I hope everyone had a lovely thanksgiving break! I hope you were able to relax, eat yummy foods, and/or spend time with loved ones as I know I did! While on break I got to thinking about what my next post would be, and with all the holiday foods and family time I was reminded by the diet talk that comes along with this time of year. The talk of calories and weight are everywhere as we tend to enjoy more diverse foods. No matter where you are, or who you are, it's hard to not get reeled into this type of thinking. However, it's important to remember the basics and the actual science! That's where I come in to help remind you when you start to hear that diet culture talk!
There’s a lot of talk about calories around this time of year and how we need to “watch” how many calories we are eating. However, it is important to keep in mind your eating behaviors and how your body feels in relation. Many times people think that our bodies don’t need many calories or that we need to exercise a ton to “earn” our calories but our bodies need WAY more than we think just to keep our heart pumping, digestion working, and for our brain to function. However, if we don’t give them the fuel(calories) then they won’t be able to perform these bodily processes which in turn can lead to a lot of health consequences.
First off, I want to remind you that everyone’s needs are different and no two people need the same amount of fuel to perform their best! We are all unique and we can not compare. We also can’t be certain on exactly how many calories we need each day nor do we need too! If you listen to your hunger, fullness and natural body cues your body will often tell you just what it needs. This oftentimes is overshadowed by diet culture which is where the problems start to occur. I thought this would be a great time to look at some signs to tell whether or not you are fueling your body enough or maybe if it's time to look at your eating habits and refine them a bit. Here are some things to look out for.
- You're low on energy- If you are feeling lethargic and more tired than usual this may be a sign that you are not eating enough. When we don’t give our bodies enough fuel just like giving a car gas it won’t run.
- Poor cognition and productivity i.e. brain fog- If you feel like your brain may be stuck in a cloud or that you’re constantly forgetting things this may be a sign that you're not eating enough.
- Irritable Mood- We’ve all heard of the saying, “you aren’t yourself when your hangry!” There is truth to this statement. When we are not giving our bodies enough we can often get very irritable and moody. It can even go further to affect our mental health in many different ways such as increased depression and anxiety symptoms.
- Feeling chilly- It is normal to feel cold when it's snowy and cold but if you are constantly getting cold and can’t get warm this may be a sign you're not eating enough. You need to consume a substantial amount of food to keep your body warm while performing other bodily functions.
- Hair loss and brittle nails- If you are not consuming enough calories your body will take priority in what it will utilize the calories that it is given. The first line of defense is keeping our hearts beating, and our brains and lungs functioning. Hair, skin, and nails are not essential for human life so our body will prioritize. If you notice you're losing more hair, your skin is dry and flaky, or you have brittle nails, this could very well be because you are not consuming enough.
If you are experiencing any of these signs it may be time to look at your diet and what you’re eating. It can also be helpful to reach out for support from your healthcare provider or a dietitian who is specialized in this area and can get you on the right track! What’s awesome is that we have access to a dietitian right here on campus. Check her out and make an appointment if you have any questions regarding your food consumption. She is a great resource and is extremely knowledgeable!
By: Amber Gunneson, WIT Volunteer
Posted by Katie Jourdan on Permanent link for Are you Eating Enough? on December 1, 2023.
During the holiday season everyone seems so busy! With parties, events, finals, shopping and all the exciting and joyful things you participate in at this time of year can become a time of stress and anxiety as well. I know for myself Christmas is my favorite time of year, however, as much joy that it does bring me I have to make sure that during this busy season I find time to take extra care of myself, and my mental health. Oftentimes the holidays, whichever you celebrate, can bring up a lot of different emotions. From excitement, joy, gratitude, and pleasure to overwhelm, sadness, and burnout, this time of year can bring up a lot. I want you to know that you are not alone and this is totally normal! I’ve created some tips that have helped me and others navigate this time of year so that we can still be able to enjoy the holidays as well as take care of ourselves.
It can be extremely helpful to write a list of all the things you need to accomplish. That may also involve prioritizing what should get done first and what can wait till a later date. This may come with having to say no to certain things/plans in order to take care of yourself and not get overwhelmed. This is something I know that I continue to have to work on as I am always wanting to be involved in everything, but I know that if I say yes all the time burnout occurs much quicker and I lose sight of what the holiday season really is supposed to be about.
