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student risk

Health

How to Support a Friend Struggling with Their Mental Health

January 19, 2022

We all go through periods of self-doubt, feelings of sadness and despair, and a lack of motivation. Sometimes we don’t want to share this with others. Other times, we may have had people there for us. It’s important to be there for people we love when they are struggling with their mental health.

The past few years have been difficult for many amidst the pandemic. Many young adults are struggling with their mental health and it’s important to know what signs to look out for. Read on for what to look for and how to offer support.

21% of U.S. adults experienced mental illness in 2020 (52.9 million people). This represents 1 in 5 adults.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration

Looking Out for Signs

Mental health is a very sensitive subject that many people tend to undermine and it can be uncomfortable to talk about. Knowing the signs to look out for in your friends who might be struggling with mental health issues is crucial so we are able to support them when they need us most. Some things to look out for when trying to distinguish when a friend of yours might be struggling with their mental health are sudden changes in behavior, appearance, mood, or actions.

Some more specific changes in behavior that someone might see in their friends, according to The Jed Foundation, are:

  • Someone no longer wants to participate in activities they once enjoyed
  • Isolating themselves from friends and family
  • Communicating less than normal
  • Sleeping more and still feeling tired
  • Being less productive at work or school
  • Eating differently, either losing their appetite or eating much more than usual
  • Increasing their use of drugs and alcohol and showing impaired judgment or reduced inhibitions

After recognizing any of these signs in your friends, you can then work towards getting them to open up to you or a mental health professional about their struggles and hopefully get the help they need. It is important to know that we can’t push anyone to speak to us before they are ready, but by recognizing they are having a difficult time and being there for them can be life-changing.

How You Can Help

Trying to offer help to someone struggling with mental health is a difficult task because often those struggling are so consumed by their emotional turmoil, they don’t want help and get frustrated when it’s offered. We have to be careful to go about helping our friends who are struggling so they feel nothing but love and support from us. Try starting with scheduling a get together in a private place conducive to sensitive conversations. Begin the conversation with a concerning and supportive tone and try to be specific about the changes you have witnessed in their behavior. It’s easy for those struggling to feel both alone and embarrassed, so we must assure them that they’re not alone and that we’re there for them and are someone they can turn to for support. You must be mindful of your words and be careful to never act in a judgmental manner or with any sort of accusatory tone when speaking with anyone struggling with mental health. Don’t attempt to find any sort of solution or quick fix. It’s also important to note that you shouldn’t gossip about your friend who is struggling and betray their confidence. If you’re worried about their immediate safety, speak with a mental health professional or contact someone who can assist your friend.

Mental health struggles are something that many people struggle with for their entire life. The last thing we want to do is minimize the severity of what they are dealing with as it can cause our friends to resent confiding in us and may then never ask for help. The best thing for friends and family to do when trying to support someone dealing with a mental health crisis is to assure them that they have a support system behind them. We might not understand what they are going through, but we sure can be there for them to lean on and support as best we can. 

Check with your university’s or college’s health center for more information about the resources available on your campus.

Getting Help & Support for Suicide

We can all help prevent suicide. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals in the United States.

If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or suicidal crisis, 1-800-273-8255 or dial 988 to be connected to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also contact your local law enforcement for immediate help.

Adulting Other Transition

How to Manage Bills as a College Student

December 30, 2021

College can be a challenging time for students, but it doesn’t need to be stressful.

College students often struggle to manage their money and pay their bills on time as they move to this new chapter in their life. We are here to help you learn what you need to know about managing your finances as a college student.

Take Note of Every Expense

The first step in budgeting your money is to figure out what your monthly expenses will be.

You will have to pay for housing, utilities, phone service, internet access, and food while you are in college – it’s just the way things work! While different students have different living arrangements, most students will need to pay for these things. You may also need to consider the costs of transportation, textbooks, and other school supplies. Also, don’t forget the costs of any extracurricular activities or hobbies you want to pursue, like joining a club or participating in intramural sports.

From Netflix to the water bill, write down every single monthly expense you have. The more you know about how much all these things cost each month, the better prepared you can be for managing your money.

