Category Archives: Healthy UND/Healthy UND 2020

Vision: Healthier UND Students, Faculty and Staff

Mission: Work in partnership to promote healthy lifestyles choices by enhancing awareness, building skills, changing social norms, and creating a healthier environment.

Overarching Principle: Emphasize all 7 dimensions of wellness including: physical, emotional, social, spiritual, occupational, intellectual, and environmental.

Healthy UND is a coalition of students, faculty and staff interested in promoting health and wellness on campus. The Healthy UND Coalition was formed over ten years ago and continues to serve as a communication and coordination network for all health and wellness issues on campus. Healthy UND 2020 focuses on the future and has created a long-range action plan to address the leading health and wellness issues that negatively impact student academic success and retention. Healthy UND 2020 aims to create a campus culture in which healthy choices are the norm. This innovative planning process is unique among university campuses and is modeled after Healthy People 2020 and Healthy Campus 2020. To join please contact the Health and Wellness Hub at 777-2907 or und.hwhub@und.edu.

It’s Okay to Say No

Today, our society is greatly geared towards drinking, but there are many people that choose to not drink. Being a non-drinker in college can be hard due to constant pressure and hassle from friends and others. In turn, this is just a short clip of how those non-drinkers can get out of that sticky situation of pressure that they may encounter at a party.

Its Okay to Say No

1) Gracefully declining.

-It might just be as easy as saying “No thank you” to a friend. Remember saying no to drinking doesn’t make you lame.

Not Lame

2) Sometimes you might need a polite excuse that follows your graceful decline:

  • I’m driving tonight- I’m DDing (Designated Driving).
  • I have a huge test tomorrow.
  • I have to work tomorrow.
  • I have to get up early in the morning.
  • No thank you, I’m good tonight. I don’t feel well.
  • I drank too much last night.
  • I’m just going to lay low tonight, thank you though.
  • Hold that thought I have to go to the bathroom.

Excuses

3) Even just focusing the conversation on the other person and responding by saying, “no thank you” but followed by an open ended question spins the conversation and the person won’t even question you why you’re not drinking.

Wine

4) In order to avoid anxiety, this is what you might need to understand and what might help:

  • Realize that not everyone is into drinking all the time either.
  • Try and avoid situations where drinking will occur if you don’t want to.
  • Make other plans.
  • Test your assertiveness.
  • Be able to still have fun, don’t be the “party pooper.”
  • Carry a decoy. You can always carry a soda in a different glass disguising it, and your friends won’t be tempted to ask you if you need a drink.
  • Keep busy by taking pictures, socializing with more people, eating, have fun dancing, or even being the dj.

What is a Standard Drink?

Sometimes, counting the amount of drinks you are having in one night can be hard. There are so many different sizes and mixes that make it difficult to realize how much alcohol you might actually be consuming. Take a look at the chart below to help you better understand how large the standard drink size actually is.

Picture1
http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/Practitioner/PocketGuide/pocket_guide2.htm
Here are some examples of drinks that can be misinterpreted for one drink but actually contain the alcohol content of many standard size drinks.

1. Long Island Iced Tea: The average Long Island Iced Tea has 2.5 ounces of hard alcohol in them! This means that after just one of these, a person could be considered over the legal BAC level to drive.

2. Pounders and Tall Boys: Pounders and Tall Boys can be considered as an amount of beer that is more than 12 oz. Many tend to be 16 or 22 oz.! Drinking three 22 oz. beers is the same as drinking six standard drinks!

Check out this great video which explains all of these concepts in a fun and engaging way: http://www.powtoon.com/show/fL5UMZ4AwwW/standard-drink-sizes/#/

 

An Artificial Awakening

I saw a meme the other day that made me both chuckle and think about my habits during my first semester as a graduate student. It was from a fellow classmate after we finished with our last final and it said, “Caffeine, you’re on the bench. Alcohol, suit up.” I’m sure it was funny to the majority of my classmates. It made me reflect on my study habits and my cycles of “self-medicating.” Both caffeine and alcohol are indeed drugs, legal ones, but too many people have developed a dependency on them.