2. Find pleasure and Joy and Rest
Yes the holidays are busy but it's important to find time to engage in the joyful, pleasurable, rejuvenating things that refresh you and give you energy to get through all the tasks at hand! This also includes taking time to rest. Things like making sure you get enough sleep, making sure you are eating healthy foods in nourishing amounts and finding time for your favorite self care activities is very important. This can all help to avoid getting overwhelmed by the stress of the busy season. Some of my favorite self care activities to do in the winter are taking warm baths, drinking some hot tea or coffee, journaling, watching Christmas/holiday movies, and Christmas coloring pages. I also love lighting holiday scented candles during this time of year!
3. Ask or Accept Help
Accepting and/or asking for help can be an extremely hard task for many. I know for me it is! However, we can not and certainly shouldn’t do everything ourselves. Asking for help is necessary in order to get everything done. It can be helpful to delegate tasks with others like splitting up the cooking or shopping duties. Also, if you find yourself needing extra help to get through finals don’t be afraid to join a study group, visit the tutoring center, or speak with the professor. Everyone needs help from time to time. Don’t feel bad asking for help. We as humans are not made to walk through life alone, and that doesn’t change during the holiday season as well!
4. Allow room for changes in routine
With the holiday season comes a lot of changes in routine and schedule. This can also bring about a lot of stress or anxiety. It can often leave you feeling unsettled and maybe not fully grounded. Change in general, no matter good or bad, can be very hard and even uncomfortable. For me change can sometimes even be scary. The one thing I have learned through going through change is that things will go smoother if you embrace and allow for the change to happen, instead of trying to avoid or resist it. This can be an extremely hard thing to do and I am still working on it myself! Give yourself some grace! It's okay to fall back into your old routine from time to time as well!
5. Find time to breathe…..and Laugh!!
It's important to remember to breathe during this time of year. We often hold so much stress and tension that we forget to do this simple thing. Breathing and taking a second to focus on your breath can bring comfort, strength, and focus to get you through the day/season. Not only is it important to breathe, it's also important to find time to laugh! The holidays shouldn’t be all stress and anxiety but it should be a time for celebration and excitement as well. Find time to laugh with friends and family, maybe reflecting back on memories or engaging in holiday activities. Laughter can lift our spirits up and release a lot of stress in our bodies.
Utilizing these 5 tips can help make the holiday season or any stressful time of year a much more enjoyable and healthy experience for you! Remember, at the end of the day the holidays aren’t meant to make us anxious, stressed or overwhelmed. However, they are meant to provide celebration, joy, love, and excitement into our everyday lives!
By: WIT Volunteer, Amber Gunneson
Posted by Katie Jourdan on Permanent link for Ways to Navigate the Stressful, Busy Holiday Season on November 17, 2023.
With the cold weather months approaching us, it is normal to begin craving more warm and comforting food. As the days become shorter it can sometimes feel hard to find motivation to cook a meal during the busy holiday months. There’s so much going on during this time of year but it is really important to still prioritize good nutrition practices for yourself in order to get through the hustle and bustle of the season. I know for myself that during the winter months my nutrition/food choices look different than the spring and summer months. I’ll often make a lot more warm and nourishing meals that comfort both my soul and my body! A lot of meals I make also have a nostalgic feel which brings a sense of gratitude and pleasure for this time of year. You may feel overwhelmed when it comes to cooking and being a college student, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Many recipes that I make only take a few ingredients and a few minutes to make. They are also relatively cheap, and won’t hurt your budget! Below are some winter-inspired recipes to spruce up your holiday season!
- 2 slices of whole grain bread (or bread of choice)
- 1-2 tbsp peanut butter or any nut or seed butter
- 1 banana
- 1 tbsp honey
- A sprinkle of chia seeds
- Cinnamon to taste
Directions: Toast 2 slices of bread in a toaster or toaster oven. Spread peanut butter or any nut butter of your choosing on top of the bread. Slice a banana and put on top of the toast. Drizzle on the honey, then sprinkle on some chia seeds as well as cinnamon to taste! Enjoy!
- S cup to ½ cup milk (dairy, almond, coconut, soy)
- ½ cup old fashioned rolled oats
- S cup to ½ cup yogurt (optional)
- 1 tsp chia seeds (optional)
- ½ banana mashed
Serving suggestions: Fruit, nut butters, granola, coconut, nuts, spices, vanilla extract
Directions: Add the desired amounts of milk, oats, yogurt, chia seeds and banana to a jar or container and give them a good stir. Refrigerate overnight or for at least 5 hours.
In the morning, add additional liquid if you'd like. Once you achieve the desired consistency, top with fruit, nuts, nut butter, seeds, granola, coconut, spices, or vanilla extract.