Begin with Your Fixed Costs

The first type of expense in factor into your budget are the ones that don’t change, or changes very little from month to month. This can include any bills you pay that are not negotiable (meaning the payment cannot be negotiated by a credit card, check, or cash, such as rent payments and car insurance premiums. These are important to remember and can serve as the foundation of your monthly budget.

List your Flexible Expenses

The next step is to determine your variable expenses – these are the monthly bills that change from month to month depending on how much you use. Common examples include utilities, groceries, transportation or gas, and even some cell phone plans. It can be very easy to go over budget with these types of expenses and is crucial that you pay attention to how much you are spending each month.

Plan on Unexpected Expenses

Life happens and you can’t always plan. One thing you should plan for is unexpected expenses, like car repairs or doctor visits. You can do this by setting aside a small amount each month (e.g., $20) in an emergency fund using your checking account. Another way to help the unexpected is to set aside money each month in to a savings account. This can be used for unexpected things you may need, or want, such as trips or a going out to eat that you did not account for in your budget.

Once you have paid all of your bills and set aside this monthly emergency fund, you have reached the end of your spending plan for each month. The amount left over in your checking account is yours to do with as you see fit!

What if money is too tight?

In some situations, budgeting may be difficult and you may not have enough money. If this is the case, it’s important to figure things out as soon as possible – don’t wait until your bills become overdue!

If you need more income to cover expenses, look into getting a job or increasing your hours at work. If you have to cut spending, start with the things that are not as important such as eating out or shopping.

However, attending college is often a full-time job in and of itself. On top of that, it’s important for you as a student to have a healthy amount of free time and disposable income for entertainment and leisure in order to manage the stress of college.

If you have your basic budget under control but need a little leeway for leisure and unexpected expenses, there are plenty of credit cards designed specifically for college students that will help take the pressure off. Just make sure to do your research and compare cards before signing on!

Conclusion

At the end of the day, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the number of expenses you have as a college student. However, if you take an organized approach and write down each expense before it becomes due, managing your money should become much easier.

Author Bio

Colin Crown is a contributing writer and media specialist for Compare Credit. He is an avid foodie, marketing enthusiast and loves the city of Memphis.

Other

Student Health Insurance Review by the Wall Street Journal

December 17, 2021

The September 26th edition of the Wall Street Journal published an article titled  “How College Health Plans Are Failing Students”. The article written by Jessical Silver-Greenberg and Mary Pilon, is comprehensive in its discussion of the limits of many school sponsored student health plans. However, it failed to address just how few affordable choices students have if the school plan does not meet their needs.

Unlike permanent health insurance, these Student Health Plans are designed for students and often times schools are trying to balance affordability with coverage needed at that particular life stage.   Schools and insurers alike should be creating more choice for students so they can find the right plan to meet their needs while making certain all options provide acceptable standards of coverage.

GradGuard shares the goal of colleges that seek to mitigate the risks that could interfere with a students goal of completing an education.     Health coverage is fundamental to this goal and is addressed through GradGuard’s Student Health Plan. In addition to GradGuard’s Student Health Plan, GradGuard also offers tuition insurance, college renters insurance and the Student Protection Plan.

Please read the entire article on WSJ.com or to see some of the highlights included here:

Changing Regulations:

The new health care legislation has immediate and potentially long term consequences for college students.

“On Thursday, (blog note – September 23rd) the first big pieces of the new health-care overhaul took effect. Among other things, the rules mandate that insurance companies offer coverage to adult children until the age of 26 and devote at least 80% of their revenue to health-care costs.   But one major player was notably absent from these new rule changes: colleges. They have managed to sidestep, at least for now, the regulatory clampdown that has sent hospitals, insurers and corporations scrambling.   How’d they pull it off? Since student plans for the school year were negotiated before Sept. 23, they aren’t subject to the regulations this year.

The health-care overhaul has major implications for young adults and their parents. For the first time, parents will have the choice of keeping their graduate-student children on their corporate insurance plans or opting for cheaper college plans.

There is broad consensus that, as a group, college health-insurance plans rank among the worst in the nation for consumers. Many college plans come with remarkably low benefit ceilings—in some cases as little as $2,500.    Others limit areas of coverage, such as preventative services and chemotherapy.

The upshot: Students are often much less insured than they think they are. In extreme cases high-school seniors with health issues might be advised to consider a college’s health plan before attending.

