Summer Playing and Fun: Sun Safety for the Summer Enthusiast

beach3While the summer can be one of the most fun times of the year, it’s important to remember the real meaning behind the acronym SPF when on the beach or out in the sun all day: sun protection factor.

When choosing a sunscreen product, be sure to read the label. Sunscreens with broad spectrum protection (against both UVA and UVB rays) and with sun protection factor (SPF) values of 30 or higher are recommended. By applying an SPF 30 sunscreen correctly, we get the equivalent of 1 minute of UVB rays for each 30 minutes we spend in the sun – 30 times the protection we would have without wearing any sunscreen.

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While sunburns can really hurt, there are more serious and harmful effects that come with over-exposure to UV rays. UV radiation can cause premature aging, eye damage, and even skin cancer. So when it comes to the sunscreen, don’t skimp! In addition to putting on sunscreen, take other measures to limit UV exposure:

• Slip on a shirt
• Slap on a hat
• Wrap on sunglasses to protect
the eyes and skin around them
• Seek shade
• Avoid tanning beds and sunlamps

sunscreen-sunglassesWe all know too much sunlight can be harmful, but that doesn’t mean we have to stay inside all summer. Quite the contrary actually! When exposed to the sun, our bodies naturally produce vitamin D which is important for bone health and has even been proven to reduce stress. Maybe that’s why we love going to the beach so much? So summer enthusiasts, I call on you to soak in the sun this summer – just don’t forget about your SPF!

Written by Stephen Clark, Peer Educator

The Finals Week Survival Guide

This has been such a crazy semester! With all of the snow days, it does not feel like it should be over. But it’s here- the end of the semester. Now before we can break out our flip-flops and head to the beach, we have to get through FINALS WEEK! This week is by far the most stressful week of the semester, and it can be very easy to get caught up in the frenzy. Here are some helpful tips to help survive this semester’s finals week.

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Use good study techniques. Try creating note cards with important terms and information you need to know for your exams. This will make it much easier to memorize and remember important information. Rewriting your notes can also be very helpful. It helps you remember the information if you see it multiple times. Don’t forget to take a break every hour or two of studying.

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Get some sleep. While you may think it is a good idea to stay up all night to study for an exam, it is essential to get a good night’s sleep. Sleep will help you recall the material, and you will be able to stay awake during your exam- improving your chances for success.

Try to schedule in some “me” time. It is important to take breaks from studying. Try to do something for yourself like exercising or some other stress relieving activity like listening to music, reading, or hanging out with a friend.

Try to eliminate distractions. Now if you are like me, once you start browsing the web or checking social media it is very hard to stop, and during finals week this can suck up a lot of precious time. Don’t get sucked in! Deactivate your social media accounts until you are done with finals, or have someone you trust change your passwords and keep it from you until you are done.

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Try to limit your cell phone use. I know that I always have my cell phone on me because it is my only form of communication with my friends and family. Did you know that there is a way to eliminate your phone as a distraction without turning it off? You can turn on the “do not disturb” function on your cell phone that can be found in your settings. This will stop your phone from going off when it receives incoming calls, text messages, and notifications. It also allows you to choose if you want to receive messages from your emergency contacts. This way it eliminates distractions, but certain people can get a hold of you if need be.

Here is what some of the Peer Educators do to get through finals week:

Stephen: I make sure to exercise and relieve as much stress as possible during finals week.

Matt: I am a huge fan of note cards and camping out in the library.

Sam: I make tons of note cards and like to rewrite my notes to better remember them.

Jordan: I grab some hot tea and head to my couch to hit the books; this way I am relaxed and comfortable!

Now that you are equipped with these strategies for surviving finals week, hopefully they can help you be more successful. Good luck and have a good rest of the semester!

By Andrew Ramirez, Peer Educator

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Don’t Cram, Catch Z’s

Studies show that sleep deprivation leads to a decrease in academic performance for students of all ages. According to a survey done by the Better Sleep Council, nearly 8 in 10 Americans admit they would feel better and more prepared for the day if they had an extra hour of sleep. As college students, we sometimes cram and even pull “all-nighters” to study for exams. Making time for sleep is just as important as studying.

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Get those Z’s so you can get those A’s : Memory recall and the ability to maintain concentration are much improved when an individual is rested – two things that seem pretty important when it comes to taking your exams, am I right? In order for our bodies to become fully rested, we should strive to get at least 7-9 hours of sleep per night.

“But I don’t have time for sleep!” If this sounds like you, you may really want to reevaluate your schedule. Any prolonged sleep deprivation will affect your mood, energy level, ability to focus, concentration and ability to learn, which directly affect your academic performance. The solution: create a study schedule! Studying a little bit each night is better than pulling an all-nighter.