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 3 cups fresh spinach
- 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
- 2 cans of great northern or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- S cup pesto
- Optional toppings: Grated parmesan cheese
Directions: Stir together chicken stock, spinach, chicken, beans in a medium saucepan. Cook over high heat until the soup reaches a simmer. Then reduce heat to medium, stir in the pesto, and let the soup continue to simmer for 2 minutes. Serve warm topped with parmesan cheese if desired.
*If you would like to make this vegetarian, take out the chicken and substitute with an extra can of beans of your choosing!
- 1 package(6oz) stuffing mix
- 1 cup water
- 2 tbsp favorite bbq sauce
- 1 lb ground beef, ground turkey, or meat ground substitute
- (beyond burger or impossible burger work well!)
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Directions: Preheat oven to 375°. In a large bowl, combine stuffing mix, water and 2 tablespoons barbecue sauce. Add meat/meat substitute; mix lightly but thoroughly. Press 1/3 cup mixture into each of 12 ungreased muffin cups. Bake, uncovered, until a thermometer reads 160°, 18-22 minutes. Sprinkle tops with cheese; bake until cheese is melted, 2-4 minutes longer. If desired, serve with additional barbecue sauce.
- ½ cup flour
- ¼ tsp baking powder
- [ tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp salt
- S cup milk
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp pizza sauce
- 2 tbsp shredded mozzarella cheese
- Optional: any toppings you would like!
Directions: Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a microwavable bowl. Add in the milk and oil then mix together. There might be some lumps but that is ok. Spoon on the pizza sauce and spread it around the surface of the batter. Sprinkle on the cheese, and any additional toppings. Microwave for roughly 2 minutes or so, until it rises up and the toppings are bubbling. Enjoy straight away!
Easy dorm room winter-inspired meals can be a fun way to indulge your senses into the holiday season as well as nourish your body to get through all those end of semester exams! There’s something for everyone to enjoy!
By: WIT Volunteer, Amber Gunneson
Posted by Katie Jourdan on Permanent link for Easy Winter Meals To Make In Your Dorm on November 10, 2023.
The “Freshman 15” is a phrase I am sure most of us are familiar with. For anyone lucky enough to have never come across the “Freshman 15”, let me provide an explanation.
The “Freshman 15” is a widely held notion that freshmen gain 15 pounds once they come to campus due to getting less exercise, excessively drinking, and having unlimited access to campus food.
It is widely known and talked about, but most often used as an anecdote or joke. The first time I heard the phrase was during a campus tour when I was in high school. A representative for that University’s Admissions Department said something along the line of “We offer a large variety of options in our dining halls, and yes some are healthy options, so you can avoid gaining the Freshman 15.” Once I was in college I again heard jokes and comments being made about gaining weight. Staff and students both would make comments about hitting the gym to fight the “Freshman 15.” As a young person struggling with an unhealthy relationship with food and my body, my biggest fear was gaining the “Freshman 15” when I came to college. The use of the term and its negative effect on students is not limited solely to my experience. This phrase is used across the nation and research shows us that it negatively affects students on campuses all across the country.
Despite the innocuous nature of the phrase and the comments it was and is used in, the term is based on weight shame and fatphobia. It is rooted in the false notion that gaining weight is shameful and the discriminatory belief that a thin body is a better body. These negative messages, no matter how small, have the power to do real harm to students' mental health.
I am a graduating Senior in the Frederik Meijer Honors College, for my Senior Project I chose to create a podcast that zeroed in on the “Freshman 15” and illuminated the harms it can have to student health. I am passionate about showing students, their families, and university faculty and staff that this phrase has the power to do real harm.
The podcast is 3 episodes long, each with a different main focus. The first episode covers what “The Freshman 15” is, the history of its origins, and if it really even exists. It also covers why this term affects freshmen specifically and the unique stressors of the transition from high school to college. The second episode covers the stigma around weight and food in the US. I delve into the fatphobia embedded in our society and media and the harm it causes. The last episode covers the weight shame of the COVID-19 pandemic and how fatphobia harms us all. I also talk about the role of families and peers in body image and what we can all do to take care of each other and fight back against weight stigma. You can stream the podcast on Spotify, Check it out here!
We all have the power to fight fatphobia and weight shaming, not just for freshmen, but for everyone affected. This podcast is a tool for learning more about how the “Freshman 15” does harm and what we can do to spread body positivity/neutrality (read more on body neutrality in Camryn’s blog post here!) here on campus and also on social media, in our families, in our friend groups, and throughout our lives.
