Cook this delicious taco recipe for dinner. It is quick, easy, and was created by one of our HealthWorks Peer Educators.
Social Wellness: What It Is, Why It’s Important, and How to Cultivate It
What does it mean to have Social Wellness? A person who is socially well has a support network that is based on interdependence, respect, and mutual trust. They are also sensitive to and aware of the feelings of others (1).
Why is Social Wellness important? Humans are social creatures, which means that our relationships with one another are crucial components of our mental health and sense of wellbeing. According to UCLA professor Matthew Lieberman, social connection is as important to our health as food, water, and shelter (2). Beyond basic health, social support has been shown to play a role in the mental health of college students, specifically. Hefner and Eisenberg (2009) found that students with lower quality social support were more likely to experience mental health problems. Compared to students with high quality social support, students with low quality support were at higher risk of experiencing depressive symptoms (3).
How do you cultivate Social Wellness? It’s important to form connections and develop genuine relationships with others. This isn’t always easy, especially for students a large university such as Penn State. Finding friends, especially ones who share your values and interests, can be a daunting task. But there are ways that you can make this big campus feel like home. Joining organizations, clubs, or sports teams are just a few ways you can meet people who share similar interests. Don’t forget about all of the academic societies, business fraternities, cultural groups, and volunteer groups at Penn State.
Here are a few links to get you started:
- Club Sports: http://sites.psu.edu/clubsports/clubs/ From Aikido to Yoga, there are dozens of club sports that are generally open to all skill levels and relatively affordable to join.
- Student Organization Directory: https://studentaffairs.psu.edu/hub/studentorgs/orgdirectory/ You can search by organization name, category, or keyword.
- Ohio State University Student Wellness Center https://swc.osu.edu/about-us/9-dimensions-of-wellness/
- UCLA Newsroom http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/we-are-hard-wired-to-be-social-248746\
Staying hydrated is extremely important, particularly in the summer when the weather is warmer. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you are spending time being physically active outdoors. Being in a hot environment causes the body to increase sweat production Sweating actually helps the body stay cool, but sweating can also make you more susceptible to dehydration. Sweat loss varies from person to person, which means that we all require a slightly different amount of water and electrolytes to stay hydrated. You can retain water during exercise by drinking 3-8 fluid ounces of water every 15-20 minutes when exercising for less than 60 minutes. But be sure to not drink more than 1 quart of water for each hour that you exercise. One way to measure how hydrated you are is to check the color of your urine. Refer to the link below for more tips on staying hydrated before, during, and after exercise.
Remember to set a goal of 64 ounces of water per day regardless of activity level to stay hydrated and to keep your body working .
Picnics and barbeques are a fun summer tradition. These events are a great opportunity to socialize with friends and family. Picnics and barbeques also present challenges when it comes to healthy eating and drinking.
Here are some helpful tips to work your way around a picnic table:
- Avoid dips that are cream cheese, mayonnaise or sour cream based. Try other fresh dips like guacamole and homemade salsa or use plain greek yogurt as the base for your veggie dip. Sub out regular potato chips for baked chips or homemade tortilla chips (1).
- Instead of preparing the usual potato or pasta salad with mayo, try making a fresh green salad with fruit or a pasta salad full of fresh chopped vegetables with vinaigrette or Italian dressing. These types of salads are packed with nutrients and the ingredients don’t spoil as quickly in the hot sun.
- Tired of hamburgers and hot dogs? Beef burgers can easily be replaced with turkey, chicken or even veggie burgers. Tuna steaks are a great alternative to regular steaks and are full of healthy fats and proteins (2). Kebobs are great for grilling. You can make them with almost anything and the size helps you be mindful of portion sizes.
- Sodas and juices are always available at picnics. Both are tempting, but are loaded with sugar. If you are looking for an alternative to sugar and caffeine, try seltzer water mixed with 100% fruit juice for a light fizzy drink. You can even opt for fruit-infused ice water for a refreshing drink.
- If you do choose to drink at a picnic make sure you stay hydrated by drinking a glass of water for every standard drink. Alcohol and hot temperatures cause fluid loss and can lead to dehydration. It is also important to have a plan for how you will get home safely if you are drinking. Don’t drink and drive! Keep in mind that if you are boating and/or swimming alcohol affects your judgement, balance, reaction time and increases risk taking.
- Hydration seems to be key on a hot summer day! With plenty of activities going on at a picnic it can be easy to forget to drink water. The recommendations for how much water you should consume per day vary by sex and exercise level. You should drink more on especially hot days or if you are really active outside. Heat exhaustion is real, so be aware of your water intake.
