Category Archives: Stress Management

Browse our ideas for stress management for college students. Learn tips and techniques to manage stress as a college student.

Skin Health

It is summer time!  And now is a good time to pay attention to your skincare. You may not be getting any younger, but that doesn’t mean your skin has to suffer the consequences commonly associated with aging.  Simply tweaking a few habits can have a profound effect on the health of your skin. Many toxins are naturally excreted through the skin, which is why internal damage caused by poor lifestyle and nutrition can wreak havoc on skin quality (1). Fortunately, there are many things you can do on a daily basis to maintain a healthy glow.

Protect yourself from the sun: Long-term sun exposure can cause wrinkles, dark spots and can increase your risk of skin cancer. Spending a little time in the sun each day helps your body produce essential Vitamin D (2), but too much sun can cause skin damage. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 (even on cloudy days), and don’t forget to re-apply every couple of hours (3).

Drink plenty of water: Proper hydration is essential to maintain a youthful complexion. Even mild dehydration can cause the skin to become dry. Make sure you are drinking enough water throughout the day. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined that an adequate daily fluid intake is about 15.5 cups for men and 11.5 cups for women (4).

Eat foods with antioxidants: Antioxidants are vital to healthy skin because they reduce skin damage and inflammation. Research shows that eating foods rich in antioxidants can restore healthy skin while also protecting skin from the sun’s damaging rays. Some of the best sources of antioxidants include blueberries, green leafy vegetable and melons (5).

Be tobacco free: Aside from increasing the risk of lung cancer, smoking makes your skin look older and contributes to wrinkles. Smoking damages collagen and elastin – the fibers that give your skin strength and elasticity.

Engage in activities that relieve stress: Chronically elevated stress levels can trigger acne breakouts and other skin problems (6). Find an activity you enjoy and do it regularly. Consider yoga, walking, and meditation to reduce stress. Your skin will thank you!

Check with your skincare professional for more tips to help your specific skin type.

Resources:

  1.  Krohn, J. (1996). The Whole Way to Natural Detoxification. Vancouver: Hartley & Marks Publishers.
  2. Mostafa, Wedad Z., and Rehab A. Hegazy. “Vitamin D and the Skin: Focus on a Complex Relationship: A Review.” Journal of Advanced Research6 (2015): 793–804. PMC. Web. 6 June 2018.
  3. AAD, https://www.aad.org/media/stats/prevention-and-care/sunscreen-faqs
  4. Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/water/art-20044256
  5. American Heart Association, https://www.empoweredtoserve.org/index.php/get-healthy-summer-skin/
  6. Maleki, Aryan, and Noorulain Khalid. “Exploring the Relationship between Stress and Acne: A Medical Student’s Perspective.” Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology11 (2018): 173–174. PMC. Web. 6 June 2018.

Reduce Stress with Physical Activity

College can be stressful. Stress will always be part of life, so the key question is: how will you respond to it? Researchers at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) studied one strategy to help you handle stress during college: physical activity (1). The researchers conducted a 3-day program called “Fitness4Finals” (F4F), which focused on increasing the physical activity of college students during final exams. The goal of the program was to reduce stress levels associated with final exams.

The program included light, moderate, and high intensity exercises. The light intensity exercises included yoga, Pilates, Thai-chi (50 minute duration). Moderate intensity exercises included 50 minute fitness walking, 10-30 minute stair climb, and 4 minute Flash mob. High intensity exercises included 50 minute boot-camp, 50 minute cardio-boxing, and 1.5-5 minute obstacle course. The students participated in at least one of these exercises every day for 3 days.

Researchers examined the change in perceived psychological stress (PPS) of students before and after F4F events. The results revealed that the program was effective in lowering perceived stress of participants. However, physiological measures of stress were not significantly different.

At the end of the program, students said:

  • “I was able to clear my mind and [physical activity] helped me focus more when I did have to sit down and study [for finals].”
  • “[Physical activity] gave me an active outlet and break from schoolwork.”
  • “I felt compelled to relax my mind.”
  • “I felt mentally relaxed after yoga and meditation.”

Being active can be beneficial on many levels, including improving academic performance (2), mental health, social health and physical health (3). You can receive these benefits from any type of physical activity, including fitness walking, jogging, stair climbing, boxing, Pilates, Thai-chi, swimming, and playing basketball, tennis, football. You can make physical activity fun by discovering the exercises you enjoy the most!

