all of us by this time of year. But that is no reason to forget to protect yourself from sunburn. Use sunscreen of at least SPF 15 (preferably much higher) and reapply often, wear cover-ups and a hat, avoid the sun between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., and wear sunglasses. If (but preferably before) you notice a sunburn, get out of the sun, and keep hydrated. Mild sunburns can be soothed with over-the-counter pain medications and cool compresses. Avoid any more sun exposure until the current burn has resolved.

Be smart when drinking alcohol. The healthiest choice is one glass (five ounces) of red wine per day for women and two glasses per day for men. The liver cannot process more than one ounce of hard liquor, five ounces of wine, or 12 ounces of beer per hour. In addition, drink one eight-ounce glass of water per alcoholic drink, if at all possible, to prevent the effects of dehydration. Make sure one person is a designated driver, or arrange another mode of transportation. Also be aware of people who might prey on unsuspecting tourists.

Be aware of diseases and health risks. This year the Zika virus is even more of a concern than last year. If you are traveling to anywhere on the globe that is on the CDC’s high-risk list (including parts of Florida and Texas), (http://www.cdc.gov/zika/geo/index.html), you will need to use mosquito repellent especially during the daylight hours in order to reduce the likelihood of Zika mosquitoes transmitting the virus to you.

Many travelers also come down with “Montezuma’s revenge” (food poisoning), but there are tips on avoiding that, too. The CDC has an app called “Can I Eat This?” For more information, go to this link: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/apps-about. When you go to the link, you can also download other helpful travel apps.

Wherever you plan to go, near or far, have a safe, relaxing and healthful Spring Break!

For more comprehensive information on enjoying a healthful Spring Break, visit these Web sites:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
http://www.cdc.gov/family/springbreak/

MedlinePlus:
https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_163669.html

Baylor University:
http://www.baylor.edu/dps/index.php?id=930275

From the Hilbert College Wellness Center | Protect Your Hearing, While You Still Can

by Kirsten Falcone, RN

Can you repeat that?
Protect Your Hearing, While You Still Can!

ear-budsHearing loss. You think it happens only to older people, right? Think again. Recent research reveals that more young people are developing permanent hearing loss, and they may not even realize it. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), 20 percent of people aged 20-29 already have noise-induced hearing loss. In a recent study of about 3,500 people who reported their hearing as “excellent” or “good,” one in four people were found to have unsuspected hearing loss.

Why is this such a concern? It’s because, unlike many other ailments, hearing loss is permanent. Over time, a loss of hearing in someone young will accumulate and exacerbate that person’s eventual age-related hearing loss. Experts predict hearing-related issues will be even more pronounced for the current younger generation when it reaches retirement age.

What causes hearing loss? Anything over 85 decibels for an extended period of time, or much louder and shorter bursts of noise for a shorter period of time, are both damaging. Everyday noise from mowing the lawn, traffic, the food blender, leaf blowers and more, can all contribute to hearing loss.    Loud, sudden noises, like sirens, fireworks, and gunfire, are able to damage hearing immediately! Concerts and prolonged noise (two hours or more), as well as workplace-related clamor are also to blame.

What types of noises are higher than 85 decibels? According to a Purdue University Website, a garbage disposal, an average factory, a freight train 50 feet away, a diesel truck traveling at 40 mph at 50 feet away, and a food blender are all around 80 to 90 decibels. Exposing yourself to these for extended periods of time has been shown to cause hearing loss.

In the 90 to 110 decibel category are a jet plane taking off (at 1000 feet), a lawn mower, a motorcycle at 25 feet, an outboard motor, a car horn at three feet, a riveting machine, and live rock music. If you are “lucky” to be underneath a thunderclap, that will set you back 120 decibels! At 150 decibels, such as what occurs at 80 feet away from a jet taking off, your eardrums will rupture.

Wearing ear buds, as many people do with MP3 and blue-tooth devices, iPods, or video games, can intensify noise because they are put directly into the ear canal. This can raise noise levels by nine decibels. At maximum volume, ear buds can reach 105 decibels!

What can you do to prevent hearing loss?