The college health-care system is a hodgepodge of school plans and private insurance. According to the Government Accountability Office, more than half of the nation’s colleges offer school-sponsored plans. All told, about 80% of college students, nearly 7 million people, are covered by private or public health insurance.…

Most schools aim to provide the best care for the lowest cost. Students tend to be healthier than the general population, so school plans don’t need the safety nets found in adult plans. “

Change in Status of Group Plans?

The WSJ article goes on to discuss the debate surrounding how the new health care legislation applies to college sponsored plans.

“The American College Health Association “is supporting regulatory clarification that would allow student plans to preserve the grouplike status that is vital to providing lower cost coverage to students,” says Jake Baggott, ACHA’s advocacy coalition chair. Dr. Turner, ACHA’s president until June, says the spirit of his conversation with the White House was that “they would be happy to include in the regulations the necessary language to assure preservation of the plans.”

Insurers seem to be confident they will get their way. According to three people familiar with the matter, Aetna has told colleges that they have nothing to worry about because their plans will be exempted. Aetna says it never conveyed that message to its members. “We expect that all student plans that wish to be credible will comply with minimum coverage requirements as soon as possible,” says Ethan Slavin, a spokesman for the insurer.  Good insurance plans are marked by a few elements, among them benefit ceilings of at least $250,000, generous prescription drug plans and emergency room coverage. According to the GAO, more than half of all school plans have ceilings of less than $30,000.

Parents and students can get the most for their money by carefully examining school plans before signing up. Health-care planning should come long before enrollment, says James A. Boyle, president of the College Parents of America, a Virginia-based nonprofit.”

Questions to Ask?

“Anyone considering a school plan should ask a number of questions, say experts:

• What is the maximum benefit for the policy?

• Are prescriptions and mental health services included?

• What happens to coverage if you leave school, go abroad or graduate?

• What is the loss ratio?

• Do any on-campus services, such as checkups or flu shots, overlap with existing coverage?

Parents who are considering keeping their child on their personal insurance should ask their benefits representative or insurer about how coverage will be carried over on campus and off—especially at schools far from home. (This also applies to graduate students and to adult children under age 26.) They should also be ready to sign a waiver with the school so they’re not charged for automatic enrollment in a campus policy.

If, after getting all these answers, both the employer and school insurance options seem unappealing, parents should consider using a site like eHealthInsurance.com, which allows for comparison browsing among 10,000 plans from 180 carriers.  (Blog Note – eHealth provides the GradGuard Student Health Plan as its national alternative for students.)

 

Adulting Student Life

How to Build Credit as a College Student

October 18, 2021

Going to college is all about learning, which includes your studies, but also gaining a better understanding of how to manage your finances. A key part of this is building your credit. 

According to Experian, the average FICO score — a type of credit score — in the U.S. in 2020 was 711, which falls into the good credit score range. Good credit can open up more financial opportunities during college and beyond, including more favorable loan terms and interest rates. 

If you want the benefits of having a healthy credit score, here are a few ways to help build your credit to above-average and excellent levels.

Apply for a student credit card

It can be difficult to qualify for certain credit cards when you’re starting to build credit, but student credit cards typically have less strict requirements. Even better, many of the best credit cards for students don’t come with annual costs and provide valuable benefits — which could include earning cash back on your purchases.

To find the right student card for you, consider the benefits and earning rates being offered. A card might be a good fit if its benefits and cashback bonus categories align with your spending habits and lifestyle.

Become an authorized user

You don’t have to apply and qualify for your own credit card to start building your credit. Many credit card companies allow for authorized users to be added to existing accounts. The account owner controls what the authorized user has access to, including having their own card connected to the account.

The benefit of becoming an authorized user is being able to build your credit with the help of the account owner. As long as the credit account is being used and paid off, you should see your credit start to grow. Talk with a family member or trusted friend about becoming an authorized user on their credit card account and whether it would make sense for you.

Use credit responsibly

An essential part of building and maintaining a healthy credit score is ensuring you always use credit responsibly. For example, it typically doesn’t make sense to carry a balance on a credit card because of high interest rates. Paying off your balance in full each month can help you avoid costly fees and interest charges and stay on track toward your financial goals.

