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Health

Managing Your Mental Health in College

July 22, 2020

Mental health is becoming an increasingly big issue on college campuses. Many students struggle with the change and stress of college life. It can be valuable to investigate what you can do for your mental wellbeing. If you are struggling with your mental health, it is important to seek out resources available to you.

Here are some ways that you can better manage your mental health in college:

  • Visit your school’s counseling center

If you are having mental health concerns, you can always contact your school’s counseling services. Many schools provide free counseling or counseling at a reasonable rate. They can help you talk through whatever is troubling you or refer you to psychiatric services if needed. 

  • Utilize online resources

There are many resources available online to help you learn more about mental health and obtain support. U Lifeline, a project of the JED Foundation provides valuable support tailored to college students. Their website offers both resources and a helpline. Their website also provides a screener for students to evaluate their mental health and access their school’s resources. 

  • Practice meditation and exercise regularly

Meditation is a great way to center yourself and improve your mental health. It can be helpful to have tools that you can implement when you feel overwhelmed such as taking a few minutes to breathe or going for a quick run. 

  • Reach out to your loved ones

If you are struggling, take time to reach out to your support network. This can be Facetime with your family at home or even talking with new friends from college. Staying connected with others and communicating your feelings can relieve stress and prevent loneliness. 

  • Take time for yourself

When your calendar is filled with schoolwork and social events, it can be hard to find time to be by yourself. Set aside some time to be alone and recharge. You can go for a walk or go to a coffee shop and just take time to relax and reflect.

These are just a few suggestions on how to manage your mental health in college. You can find what works best for you and your experience. Find out what resources are available to you through your school and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Health Other

How To Incorporate Meditation Into Your Routine

July 2, 2020

Meditation is a great tool that allows students to destress and integrate moments of stillness into their everyday routines. It may feel intimidating to start a meditation practice, but you do not need to meditate for long periods of time or have a completely blank mind to be meditating correctly. Meditation can become a part of your day in subtle ways that will make a big difference. Here are some examples of ways you can integrate meditation into your daily routine. 

  1. Meditation Apps

If you have an interest in meditation you have likely heard of apps such as Headspace and Calm. These apps provide both short and longer meditations that will meet you where you are comfortable. Guided meditation is used by both new and seasoned meditators. It can be helpful to be guided through the process of meditation to maximize the time you are setting aside. 

  1. Enjoy your food

Mediation is not all about breathing. You are able to find mindfulness when setting aside time to be present and engage your senses. The time you spend eating can be utilized to create a moment of stillness in your routine. If you set aside a moment to eat one of your meals alone without any distractions you can more fully focus on the taste of what you are eating. 

  1. Take time to breathe during your chores

As a busy student, you may not have time to set aside time for meditation. A lack of time does not have to stop you from starting a meditation practice. You can meditate in simple ways like when you are walking to your next class, when you are doing the dishes, or even brushing your teeth. As long as you are being mindful of your task, there are so many possibilities for moments of meditation.

  1. Listen to music

Music can have a great impact on your state of mind. It can be valuable to take time to listen to soothing music and calm yourself. If you are feeling anxious over an upcoming exam or any other troubles, listening to music can quickly help to regulate your mood. 

  1. Mindful exercise 

Exercise is a great way to put aside time to center yourself and get in touch with your body and mind. Yoga is one form of exercise that emphasizes focusing on breath and stillness. Other forms of exercise such as strength training and cardio also include a focus on the breath and your body’s movement. You can also see what fitness resources are available at your school. There are also many virtual workouts available for free on apps such as Nike Training Club and on youtube. 

Meditation does not need to feel unattainable. You do not need to go all-in and meditate for 30 minutes away in total silence. Small moments of mindfulness add up and can improve your overall well being. Life as a student can be overwhelming so it is important to know the best ways for you to take care of yourself both physically and mentally. 

Health Other

Hard Time Sleeping? Here Are a Few Reasons Why

June 11, 2020

Understandably, there will be times in your college career that you have a hard time sleeping – sometimes, you might think pulling an all-nighter is the best way to get ahead with your studying. Other times, you might be consumed with anxiety over a difficult class. Or there could be other reasons you’re chronically having trouble getting quality sleep. Looking at those potential areas of trouble can help you to both improve your health and your concentration, and ultimately help you to do better in school.

