New Post in Advice!: “Am I obligated to tell my roommate about my depression, anxiety, and/or eating disorder?”

This is a complicated question because the answer depends on personal preference. If you are facing any of these challenges, it is strongly advised that you talk with someone you trust. It doesn’t need to be your roommate, but many times it may help to simply share your concerns. You can find comfort in a family member, friend, counselor, or doctor. Most important is to talk someone who will listen and be objective.

You are not obligated to tell your roommate personal details about your life. But when you live with someone, he or she may sense something is wrong and confront you. The people around you can see changes in you, both positive and negative. Sharing with them – letting them get to know you – can help bring perspective to your life. Over time, you’ll be able to judge whether you can trust your roommate with your most personal thoughts and feelings.

When you begin college, feelings of stress are completely normal. Handling stress differs for each person. Some people aren’t affected much by change, but others have a harder time and that’s okay! If change is something you struggle with, the stress of starting school will probably make it worse – and there may be the temptation to cope using alcohol or other drugs. But there are many ways to cope with stress that are not physically or mentally harmful. Try your student health center. Often times they will have a confidential counseling or wellness program at little or no cost to you. Counselors are trained to help you find answers and direction. They work with students every day and can offer support as you overcome concerns, stay healthy, and maintain your well-being.

So, whether or not you choose to talk to your roommate about what you are going through, know that there are other options to seek comfort and help. As mentioned before, talking may help you overcome these challenges and please know that there are people out there that want to help!  

Five Tips for Staying Healthy During Summer Break

When the stress of the college year comes to an end and summer rolls around, it’s tempting to take advantage of your freedom by lying on the couch and watching episodes of your new favorite show. While this is okay once in a while, it’s important to spend time doing things that keep you physically and mentally healthy. Here are 5 tips for staying healthy during the summer months.

Tip 1: Exercise
Exercise doesn’t have to be an intense workout. As little as 10 minutes of exercise three times a week does a lot for your well-being. Some summer-friendly exercise ideas include:
• Walking, biking, or jogging on local trails
• Swimming in your local lake or pool
• Playing volleyball
• Playing Frisbee

Tip 2: Stay hydrated
Hydration is key during the summer months, especially if you follow our advice above. It’s easy to become dehydrated, even if you think you aren’t doing anything to cause you to lose water. Buy a refillable water bottle so you don’t have so much plastic waste. It’s easy to stay hydrated when you have your water bottle with you most of the time! According to the Mayo Clinic website, < http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/water/art-20044256> you need 9-13 cups (2-3 liters) of water per day (depending on your gender, males typically need more). Of course this can vary per person, depending on your level of physical activity and weather conditions.

Tip 3: Protect your skin
Now it’s easier than ever to apply sunblock. Many brands offer spray-on sunscreen, which takes less than a minute to cover your entire body. Plus, you can usually still get a tan through your sunblock; the sunblock just protects you against those rays that can cause sunburn, wrinkles, and skin cancer.
SPF 15 is generally the lowest SPF you should use. Reapply sunblock often, especially if you’re swimming or exercising, because water and sweat can wash that sunscreen right off.
For more information about choosing the best sunblock for you, visit The American Melanoma Foundation Website.

Tip 4: Keep a little structure in your life
When summer starts, most college students just want to relax. The semester was stressful and you want to be lazy. However, without the structure that school offers, you may get a little bored.
A part-time job is one way to keep structure in your life. Lots of places are hiring for seasonal work in May and early June. Even if it’s a few hours a week, it’s still something to do, plus you’re making some extra spending money for yourself.
Volunteering is another way to add structure. It’s a great way to help out in your community. This could be something that you enjoy doing, such as volunteering at a local Humane Society or a thrift store. You could even find something that goes with your major. For example, many pre-med and nursing students volunteer at a local hospital to get some experience. There are a lot of options, so do some research to find what works for you.
Another benefit of keeping a regular schedule in the summer? It will make it easier to get up in the morning once you go back to school.

Tip 5: Eat well
Summer is the perfect time of the year to start – or even continue – your health kick. You have more time on your hands (and in some cases, more food options in your parents’ house) to cook some tasty, healthy food. Summer is a great time to finally try out those Pinterest recipes that you’ve pinned throughout the school year.
Check out your local farmer’s market for fresh fruits and veggies. The markets are fun and you can get healthy food for a low price, without all the nasty preservatives that are in ramen noodles. Find a farmer’s market near you on <http://www.localharvest.org/>.

When “Home For the Holidays” Doesn’t Feel Like A Break: Difficult Family Relationships

For many people, the break between the fall and spring term at school is a welcome chance to rest, recharge, and reconnect with family. However, sometimes it isn’t that simple. Over the next few days, we’d like to provide some suggestions and resources that might help you with common problems that people face year-round, but may find to be especially burdensome during a time when so many people feel pressure to have “perfect” families and family moments.

Today, let’s talk a bit about some problems that might arise if there are issues affecting family relationships…

Past or on-going abuse (physical, sexual, or emotional)

Messages about the value of family are common throughout the year, but they are especially pervasive at this time. Sadly, though, sometimes the people who you should have been able to trust the most turn out to be the ones who hurt you the most. Whether through criminal acts of overt abuse or more subtle on-going attempts to use emotions in a hurtful way, many people go home for the holidays with a sense of dread because of dysfunctional or abusive family relationships. Sometimes the bad feelings or abuse originate from only one person in the family that everyone fears, and sometimes it’s a free-for-all where everyone in the family lashes out.