It’s important to use credit responsibly so you can improve your credit score. Part of this includes budgeting for your monthly payments and making them on time — whether you open a credit card or take out a loan.

Add rent payments to your credit report

If you’re the type of person who has renters insurance and always pays rent on time, it could make sense to research and consider using a service to report your rental payment history. 

Rent payments aren’t often automatically included on credit reports, but certain services can help report your positive rent payments to different credit bureaus, which could boost your credit score. Since most college students are just getting started building credit, there’s no credit check for GradGuard’s Renters Insurance.

Consider a credit-builder loan

Apart from credit cards, you can also use loans, such as credit-builder loans, to help build your credit. With a credit-builder loan, a lender will typically add the proceeds to a secured savings account. You’ll make regular monthly payments toward the loan balance, and the money becomes available to you once you pay off the loan.

You have to pay some interest for the borrowed money, but this type of opportunity can be helpful if your options for building credit are limited. Many banks and financial institutions offer credit-builder loans.

Final thoughts

No matter your field of study, having a solid understanding of credit and its potential benefits can help shape your future financial decisions. And if you start building your credit now, you’ll pave the way for unlocking valuable financial opportunities down the road.

BIO: FinanceBuzz’sVP of Content, Tracy Odell, also held the same position at Student Loan Hero and has expertise in this subject, as well as all things related to college finances.

Health Student Life

Why College Students Should Exercise Regularly

October 14, 2021

College can be daunting and exhausting. For some, managing their time well has become a part of their daily routine. But for some students who can’t handle college life well, focusing on several activities at once could be an overwhelming process.

As a college student with more than one stressor, keeping a healthy routine that includes regular exercise is essential. It’s not only great for physical benefits, but it can also rewire your brain.

Here are seven crucial reasons college students should incorporate exercise in their daily life.

Improves Concentration and Focus

You may not know it now, but a workout can help improve your concentration and focus.

When you exercise, you allow your brain to stimulate new cells. This can help boost your overall well-being, including concentration and keeping the mind focused. Such activity can result in being more productive in your school work and could help you ace that exam you’ve dreaded since the start of the semester.

Relieves Stress

Stress is one reason some college students fail to get a passing mark. We’re not generalizing the scenario, but we all know how stress could affect students’ study habits.

While stress can do that to people, exercise can counter the decline in neurotransmitters. As such, your brain will produce endorphins that could generally make you feel happier or relaxed. It could even lessen your chances of experiencing heart attacks or stomach problems.

Enhances Memory

The brain cells found in our hippocampus are responsible for the formation of memories. It’s also where you dig up and recall memories that are in the past.

So when you study for a quiz, you use the cells in your hippocampus to store and form memories that could help you remember what you’ve read. It’s a helpful tool when you sit down on your chair and start taking the quiz.

But like every cell in our body, they tend to diminish. To avoid losing your brain’s power, use exercise to help build a better block for your memory. It boosts the creation of these important cells that could make an impact on your college life.

Stimulates Brain Cell Development

Our brain is a beautiful machine. It’s what keeps our bodily functions moving and fighting against external stressors.

However, the most exciting part of the brain is cell development that could help us improve our lifestyle.

Treat your brain as your physical body. To be able to function well, you have to feed it with essential nutrients. That includes maintaining a healthy exercise routine.

It’s essential to stimulate brain cell development at this stage in your life. That’s because it’s where you juggle school activities and the troubles of being an adult.

Builds Immune System Strength

At this point in your life, you’d want to avoid getting sick at all because missing one school activity can drastically affect your class standing. Building your immune system should be a top priority, especially because stress can attack your body in ways that you don’t expect.

Regular exercise is one way to boost your immune system. It will allow your body to fight off the common cold, flu, and sometimes even severe health conditions.

Improves Physical Health

Of course, the first thing you’ll notice when you start exercising is developing your physical health. You could quickly feel your muscles being pumped and improving your strength and endurance.

Exercising can include visiting the gym, doing home workouts, yoga, pilates, or even joining your school’s hiking club. Remember that you should pick a flexible regimen that could fit your schedule and match your physical capacity to move around.