Screen Time

As a college student in the digital age, you’re certainly getting a lot of screen time. Maybe you’ve got online homework, carry a smartphone, and you have easy access to other media on streaming services and social platforms. It’s easy to lie in bed at the end of the day and scroll through your phone, but this could be affecting you as you try to fall asleep. Research shows that screen time, especially right before bed, can make it hard for you to fall asleep. In fact, a study shows sleep can be interrupted in direct correlation with how much time you spend with your screen, meaning that 15 minutes of screen time might mean four minutes of less sleep, and so on.

Additionally, if you’re still in your teens or early twenties, your brain is still developing. Research shows your prefrontal cortex – the area in charge of higher reasoning – is still formulating up to age 25. Restorative sleep is vital in promoting a healthy brain, including cognitive function, hormone regulation, and metabolism. Lack of sleep can lead to obesity, depression, and other health issues. Turn off your screens – including your phones, iPads, laptops, desktop computer, and TV – two hours before you go to sleep to help your body understand that it’s time to shut down and get the restorative rest that you need.

Stress

College has its fun and joyful experiences and is a time to make new connections with your peers, and maybe even enjoy a social gathering or two. But there’s also a lot of stress – you may be living away from home for the first time, and there may be stress associated with living in close quarters with people you don’t really know well (and maybe aren’t compatible with). You may have been excited to start your college courses and have added on one too many classes. You may be changing your eating habits, exercise habits, and overall routine. All of it is a disruption, and it’s natural that you may face some disruption in your sleep as well.

A few tips can help you to manage the stress that can lead to sleep disruption. Take an honest look at your class schedule – you may be interested in that 300-level course in philosophy, but do you need to take it this semester? While your university experience is a time to explore different academic areas, work with your advisor to ensure you’re first getting the required courses in and not overloading yourself with classes, especially as you’re adjusting to college life. Make sure you have some healthy time just for you. Look into your college’s extracurricular offerings such as yoga and meditation classes for an extra way to relax– the time spent will pay off in better sleep and, therefore, a clearer mind.

Diet

It’s super easy to rely on pizza deliveries and junk food, especially when you’re stressed and short of time – but a poor diet, even for resilient young people, can actually increase your stress and therefore make it harder to sleep. While you may feel invincible in your twenties, a poor diet can have a long term impact on your health, including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Think of it like starting a savings account – you may not have much in there to begin with, but it all adds up the older you get.

Take advantage of your college’s meal plan. Hit the salad bar and take advantage of the healthier offerings like vegetables, whole grain offerings, and fresh fruit. Or, if you’re on your own for meals and short of time, grab the pre-made salads and healthy meals from the grocery store. Additionally, stay away from the Red Bull and caffeine-boosters, to pull those all-nighters (which are terrible sleep interrupters anyway). And while you may have plenty of opportunities to socialize after hours, lay off the alcohol, which despite being a depressant, can actually cause you to lose quality sleep.

Remember, your college also may have free opportunities to see a counselor if your insomnia, stress, or alcohol use become problematic. Remember that you’ve made a major life change by starting your college career, and seeking additional help to adjust may be just the extra hand you need to sleep easier.

Health Other

Online Games to Play with Your Friends

March 16, 2020

In the midst of recent events, many college students are advised to stay inside and keep to themselves. Now, this can be great for introverts who have been waiting for this kind of thing to be socially acceptable their whole lives, but for those who will start to miss human interaction, here are a few games you can play online with your friends to pass the time!

Crash Team Racing

One of the best on the market, obviously. A revamp from the late 90’s, this is a great racing game to play with a friend or seven.

Dead By Daylight

If you are interested in survival games with a strategic twist, go for this one! You can get it on Steam, Nintendo Switch, and just about anything else! Play with 3-4 extra other friends for the best experience. Though this one is not for the faint of heart. You’ll see what I mean.

World of Warcraft

I know, I know. This can be a trigger for some, but this is a great one to play with a friend or two, PLUS it takes a long time. It can be easy to get sucked into the world of Orcs and magic, so give it a shot! Best played on Steam.