I can remember a few tests this semester where I had more caffeine than I should have while studying. I knew skipping coffee on any day would make me feel unproductive. I associated mental arousal with that irresistible hot black beverage. I even went on a caffeine detox for a week and I felt horrible during the first couple of days.
After those tests were done, I often found myself wanting some sort of alcoholic beverage just to relax. I didn’t want to go to parties and binge drink my brain away, but rather enjoy the effects of a drink or two in solitude. See, my mind was so overstimulated from the caffeine that the depressive effects of alcohol seemed to balance it out. I needed one drug to counteract the effects of another. I thought I was being smart, only having one or two drinks on Friday evening. My mindset was “I’m old enough to legally drink; I’m doing so responsibly, there is nothing wrong here.”

Many will argue that caffeine and alcohol are fine in moderate amounts and in appropriate situations; however, I do believe we need to get out of the vicious substance controlled undulation of our state of minds. Instead of relying on caffeine to heighten our senses, we should be altering our lifestyles in a manner that brings more balance. Instead of unwinding with a drink after a week of taxing our minds with caffeine and dull textbooks, we should be seeking out positive and enriching experiences outside school. I’m not going to be giving up on my green tea anytime soon, but I will avoid using it solely as a means to be more attentive.

Sleep More, Achieve More!

As I write this, I’m thinking about my bed and wishing the day was over so I could crawl into bed. However, when the time comes, sleep doesn’t come as easily as I would like. I toss and turn and sometimes count sheep before I finally doze off. Not only does it take a while to fall asleep, there isn’t a night that passes that I don’t wake up to use the bathroom. This drives me crazy. Research has shown direct connections to the importance of sleep and the effect on academic success. In order to get a good night sleep there are certain tips that should be followed.

• Keep a regular sleep schedule
It’s important to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, even on the weekends. Try to sleep the same number of hours every day, at the same time. When I sleep for less than 7 hours a night – the next day is awful! I’m rundown, yawning, find myself thinking of bed and in general, I’m not a happy or friendly person. It messes up my day.

• Create a relaxing bedtime routine
Taking a warm bath, listening to soothing music, and reading a book are all examples of a relaxing bedtime routine. Activities that help tell your body it’s time to sleep and reduce stress and anxiety. Whenever I need to unwind, I take a warm bath and relax which ultimately makes me sleepy. Avoid activities like watching TV or homework right before bed because it can keep you awake by stimulating your mind. Even the bright light emitted from the television or computer can wreak havoc with your sleep. Turn off your electronics a couple of hours before bed to ensure they don’t ruin your rest. Give your brain a chance to wind down from the day.

• Get comfy
One thing about college is that controlling your sleep environment is very difficult. However, do your best to get comfortable. If you are in a residence halls with a noisy roommate, who stays up late with the light on, get eye masks and ear plugs. Ensure your side of the room looks appealing and relaxing. Finding comfortable sheets can create a pleasant bedtime experience, too. The room should be dark and you could do this by hanging up a black sheet around your bed or hanging up dark curtains. Keep the temperature down – it should be between 68-70F.

• Limit daytime naps to 10-30 minutes
No matter how tired I am I try avoiding naps during the day and when it’s absolutely necessary, never for more than 30 minutes, and ideally before 3pm. An early afternoon nap may help you get through your day.

• Turn off your electronics at least 30 minutes before falling asleep
There have been numerous studies showing that using a light-emitting device before bed, like a phone, TV, or laptop, stimulates the brain, creating a false alertness and stimulation, making it harder to sleep. I usually try and turn off my phone or put it on silent and put it face down, even if it’s on, so I will not be disturbed by the light.

• Use your bed for sleep and sex only
I know this may be difficult to do especially when you are in the residence halls, but avoid using your bed for homework or other activities especially ones that cause stress and anxiety. This will help strengthen the association between your bed and sleep.

• Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine before bedtime
I love drinking chocolate drinks, but I try to limit my intake after 4pm. This is because caffeine (found in coffee, tea, soda, and chocolate) is a stimulant and causes your body to be more alert. It can stay in the body for an average of three to five hours. Even if you don’t think caffeine affects you, it is likely to hinder your sleep quality. Although many people use alcohol as a sleep aid, it actually decreases sleep quality by increasing night time awakenings. This leads to a night of lighter sleep that is less restful. Nicotine is a stimulant, which can make it difficult to fall asleep. When tobacco users go to sleep, withdrawal symptoms can also cause poor sleep. Nicotine can also cause problems waking up in the morning and causing nightmares. Avoid nicotine 2 hours before bedtime.

If you want more information, please contact the Health & Wellness Hub on the main floor of the Memorial Union. Enjoy your sleep!

Weed 2.0

A few weeks ago I wrote about the use and abuse of marijuana, and I learned a lot about how popular the drug has become. What you may not know is that last week we did an outreach project in the Memorial Union about marijuana. I was surprised at the questions we received and the controversy we heard about the drug from the students. One of the questions that caught me off guard was, “what are the long-term effects of marijuana use if you’re not smoking it, just eating it?” I honestly have never even thought about this before, so I started to do some research and here’s what I found:

Overall, there has not been enough research to determine the exact long-term effects of marijuana use if you are consuming it in ways other than smoking. However, eating marijuana has much different short-term effects on the body. When people consume marijuana, let’s say in a brownie, it takes up to an hour to feel the effects. Once the marijuana begins taking effect, it is usually stronger than if you were to have smoked it. People tend to have strong hallucinations from eating marijuana. Because it takes longer to feel the effects, many people keep eating more because they think that it’s not working, and then they eat way too much.

Even though we don’t know the major long-term effects of eating marijuana, it doesn’t have many positives. Any use of marijuana may lead to severe anxiety, depression, and lower grades and GPA (if you’re a student). Until more research is done on the long-term effects of eating marijuana, I would avoid it because there are more negative consequences than positive ones when it comes to using marijuana.

MJ

“DUDE, Where’s My Car?”

Many of us have uttered these words as we’ve walked out of Target trying to remember where we parked. Some of us may have said these words after a long night of partying hard. Although, driving after a party if you’re completely sober is fine, it is important to remember not to drive after you have had any amount of alcohol.

When people drive after drinking alcohol, the chances of a fatal car accident increase significantly. Nationally, a person is injured approximately every two minutes from alcohol related crashes and every thirty minutes someone is killed because of an alcohol related crash. On average, every weeknight between 10:00 p.m. and 1:00 a.m., 1 in 13 drivers is drunk; between 1:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m., 1 in 7 drivers is drunk (www.dot.nd.gov). If you are caught driving after you have had a few drinks you may receive:

• A class B misdemeanor
• A fine no more than $500 if your BAC is below .1, or two day imprisonment and no more than a $750 fine if your BAC is .16 or greater
• Addiction evaluation
• A 91 day license suspension if your BAC is below 1.8 or a 180 day license suspension if your BAC is 1.8 or higher.
(http://www.dot.nd.gov/divisions/safety/penaltiesdrinkingdriving.htm)

These are some pretty serious consequences for driving while intoxicated, and they just represent the first time you are caught drinking and driving. The second offense has much greater fines and restrictions. Fortunately, we have come up with an acronym to help you remember to be a little more prepared for a fun night without intoxicated driving.

D: Don’t
U: Underestimate
D: Drunk
E: Experiences

Although you may feel and think you’re fine to drive after you have had some alcoholic drinks, the truth is that the consequences can be deadly. Don’t underestimate the power you have while you are drunk. You have the power to make a bad choice and potentially ruin someone’s life (or your own) and the power to make a good choice and have a safe night. It’s up to you. Last but not least, don’t forget that there are always alternatives to driving drunk, like having a designated driver take you and your friends home, calling a cab, or spending the night at the place you’re at (if it’s a friend’s house).