College can be stressful, especially during finals. One way to manage stress is by being active. As one of the participants of F4F stated, physical activity can give you an opportunity to clear your mind and relax, which will help you concentrate better during studying. Next time you feel stressed, take a walk or play basketball!

Sources

  1. Koschel, Tessa L., John C. Young, and James W. Navalta. “Examining the Impact of a University-driven Exercise Programming Event on End-of-semester Stress in Students.” International journal of exercise science 10.5 (2017): 754.
  2. Salas CR, Minakata K, Kelemen WL. Walking before study enhances free recall but not judgement-of-learning magnitude. J Cognitive Psychol. 2011;23(4):507–513.
  3. de Vries JD, van Hooff MM, Geurts SE, Kompier MJ. Exercise as an intervention to reduce study-related fatigue among university students: a two-arm Parallel randomized controlled trial. Plos ONE. 2016;11(3):1–21.

Written by HealthWorks member, Deniz Siso

Welcome to the Wellness Suite

What is the Wellness Suite?
The Wellness Suite is located in 020 IM and offers a variety of services and houses both the Center for Fitness and Wellness (CFW) and Health Promotion and Wellness (HPW).

What services are offered at the Wellness Suite?
The suite is divided into two areas. HPW (part of Student Affairs) offers wellness services and the nutrition clinic in this section of its space. Students from the peer education program, HealthWorks, conduct the free wellness services. As a student you can sign up for services on these topics: Healthy Eating, Physical Activity, Sleep, Stress, Healthy Relationships/Sexual Health, and Financial Wellness. Each service consists of three, one-hour session over a three week period. These services are open to all Penn State students and are a great opportunity to take a step towards making healthy lifestyle changes! You can also schedule a nutrition clinic appointment with a registered dietitian. The suite includes a relaxation room with adult coloring books, biofeedback software, and other calming features such as zen gardens and relaxation soundtracks. During the gray winter months, you can use a light therapy box in the relaxation room. All are welcome to come unwind! Wellness services and nutrition clinic appointments are free.

The CFW is part of Kinesiology and offers fitness testing. The CFW peer interns conduct fitness assessments and blood lipid/glucose testing. The fitness assessment consists of body composition, VO2 max bike test, push-up, curl-up, and flexibility tests. Several of the Kinesiology fitness classes (e.g. 061, 093, 201) require students to complete fitness and blood testing, but any student is welcome to make an appointment! The fitness assessment takes ~45 minutes and costs $13.27 and the blood testing is $29.76.

How do I sign up for HPW Wellness Services?
Phone: 814-863-0461
Web: Schedule using https://studentaffairs.psu.edu/free-wellness-services 
Click “schedule online”
Choose a service that interests you!
Hours: 8:00 am – 5:00 pm

How do I sign up for fitness testing with the CFW?
Phone: 814-865-4488
Web: https://sites.psu.edu/kinescfw/schedule-your-assessment/ 
Hours: 7:30 am – 5:30 pm

Physical Wellness: What It Is, Why It’s Important, and How to Cultivate It

What does it mean to have Physical Wellness? Physical wellness means getting adequate sleep, eating a healthy and balanced diet, being physically active every day, and getting an annual medical check-up (1).

Why is Physical Wellness Important? Physical wellness is important because your body needs to be healthy so you can perform to the best of your ability in all areas of your life, including academically.  Physical activity is just one aspect of physical wellness.  It also includes managing your stress, getting enough sleep, and eating a healthy diet.  Many college students struggle with getting enough sleep.  Staying up late to cram for an exam or write a paper can be counterproductive because you will accrue sleep debt.  If you are sleep-deprived, your memory will not be as good and you will not be able to learn efficiently or focus your attention.  Also, sleep, stress and physical activity are all connected.  If you are physically active, you will reduce your stress level and will probably sleep better as well.

How do you cultivate Physical Wellness?  To cultivate physical wellness you must get adequate sleep (7-9 hours) every night (1). Aim for 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per day. Incorporate strength training and stretching into your exercise routine (5). You can achieve a balanced diet by eating at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day (1 serving = about 1 cup), eating whole grains and, if you eat meat, make sure the protein is lean (e. g., fish, chicken). Limit saturated fats, but consider including more unsaturated fatty acids found in foods such as chia seeds, avocados, and salmon (6). Avoid consuming trans fats (6). In general, make sure to eat a variety of whole foods to get the most out of every meal (7).