We recommend making an outdoor trip once in a while to keep you inspired and to avoid the effects of burnout. You may not have the whole outdoor adventure gear, but to keep walking sticks for hiking in your college dorm is enough to last you an hour or two out in the wild.

Boosts Your Mood

We’ve mentioned earlier the effects of endorphins in our bodies. It’s essential to keep a positive vibe for most of the days during your college years. It’s a basic weapon to survive the most grueling tasks of beating deadlines, maintaining a grade, and learning from all your subjects.

You can improve your mood by doing light to moderate exercises at least three times a week. You may think that squeezing in a 30-minute exercise into your already busy day is hard. But you can achieve this without sweat with proper time management!

Safety Student Life

How to Stay Safe in College

July 1, 2021

College can be a crazy and scary new step in every incoming freshman’s life. Whether attending college in your hometown or 6+ hours away, it is important to stay safe on and off campus. A new location and responsibilities can leave you vulnerable. Below are tips that new college kids need to remember on how to be safe during the school year.

Tips:

  • Stay aware and travel in groups.
  • Save the phone numbers of campus police and town police.
  • Be aware of the safety and mental health services provided on campus including rides, hotlines and blue safety lights.
  • Join the local/campus safety Facebook for look-outs and warnings.
  • Share schedules with friends and roommates. 
  • Learn about any dangerous parts around town

College is a time for you to meet new people, gain an education and learn new experiences. Have fun and get the most out of your time in college but remember that safety is really important when going out. Most stories you might hear occur when girls are going out in the middle of night. You may also hear stories where people say they had a really an unpleasant feeling before something bad happened. Don’t be afraid to leave if you’re uncomfortable in a situation. Sometimes your gut knows more than you. The best thing you can do is learn from your mistakes and the experiences of others. Below are good tips to remember when going out.

Tips:

  • Always have a designated driver or call an Uber/Lift.
  • Go out with people that you can trust and will take care of you.
  • Never take a drink offered by someone unless you saw them make it. 
  • Share plans or locations when going out or on a date.

If you are left with one piece of information before you go off to college, it should be:

Be aware, use your common sense, but most importantly go live your life at college!

BIO: Emily Bruchmiller is a Senior at Texas Tech University. She is double majoring in Marketing and Management. She is interning at GradGuard for the summer. She loves to spend time with her friends, hiking, and going to new places in her free time.

Student Life

Testimonial: Protect Your Stuff This Semester With Renters Insurance

January 4, 2021

College might feel like one big protective bubble. As much as people like to think that it will never happen to them, the reality is that crime can affect anybody.

Closed-in environments, like college housing units and apartment complexes, are often especially targeted by thieves. In fact, 30,000 or more burglaries related to college students and campuses are reported each year, according to the U.S. Department of Education Campus Safety and Security.

However, there are certain measures one can take to ensure peace of mind about personal belongings staying safe. One of those measures is protecting your stuff with renters insurance, which came in handy for a student at San Francisco State University when her laptop was stolen from her dorm room.

Eyu first learned about GradGuard’s Renters Insurance when she started school at SFSU. Based on the affordability for college students like her, she purchased a policy while living in the dorms on campus.

One day, when she went to the bathroom, she left her dorm room door cracked open. Her laptop was on her bed before she left, and when she returned, it was gone. Eyu filed a police report for the theft and then called GradGuard to file a claim.

She was reimbursed for her laptop and was able to purchase a new one.

“I learned a lot from this situation,” Eyu said. “I can’t afford to pay for another laptop. So if it wasn’t for that insurance, I don’t know… I probably would have never had my laptop.”

Don’t be a victim to theft! Protect your stuff for college, including your laptop, bike, and backpack, with GradGuard’s Renters Insurance.

Adulting Student Life

Do College Students Need Renters Insurance or Does a Homeowners Insurance Policy Cover Them?

December 28, 2020

There are 17 million students enrolled in American undergraduate degree programs. While a small portion of these students continue to live at home, the majority live in campus housing or in off-site housing near their institutions during the academic year. 

Planning for college housing can be an intensive process. Schools, students, and their families worry about roommates, transportation, and dozens of other factors in hopes of creating the best possible living and learning environments. Too often, though, one critical concern falls through the cracks: insurance coverage.