League of Legends

Let’s ignore the salt factor of the community and focus on the fact that it is a fun MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) game to play with up to 9 other friends! If you get that many you are able to start a party and play against each other. It’s a PC game that is usually downloaded from their website.

Super Smash Bros

This one doesn’t even need a description. Use it to get all that anger and frustration out! Mainly played on Nintendo systems.

Fortnite

Another survival meets combat game that most of us know about. I know that things can be a little iffy when it comes to these well-known games (you either love them or you hate them), but take this time to try out something you might not usually go for!

Man of Medan

Not much should be said about this one because it’s more fun to work and play on your own. It’s a game that is solely based on the idea of the butterfly effect and you choose the direction your characters go down. It can be played with up to 4 friends.

You can also go for classic games like Call of Duty, Halo, and Left4Dead as they are always options to play with your friends. Regardless of the game you choose, be sure you get Discord and a good headset to chat with your friends on! You can even use it just to talk to each other instead of just doing the regular group text.

There you have it. Staying inside and keeping healthy is key over the next few weeks, but it doesn’t mean you have to eliminate communication with people! Try out some of these online games to play with your college friends and stay safe.

Health Other

Tips for Eating Healthy in College

January 21, 2020

When you are in college, especially if you are living on-campus away from home, it may be overwhelming to figure out how to eat. From the plethora of on-campus food choices to dining halls, it is easy to eat too many calories or go overboard during your first year at university. Here are some ways that you can ensure that you are eating well but still enjoying what your campus has to offer. 

Make Health Conscious Dining Hall Choices

One of the biggest advantages of living on campus is that you will have access to the dining halls, which more often than not are buffet or all-you-can-eat style. These can be to your benefit or detriment, depending on what you choose to indulge in when you decide that you want to have unlimited food options. If you are eating breakfast before heading to class in the morning, try opting for whole-grain alternatives rather than greasy bacon or a calorie-laden omelet. You should also be conscious of everything you choose to put on your plate. 

Use Dense Nutrition and Supplements

Even if you are trying to eat as healthy as possible, it may not be enough to be nutritionally sufficient so that your body can operate at its best. To combat this, it may be best to try supplements or condensed nutrition, which you can take in capsule form or add into smoothies and shakes. For instance, green or red superfood powder is often packed with fruits and vegetables that will give you energy and a myriad of health benefits. 

Find Easy Dorm Recipes

Living in the dorm rooms, you may think that you do not have any ways in which to cook on your own. However, there are many simple recipes that you can utilize if you want something to eat with only microwave access. Make a board on Pinterest or a simple list of microwave alternatives to some of your favorite foods, such as macaroni and cheese, the classic Top Ramen, and even desserts in mugs, like chocolate cakes or brownies. This way, you can eat from the comfort of your dorm, save money, and avoid going to the dining hall. 

Pack Filling Snacks

When you are on the go during the day, it can be all too tempting to stop for a slice of pizza or other indulgences in between classes. However, these snacks are often processed foods that contain calories your body will burn through quickly. Instead, try keeping some snacks in your backpack so that you can combat hunger without spending unnecessary money on calorie-laden options. Some great snacks that are nonperishable include whole wheat crackers, banana chips, trail mix, or whole-grain pretzels. Be sure to pack more than you think you need before you leave your dorm room for the day. 

You do not have to worry about gaining weight when you experience university life for the first time. With these tips, you are sure to be able to eat healthily and make the most out of living on-campus.

BIO: Brett Clawson has a degree in Business Management and has started a couple of small businesses. When he’s not focusing his time on those, he spends time with his wife and two sons. His oldest son has entered the wonderful realm of college, and he now enjoys sharing tips that he and his son have found essential for college life.

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Campus Care: Sickness and Strength at School

January 2, 2020

Going to college and living on campus is a new and exciting experience. Less exciting, however, is being sick and far away from home. Trying to overcome an illness and meet deadlines simultaneously can feel like trying to achieve mission impossible. 

The winter months are a prime time for people to come down sick, and this is especially the case for sleep-deprived students cramming for exams. If you’ve recently gotten sick, or are prone to doing so, here are a few ways that you can quickly recover and get back on your feet this winter. 

