At the Towson University Health Center we believe health is more than just the absence of disease, which is why we use a holistic, wellness approach to health.
According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and the National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get between 7 - 9 hours of sleep each night. Studies have shown that getting consistent sleep each night can regulate mood and is related to learning and memory functions. It may also be a critical factor in overall health, weight and energy level.
- Create a perfect sleeping room. Redo your bedroom so that it’s dark, quiet and peaceful. Get rid of distractions. And make sure your bed and clothing are as comfortable as possible.
- Develop a bedtime routine. Activities that make you feel drowsy, like soothing music or reading a “dull” book, can help you unwind from a busy day and prepare you for an undisturbed night
- Avoid all evening stimulants and alcohol. Alcohol and coffee can disrupt your sleep, so avoid them at dinnertime and for the rest of the evening. Caffeine activates alertness and stress hormones that can affect your body for 8 hours or more.
- Keep your room and body cool. Your body core temperature has to drop in order for you to fall asleep. So keep your bedroom cool – between 55 and 72 degrees. And, since food raises body temperature, make sure your evening calories are low.
- Get your exercise just right. Regular daily exercise reduces stress and helps you to relax. Since physical activity also raises your core body temperature, try to get your exercise completed during the daytime or at least by early evening.
Quick tips for improving naps: Did you know that taking a 20-30 minute nap could improve your academic performance? Follow the tips below and you will be on your way to success!
- Limit your nap to 20-30 minutes. This will boost your alertness, productivity and concentration.Set an alarm to wake you up in 20-30 minutes.
- Nap in the late morning or early afternoon. If you nap too late in the day you may disrupt your nighttime sleep.
- Minimize sleep distractions with a dark and quiet place to nap. Use an eye shade and earplugs.
Researchers from colleges across the United States are affirming the belief that thinking positively, being grateful, and having a positive attitude actually builds resiliency, self esteem, and increases mood among college students (Kent State University, 2014)
Quick tips for thinking positively:
- Use only positive words while thinking and while talking. Use words such as, 'I can', 'I am able', 'it is possible', 'it can be done', etc.
- Stop thinking in extremes!
- Allow only feelings of happiness, strength and success into your awareness. What’s your mantra?
- Disregard and ignore negative thoughts…and people!
- Read at least one inspiring quote everyday
- Give thanks daily--Find basic, simple things to be grateful for everyday
As evident year after year from the data from the National College Health Assessment (NCHA), college students are stressed more today than ever. And the same is true for Towson University students. In 2015, 84.6% of Towson students reported feeling overwhelmed by all they had to do on the NCHA survey. In addition, 56.6% reported feeling overwhelming anxiety in the past year.
So what is stress anyway? Stress is the body and minds response to a demand. Stress is caused by stressors—which is anything that puts a demand on the body or mind. There are many types of stressors ranging from biological to behavioral to environmental.
The key to reducing stress is to recognize it, address it, and conquer it. When we recognize our physical and mental signs of stress we can then allow our minds to address and then conquer the stress. It is nearly impossible to avoid stressors (you would have to live in a bubble)…the only thing you truly have control over in your life is your response to stress (keep in mind that you cannot change people, just how you react to people).
Quick tips to reduce stress
- Exercise--boosts mood, increases energy, and reduces stress. So be active at least 20 minutes most days!
- Manage your time--One of the best ways to manage your time is to continually think in the “if and then” mind frame. For example, “if it is 3:00, then I will be studying for my Ethics exam”. This type of self talk engages the brain to commit to tasks. It also makes tasks manageable. If we constantly think about ALL that we have to do we feel overwhelmed. When things feel unmanageable we often engage in destructive or avoidance behaviors such as drinking alcohol, watching TV, mindless eating, etc.
- Get organized--The key to organization is to start right away. Why keep promising yourself to get organized next semester. Start each semester with an organizational plan. Have scheduled times to re-organize and adjust.
- Choose your reaction--It is very easy to live in a “reactive state” but that often leads to regret, escalation of the situation, and feelings of anger. It is best to take a moment from a few seconds to even hours before you can consciously choose the reaction you want.
- Relax Wisely--Instead of spacing out in front of the TV or computer, use down time constructively—go for a walk, do yoga, dance in your living room, cook a healthy meal, or schedule a massage or acupuncture session at the Health Center
- Sleep--Try to get 7-8 hours of sleep a night—take no more than 10-15 minute naps to prevent disrupting your sleep cycle
- Breathe--In times of stress, we tend to take quick, shallow breaths. Try to focus on your breath, ground your feet, and take longer deeper breaths
- Worry…but only for 10 minutes--Set a timer and give yourself a limited time to worry. Think of all the possible outcomes to a situation. Once the time goes off, let it go and visualize the positive
- Put things into perspective--Sometimes the things we stress over the most won’t matter in 5 years. Think about the big picture to help you turn mountains back into molehills