I hope you check out the podcast and learn that there is a lot more to that simple phrase “the Freshman 15” than you likely ever knew.
By: Eva VanWyck, WIT Peer Educator
Posted by Katie Jourdan on Permanent link for The Freshman 15: The Who, What, and How it Harms Us on April 26, 2023.
Permanent link for How to Unleash Your Inner Sleeping Beauty: The Ultimate Guide to Better Zzz's for GV Students on April 24, 2023
As a Wellness Information Team Peer Educator, one of the most common concerns we hear from Grand Valley State University (GVSU) students is trouble sleeping. Numerous students have trouble obtaining the sleep they need, whether it's due to trouble falling asleep, remaining asleep, or waking up feeling exhausted. In this blog, we will explore the psychological and emotional impact of sleep and provide practical tips to help students get a good night's rest. Let's dive in!
Think: "Unlocking Your Best Self: The Power of Good Sleep Habits"
When it comes to achieving your goals and feeling your best, quality sleep is a critical component. The way we think about sleep can have a big impact on our ability to prioritize it and establish healthy habits. By recognizing the power of good sleep habits and the benefits they can bring, we can shift our mindset towards prioritizing rest and reaping the rewards of a well-rested mind and body.
The term "thinking" in this sense refers to a variety of activities. You must consider your existing sleeping patterns and attitudes, including whether you value sleep and understand its significance. It also involves being aware of the advantages of getting enough sleep, including enhanced mental clarity, greater physical health, and increased productivity. Last but not least, it is being proactive about changing your sleeping patterns, for example, by putting the blog's advice into practice or looking for extra resources and support.
By "unlocking" the power of good sleep habits and recognizing their role in achieving our best selves, we can take a more intentional approach to sleep and prioritize it alongside other aspects of our well-being.
Feel: "Snooze to Success: Empowering Your Mind and Body with Quality Sleep"
The way we feel about sleep can have a big impact on our ability to prioritize it and establish healthy habits. When we recognize the benefits of quality sleep and the positive impact it can have on our mental and physical health, we're more likely to make it a priority in our daily lives.
The "feel" aspect of this title is all about recognizing the emotional benefits of quality sleep. Getting enough rest can help us feel more energized, focused, and productive during the day. It can also reduce stress and anxiety, improve our mood, and support our overall well-being. By prioritizing quality sleep, we can tap into these emotional benefits and empower ourselves to feel our best.
In this context, "feeling" is about recognizing the connection between our emotions and our sleep habits. It involves understanding the impact that sleep can have on our mood, stress levels, and overall well-being. It also means recognizing the emotional benefits of quality sleep and prioritizing it as a key aspect of self-care.
By "snoozing" to success and empowering our mind and body with quality sleep, we can tap into the emotional benefits of rest and support our overall well-being.
Do: "Take Charge of Your Zzz's: Practical Tips for a Restful Night's Sleep"
- Insomnia: difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
- Sleep apnea: a condition where breathing is interrupted during sleep, leading to snoring and daytime fatigue
- Restless leg syndrome: a condition where you feel an uncomfortable sensation in your legs that makes it difficult to sleep
- Circadian rhythm disorders: disruptions in your body's internal clock that can lead to difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep at the right times
If you're experiencing any of these sleep problems, it's important to talk to your healthcare provider to determine the best course of treatment.
There are several things you can do to improve your sleep quality. Here are some tips:
- Stick to a sleep schedule: Establishing a consistent sleep routine can help regulate ( your body's internal clock and improve sleep quality. Aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. If you have trouble falling asleep, avoid napping during the day, as this can disrupt your sleep schedule.
- Create a sleep-conducive environment: Your sleeping environment can have a big impact on sleep quality. Make sure your bedroom is cool, quiet, and dark. If you live in a noisy area or have roommates who stay up late, consider using earplugs or a white noise machine to block out distractions. Use blackout curtains or an eye mask if necessary to block out any light that might disturb your sleep.
- Limit screen time : Exposure to the blue light emitted by electronic devices like smartphones, tablets, and laptops can interfere with your body's natural sleep-wake cycle. Try to avoid using electronic devices for at least an hour before bedtime. If you need to use your device, consider using a blue light filter or wearing blue light-blocking glasses to reduce the impact on your sleep.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol: Both caffeine and alcohol can disrupt sleep quality. Caffeine is a stimulant that can keep you awake, while alcohol can interfere with REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which is important for memory consolidation and overall sleep quality. Try to avoid these substances in the hours leading up to bedtime.
