All posts by Erin Raupers

Hydration

Hydration plays a critical role in how well your brain and body function. There is increasing evidence that even mild dehydration can lead to cognitive impairments. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the average person should drink 64 ounces of fluid per day. People who are physically active, or work in the heat, need to drink more.  

It’s not always easy to remember to drink water. We suggest carrying a reusable water bottle. 

Managing Stress during Finals Week

Decorative image. Cover of Manage Stress Workbook.

Finals week can be a period of high stress and our bodies respond by releasing stress hormones. These hormones help keep us alert and ready to deal with what is happening or about to happen. According to the 2018 Penn State Student Health Assessment, 31% of students reported that stress affected their academic performance in the last 12 months.  

The Manage Stress Workbook has stress management exercises to help you throughout finals week.  The exercises include breathing exercises, mindfulness meditations, and progressive muscle relaxation.   Visit the stress management website to learn more or pick up a workbook from HPW in 001P or 020 Intramural Building.  We are open Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m.- 5:00 p.m. 

Eat more fruits and veggies

According to a recent student health survey at University Park, only 4.4% of undergraduate students reported eating the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables (Penn State University, 2018, American College Health Association-National College Health Assessment).  Look at this guide from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to learn about how many cups are recommended for your age.  You will find simple suggestions to help you eat more fruits and veggies.

You can also sign up for a free session with a registered dietitian or talk with a peer educator in the nutrition Wellness Service.  Read more about these free resources.

Healthy Eating on a Budget

Buy frozen? Buy fresh? But what about your budget? You can eat healthy even on a budget. Here are four tips that can help you eat healthy while keeping your finances in mind.  

1. Plan before you shop. 

Check what food you already have at home. This will help you know what you need to buy in the grocery store. Based on your current food supplies, plan your meals for the week.  Make a grocery list to make sure you do not buy items you do not need.   

2. Frozen or canned vegetables and fruits are a good option. 

Frozen and canned veggies and fruits have almost the same amount of nutrients as fresh ones. Frozen or canned veggies and fruits cost less and they have a longer shelf life which allows you to shop less frequently. Read the nutrition label carefully and look for the low-sodium or no salt/sugar added options.

3. Shop after you have eaten.

Don’t shop when you’re hungry. If you are hungry when you shop, you will most likely buy food that isn’t on your list. For best results, it is a good to feel satiated when you arrive at the grocery store.

4. Use your resources.  

Coupons can be an easy way to save money. Join your favorite grocery store’s loyalty program to receive special discounts and offers. Check the availability of online coupons frequently. Buy the things you need, not the things you want.   

The Importance of Sleep

THON might be one of the most exciting times as a Penn State student. Walking into the BJC with the stands filled and a smile on every individual’s face is a memory no person will ever forget. Last year, I stood for approximately 40 hours over the duration of the Dance Marathon. During that time, I was able to understand the true impact that lack of sleep can have on an individual. As a peer educator I learned the importance of sleep, but I had never experienced the symptoms and impact of sleep deprivation. As a result of being sleep deprived, I constantly found myself forgetting conversations, I did not know the time, and when I last ate. I experienced hallucinations, muscle fatigue, and even illness all because my body did not get the recommended amount of sleep. After the weekend was over it took several days to “repay” the sleep debt. Here are a few tips for you as THON weekend approaches.  

Harvard Health shares the importance of getting enough sleep and the impact sleep can have on memory, safety, mood, and disease (1). Research shows that sleep helps the brain commit new information to memory through a process called memory consolidation. In order to experience the benefits of sleep, aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night and a consistent sleep-wake schedule. No matter the reason for losing sleep, it is important to repay sleep debt as soon as possible to ensure that we stay healthy and our memories are stored for that next big exam! It is important for us as students to recognize when physical exhaustion takes over. Make sure to stay hydrated, eat healthy meals, and take frequent naps during your 2019 THON experience.  

Schedule a Sleep Wellness Service with at the Wellness Suite by visiting https://studentaffairs.psu.edu/free-wellness-services  

Written by a HealthWorks member 

  1. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-health-hazards-of-insufficient-sleep