But aren’t college students covered by their families’ homeowners policies? Do separate renters insurance policies offer enough extra protections to be worthwhile? Here are the facts.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover College Students? 

“Will my parents’ homeowners insurance cover me in college?” is not a question that many students think to ask. Most understandably assume that the answer is “of course,” particularly if they intend to live in dorms or other on-campus housing. But how accurate is this assumption?

A survey of the top 20 insurance providers shows that only 13 include coverage for college students in their homeowners’ policies. Among these:

  • Some policies provide only liability coverage with no protections for personal property
  • Some policies provide coverage for students in dorms but not for students living in apartments or off-campus housing 
  • Some policies offer reduced protections or coverage for students living away from home
  • Deductibles are often higher for situations where the affected family member is a college student living away from home
  • Factors such as where the college is located and campus crime rates can affect coverage, leading to unexpected coverage gaps

College student coverage can vary widely between insurers and between policies from the same insurer. In almost every case, coverage for students at school is different than for the rest of the family or for the student while they are at home.

Families must review their policies carefully to determine what protections they offer. 

The Pros and Cons of Relying on Homeowners Insurance  

Do you have a homeowners’ policy that offers protections for college students? If so, there are many benefits of taking advantage of that coverage rather than buying a separate renters policy for your student. 

  • You don’t have to pay extra for a second policy 
  • There will be no confusion over which policy applies in the event that you need to make a claim
  • You continue to enjoy coverage with a provider and policy you are familiar with and trust 
  • If you have already made payments toward your deductible, they will reduce your out-of-pocket costs in future claims

Relying on your homeowners’ policy can have disadvantages as well, however. 

  • Your policy may not offer the extent of coverage that you need in the event of theft or other losses
  • You may face a separate and higher deductible for incidents involving your student 
  • You may run into unexpected and expensive coverage gaps depending on the circumstances
  • Filing and documenting claims may be challenging if your student is going to college far away but the policy is in your name

How much coverage you need and whether or not your existing policy is enough depends largely on your personal circumstances. 

Is Renters Insurance for College Kids Worth It?

Purchasing renters insurance for college students has its own pros and cons. It can be beneficial in that:

  • It tends to fully cover personal property, liability, and living expenses, giving you peace of mind 
  • Your coverage limits will be clearly spelled out, preventing gaps and unwelcome surprises
  • You may be able to secure a low-cost policy if your students’ roommates and their families chip in as well
  • Students can file claims and documentation themselves in the event of an incident 
  • Co-purchasing a policy with your student can teach them key life skills
  • Dual coverage under renters and homeowners policies ensures you are fully covered no matter what

But separate renters policies for students are not without their drawbacks.

  • They add extra costs to already-expensive undergraduate educations
  • They may need to be replaced or adjusted each time your students’ living situation or roommates change
  • Claims made by your students’ roommates show up in your insurance claim history which can be detrimental if there are large or numerous claims
  • You may need to juggle claims between the renters and homeowners policies if something happens 
  • Buying a policy that covers your student can be pricey depending on where your student lives while in school

While it can be a relief to have your coverage spelled out in a separate policy and know that you will be covered, it is important to weigh the costs and benefits to determine how valuable such a policy will actually be for you. 

How to Make the Most of Your Coverage

There are several steps that students and their families can take to help them decide what coverage they need. These steps will also enable them to make the most of their coverage, whether they rely on their homeowners’ policy or purchase renters insurance. 

Make an Inventory

Making an inventory of everything your student will take to college with them serves several purposes. First, it helps you assess the types of items you need coverage for and the total value of coverage that you need. This makes it easier to review your existing policy and evaluate how adequate its coverage is. 

If you choose to buy a new policy, it will also help you choose the right level of coverage there.  

Take Basic Safety Precautions 

Take a few minutes to review safety tips and practices with your student when they move into their student housing each semester. Make sure that:

  • Window and door locks are in proper working order
  • Lighting and other safety features are in proper working order
  • Secondary locks such as padlocks or bike locks are available to safeguard high-cost items 

These small steps can significantly reduce the likelihood of theft and loss no matter what type of coverage you have. 

Choosing With Confidence

Once you know what level of coverage you need and how much your homeowners’ policy covers, you’ll be able to confidently decide if renters insurance is right for you. If it is, let us help you find the policy and coverage you need today. 