- Practice relaxation techniques: Stress and anxiety can make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep. Practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga can help you relax and prepare for sleep. Consider incorporating these practices into your bedtime routine to help calm your mind and body before bed.
- Get regular exercise: Exercise can help improve sleep quality by reducing stress, promoting relaxation, and regulating your body's internal clock. However, try to avoid exercising too close to bedtime, as it can increase alertness and make it harder to fall asleep. Aim to exercise earlier in the day, at least a few hours before bedtime.
- Seek help if needed: If you're struggling with sleep despite trying these tips, consider talking to a healthcare provider or seeking help from a sleep specialist. There are many effective treatments for sleep disorders, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) or continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy for sleep apnea. Your healthcare provider can help you determine the best course of treatment for your specific needs.
In conclusion, getting enough sleep is critical for overall health and well-being. By prioritizing sleep and taking steps to improve sleep quality, you can feel more rested, alert, and focused throughout the day. Don't hesitate to seek help if you're struggling with sleep, as there are many effective treatments available. Good luck and Sweet dreams!
- Worley SL. The Extraordinary Importance of Sleep: The Detrimental Effects of Inadequate Sleep on Health and Public Safety Drive an Explosion of Sleep Research. P T. 2018 Dec;43(12):758-763. PMID: 30559589; PMCID: PMC6281147.,
- https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-hygiene ,
By: Aravind Gurusaran Korukonda, WIT Peer Educator
Posted by Katie Jourdan on Permanent link for How to Unleash Your Inner Sleeping Beauty: The Ultimate Guide to Better Zzz's for GV Students on April 24, 2023.
Springtime has arrived in West Michigan, and with it so has the end of the semester rush. Finals week is approaching, and most of us are probably more than ready to feel the relief of being done with the school year. Springtime also ushers in April, the Month of Stress Awareness.
With “exam cram season” just around the corner many of us will experience increased levels of anxiety and stress related to the added pressures of school work. At GVSU Recreation & Wellness our goal is to provide students with the knowledge and tools necessary to account for and improve their overall wellness, as well as in specific domains of wellness. Aligning our goals at Rec & Wellness with the month of April’s Stress Awareness, our aim is to present you with the knowledge and techniques that can help you manage the added stress from the end of the academic year.
To understand why coping with stress using healthy practices is important, we should understand why stress is aversive to our physical and mental health, especially as it’s related to the added pressures at the end of the semester. Stress that stems from the “exam cram season” is typically linked to decreased sleep, internalized expectations/pressures, lack of positive coping techniques, and/or a combination of these. Experiencing these types of stress can be a hindrance to our mental and physical wellness, causing various physiological systems and emotions to become dysregulated. Some of these symptoms may be reported as:
- Increased irritability
- Increased anxiety or depression
- Feelings of anger, sadness, loneliness
- Decrease in sleep, focus
- Shortness of breath, difficulty breathing
- Muscular tension, discomfort
- Changes in appetite
- Vomiting, nausea
- Illnesses become more common as immune system becomes less effective
As we continue to progress closer towards our final exams, most of us may begin to notice and account for more of the feelings or sensations that are described above. Being able to identify and attribute your stressful symptoms to the correct source is the first step towards being able to identify and apply a coping technique that is effective and healthy for you. Although it may seem overwhelming to address these stressors during such a hectic time, the CDC explains that healthy coping mechanisms can reduce stressful feelings and sensations, whether they are physical and emotional. In short, finding ways to deal with stress that elicit positive emotions and improve physical and psychological wellness are the best ways to decrease stress.
Dealing with Stress
Because some stressors present themselves on an individual basis (not every stressor is universal to all) it is likely that one form of coping is not going to be a universal solution for everyone experiencing stress. One practice each of us can apply on an individual basis, however, is mindfulness. Mindfulness is the process of connecting and becoming aware of the changes in your body in response to different situations/sensations. This process is a very grounding experience and has been linked to decreases in stress, anxiety, and depression.
Here are a few short mindfulness exercises you can do wherever you are to be able to identify and listen to your bodily sensations:
Box Breathing: An exercise used to regulate blood pressure, breathing, heart rate, stress, and anxiety. This exercise targets our respiratory system to actively reduce the amount of cortisol (stress hormone) in our blood stream.
- To do this exercise sit in a chair with good posture (spine in alignment) or lay down flat.
- Follow the graphic at the bottom of the blog post, begin in the top left corner and follow the instructions on the outside of the box as you move along. Repeat these steps, and imagine the circle moving along the perimeter of the box as you go, taking 3-5 minutes or until you feel relaxed and refocused.