Beef Up Your Immune System 

When you’re sick, it’s sometimes instinctive to want to curl up in bed all day and binge on your favorite shows. Although this is a valid way to recover, you should also look for ways to strengthen your immune system by giving your body the nutrients it needs to fight off the illness and germs. 

WebMD recommends you eat enough fruits and vegetables, as studies show that people who do this don’t get sick as often. Consider vegetable soup or fresh fruit juices. Drinking enough water is also important, as it will flush out illness from your system and keep you hydrated.

Be sure you are practicing proper hygiene, as well, to avoid getting yourself and others sick. Do this by washing your hands for at least 20 seconds, or the duration of a rendition of “Happy Birthday” or the ABCs, and covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing. Disinfecting your room and hands will also help keep the germs away. 

Look for Helpful Resources 

Most college campuses have health and medical services on campus or in the surrounding area. Find out where yours is located, what hours they’re open, and if they have walk-in services. This would be helpful if you’re experiencing symptoms like a temperature above 102, abdominal pain, vomiting, severe headaches or any other worrying symptoms.  

Although a common cold or flu is something you can typically get through on your own, you should still reach out for support. Tell your family and friends that you aren’t feeling well so they can help you with things like picking up medications, bringing meals, and tidying up if you’re too weak to do it. 

If you’re feeling mentally and emotionally overwhelmed, make the best use of resources student care offers, whether it be a counselor or other mental health services, as your mental health has a profound effect on your physical health. Efforts are being made to make mental, emotional, and physical care more accessible to students. Seeing if they can help you in any way could mean you’re opening yourself up to receive collective and community support. This will, hopefully, help you get back to feeling better holistically and improve your performance long-term.

Get Enough Rest 

Sleeping is a critical part of recovery when you’re under the weather. However, college students often struggle to sleep because they’re pulling all-nighters, working part-time, or dealing with stress. In light of this, try your best to get enough sleep and not feel guilty about it. Getting into the routine habit of sleeping enough is not only good for you when you’re ill, but it can improve your academic performance. You’ll feel well-rested, less stressed, and be able to more easily concentrate. 

If you’re worried about how you’ll meet your deadlines, remember being down and out with the flu doesn’t mean that you can’t do anything else. Organize your workload while you’re in bed resting and do less strenuous but urgent tasks. Don’t overexert yourself! The rest can be done once you’re feeling better. 

If you’re ever sick on campus, know that it isn’t something you have to endure alone. Surrounding yourself with a loving support system and practicing self-care is the best way to get well soon.

BIO: Dan Matthews is a writer with a degree in English from Boise State University. He has extensive experience writing online at the intersection of business, finance, marketing, and culture.

Health Other

6 Life-Changing Healthy Habits for the Busiest College Student

September 11, 2019

College is a great place to learn, make friends, and try new things. With so much to juggle, you may notice your health taking a backseat. No need to worry, though. Here are a few simple healthy habits you can start implementing right now to set yourself up for success!

1. Don’t Skip Meals

When you’re constantly on-the-go with a hectic schedule, it can be difficult to eat three proper meals throughout the day. You may start to miss or even skip meals, leading to weight and energy changes and disruption of your overall health. Eating every few hours is crucial for your health as it helps keep your brain alert and elevates your mood. 

2. Join a Fitness Class

Trying to find the drive to go to the gym each day can be nearly impossible when you’re in college. However, staying active is crucial for various aspects of your health. It promotes restful sleep, weight maintenance, energy, and serves as a great stress reliever. If the gym isn’t your thing, there are various easy ways to get moving and maintain motivation. Most colleges offer fitness classes for credits, which is great for not only prioritizing your fitness but boosting your GPA as well. 

3. Take Care of Your Skin

Your skin serves as an external reflection of what’s going on inside of your body. Anything from stress, poor hygiene, eating habits, to your water intake can affect the health of your skin. As a college student with a full agenda, it’s not uncommon for your skin to experience some adverse changes. First, reflect on potential external factors, such as stressors and diet, and determine what you can do to combat these. From there, work on creating a skin-care regimen that’s easy to follow. Your skin will be back on track in no time!