As with everything, moderation is your best bet for a happy and healthy summer. Enjoy!
- EatingWell Magazine. (2012, May). Retrieved from http://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/248363/tortilla-chips/
- Health Benefits of Tuna and Salmon. (n.d.). Retrieved June 12, 2017, from https://www.healthyeating.org/Healthy-Eating/All-Star-Foods/Protein/Article-Viewer/Article/89/Health-Benefits-of-Tuna-and-Salmon.aspx
If you feel like a walk in a park is all you need to feel physically and mentally better, then you might be right! In a study conducted by Andrew Mowen and other Penn State researchers, it was shown that the vast majority of Pennsylvanians view parks as a valuable place to promote overall health and wellness, and as a critical part of primary health care. These results were based on two surveys; one was sent out via mail to a random sample of 12,000 adults and the other was conducted with outpatients at a medical clinic run by Penn State College of Medicine.
Christopher Sciamanna, one of the co-investigators, thinks the reward structure for primary health care will change in the future. Sciamanna believes that doctors will be paid more for their prevention efforts and keeping patients healthy. Given this redefinition of health care, we may see an increase in the preservation and use of parks, trails and open spaces! (1)
Intellectual wellness is the dimension of wellness that relates to continuous learning during one’s life. You engage in lifelong learning and seek knowledge & activities that develop your critical thinking. An intellectually well person reflects on experiences, challenges their own views, and commits to learning new skills that they can apply to their life (1). The intellectually well person realizes that learning comes from experience just as much as it comes from a book. So sign up for that pottery class, go check out a new museum, or take a spontaneous trip to a place you have never been. There is no downside to learning new things, and you never know when the information you’ve learned will come in handy.
1. University of California, Riverside. (n.d.). Retrieved June 15, 2017, from http://wellness.ucr.edu/intellectual_wellness.html
Do you spend a lot of time outdoors during the summer? That’s great! One thing to keep in mind while enjoying nature is the risk for insect bites, especially tick bites. Lyme disease is caused by a bacterium that is carried by blacklegged ticks (Ixodes scapularis or Ixodes pacificus) which are often referred to as “deer ticks”. Ticks can attach to any part of the human body (or your furry friends) and are often hard to find.
Symptoms vary, but typically Lyme disease can be identified by a bull’s eye rash that is sometimes followed by flu-like symptoms. Although, keep in mind, that not everyone will experience a rash. Individuals who receive appropriate antibiotic treatment in the early stages often experience a full recovery; however, if Lyme disease isn’t caught in the early stages, symptoms can persist for more than 6 months (1).
Here are steps you can take to prevent contracting Lyme disease:
- Wear long sleeve shirts and pants when outside. This prevents ticks from reaching your skin. Always wear socks and closed toe shoes if you are walking in a wooded area.
- Conduct a full-body tick check. Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (preferably within 2 hours).
- If you find an embedded tick, remove it using a tick removal devices or a plain set of fine-tipped tweezers. Follow these instructions to remove a tick: https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/removal/index.html (2).
It takes about 36 to 48 hours for the bacteria in the tick’s gut to be transferred. You want to make sure you do a full-body check and remove any ticks within 36 hours (3) of being bitten.
See a doctor if a bull’s eye rash appears. Be sure to tell your doctor when the bite occurred because it is possible to test negative even if you have Lyme disease. It can take 4-6 weeks for the blood tests to be positive.
Check out the CDC website (www.cdc.gov/lyme/index.html) for more information about prevention, tick removal, symptoms and treatement.
- Signs and Symptoms | Lyme Disease | CDC. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/signs_symptoms/index.html
- Tick removal and testing | Lyme Disease | CDC. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/removal/index.html
- Lyme disease transmission. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/transmission/index.html
When you think of improving your health, do you think about taking steps to improve your physical wellness? While physical wellness is extremely important, it is only a small fraction of your overall health and wellness. In fact, it is only 1 of 9 areas that contribute to your overall well-being. The 9 dimensions of wellness are: career, cultural, emotional, environmental, financial, intellectual, physical, social, and spiritual (1). All of these areas contribute to how we feel overall, but are often overlooked when we work on strategies that are designed to help us feel better. Whether you’re a grad student, graduating senior, first-year student, or anywhere in between, it’s never too late to start focusing on your overall health. Over the next few weeks Healthy Penn State will be providing more detail about each dimension of wellness, so stay tuned!