5-4-3-2-1: This activity allows us to make time to account for ourselves and our environment, deepening our connection to our bodily sensations.
- In your immediate surroundings, without moving where you are name
- 5 things you hear
- 4 things you see
- 3 things you can touch
- 2 things you can smell
- 1 thing you can taste
STOP Practice: A 4-step technique to reduce feelings of overwhelm, stress, and anxiety.
- S: Stop whatever you are doing, stop whatever you are thinking, and dedicate yourself and this moment to practicing mindfulness.
- T: Take a deep breath in and out. Slow down, you may count up or down as you breathe, or even combine other breathing techniques for even better results!
- O: Observe your body. How do you feel physically? Mentally? Observe your surroundings. Focus on small details, like the texture of an object across the room, the unique noises you can hear, etc.
- P: Proceed with intention. Set a time limit for your study session, make sure you’re hydrated, grab your favorite snack, and practice listening to what your mind and body are telling you.
Now that we are aware of how our body might react to the added stress of final exams and how we can use mindfulness to identify those reactions, we can be attentive in our care for ourselves. This time of year is busy for almost all of us, and taking time to hear our body and mind is very important to managing the intense and sometimes overwhelming amount of stress we experience. As you move forward this exam season, I encourage you to use the resources provided in this article to help you, but also refer to more of our great campus resources, as well as experiment with other things that may help you like journaling, exercise, and getting adequate sleep.
Here are some on-campus resources that are here to serve you during this April Month of Stress Awareness:
- GVSU Counseling Center - Especially around this time of year the GVSU Counseling Center hosts events and activities that are inclusive and educational, and are specifically catered towards dealing with the stresses of exams! GVSU Counseling Center also coordinates with West Michigan Therapy Dogs to bring some support pups to the library, this is a personal favorite and a must for any animal lover who needs a break from their studies. In addition there is an emergency/crisis response available for students.
- GVSU Student Academic Success Center - Success coaching is a great option for those of us who may be looking for more personalized help in approaching their learning. The SASC also coordinates with the other campus resources to organize workshops catered to end of the semester learning.
- GVSU Rec & Wellness - GVSU Rec & Wellness is a multi-faceted resource that offers support to students in multiple different ways. There are free group fitness and yoga classes focused on providing students with a positive outlet for reducing stress. GVSU also offers personalized, individual consultations with Wellness Navigators and Wellness Coaches who aim to help students manage different aspects of their overall wellness like nutrition, time management, and stress.
By: Kameron Kempker, WIT Peer Educator
Posted by Katie Jourdan on Permanent link for Combating Stress with Emotional Wellness on April 13, 2023.
It is that time of the school year again for finals, but don’t let studying take up too much of your time! It is important to balance school and time for yourself. The flowers are blooming, the sun is shining, and the birds are calling your name! But don’t forget to wear sunscreen!
What the outdoors can do for you!
- Helps motivation and physical health
- Lowers stress and anxiety levels
- Improves sleep
- Stronger immunity
- Supports positive mental health
- Better breathing and sight
Tips for getting outside!
- Make plans with a friend
- Block an hour out of your schedule
- Set a time limit for studying
- Make a reminder
Things to do outdoors on campus!
- Hammock in the arboretum
- Go hiking on the trails behind campus or near Laker Village
- Set up a slackline with a friend
- Have a picnic
- Play sand volleyball
- Read a book or make friendship bracelets on a blanket
- Eat lunch with a friend on a bench
- Ride your bike
- Take a nap under a tree
- Go on a scavenger hunt
- Roller Skate or skateboard on the sidewalks
- Set up your yoga mat in the sun
The outdoors improves your overall health! There are many ways to get outdoors on campus. And remember to treat the outdoors with kindness. We want our favorite places to last a long time!
By: Ruhi Khanna, WIT Peer Educator and Climbing Center Staff
Posted by Katie Jourdan on Permanent link for Press Pause... and Get Outside! on April 7, 2023.
When I was 11 years old, I was channel surfing and came across something I had never seen before: A group of people at a beach house, drinking, having sex, and fighting with weird accents. This mess of a show was the MTV hit, Jersey Shore. Watching this crazy gang of 20 somethings party in their beach house was very interesting, but extremely complex for my 11 year old brain. What were they doing? I knew I probably should not be watching it, but I didn't know why. As I got older, abstinence sex ed was taught at my school. A quote that closely describes my experience is a classic from Mean Girls, “Don’t have sex, because you will get pregnant and die.” I thought about Snooki and the gang, and from what I was being told, they definitely were not following “the rules.” From then on, my brain put an unfortunately false puzzle together: sex must be a shameful thing that only leads to chaos. I stopped watching Jersey Shore after that.