4. Utilize Telemedicine

Telemedicine allows you to connect directly with a healthcare professional online. From there, you can receive a proper diagnosis and even a prescription sent straight to your door. Too sick to go to the doctor? This is the perfect time to speak to a health professional online. Or, if you’re in a new city where you don’t have a specialist, you can leverage telemedicine to get the care you need. Are you taking care of your skin with a new regimen as suggested in section 3, but nothing’s changing? Contact a dermatologist online to get a prescribed acne treatment sent right to your dorm room. Technology is making prioritizing your health even easier.

5. Avoid Liquid Calories

Getting that caramel macchiato before class sounds like a great idea to stay caffeinated, but is it really? Many coffee beverages are filled with sugar, causing you to crash much harder later. Sodas, certain teas, and energy drinks can also contain large amounts of sugar as well. Try to swap your coffee for a plain one and trade flavored drinks for water to stay hydrated throughout the day. If you’re not a fan of water, try infusing fruit into a water bottle for added flavor. 

6. Practice Stress-Relieving Techniques

College can be stressful, there’s no doubt about it. Although you can’t always prevent stress from happening, you can find healthy techniques to help you deal with stress. It’s important to find a technique that works specifically for you and your needs. Common methods include yoga, meditation, walking in nature, journaling, talking it out, or going for a run. Once you find one that you enjoy, be sure to practice it whenever you’re starting to feel overwhelmed.

Career Other

Essential Questions Regarding Tuition Refunds & Tuition Insurance

June 27, 2019

Back to school season brings with it the usual media discussion about the cost of college, and what is necessary and what might not be needed for families to be best prepared for the fall semester.

Many insurance products aren’t essential… until you need them. Then, they can be a lifeline that helps protect your family from potentially devastating losses; always ask yourself about the risk you are taking for your investment in higher education. Can you afford to pay for an extra semester of college if something happens?

We suggest that all college students and families ask three questions prior to the start of college:

  1. What is the financial consequence if your student is unable to complete the semester due to a serious illness, injury or death of a parent?
  2. Does your school provide 100% refunds for medical withdrawals?
  3. Can you afford to protect your investment with tuition insurance?

When selecting a school, it is imperative that you know that schools tuition refund policy.

Today, many parents don’t know the answer to any of the questions above. Most have no idea how the school they attend would handle a refund if their student was unable to complete the semester due to an unexpected illness or injury.

Determining the Need for Tuition Insurance:  Medical withdrawals are an infrequent, but costly event for students and their families. A 2015 survey of college officials estimated that 41% of campuses report having more than 1% of students complete a medical withdrawal a year and 59% indicating less than 1%. Data from the 2019 Association of College Health Administrators (ACHA) national student health reports also highlights the frequency of events that students indicate may disrupt their education:

Protect Your Student & Your Investment:   Unless schools provide 100% refunds for medical withdrawals, GradGuard suggests that parents’ purchase at least some tuition refund insurance coverage for their student.  Check GradGuard.com for the coverage options available at your school. Note that certain school programs offer different pricing and coverage options and there are limitations to tuition refund insurance coverage.

Remember that coverage must be purchased prior to the start of school and may are not available to residents of all states. Remember to see your personal policy for complete details after you purchase!

This article was updated in July 2020

Health Other

5 Ways to Stay Mentally Healthy During Finals Week

December 12, 2018

Exam period is stressful for every student, regardless of how great your grades are. Some students stress out way too much and it eventually affects their mental health. If you do not want to get into the same situation – check out our advice on how to stay mentally healthy during your finals week below.

Stay organized

Most students, especially not the most successful ones, start panicking before their finals. This often is resulted in them nervously jumping from one subject to another, trying to learn the semester’s material in one week. Let’s be realistic here, that is not going to happen. There is something you could do though. Set yourself a strict schedule and follow it. It is better to learn half of the material but with the full effort put into it, than to know random facts that most likely will not save you during the exam.

Get enough sleep

It is crucial that you get plenty of sleep, especially during those stressful weeks of exams. A good night’s sleep reduces your stress level and makes you memorize things quicker. Make sure you include at least 8 hours of sleep into your daily schedule.