Two (or more) Way Tango

I have to say I’m pretty shocked my home state, Wyoming, legalized same-sex marriage on October 17th of this year. Before that, it was announced that Utah and Colorado, two other states I hold dear to my heart, also legalized same-sex marriages. The freedom for every couple to marry is becoming a reality! I hope that North Dakota won’t be far behind all of this. As I am typing this, there are 32 states allowing same-sex marriage, and that number is bound to increase in the following months. To mark the occasion, this post will be about same-sex-sex and some of the questions people may have on the topic.

What is LGBTQ?

LGBTQ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and queer. It has grown to encompass a wide group of people who don’t feel they belong in the heteronormative category. However, this term isn’t all inclusive as it leaves out various groups such as transsexuals, intersexes, asexuals, pansexuals, and many more. A lot of the other terms are included in the queer subset, as they don’t identify as a binary sexual subtype.

I’m a lesbian and have just become sexually active. Am I still at risk for STI’s?

Absolutely! Although transmission rates among lesbians tend to be lower, any time there is fluid transmission between mucous membranes, there is a risk. Also, if you happen to share any kind of sex toys, STI’s can be transmitted that way if the proper precautions aren’t taken.

I’m gay and want to be in a monogamous relationship but it seems that anyone else who is gay is promiscuous. Is there any hope for me?

Of course there is hope! Gay individuals are just as likely to want to be in a monogamous relationship as their heterosexual counterparts. Also, promiscuity has nothing to do with ones being gay or straight- what seems to be the problem here is ones perception of gay people due to a small minority that you’ve been in contact with.

I heard there is a pill that prevents HIV? Can I ditch the condoms?

A drug called PrEP, or Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, has been recently introduced that reduces the risk of contracting HIV infection in people by up to 92%. This is pretty significant and good for those in a high risk situation but let us consider a couple of things. The first thing is that condoms are both cheaper and more effective than PrEP. The second is that you have to be consistently taking PrEP for the medicine levels to be at an acceptable level in the blood. This isn’t something you can take right before a high risk activity and expect to be ok. There is also a post exposure drug (PEP) but these drugs are very expensive and are taken more than just once. While these preventative drugs are a good thing, don’t ditch the condoms just yet. Also, there are other STI’s that PrEP (and PEP) is completely ineffective with.

I heard that bi-sexuality is just a transitional phase for someone who hasn’t completely accepted that they are gay. Is there really such thing as bi-sexuality?

Yes, bi-sexuality is in fact a real thing and not a “transitional stage.” While there may be a time when some “explore” their sexuality, there are quite a large number of people who find themselves both sexually and emotionally attached to women and men. These individuals rightfully classify themselves as bisexual. So if you ever know anyone who calls themselves bisexual, just be respectful and don’t ask if they are ‘really just gay.’

Drunkorexia

This week the Health & Wellness Hub will be having a display case in the Memorial Union in honor of education about drunkorexia.

Drunkorexia is a slang, non-medical term that refers to a person or persons who excessively restrict their food calorie intake in order to make more room for the calories of alcohol. Many do this in a number of different ways, but in most cases it involves purging. A number of studies have shown that 30% of women between the ages of 18 to 23 restrict their calories throughout the day in order to make more room for calories from alcohol. This is a new and shocking discovery considering the known risks that this can involve. These behaviors often occur from the fear of weight gain from both drinking and eating. Often times this is seen in college-aged women, but on the other hand, it can also be seen in men. Too often, in many extreme cases, this can be related to medical terms such as anorexia and or bulimia. In such extreme cases vomiting is mostly seen, and alcohol is used to make that process easier.

Combining both binge drinking and eating disorders can have a huge impact on one’s health. These are some of the risks associated with this behavior:

• Drinking on an empty stomach increases the rate at which alcohol reaches the blood stream, your blood alcohol content (BAC) will be raised quickly and self-control will decrease.
• Binge eating may also be experienced because the person is extremely hungry and may be unable to control their urges.
• Purging often follows after these spurts of binging on food.
• Reducing food caloric intake puts a person at risk for not getting the nutrients needed to function properly.