Yes, I acknowledge that Jersey Shore is probably not the best influence when it comes to safe sex and healthy relationships (especially for an 11 year old). But looking back, that group was a lot better off than I was. Throughout high school, I continued to view sex as a shameful thing. It wasn’t until college that I started to understand the construct around sex and the importance of safe, inclusive, and empowering sexual education.
What is Sexual Education
Sexual education is the teaching of a large variety of topics surrounding sex and sexuality. This can include safe sex, STIs, relationships, consent, LGTBQ+, and many more topics! Most middle and high schools provide sexual education, but a large majority of schools in the United States do not teach all aspects of sexual health. According to Planned Parenthood, In the 37 states that require sex/HIV education, a majority stress abstinence, even if that means the curriculum is not medically accurate. Only 18 states require education on birth control. Only 10 states require education on LGBTQ+ sex and relationships (Planned Parenthood, 2023). Most students are not being given the well rounded sexual education that they deserve.
So why does this matter? Safe, inclusive, and empowering sexual education gives students the knowledge and skills necessary to express themselves, create healthy boundaries, be safe, and understand their bodies!
Sex Ed in College
Sexual education is very important in college, because students can gain knowledge they may not have received in high school. For a large majority of students, college is a time for self exploration. Students are given the space to learn more about themselves, their values, beliefs, and are able to explore their sexuality. Due to this, it is important that students are given sexual education tools that promote safety, respect, pleasure, and fun. Not all people choose to engage in sexual activity, and that is okay. All students, whether sexually active or not, deserve to be given safe and inclusive spaces to learn and grow in their own sexuality if they choose to do so.
Sexual Health at GVSU
Grand Valley offers an abundance of sexual health education opportunities. The Wellness Information Team (WIT) is a team of GVSU students that provide education and resources on sexual health (as well as general health and nutrition). We provide a large variety of programming, presentations, and supplies to aid students in their sexual health and overall wellness. We can even take the educational fun on the go with our WIT Cart. This cart has tons of safer sex supplies, including a variety of condoms, dental dams, internal condoms, and lube. We also have candy, stickers, fidgets, relaxation aids, and so much more! To find the WIT cart’s location, check out the RecWell Instagram! We always post where we are around campus.
Sexual Education is A SHORE Bet!
Sexual health education is extremely important to have on college campuses. Since many students come to college without comprehensive sexual education, the information and tools need to be provided to help students make empowered and safe decisions about their sexual health. Grand Valley was able to provide this for me as an awkward, abstinence-only scarred, jersey shore loving, freshman. And I could not be more grateful! With that, I will leave you with an inspirational quote:
“Yes, I had sex. Like, hello, you can have sex if you're into somebody. It's natural.” — Sammi “Sweetheart” from Jersey Shore
By: Annie Seeber, WIT Peer Educator
Posted by Katie Jourdan on Permanent link for Sexual Health Education is A SHORE Bet! on March 31, 2023.
Meditation is a powerful tool that can help you achieve mental, emotional, and physical wellness. As a college student, you may face many challenges, such as stress, anxiety, and a lack of focus. Meditation can help you overcome these challenges and improve your overall well-being.
What is meditation?
Meditation is a practice that involves training your mind to focus on the present moment. It can involve different techniques, such as deep breathing, visualization, and mindfulness. The goal of meditation is to quiet the mind and achieve a sense of inner peace and calm.
How can meditation benefit college students?
- Reduces stress and anxiety: College life can be stressful, and it can lead to anxiety and other mental health issues. Meditation has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety levels, and improve overall mental health.
- Improves focus and concentration: Meditation can help you improve your focus and concentration, which can be beneficial for your academic performance. By training your mind to focus on one thing at a time, you can improve your productivity and efficiency.
- Enhances self-awareness: Meditation can help you become more aware of your thoughts and emotions. By observing your thoughts without judgment, you can develop a better understanding of yourself and your feelings.
- Improves sleep quality: College students often struggle with sleep issues, such as insomnia or sleep deprivation. Meditation can help you relax and calm your mind, which can improve your sleep quality and quantity.
How to get started with meditation?
- Find a quiet and comfortable space where you won't be disturbed.
- Sit in a comfortable position with your back straight and your eyes closed.
