Need to relax? Here are some tips to help you.

OK, one big holiday down, one to go. But, in between are finals, which we’ll talk more about next week, and a lot of stuff that needs to get done before the semester ends. Right?

While this can be an enjoyable time of the year, it can also be super stressful. On Monday we we suggested you learn to say “no,” which will help reduce your stress level. Today, we offer several other tips to help you further deal with stress that may be building up.

Don’t stress about being stressed
That may sound silly, but when you’re stressed, you start stressing about being stressed, and that makes you even more stressed. Yikes. So if you’re stressed out, admit it and figure out what to do to best deal with it.

Find some quiet time
Take this little test.  (No, it’s not THAT kind of test.) Do nothing for two minutes. Relax and listen to the ocean. Don’t touch your mouse or your keyboard. Just relax. Just be quiet and still. How’d that feel? If you think you’re up to a little more, try this. Two minutes listening to rippling water, or chirping birds, or rustling wind.

Feel better now? If not, there’s a little surprise at the end just for you.

Get some help
There’s nothing wrong with asking for help. You
could vent to a friend for a bit or seek help from the counseling center on your campus.

Make sure you get enough sleep. Being sleep deprived while only make you feel more stressed. The Surviving College life
blog offers some great tips on how you can get to sleep while you’re stressed.

If you’re still having trouble relaxing, try this, 10 minutes of more relaxing sounds thanks to a calming creek.

If you have any relaxation or stress-relieving techniques please let us know so we can share them (and try them).


Feeling stressed? Here’s how to say no.

Are you feeling it yet, the stress from midterm exams, the holiday season and upcoming final exams? It can get a little overwhelming, particularly if you keep piling more on your plate. Your friend needs help with a research paper? Sure, you say, you’ll help. Your sorority needs a volunteer for a service project this weekend? OK, you say, you’ll do it. Your roommate needs to talk to you about his/her recent breakup? You’re all ears, you say.

You want to be helpful, but all that “yess-ing” is causing you even more stress. Remember: Yessing leads to stressing.

You gotta start saying “no.” Why? Well, there are several benefits to saying “no,” which comes from the Lifehack blog.

1. Less stress
When you say “yes” instead of “no,” it creates tension and anxiety. You may even lose sleep, which is never good, particularly this time of year.

2. Get rid of toxic people
You know the people we’re talking about, the ones who are always asking you for something, who manipulate you into saying yes when you really should be saying no. Tell them know, and they’ll move on to someone else and away from you.

3. Save time
If you’re doing a little less for someone else you have time to do a little more for yourself or for someone else who really does need your help.

4. More energy
Doing things you don’t want to do or don’t have time for wastes time and energy. When you quit doing that you will have more energy for the things that are important. And more energy will make you feel better and be more productive.

5. Increase focus
When you say no to those things that are not relevant to your goals, you can then say yes to doing those things that help you meet your goals and therefore stay focused.

6. Gain strength
Saying no enables you to take better control of your life and prevents you from being manipulated by others. When you stand firm, you gain strength. And, you’ll gain respect from people even if they’re not happy that you told them no.

7. Enjoy life more
When you stop saying no to those things that drain you, you’ll start enjoying life more. And who doesn’t want that?

Do you have any other benefits to saying no? If so, let us know, and we’ll share them.


Try one of these great (and sweet) Thanksgiving recipes

If you’re in charge of making dessert for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow – or if you want to drop a hint to the person in charge of desserts – we have some awesome recipes. And, they’re pretty easy.

For pumpkin lovers
We know pumpkin pie is a pretty big deal at Thanksgiving. But if you want to jazz things up a bit at Thanksgiving dinner, try one of these pumpkin recipes:

Pumpkin roll
Who says all Thanksgiving dinners have to have pumpkin pie? Pumpkin roll is a delightful mix of rich pumpkin cake and sweet cream cheese filling. Make this and those eating with you will love you forever.

Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake
Make this and the folks sitting around the Thanksgiving table won’t even miss the pumpkin pie. It’s easy and wickedly rich and delicious.   

Double layer pumpkin pie
OK, if they MUST have pumpkin pie, try this one, which has a sweet layer of vanilla deliciousness at the bottom topped with a super-rich layer of pumpkin on the top. And the bonus? There’s no baking involved at all. Easy-peasy.

For chocolate lovers  

Let’s face it; there are many people who would choose chocolate over just about anything. Some of them may be sitting at the Thanksgiving table with you this year. You can make them happy with by making one of these recipes:

Toll house pie 
What could be better than a chocolate chip cookie? A chocolate chip cookie in a pie crust. Your chocoholic friends and family will love this one. 

Chocolate marbled peanut butter pie
This delightfully delicious pie features the winning combination of chocolate and peanut butter and doesn’t require any baking at all. But, you do need to freeze it for at least three to four hours.

Chocolate volcano cake
If you just say the name of this dessert out loud, people will shiver in anticipation.  This cake is super rich but is so delicious that the other desserts at the table may just get ignored. And, you can be flexible with the ingredients. If your people don’t like coconut, leave that out, and swap out the Almond Joy bars with Snickers or Milky Ways or York Peppermint Patties.

Happy baking. We hope your Thanksgiving is sweet.