Positive attitude

How often do you hear teenagers say something like ‘if I fail this exam my life is over’? Well, the thing is that the more you think like this, the bigger is the chance that you actually might fail. Do not put unnecessary psychological tension on yourself, exams are not the end of the world. Do your study, be positive and relax during the examination process – you will remember things much easier this way. Remember when Ron Weasley won the match because he thought he drank the magical portion? That is the same trick here. Positive thinking.

Exercise

Recent research shows that exercising does not only make wonders to your body, but to your mind as well. By including short workout breaks into your schedule, you will greatly reduce your stress level and anxiety. Therefore, you will study more productively. And that is the aim here, right?

Eat well

If you are on a diet – exam week is the perfect time to end it. This is the time that your body will most likely be in a lot of stress. In this case, you will need as much ‘body fuel’ as you can get. But that does not mean that you have to stuff yourself with soda and junk food. Eat healthily but do not limit yourself too much. You can even eat cake once in a while – your brain sure does need sugar.

So these are the basic 5 rules for you to follow during your exam week. If you do not neglect these, your success rate will go up during this stressful week. GradGuard is there for you during finals week and wishes you luck where you need it the most!

BIO
Daniela McVicker has been writing as a hobby for quite a while. Over the past couple of years, she has been a successful contributor to various websites. Now she is working as a writer and editor at Topwritersreview.

Health Other

Ways to Survive on Little Slumber in College

June 5, 2018

Most students experience more work and less sleep when they get to college. In many instances, you’ll find yourself in a position where you must get up and go to class with as little as 3 to 4 hours sleep the night before.

So, what do you do to function on little to no sleep? Here are a few tips.

Caffeinate 

There is a reason why there are many coffee shops and stands near or around campus. College students devour lots of caffeine. Coffee is a great pick me up in the morning and during all-nighters.

The caffeine in coffee helps you stay awake. It also makes you more alert. That’s because it contains chemicals that stimulate your brain. This allows you to concentrate better and feel less tired.

However, it has a downside as well. Caffeine can make you irritable and jittery. Additionally, consuming anything with caffeine late in the day may make it hard to fall asleep that night and lead to a consistently groggy sleep schedule. 

Take Power Naps

Sleep is one of the most important things for college students. Besides making you feel less tired, it also offers many other benefits. Some of these include better memory, improved focus, and concentration. All of which make you more productive and help you get better grades.

At the same time, getting shut-eye helps you make fewer mistakes. It also keeps your immune system healthy, so you don’t get sick and fall behind in any of your classes.

When it comes to napping, try keeping them under 30 minutes. This prevents you from waking up feeling groggy. They call them power naps for a reason! 

Exercise

Exercise is probably the last thing you want to do when you feel tired. Ironically, it not only helps wake you up but also gives you more energy. This is thanks to the increased blood circulation and metabolism boost your body experiences when you move around.

Exercise also helps you sleep better at night so you can make the best out of the little slumber time that’s available to you.

Drink Lots of Water

Water, unlike caffeine, doesn’t give you any boost in energy. However, research shows that dehydration will make you feel more fatigued.

Between homework, project deadlines and rushing to classes in different buildings, you may forget to drink the recommended 2 liters of water daily. This can cause you to feel more tired than you usually do.

Eat!

Of course, don’t forget to eat. Food is your main source of energy. It is what your body uses for fuel. Getting enough sustenance will allow your body and mind to function even when you’re short on sleep.

For energy, choose carbs and protein. But, skip refined carbs like white bread and potatoes. These give you a jolt of energy in the short term. But, you’ll also crash a few hours later. Instead, choose unrefined carbs like grains and oatmeal.

We hope these tips will help you maximize yourself on minimum sleep. To give you peace of mind when you do sleep, consider covering your personal belongings with GradGuard’s Renter’s Insurance. GradGuard is committed to keeping your mind at ease while you sleep knowing that you are protected by our renters insurance. Learn more about how you can get renters insurance through GradGuard by visiting our website.

About the Author: Emma Lymn is the editor of Health Grinder, a health and nutrition blog. She is passionate about helping others learn to eat healthily and lose weight. A proud mom of two kids and a very spoiled dog, she enjoys traveling and volunteering in her spare time.