Make your sleep work for you!

• Get 7-9 hours of sleep nightly (especially before final exams)
• Try to study during periods of optimal brain function – whether you’re a morning person or a night owl doesn’t matter, everybody’s different!
• Don’t overuse caffeinated drinks. If you do drink something caffeinated, make sure it’s not right before you go to sleep.
• Nap – Contrary to popular belief, napping won’t always negatively affect your nighttime sleep. When it comes to naps, a 20-30 minute nap is best. Anything longer can lead to post-sleep grogginess.
• Recognize that chronic sleep deprivation may contribute to development of long-term diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease

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So what are you waiting for? Start sleeping! And I mean really sleeping – get your 8 hours of sleep every night. Sleep is an amazing thing and once you start actually getting enough of it you’ll see that more than just your grades have improved 

Written by Stephen Clark, Peer Educator

Stress Less!

The end of the semester can be a really stressful time, especially with group projects, final exams and possibly graduation right around the corner. Read on for some tips on how to conquer stress and finish the school year strong!

Slow down. Be present in each individual thing you do throughout your day, rather than rushing through them, and try not to do more than one thing at a time.

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Take a break. Do something you enjoy, like reading, painting, listening to music, hanging out with friends or watching a movie.

Reach out. Talk to family or friends for advice, or simply to vent. A good support system is important when dealing with stress.

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 Exercise. Exercise regularly- your body can fight stress better when it is fit and exercising is a great stress-reliever too.

       

Seek out social support. There are so many resources available on campus. You can make an appointment with the Counseling Center , get set up with a tutor at the LARC , or participate in a wellness consultation!

Say no. Don’t feel pressured to spread yourself too thin or feel guilty for saying “no.” You’re only one person. Commit to a reasonable amount of tasks rather than everything that comes your way.

Listen to your body. If you’re feeling sick, sore, run-down, or tired, don’t push yourself! Rest up and get yourself feeling healthy again.

Eat healthy. Make smart choices when it comes to food, rather than going straight to comfort food when you’re stressed.

Sleep. Make sure you are getting between 7 and 9 hours a sleep per night.

Smile. Smiling (and laughter) can actually make you feel better. Smiling transmits nerve impulses to the limbic system, a key emotional center in the brain, and this can cause you to feel more calm and happy.

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Written by Sam Tatulli, Peer Educator

Anger Management

anger management

Has the stress of the spring semester got you fuming with anger? Anger is a normal emotion that everyone feels and deals with. Anger becomes unhealthy when emotional outbursts are out of control, explosive, or frequent.
Lashing out with anger can hurt you or others in a variety of ways including: your physical and mental health, relationships with others, or even your job.

Managing your anger is the healthiest way to express and deal with it. Check out some of these great tips for cooling down and handling your frustration!

 
1. Take a deep breath: Take a minute to walk away and just breathe! Inhale through the nose, hold for 3-5 seconds and exhale out the mouth. It’s an easy way to step back and calm down.

2. Exercise: Exercising or doing physical activity releases tension and gets you away from the source of your anger. It’s a great healthy way to express and release that negative energy!

3. Count to 10: It may sound simple, but counting to 10 or even 100 can help clear your head. It causes you to stop and look at the situation with less anger and emotion.

anger management 24. Laugh: Allow yourself to laugh. Humor will help to diffuse the anger bomb, and leave you feeling happier.

5. Think before you act: Make sure to take a step back and think about what is causing you to be angry. It’s important to reflect on what is the root of your anger! Talking about it right away without internalizing and reflecting could lead to an argument!

6. Express in a healthy way: After calming down and reflecting, address the cause of your anger in a calmer way. Express what it is you’re angry about and why. Just stay calm and assertive.stress ball

7. Rate your anger: Write down what is making you angry and rate the intensity of your anger on a scale of 1 to 10. This will allow you to refocus and manage your anger to better understand what is causing your outbursts.

8. Relieve your anger: Find an outlet to relive stress and anger. It’s just as important to relieve your anger mentally as it is to relieve it physically. Use a stress ball or do something creative and enjoyable like doodling, writing, or playing a game!

9. Get help: Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Excessive or unhealthy outbursts of anger can lead to health issues including heart problems, depression, high blood pressure, and anxiety. There are lots of online resources to use to learn how to control anger so use them! If you need additional help or support, visit the Counseling Center on the second floor of Lawrence Hall.

For more information:

http://www.wcupa.edu/_SERVICES/stu.cou/

http://www.helpguide.org/mental/anger_management_control_tips_techniques.htm

Written by Matt Keller, Peer Educator

Alcohol Awareness from an International Perspective!