Sources

  1. Ohio State University Student Wellness Center: 9 Dimensions of Wellness https://swc.osu.edu/about-us/9-dimensions-of-wellness/
  2. Harvard Health Publishing; Harvard Medical School: Importance of Sleep: 6 reasons not to scrimp on sleep https://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/importance_of_sleep_and_health
  3. UC Davis Student Health and Counseling Services: https://shcs.ucdavis.edu/wellness/physical
  4. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Why is Sleep Important? https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sdd/why
  5. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans https://www.hhs.gov/fitness/be-active/physical-activity-guidelines-for-americans/index.html
  6. Choose My Plate: Saturated, Unsaturated, and Trans Fats https://www.choosemyplate.gov/saturated-unsaturated-and-trans-fats
  7. Choose My Plate: USDA Food Pyramid http://www.foodpyramid.com/myplate/

Health Promotion and Wellness now accepting applications for peer educators

Health Promotion and Wellness is currently accepting applications for HealthWorks, a peer outreach and education program at University Park. The deadline to apply is March 2.

HealthWorks offers two unique opportunities for students who are interested in health and wellness. These opportunities include facilitating one-on-one wellness services and conducting outreach events and educational workshops. During the application process students prioritize which opportunity they are most interested in.

Participation in the program is a three semester commitment, which includes one semester of training (during fall 2018)  and two semesters of service. For this reason, students who wish to apply must plan to graduate in fall 2019 or later.

Training for the program requires the completion of a three-credit course offered through Biobehavioral Health in the fall semester.  Students learn about the following topics in the course: alcohol and other drugs, financial literacy, sexual health, nutrition, physical activity, sleep, and stress. There are no prerequisites required to register for the course.

After completing the 3-credit course, participants are required to complete 45 hours of service each semester. Members participate in one of two opportunities:  1) deliver free wellness services about stress and time management, physical activity, nutrition, sleep, sexual health and healthy relationships, and financial literacy;  or 2)  conduct educational workshops, hold outreach events, plan and implement health promotion initiatives.  A few examples of the health promotion initiatives include conducting healthy cooking demonstrations, writing blog and social media posts for Healthy Penn State and appearing in The Body Monologues.   A small group of students are trained to provide HIV test counseling.

If you’re passionate about health and promoting the well-being of all Penn State students, then HealthWorks is a great fit for you,” said Christina Volpicelli, a senior majoring in biobehavioral health.  “HealthWorks also offers many leadership and learning opportunities for its members such as video editing, leading health campaigns, public speaking and teaching skills to educate the Penn State community.  Everything you will learn and the people you will meet through this organization will benefit you throughout any career you wish to pursue.”

For more information about HealthWorks, including an application, please visit  http://studentaffairs.psu.edu/health/wellness/healthWorks.shtml.

 

The Wellness Suite

Health Promotion and Wellness (HPW) has new space. The Wellness Suite is in 20 IM building, downstairs and next to Adventure Recreation.  The Wellness Suite offers many great resources for students including walking maps, Manage Stress workbooks, Smart & Safe at State guides, and free wellness services.
The wellness services are designed to help you set goals, develop skills and enhance your health behaviors.  The topics include: nutrition, physical activity, sleep, stress (with an emphasis on time management or relaxation strategies), healthy relationships and financial wellness. HealthWorks peer educators facilitate the sessions.  The services were developed using research-based models.  Each service is designed to help students increase knowledge and learn new skills that contribute to healthy behaviors and academic success.   Schedule an appointment by calling 814-863-0461.
In the suite, you will find an area with tables, comfy chairs, and a relaxation room.  It’s the prefect place to study or chill out in the middle of a busy day.  The relaxation room features coloring pages and colored pencils, meditation information, a zen garden, and biofeedback software. Visit the Wellness Suite this semester, open MondayFriday 8am-5pm.

Tips to Reduce Stress and Sleep Better

During finals week, most students would agree that their stress level increases, while the number of hours they spend sleeping decreases. This might sound like old news, but did you know that stress and sleep directly affect your overall health and wellness?