  • When listening to electronic devices, wear “noise-cancelling” head phones that cover the whole ear. Ear buds (which sit in the ear canal) tend to let other sounds in, thus making it necessary to turn up the volume.
  • If you insist on wearing ear buds, invest in custom ear buds that fit your ears. They have a tighter fit, and you won’t have to turn up the volume to hear with them.
  • Limit your ear-bud/ear-phone listening to under 60 minutes per day, and keep the volume under 60 percent.
  • Wear ear plugs at concerts.
  • Plug your ears with your fingers when an ambulance passes, during traditional gun salutes, or when the fire trucks blast their sirens at parades.
  • Don’t sit right under the annual fireworks without ear protection.
  • Wear ear protection when you know you will be exposed to loud noises for long periods of time, such as mowing the lawn.
  • In traffic, keep the windows rolled up.
  • Get your ears tested to find your baseline. Start taking precautions from now on.

Here’s your takeaway: There are many areas of health that can be improved by changing your lifestyle or by taking medicine. But hearing isn’t one of them. When it’s gone, it’s gone.

For more information on premature hearing loss, visit these Web sites:

CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
(February 7, 2017 Press Briefing):
https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2017/t0208-hearing-loss.html

Beltone.com (Ear Bud Safety):
https://beltone.com/hearing-health/ear-buds.aspx

Purdue University (List of Decibel Levels):
https://www.chem.purdue.edu/chemsafety/Training/PPETrain/dblevels.htm

Medline Plus (Medical Explanation of Hearing Loss):
https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000495.htm

 

From the Hilbert College Wellness Center | Eating Healthfully in the Winter

by Kirsten Falcone, RN

Watch Your Figure!
Eating Healthfully in the Winter

Healthy eating collage. Lots of fruits and vegetables, nuts and whole grains are included.

Have you found a little extra padding around your middle lately? You are not alone!

Many people find that wintertime eating is tricky when it comes to maintaining weight. This is due to many factors, including the types of food available, the need for “comfort food” in the dark winter months, and the availability of traditional wintertime favorites. The holidays, and their fattening menu have just passed, New Year’s resolutions are almost forgotten, and we are back to our old habits.

Here are a few tips that may help you reach the warmer days of spring, with your waistline intact:

Water. Instead of pop or sweetened drinks, substitute water. The dry winter air tends to dehydrate us, and what we mistake for hunger is often just thirst. Drinking a glass of water before you eat will hydrate you and will help curb your appetite. Also, skim milk is mostly water, but also contains a good amount of calcium and vitamin D. Vitamin D has been shown to help with seasonal depression, which many people encounter during the winter.

Fruits and vegetables. A good rule of thumb is to make certain half your plate is fruits and vegetables. Try to pass up anything with fat or sugar added, such as fruit compote or au gratin potatoes. Fresh fruit and steamed vegetables are your best bet. Eat your vegetables and fruit before you eat your main course, so that you acquire the nutrients you need and don’t overdo it with the more highly caloric entrée. (And no, French fries and potato chips don’t count as vegetables!)

Lean meats. Given a choice between a hot dog, cheeseburger, or a chicken breast, choose the chicken breast more often. It is lower in fat, and fat does tend to end up around your middle during the months you are not exercising as much.

Whole grains. Choose whole wheat products instead of white bread. The fiber in a true whole grain product is better for your heart and digestion. Also, whole grain products have not been stripped of their nutrients. If you read the label on a whole grain product, it should list at least three grams per serving.

Unprocessed food. Try to stay away from quick fix solutions, like cereal bars, protein bars, and other foods in prepackaged containers. Whole foods are better and have fewer additives. If you are going shopping at the grocery store, the unprocessed whole foods are usually the ones you will find if you walk around the perimeter of the store. They include dairy, eggs, meat, produce, and more.

Eat just half. It is okay to eat only half of the food on your plate, or just use a smaller plate. Don’t let your conscience guilt you into retaining your membership in the Clean Plate Club. Your mom is not looking over your shoulder.

Sample the fattening choices. Yes, it is okay to do this. Just limit it to a spoonful or two, so you don’t feel as if you have deprived yourself.

Junk food. Do not even think about it! Keep away from the bags of chips, cookies, popcorn, and other temptations. This is a good time to “just say no.” If you need something to munch on, go for the carrots, almonds, apples, bananas, and other easily tote-able foods.

Dessert. Save dessert for one day per week. This will take some doing, especially when in certain environments. Or, make fruit your dessert daily. It really just takes a different mindset, and fruit can be a delicious end of the meal.

For more information on eating healthfully in the winter, visit these Web sites:

WebMd:
http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/control-your-winter-appetite#1

http://www.webmd.com/diet/food-fitness-planner/default.htm

CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention):
https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/healthy_eating/index.html

United States Department of Agriculture:
https://www.choosemyplate.gov/

 

 

From the Hilbert College Wellness Center – Don’t be a Couch Potato!

by Kirsten Falcone, RN

Don’t be a Couch Potato!
How to Keep Active During the Winter Months

running-snowIf you are like me, I keep active during the warmer months, but when the cold hits, it’s difficult to resist cocooning in my space and waiting it out until spring. But, did you know that lack of exercise is one of the biggest causes of mental health problems like depression and anxiety, and physical health problems, such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, some types of cancer, and much more?