Safety

Safety for College Students Over the Holidays

December 3, 2020

With the holidays and subsequent winter break quickly approaching, it’s time to start making plans. As stressful as this time of year can be, especially now with the COVID-19 pandemic still in full swing, it’s imperative you’re taking the right precautions to keep your physical, emotional, and mental health safe.

Whether you’re traveling back home or staying in place this year, here are some tips worth keeping in mind over the upcoming winter break:

Brush Up on Road Safety Tips

Many students are most likely finding their travel plans up in the air this year. For some, flying back home is no longer a possibility as airplanes can be major hotspots for the spread of COVID-19. With that in mind, there’ll likely be more cars than usual on the road as people try to travel more safely back home. Beyond being a more attentive and cautious driver to better navigate the increase in traffic, it’s also important to remember basic safety tips if your car breaks down:

  • Be Prepared: Before you hit the road, pack your car with an emergency kit that includes essentials such as water, blankets, personal safety accessories, and first aid necessities. It may take a while for help to reach you if you get stuck in a snowbank in a remote area or the like, so it’s always a good idea to be prepared in case you have to wait a bit.
  • Stay With Your Vehicle: If you’re in a hurry and break down, it might be tempting to start walking towards the nearest gas station or town, but that can be dangerous. You could be injured by other drivers while walking or get lost in dangerously cold temperatures. If you have to walk, make sure you are as visible as possible to others.
  • Get Your Car Off of the Road (If Possible): The best-case scenario if you’re having car issues is to get on the shoulder of the road; however, that’s not always possible. If you break down in the middle of the road, most cars can still be steered to a safe waiting area with the help of another passenger. If you’re traveling alone though, the risks that come with trying to steer and push your car to the shoulder are sometimes more dangerous than breaking down on the road itself. If you can’t move, make yourself as visible as possible with your hazards, flares, flags, or reflectors to avoid accidents.

Of course, the ideal situation is that you’ll arrive at your destination without any hiccups — but on the off chance that something does go awry, knowing what to do can keep you safe and get you back on the road faster. 

Practice Self-Regulation to Combat Stress

This year has been an extremely difficult time for several reasons: sudden campus closures, remote learning difficulties, canceled social events, and more. And now, many students are feeling the mental and emotional health strain of not being able to go back home to see loved ones during major holidays. 

Learning more about self-regulation skills and utilizing them is a great and healthier way for students, beyond the pandemic and holidays, to handle stressors. Additionally, self-regulation skills make things such as completing assignments, regulating our emotions, and preparing for upcoming semesters more manageable. Of course, this can be helpful for anyone, regardless of age or station in life, but with higher rates of depression and anxiety among young adults, developing self-regulation skills and anticipating setbacks can be critical to being safer and more successful.

Don’t Be Afraid to Get Professional Help

If there was only one word to sum up this year, a strong contender would likely be disappointment. With most major social events such as Rush Week, homecoming, and school games being canceled, along with internships, performances, and other extracurricular activities, this year is disappointing for a lot of students. Of course, these are necessary precautions to ensure the safety of campuses and communities, but it can still be hard to come to terms with.

Luckily, there are resources to help you if you find yourself struggling to cope with everything this year. Moreover, with the increased use of telemedicine thanks to COVID-19, setting up virtual sessions with a therapist or campus counselor is easier than ever. Check your campus-provided counseling resources to see if they’re a fit for you and your needs or, if you’re under 26 years old and still on your parent’s insurance, set up an appointment with your healthcare provider to get a referral. It’s okay to need a little extra help sorting through your emotions during this crisis, especially while also juggling your academic life. 

AUTHOR BIO: Sam Bowman has a passion for learning. As a seasoned professional writer, he specializes in topics about people, education, tech and how they merge. In his spare time he likes running, reading, and combining the two in a run to his local bookstore.

Health Other

6 Things You Might Not Know About Mono

May 27, 2020

Mononucleosis, more commonly known as “Mono” is relatively common among college students. It is caused by the spreading of the Epstein-Barr virus through saliva, mucus, and sometimes even tears. Many call Mono “the kissing disease”, because it is notoriously spread through kissing, but here are some facts you might not know about the disease.

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