Increased stress can lead to decreased sleep, and both can lead to lower academic performance, more illness, weight gain, and increased mental health issues. One way to decrease stress and improve sleep is to incorporate relaxation into your daily routine. Research shows that practicing relaxation techniques may result in recovery from fatigue, better sleep quality, and an increased sense of control and efficacy in stressful situations. Relaxing includes taking a walk in the park, deep breathing exercises, meditation, or yoga. Try the free yoga classes at the Student Health Center from 4-5pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays all fall semester and through finals week.

In addition to stress, sleep can be affected by the blue light that is emitted from electronic screens. Blue light delays the release of sleep-inducing melatonin, increases alertness, and interrupts your circadian rhythm. Normally, the pineal gland in the brain begins to release melatonin a couple of hours before bedtime, and melatonin reaches its peak in the middle of the night. When people use a device that emits blue light (like cell phone) in the evening, it takes them longer to fall asleep and they tend to spend less time in a deep sleep (1).

Interested in learning more about sleep?  Health Promotion and Wellness offers free one-on-one wellness services to students.  Topics include stress and time management, sleep, physical activity, nutrition, healthy relationships and sexual health, and financial wellness.  HealthWorks peer educators provide the services.  These services are FREE and are in the Wellness Suite, 020 IM Building.  To schedule an appointment call 814-863-0461.

  1. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/blue-light-has-a-dark-side

De-Stress at the Wellness Suite

Enjoy end-of-semester activities at the new Wellness Suite! Visit 20 Intramural Building for stress relieving activities this week. Bring your friends and enjoy an hour of fun.

Monday, November 27th from 6-7pm, enjoy putting together puzzles and prepare your breakfast for the next morning. Learn and make your very own Overnight Oats! If you can’t make tonight’s activity, how about Thursday?  On Thursday, November 30th from 6-7pm make your very own stress ball. Something we could all use as finals approach. Check back in for more updates about activities happening in the wellness suite!

Health Promotion and Wellness offers individual wellness services

Health Promotion and Wellness is now offering free Wellness Services for students. The services are designed to help students increase knowledge and learn new skills that contribute to healthy behaviors and academic success.  Services are available for:

  • Financial Wellness
  • Healthy Relationships and Sexual Health
  • Nutrition/Healthy Eating
  • Physical Activity
  • Sleep
  • Stress (Relaxation and Time Management)

Each service includes three 1-hour sessions. Trained peer educators deliver the services. Students can schedule an appointment by calling 814.863.0461.  The services are located in the Wellness Suite, 20 Intramural Building.

Manage Stress 101

Everyone gets excited about returning to Happy Valley for the start of fall semester. As activities and classes get underway, it’s inevitable that your stress level will increase.  On the spring 2016 National College Health Assessment, 27% of undergrads at University Park said stress had a negative effect on their academic performance. To keep your stress in check here are a few tips:

Exercise. One of the best ways to manage stress and keep your body healthy is exercise. Physical activity increases endorphins, which are neurotransmitters in the brain that make you feel good (1). Exercise can also improve brain function so you feel and perform better in school (2).

Meditate. Try a yoga class or practice mindfulness exercises. Research shows that meditation can help reduce stress, depression and pain (3).

Take a Break. Read a book. Go for a jog or a walk. Watch TV or listen to music. The American Psychological Association recommends taking a 20 minute break if you are feeling overwhelmed by a situation or project (4).

Find your friends. Talking about your problems to a friend, sibling, or parent actually reduces stress (4). Talking to someone about what’s causing you stress can give you the social support you need to get through the problem.

These tips will help you reduce stress and may improve your mood and performance. Stay ahead this semester by managing your stress with a Mange Stress Workbook.

References:

  1. Mayo Clinic Staff. (2015, April 16). Exercise and Stress: Get Moving to Manage Stress. Retrieved from: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/exercise-and-stress/art-20044469
  2. Hillman, C. Erikson, K. Kramer, A. (Janurary 2008). Be smart, exercise your heart: exercise effects on brain and cognition.  Nature Reviews Neuroscience. Retrieved from: http://www.nature.com/nrn/journal/v9/n1/full/nrn2298.html?foxtrotcallback=true
  3. Corliss, Julie. (2016, December 14). Mindfulness Meditation May Ease Anxiety and Mental Stress. Harvard Heart Letter. Retrieved from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/mindfulness-meditation-may-ease-anxiety-mental-stress-201401086967
  4. American Psychological Association staff. (2017). Five Tips to Help Manage Stress. Retrieved from: http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/manage-stress.aspx