On the flip side, regular exercise can actually improve your immune system, lift your mood, keep all your bodily systems in order, decrease the incidence of disease, and increase your life expectancy. People who are physically fit have the potential to do better in many areas, than their out-of-shape counterparts. They don’t need as many prescription or over the counter drugs, and they have far fewer doctor visits. You are not in college to not do well, so it is a benefit to you to take care of yourself, because proper exercise can help you in every area of your life, including your grades!

There are three main categories of exercise. They are aerobic, strength training, and stretching. Aerobic exercise increases your heart rate. Some of the common ways you can achieve this are by walking briskly, jogging and swimming. (During the winter, though, it is difficult to safely go for a walk or jog, and it is challenging to find a swimming pool.) Strength training is usually done by lifting weights or performing “body-weight” exercises, such as push-ups. Stretching is important to increase flexibility and range of motion, as well as increase the blood circulation to your muscles and joints, thus reducing injury.

Here are some ideas to help you pull through the winter months:

  • Visit the gym. On Hilbert Campus, that is located at the Hafner Recreation Center. http://www.hilberthawks.com/sports/2013/9/9/Facilities_0909135001.aspx?tab=weightroom.
  • Do calisthenics in your dorm room. Youtube has many exercise videos available, but you can start out with one like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHyGqsPOUHs.
  • Run up and down your dorm stairs for 20 minutes, 3 times per week.
  • Park on the far side of the parking lot, and walk the extra distance (provided your footwear has good treads to tackle icy conditions).
  • Take up a winter sport, such as cross-country or downhill skiing, snowshoeing or sledding.
  • When the conditions are good, you can still go for a brisk walk. 20-30 minutes, three times per week is a good start.
  • Extend the warm-weather sports you enjoy, but wear a couple extra layers of clothes.
  • If you can’t make it to the gym, invest in some dumbbells, and use them in your dorm room. Or you can use ordinary everyday objects, such as water bottles.
  • Jumping rope is a great aerobic activity. Here is a good beginner video you can try: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0NIvRAaOdlQ
  • Use an exercise ball. An exercise ball is large enough to be used in place of a desk chair, so sitting on it will improve posture. Plus, there are many great strength-training exercises you can learn. Many people swear by these for keeping their core strong.
  • Perform crunches, lunges, chair dips, push-ups and more in the privacy of your dorm room.
  • Take a yoga class. Yoga combines strength and stretching exercises, and many swear by it for its calming effects.
  • Finally, don’t overdo it. If you feel pain, just stop! Pain is a warning sign that you will injure yourself, and an injury is counterproductive to further fitness.

What does the nurse do for fitness? I take my dog for a walk around the neighborhood for half an hour when the weather cooperates, and I use an elliptical for the days when I can’t face the elements. Every morning I stretch before I do anything else. Strength training will be the next adventure for me. I did not develop these habits overnight, but they have become part of my healthy “couch-potato-less” lifestyle. If I can do this (at my age!), then you certainly can, too!

For more information on keeping active during the winter months, click on these links:

WebMD, Lack of Exercise is More Deadly than Obesity:
http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/news/20150114/lack-of-exercise-more-deadly-than-obesity-study-suggests#1

CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), Benefits of Physical Activity:
https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/pa-health/index.htm

Money Crashers, Strength Training without Equipment:
http://www.moneycrashers.com/strength-training-exercises-women/

Mayo Clinic, How to Stretch:
http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/multimedia/stretching/sls-20076840

WebMD, Exercise Ball Moves:
http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/10-fun-moves-to-reshape-your-body-with-exercise-ball-workout#1

From the Hilbert College Wellness Center – How to Beat the Winter Blahs

by Kirsten Falcone, RN

Lacking Get-up-and-go?

winterblahWinter is here, with her cold, snow, freezing rain, and short daylight hours. If you are like me, I feel like going into my cave and hibernating until spring. But I am not a bear, and neither are you. When the blahs of winter seem to overcome you, here are some ideas to consider:

Are you following a healthy lifestyle?

A healthy lifestyle consists of many components, including eating healthfully, staying hydrated, exercising regularly, sleep, personal hygiene, community, socialization, spiritual endeavors, and more. If any one of these factors is missing from your life, you may need to diligently and purposefully work on changing that.