For an adult person whose family dynamics are a source of pain and sadness, one of the possibilities to consider is to simply not go home. Staying where you are or going to spend time with sympathetic friends or family members who are more supportive might be the simplest option. However, that may not be practical for various reasons, such as if the family members you have a hard time dealing with have some control over your finances, or if you just can’t bring yourself to skip out on the family gathering, no matter how painful it might be.

In that case, you might benefit from trying to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally for the potential issues you are likely to face during this visit. One way to do this is to try and brace yourself to deal with certain types of people. You might also find some useful advice for different scenarios here.

Whatever path you choose, just remember that you are a valuable person who deserves to be treated with respect, and no-one has the right to hurt or abuse you. If you need someone to talk to about difficulties with your family during the holidays, you may benefit from calling a service like ULifeline or another hotline that might fit your particular needs.

How would you say or do to help a friend who was dreading going home for break?

Got a minute (and two seconds)? Check out this anti-sexism shampoo ad

An Upworthy link showed up in my Facebook feed today, and it led to this video.

It’s a really unusual approach to selling shampoo, honestly, and I applaud their efforts to draw attention to the challenges that many women still face in their careers. It’s reminiscent of the popular Dove ads that were first released a few years ago that showcased a broader (although still fairly conventional) array of body types, ages, and ethnicities than you would normally see in mass market drug store brand marketing. I like what they are trying to do here, but I wonder if it wouldn’t have been more effective if it transitioned from old-style footage of women to current day footage of women, thus illustrating a change. Doing it as “men compared to women” illustrates the problem, while doing it as “then compared to now” might illustrate the progress and/or the desired trend line.

What are your thoughts? When considering any aspect of life, are you more motivated by a description of the challenges you might face, or the progress that’s been made in a specific area that relates to your life? We’d like to hear from you.

(Oh, and PS– in case it isn’t obvious, sharing the ad isn’t an endorsement of the product. Your shampoo and grooming choices are completely up to you. We think you’re awesome no matter what sort of cleansing products you use!)

 

When “Home For the Holidays” Doesn’t Feel Like A Break: Expectations

For many people, the break between the fall and spring term at school is a welcome chance to rest, recharge, and reconnect with family. However, sometimes it isn’t that simple. Over the next few days, we’d like to provide some suggestions and resources that might help you with common problems that people face year-round, but may find to be especially burdensome during a time when so many people feel pressure to have “perfect” families and family moments.

Not meeting expectations related to work or school:

Ideally, everyone would have great grades while in school, a job that challenges them in a positive way that earns a good living and provides a sense of accomplishment, and a personal life filled with love, friendship, and happiness. Those are all great things to aspire to, and our own personal feelings on these aspirations may be mirrored or felt even more intensely by parents or other family members. However, life sometimes falls short of our dreams– at least temporarily. The good news is that there are ways to accept your “perfect imperfections” while also moving forward in a positive direction.

To work on your grades- Students who are struggling with their grades might find something of value in this item from College Confidential. Their parents might find some useful insight in this piece. If you’ve come to realize that part of why your grades aren’t where you want them to be is related to time management, you might find some things that will help you next semester here, here, and here.

To improve job prospects- Generally speaking, the job market is tough– and recent graduates are often especially vulnerable to challenges in finding jobs. Something that may be a good thing for students and other job seekers to consider is making a profile on a career-related site like LinkedIn. Students also usually have access to Career Services offices on campus, which often provide assistance and training for job-seekers. For people who aren’t currently enrolled in school, you may be able to find some valuable information by contacting your state’s Department of Labor or a similar office.

To expand and enhance relationships- For people who are having a hard time connecting with others (for friendship or dating), sometimes it helps to find common activities or interests. Students can check in with their student activities office to see if there are any organizations that involve their interests (these are often affiliated with the Student Affairs division). Just about anyone with a computer and internet access can use a site like Meetup to find people with similar interests (or in similar situations). In fact, sometimes, you can even do double-duty, because there are often groups for singles interested in specific topics or activities (e.g., single salsa dancers, single Wii U fans, single hiking fans). You may feel like you are the only person at your school or in your town who likes (fill in the blank with your favorite thing here), but you probably aren’t. Go find your people!

To improve your overall outlook- Even if your life is never quite perfect, you can be a happy person with a great life. Feeling and expressing gratitude for others can have a very positive impact on your mood– and may even give you the boost you need to achieve in areas of your life that are currently giving you challenges. Being generous can also provide similar benefits, while also giving others a chance to reap the benefits of feeling gratitude towards you! By focusing your thoughts and feelings on kindness, appreciation, and reciprocity– and encouraging those thoughts and feelings in others– you can turn what could be a stressful time of shame and blame into the start of a brighter future.

So, those are just a few things to get started… What advice would you give someone who was struggling under the weight of expectations they didn’t feel like they were meeting?

ICCPUD Webinar Series About Preventing Underage Drinking–September

There’s an on-going webinar series provided by the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Prevention of Underage Drinking (ICCPUD) that may be of great value to people who are working to reduce underage drinking and the related harms on campus.

Community Coalitions Working Collaboratively Across Secondary and Postsecondary Education to Address Underage Drinking (September 18, 2013, 2:00-3:30 p.m. EDT)

Check it out if you do community coalition work! You can register here.

If you have requests or suggestions for webinars, or want to spread the word about an event that might be of interest please let us know.