Ever thought about studying abroad in Ireland? It would be hard not to want to with Ireland’s rich heritage, beautiful scenery, and as most college students in the U.S. knows…the lowered drinking age. The idea of being able to drink at a ‘younger’ age is an interesting one; there are different aspects to each side of a story and it’s important to keep an open mind. So, two students who studied abroad in Ireland before turning 21 were interviewed about their opinions of alcohol awareness.

ireland bar

Question 1: How did you feel about being able to legally drink while you were in Ireland?

 
Interviewee 1: “It was weird being able to drink; I had to keep reminding myself that it was actually allowed. Also… it is way more acceptable social/culturally and almost everything involves drinking (or having the option to).”
Interviewee 2: “I thought that drinking while overseas was awesome. It was a novel concept being able to go to the store and purchase alcohol without the persecution.”

 
Question 2: Did you feel that alcohol education was a major part of college life while away in Ireland as it is in American universities? If not, explain why.

 
Interviewee 1: “I think that alcohol education is different in Ireland. You more or less learn yourself from experiencing the awesomeness and dangers of it all first hand, as opposed to someone lecturing you.”
Interviewee 2: “No I did not feel as though alcohol education was nearly as emphasized, simply due to the fact that there was not a great penalty for being caught drinking at my age. There was some alcohol awareness being pushed, however it was more so ‘don’t overdo it.’”
ireland beer

Question 3: How do you feel that this experience and your awareness of alcohol were affected? If you do not feel this impact, please explain.

 
Interviewee 1: “Since I really didn’t drink before I went abroad, all of my knowledge of alcohol is a result of being of legal age over there. I’ve always been careful and aware of alcohol dangers just because of my dad and stuff, but I learned how it can really aid in having a great time if you respect it and yourself by knowing your limits.”
Interviewee 2: “The ability to legally drink under the age of 21 in another country made me feel as though the age limit in this country is purely the result of us having a different culture. I feel as though the U.S. has higher standards of public health awareness, which of course has it benefits and detractors depending on who you ask.”

 

No matter where our travels take us, embrace the culture and environment since no two places are the same! Remember, different laws are in place for different reasons—try to learn more about them and most importantly when studying abroad, be safe and have fun!

Written by Jordan Buckley, Peer Educator

Make Way for Earth Day!

Since 1970, the importance of keeping the Earth healthy and clean has been marked by the celebration of Earth Day. In honor of Earth Day, April 22, here are some easy tips you can curb your ways to make a positive impact every day.

earth day

1. Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle: This is typically the first thing that comes to mind when referring to “going green.” Recycling paper, plastic, cardboard, and other household items will help keep unnecessary items out of landfills and make them available for reuse, so we can save on natural resources. Going grocery shopping? Bring reusable bags to the grocery stores, instead of using plastic ones. Invest in a reusable water bottle instead of using plastic ones. Also, look for recycling bins on campus!
2. Use Less Water: “Save some water for the fish” is a popular saying to remind people not to waste water. Every time you turn the water off when brushing your teeth, you save at least four gallons of water. By making this small change, 240 gallons of water or more is saved each month!
3. Carpool: Whether you have a job, commute to school, or simply take regular shopping trips, carpooling is a great way to save on money and pollution. The fewer cars on the road, the better, so try to catch a ride with a friend as much as possible when traveling long distances.
4. Watch Out For Litter: Ever throw something away while you are speed walking to class? How do you know you made it into the trash can? Not all litter is a purposeful drop of trash on the ground, but sometimes it is a missed basket when we are in a rush. Take a few seconds to make sure that all the trash you throw away gets to its intended destination- the trash can.
5. Go Paperless: Got monthly cellphone bills and bank statements piling up? Save trees by turning off paper statements and paying bills online.
6. Conserve Energy: Skip the elevator and take a trip up the stairs. Not only is this healthier for you, but it also saves a lot of energy needed to power up the elevator. Also remember to turn the lights off when you are not in the room. This will lower your electricity bill, and save valuable energy. Lastly, make sure to unplug your phone chargers from the wall outlets because even those consume energy.
Want more information on how you can make a difference this Earth Day?

Be sure to check out these sites:

http://www.myfootprint.org/en/take_action/reduce_your_footprint/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/07/30/10-facts-about-wasted-wat_n_115642.html

Written by DeVonna Smith, Peer Educator

Spring Cleaning!

spring cleaning

Students living can get a little dirty sometimes. Now that it is getting warmer and the semester is coming to an end, think about clearing up some of the clutter you’ve accumulated all year, and end the semester with a clean finish.