Healthful eating includes having a balance of lean proteins, fruits and vegetables, bread and cereals, and milk and dairy products. Staying away from junk food and sugary snacks, and reading labels is a good idea to consider. It’s best not to skip meals, plus breakfast is indeed the most important meal of the day. Drinking enough water is also important for all your bodily systems to function. Being dehydrated is often the number one cause of feeling listless, and drinking enough water may be the only boost you need!

Exercise improves health and mood. The lack of exercise will lead to poor physical and mental health. In the winter, you can get enough exercise by going to the gym, running up and down your dorm stairs for 20 minutes, or putting on your parka and boots and going outside for a walk. Going outside will also help with fresh air and vitamin D.

Sleep hygiene is important, as always. The proper amount of sleep varies from individual to individual, but the general recommendation is 7 to 9 hours per night. Make certain to wind down each night and keep a bedtime around 10:00 or 11:00 p.m.

You can tackle your community, socialization and spiritual needs all in one setting, by attending worship services regularly. People who keep themselves in isolation or ignore their spiritual health are more apt to develop depression.

Are your symptoms more severe than usual?

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) runs rampant this time of year, but there is help. For more information see my recent article on SAD: https://hilbertcommunity.wordpress.com/2016/11/11/lifestyle-remedies-for-seasonal-affective-disorder-sad/.

Think outside the box.

Getting perspective by changing your environment is often helpful. Go to the Botanical Center in Lackawanna, study in a different location, such as a local coffee shop, or visit Chestnut Ridge Park for a hike in the woods. Lake Erie, though usually frozen this time of year, is also a great destination. You never know what you will see there! Budget your time, so you can include fun in your schedule.

Pamper yourself, especially if you have achieved a personal goal, such as doing well on a test, or resisting the temptation to skip your daily exercise. Pampering yourself could include anything that you like to do, like calling a friend, going to a movie, watching a sporting event, doing your nails, or anything else that takes your mind off feeling blah.

Taking a break from social media and going for a walk, visiting a friend, or reading a book, are great ideas!

Think about the future. Spring will be here before you know it. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Give yourself positive self-talk, and tell yourself you will make it.

 

For more ideas on beating the winter blahs, visit these Web Sites:

WebMD depression quiz:
http://www.webmd.com/depression/risk-developing-depression

The Huffington Post:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/diane-passage/5-tips-on-beating-the-win_b_6581542.html

World of Psychology:
http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/12/03/5-ways-to-beat-the-winter-blahs/

 

From the Hilbert Wellness Center – Stay Healthy on Winter Break

From the Hilbert College Wellness Center
by Kirsten Falcone, RN

Keep it “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”:
How to Stay Healthy on Winter Break!

holiday-1It’s mid-December, and you’re looking forward to your semester break. Congratulations! But, because of the considerable stress most students endure at the end of the semester, they are often more susceptible to illness during the holidays. It is a bummer to be sick during the best time of the year. Here are some tips to help you fight off holiday illness:

  1. Maintain proper hygiene by washing hands frequently, avoiding touching your face, and covering your sneezes and coughs.
  2. Drink enough water. Try to drink at least 64 to 96 ounces (or more) per day or the equivalent of four to six 16-ounce bottles of water, or eight to 12 8-ounce glasses of water. Another way to measure is to drink 50 to 100 percent of your weight number in ounces. For example, if you weigh 150 lbs., drink 75 to 150 ounces of water every day.
  3. Manage your stress by not over-scheduling, sticking to a budget for gifts and entertainment, and avoiding negativity, e.g., watching too much TV news, letting a negative relative influence you, negative self-talk.
  4. Catch up on your sleep by going to bed at the same time each night. After all, you won’t have to study for any tests! Try to get at least seven to nine hours of sleep each night.
  5. Stay warm and dry, and dress in layers.
  6. Eat healthfully, and avoid too many sweets. It is okay to take only one cookie or to save room for your favorite dessert, and forego having a slice of each one. Also, when you are consuming a large meal, eat your veggies first.
  7. Exercise wisely. It might be safe to go for a walk each day, but then again, there could be ice or snow in your way. Use proper footwear, or exercise indoors. Even in the winter months, exercise is important to maintain a healthy body and brain, and it keeps your immune system strong.
  8. Don’t smoke. Smoking exacerbates respiratory illnesses, and it lowers resistance to illness and disease. If you smoke, it is pertinent to your long-term health to quit now. You will never regret that decision!
  9. Be wise when drinking alcohol. Drinking alcohol is generally not healthful. In fact, the only alcohol recognized as beneficial is one glass (five ounces) of red wine per day for women (two for men). If you do happen to drink beyond what is considered healthful, here are some guidelines to follow: One drink per hour is all your liver can metabolize. In order to maintain fluid levels, drink eight ounces of water per hour also. (In addition, this will help ward off a hangover the next day.) Don’t binge drink, which is defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) as imbibing five or more drinks for men, or four or more drinks for women, in a two-hour period.
  10. Down time. Make certain this involves praying, listening to music you enjoy, thinking positive thoughts, a hobby you love, and/or spending time with someone you enjoy.
  11. Be a blessing to others. Remember, holiday time is not all about you. The more you give of yourself, the more blessed and healthy you will be. So go caroling, visit an old friend or a nursing home, smile at and hug your negative relatives, and go to church. Do something good for someone else. Spiritual health and physical health are not two separate entities; they complement each other.