- Take deep breaths, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth.
- Focus your attention on your breath, and try to keep your mind from wandering.
- If your mind does wander, gently bring your attention back to your breath.
- Practice meditation for at least 5-10 minutes a day, and gradually increase the time as you become more comfortable with the practice.
In conclusion, meditation is a simple yet powerful practice that can help college students achieve mental, emotional, and physical wellness. By incorporating meditation into your daily routine, you can reduce stress and anxiety, improve focus and concentration, enhance self-awareness, and improve sleep quality. Give it a try and see how it can benefit you.
By: Abdul Ciise, WIT Peer Educator
Posted by Katie Jourdan on Permanent link for The Power of Meditation and How to Use It on March 22, 2023.
Keto versus Fruitarian
One moment we hear “Cut out all carbs!” and then the next we hear “Avoid all forms of fats!” It gets hard to believe what any of these diets are trying to promote. New diet fads are being created and spread constantly, but what do they even mean? Do they have any benefits? Or is it just all a scam to try to fit into unrealistic body standards or even to buy someone’s book or program regime. Carbs in the diet world today are a hot topic and the debate on whether to have them or not is at an all time high. We’ll look into two diets that are almost exactly opposite of each other; the keto diet and the fruitarian diet.
What’s a carb?
First, let’s dive in to make sure we’re all on the same page on what a carb even is. A carbohydrate is one of the three macronutrients. Macronutrients are essential for the human body, meaning we need all three in our diets. The other two macronutrients include fats and proteins (in addition to carbohydrates). Carbohydrates come in the forms of starches, fiber and sugars (Mayo Clinic). Sugars are the simplest form of carbohydrates, starches are more complex, and fiber is the indigestible part of the carbohydrate. The simple sugars in carbohydrates should be eaten in moderation, while starches and especially fibers have the best health effects, like improved digestion and benefiting heart health. In comparison to the other macronutrients, it is recommended that carbohydrates take up 45-65% of total calories. Fats are recommended to be 20-35% of calories and protein are recommended to be 10-35% of calories. Carbs are the main source of energy for the body and the preferred source of energy for the brain (Mergenthaler). Now that there’s some basic background information on carbs, let’s look into the keto diet, where the carbs are limited, and the fruitarian diet, where it is almost completely carbs.
Keto Diet: Get Rid of Carbs
The keto diet focuses on limiting the amount of carbs consumed and instead eating more foods high in fat and protein. The keto diet has the body switch from running on carbohydrates to using ketones as an energy source, by entering ketosis (to learn more about this, check out this link). In ketosis, the liver produces energy from stored fat which is in turn used as the main energy source for the body. People using this diet typically have the goal of losing fat and weight. In addition to losing fat, the keto diet can have possible benefits of managing epilepsy, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and metabolic syndrome (Mayo Clinic). The keto diet might also increase risk for heart disease as it’s typically high in LDL cholesterol (which is linked to heart disease) and low in fiber (which is helpful against heart disease). The keto diet can also increase risk for nutrient deficiencies, since certain food groups are usually avoided, liver issues, constipation, mood swings and brain fog (Harvard).
Fruitarian Diet: Get Lots of Carbs
The fruitarian diet is almost the polar opposite of the keto diet, in which the majority of calories come from raw fruits, followed by some nuts, seeds, whole grains or vegetables. The fruitarian is typically a raw diet, meaning cooking should be limited or restricted and that it is typically plant-based as well. Fruits are loaded with vitamins and other nutrients in addition to fiber which are all beneficial to one’s health. These can help decrease the risk of certain diseases or cancer (Mayo Clinic). Since this diet is high in fiber, it may decrease cholesterol (Healthline) and as a result lower risk of heart disease. The fruitarian diet may also help someone lose weight, as these foods are naturally low in calories but high in volume, meaning they are not as calorically dense. Of course, there is a list of risks associated with this diet as well. The risks include nutrient deficiencies, such as calcium, omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins, or just overall malnourishment due to lack of calories from fats and proteins (Healthline).
So, What Do You Do?
By examining these two diets, it can be determined that restricting and cutting out food groups can come with some benefits as well as many risks. It’s important to remember that everything is important and plays it part and moderation should be emphasized. As always when it comes to your own health: if you want specific and safe recommendations for you, talk to the Laker Food Co. dietitian Alyssa.
By: Claire Latourell, WIT Peer Educator
Posted by Katie Jourdan on Permanent link for Keto vs Fruitarian: All about those Carbs on March 17, 2023.