Create a Cleaning Route:
Map out areas of your apartment, house, or dorm that need cleaning and tackle it task by task rather than spending all day cleaning. Pick a section that needs some work and conquer it that day. Is your desk a mess? Haven’t changed your sheets in a while? Start there and once completed, plan for your next area to clean.

Here are some tips for each section you are trying to clean!
Closet:

springclean_closet real
Store all heavier winter clothes away in plastic containers to keep out bugs and dust. Try putting them under the bed or in the basement to avoid clutter. This will help create room for summer clothes and allow you to see your options!
Bedroom:

springclean_bed
Consider rotating your mattress and getting your pillows cleaned. After a long winter cuddled in our beds, our sheets need some attention too. Make sure to put a fresh pair on your bed and shake out your comforter. Don’t skip over the rugs – they need a good vacuum too.
Desk:

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Go through old papers and notebooks and throw away scrap paper. You will be so much more productive when you can find things and see what’s on your working space. Think about donating old books or selling back old text books as well. Try separating outdated course work into folders for each class. Once done, wipe down your desktop with a Clorox wipe or warm rag and soap.
Bathroom:

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If you have access to your own bathroom, check the medicine cabinets and safely discard any outdated medicine or products.
Ladies, don’t forget to go through makeup as well. Mascaras should be thrown away after 2-3 months. With the seasons changing, rethink that old foundation from last year. Foundations should be thrown out after 6-12 months to cut down on the bacteria. Consider getting new makeup brushes or wash your old ones in warm water with a little bit of face wash. Check shower curtains for mold and give it a wash in the washer if it’s looking kind of gross. Shower curtains can be washed often – just check label for drying settings first.

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Spring cleaning can often seem like a daunting, scary task, but it doesn’t have to be. Even minor chores like sweeping the floor, unloading the dishwasher, or doing laundry can be done while on the phone with your friends! Take your time to plan it out and reference the tips to get it done.

Written by Erica Vasquez, Peer Educator

Get Out and Be Active!

Spring is here, so it is time to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors!

What are the benefits of outdoor physical activity?

Physical activity is great no matter where you get it, but being active outside gives your body some additional benefits. Being out in the fresh air helps purify your blood and gets it pumping. Also, being in the sun helps your body to produce vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential because it helps regulate your blood pressure and reduces stress. Just make sure you apply sunscreen before being out in the sun for long periods of time.

What can you do to be active outside around campus?

Some of the many things you can do to be active are:
• Play some sports with your friends
• Go for a hike
• Take a walk around campus
• Go for a bike ride
• Visit a one of the parks around West Chester
• Go for a walk/run through town
• Play Volleyball at the court by the Rec Center

Where are some places I can be active around West Chester?

There are many places you can go to be active outdoors around campus. Some of them are:
• The trails through the Gordon Natural Area located on South Campus by all of the fields
• The outdoor basketball courts and fields on campus
• The parks within walking distances near campus
o Bayard Rustin Park on Rosedale Ave (by Swope Music Building)
o Everheart Park on the 500 block of Union Street

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Grab a friend and head outside for some healthy and fun physical activity!

Written by Andrew Ramirez, Peer Educator

Happy World Health Day!

April 7th marked the 66th anniversary of the World Health Organization- WHO; the leader and coordinator of health within the United Nations system. They provide information on global health issues, help shape research agendas, set standards for health all across the globe, and educate people on how to practice better health.world-health-day-2013

Each year, they select one pressing health topic and create a campaign to raise awareness on the issue along with commemorating the formation of WHO. This year Vector-borne diseases are the focus with a tag line that reads, “Small Bite: Big Threat.”

What are Vector-borne diseases?
Vector-borne diseases are illness caused by parasites and pathogens, and are spread through the bite of a mosquito, tick, or other blood feeding insects or arachnids. Vector-borne diseases include:
• Malaria
• Lyme disease
• Yellow fever
• Dengue
• Japanese encephalitis

 

Why you should care: If you plan on traveling overseas this summer, find out what vector- borne diseases are common in the area and get vaccinated. It can save your life. You don’t have to travel far to come in contact with Lyme disease, as it is very common in Pennsylvania. Lyme disease is contracted through the bite of a diseased tick. Ticks are extremely hard to see, but a common sign of being bit is a bulls-eye type rash. If gone untreated, Lyme disease can cause arthritis, pain, and exhaustion. It can also spread to the heart and central nervous system.

Common Symptoms of Lyme disease:
• Fever
• Chills
• Headache
• Fatigue
• Muscle and joint pain

 

For more information on Lyme disease, check out this CDC link! http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/

 

Before you travel, don’t forget your boarding pass from World Health Organization! There are a lot of helpful simple measures that you can use to protect yourself and your family.

world health day

 

Written by Erica Vasquez, Peer Educator