For more information on managing your health during the holidays, visit these Web sites:

CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
http://www.cdc.gov/family/holiday/

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA):
http://niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/special-populations-co-occurring-disorders/college-drinking

Activebeat.com:
http://www.activebeat.com/diet-nutrition/10-tips-to-help-you-stay-healthy-this-winter/

Realsimple.com:
http://www.realsimple.com/magazine-more/inside-magazine/your-words/give-during-holidays

The Wellness Center wishes you a very healthy and happy Holiday Season and New Year!

Don’t Let Deadlines Make You Sick: How to Manage Stress

From the Hilbert College Wellness Center
by Kirsten Falcone, RN

manage your stress

It’s that time of the year again. School projects are in full swing, and finals are on the horizon. Many students are stressed, and most are losing sleep. Some have caught a “bug” and are now feeling behind. Stress is, according to Dictionary.com, “a specific response by the body to a stimulus, as fear or pain, that disturbs or interferes with the normal physiological equilibrium of an organism.” But, according to WebMD.com, it is more simply “what you feel when you have to handle more than you are used to [handling].” Does that sound familiar? If so, read on.

While some stress can be a good thing, did you know stress also plays a role in most illness? That is because when we are constantly stressed, an overabundance of epinephrine (a.k.a. adrenaline) and cortisol (stress hormones) prevent many bodily systems, including the immune system, from functioning at full capacity. Even busy college students can take the time to benefit from some key lifestyle changes in order to ward off the effects of stress. Some of the ways you can lower stress are:

Get enough sleep. Go to bed at the same time every night, and sleep at least seven to nine hours.
(For more information on sleep, read a recent Wellness Center article here: https://hilberttoday.wordpress.com/2016/02/24/from-the-hilbert-college-wellness-center-the-importance-of-sleep/.)

Make a list each day, and put the most important items at the top. Check them off as you go.

Don’t skip meals, and keep healthy snacks, like fresh fruits and vegetables and low-sugar granola bars in your backpack. Conversely, don’t overeat or load up on junk food. Give your body the fuel it needs.

Drink enough water. This can range from eight 8-ounce glasses per day to an ounce for every pound you weigh. Drinking enough water will also help drive off the munchies.

Stay away from alcohol and drugs, and stop smoking. These put even more stress on your body by lowering your immune response.

Exercise. Take a brisk walk around campus twice, or work out in the campus recreation center. Do this at least three times per week. Look for any special programs that may be open to all students.

Humor yourself. Find the humor in situations. Subscribe to a joke page on social media. Ask your friends if they know any jokes. There is scientific evidence that making yourself smile actually increases your happiness. It is true that laughter is often the best medicine.

Talk to a good friend or counselor. Bottled-up emotions come out in other ways. Venting with a friend also helps your friend connect with you.

Some other ways to manage stress are, in no particular order:

Journaling

Reading for leisure

Crafting, or following a hobby

Breathing exercises

Aromatherapy

Guided imagery

Progressive muscle relaxation

Positive thinking

Singing or playing uplifting music

Volunteering in the community

Caring for a pet

Relaxation time

Taking a nap

Worship/Reading the Bible

Massage

Bathing or swimming

 

For more information, check out these sources:

CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention):
http://www.cdc.gov/bam/life/butterflies.html#short

WebMD:
http://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/default.htm

Mayo Clinic, Healthy Lifestyle Stress Management:
http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/basics/stress-basics/hlv-20049495?p=1

Mayo Clinic, Stress Management In-Depth:
http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20046037