Ways to find balance and stay healthy:

• Moderation instead of elimination: Eating throughout the day and making sure to have three meals a day and plenty of healthy snacks, can help prevent excessive hunger and overeating. This can also help oneself manage their alcoholic beverages with the addition of nutrients in the system.

• Knowing your own limits: Make sure to plan ahead so you are able to manage your alcohol intake. Keep in mind that binge drinking is considered to be 4 or more drinks for women and 5 or more drinks for men in one sitting.  Also, make sure to keep track of the amount of drinking that you are doing throughout one sitting. Alternate water or non-alcoholic beverages in between alcoholic beverages.

Drinks

• Seek Support: Seeking support, understanding, and advice from loved ones who support a healthy lifestyle can help you get on track as well. Even though drunkorexia is not a medical term and there may not be many support groups, there are groups that do support those with specific eating disorders and alcohol abuse and these together can help one get on the right track when seeking a healthier lifestyle.

Support

Sources:
“Drunkorexia?” Drunkorexia. Web. 23 Oct. 2014.

Weed & Academics

“Herb is the healing of a nation, alcohol is the destruction”

-Bob Marley.

Smoking weed is a source of stress-relief for some people. Some of us may even have friends who get high off of weed. Marijuana is said to be better for the body and safer to use than alcohol; however, thiMJs is not always true and does not change the fact that it is illegal and can be detrimental to our academic success. Even though college is a time of high stress, students should not turn to weed to relieve their stress; it will only hurt their grades and then potentially harm their future goals and dreams.

There have been plenty of studies and surveys looking at the relationship between smoking weed and how well students are doing in school. One survey, in particular, is taken every two years and is done by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The most recent CDC results show substantial evidence that students who smoke weed get much lower grades than those who do not. Not only do poor grades interfere with your future, but getting caught with the illegal drug interferes even more, including the possibility of losing your financial aid.

I once heard a story about a house of boys that were living what they considered to be the “typical” college life style. They had the fun party house that everyone went to on the weekends. One weekend, however, the cops busted them while they were going to get weed out of the trunk of their vehicle. They got in big trouble and some of them had to spend the night in jail. One of the boys ended up dropping out of school. As you can see, they thought they were just having a good time but ended up jeopardizing their future. It can be hard to find a healthy balance between fun and academics, but I encourage everyone, especially students, to always keep your goals and future dreams in mind when making these types of decisions.

Alcohol Use and Grades

“Can alcohol use really affect my grades? When it’s time to study, I study hard. Alcohol can’t be affecting them that much.”#1

Alcohol use affects many different areas pertaining to an individual’s academic achievement. There is a tendency to earn lower grades, do poorly on exams and papers, miss class, and eventually fall behind. You may think that having a few beers before sitting down to write a paper will make the process move faster or elicit more brilliant ideas from your mind; in actuality, it’s slowing your cognitive functioning. Your ability to think abstractly significantly decreases with each new drink. It may seem really appealing to miss a class if you’re hung over; but eat something and head to class. You’re paying for it! Your study hours may be affected by large amounts of drinking and frequent episodes of drinking. Individuals generally study less because they are engaging in drinking which occurs in place of time they could be studying. Drinking can lower an individual’s retention skills and lower their concentration, even days after a night of drinking.

#2

Generally speaking, students with higher GPA consume far fewer drinks than individuals with lower GPA. For example:

  • “A” students average 4.21 per week
  • “B” students average 6.03 drinks per week
  • “C” students averages 7.76 drinks per week
  • “D” and “F” students average 9.97 drinks per week

Think before you drink; refrain from going out for the night if you know there is a big test coming up or a huge assignment due. Drinking can definitely affect you as a student.
There are plenty of resources on campus that can help you manage your time and get educated on a few ways to reduce drinking habits–the University Counseling Center, the Health & Wellness Hub, the Student Success Center, and the Dean of Students office.

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