Coming home for the holidays — Abby’s last post

We’re sad to say that this is the last post for Abby, our awesome intern.

As fun and enlightening as college can be it is also a challenge, and many students find themselves longing for the luxuries of home and the comfort of family traditions during the most difficult days of the semester. The knowledge that there is something to look forward to after midterms and finals can be the push that students need to get them through their exams and the final days before the holiday break. Several students on campus shared what they are looking forward to for Thanksgiving break, and most of their expectations had to do with food.

One student told me about how much she loves potatoes. Baked potatoes, fried potatoes, roasted potatoes, basically every type of potato except for the traditional mashed potatoes served in homes all across America on Thanksgiving Day. “They freak me out” she confided and added that her parents are always sure to make a small serving of boiled potatoes just for her in addition to the traditional mashed that they serve.

Another student, Mike Kutz, told me that Thanksgiving just wouldn’t be the same without mashed potatoes. His family takes a spoonful of mashed potatoes and folds it within a ball of stuffing to make stuffing balls. “We put them in the oven so that they are crunchy on the outside and softer on the inside. It’s the best,” he said.

Other families find that they like to augment their side dishes with nontraditional dishes. Two Pitt-Bradford sisters from Eldred, Pa., told me that their family has to have kluski egg noodles as part of their Thanksgiving dinner. Normally used in homemade chicken noodle soup, kluski noodles aren’t something that one would find around every holiday table in America, and it’s the thing that these students look forward to the most when going home for the holidays.

Senior nursing major, Elizabeth Young, reminisced about her family’s tradition of slathering their turkey in mayonnaise before putting it in the oven instead of basting it throughout its cooking cycle. “It makes the turkey a nice brown color,” she informed me.

Elizabeth Tillman, a senior human relations major,  told me about her family’s tradition of making use of the turkey carcass after stripping all of its meat. “We like to dress it up and take pictures of it. It’s our family tradition.”

My own family insists on keeping the wishbone of the turkey and letting it dry out until New Year’s Day. Two people will then make a wish and pull the bone apart. Whoever gets the biggest piece is the person whose wish will come true.

No matter what the tradition, students tend to find comfort and peace in the reliability of their family traditions. This holiday season when your students are under pressure from their classes remind them about what they have to look forward to when they do come home for the holidays.

Easy things to bring to Thanksgiving dinner

Hey, Thanksgiving is next week. Have you been invited to someone’s house for dinner? Have you been asked – or do you feel you need to – bring something?

Yes, you’re a college student. You may not have much money. You probably don’t have a big kitchen in which you can create a marvelous side dish or dessert. But, there are many simpler things you can bring:

Cranberry Sauce
Pick up a can at your local grocery store. Or, you can see if your local store’s deli section carries a homemade version of it.

Rolls or bread
You can either pick up something already baked at your local store or bakery or buy one of the “tube” products and toss it in the oven right before you head to dinner. Easy peasy.

Again, this isn’t anything to fret about. Check out what sweet edibles are available at your local grocery store or bakery. Remember that Thanksgiving may be a particularly busy time so you may want to pre-order a pie or cake.

Vegetable or cheese and cracker tray 
Some families like to munch a little bit before the Big Dinner. If you’re spending the holiday with one of those families, consider picking up a vegetable or cheese and cracker tray. Your local store will likely have these already made. They’re usually located in the deli or produce section.

Flowers for the table
You can never – and we mean never – go wrong bringing flowers that can be placed on the table. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate arrangement, and the host/hostess will appreciate your thoughtfulness. 

Wine or special coffee
If all else fails, buy a bottle of wine (if you’re at least 21) or a bag of special coffee  – perhaps pumpkin flavored — that can be enjoyed during or after the meal.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Use these five tips to remind your parents you love them

We know that being a college student can be stressful and take a pretty big bite out of your day. You have homework to do. You have textbooks to read. You have lessons to study. You have meetings with your study group or tutor. You have to get some much-needed sleep.

However, amid all of that work, consider taking a little bit of time out of your day to remember your parents, who are probably helping you in some way as you travel on your academic journey. After all, they’re missing you. As Austin Powers would say, “throw them a frickin’ bone.”

Our friends at Grad Guard came up with five ways that you can remind your parents that you love them. And the best part? Each of these won’t take very much time.

Call them
Or send them a text if they’re into that. And the best time to do this? When you DON’T need money. Just send a simple message. “Hi. I was thinking about you,” or “Hi. I love you,” or “Hi. How’s everything going?” It’ll make them feel great.

Talk to them
No, this isn’t the same suggestion as above. We mean really have a conversation with them. Tell them about your classes, your friends, your roommates or what new experiences you’re having. (No, don’t tell them about THOSE experiences; you know what we mean. J)

Visit them 
This suggestion is the most time-consuming, but may be the most valuable. Go home for a weekend. Or, if you can’t get home easily, invite your parents to spend the day or part of a day with you on campus. Talk them to lunch in the dining hall and show them around campus. They’ll love it.

Remember their birthday, anniversary, or other special day     
Sending your mom or dad (or stepmom or stepdad) a birthday card doesn’t take a lot of time or money, but it’ll make him/her feel appreciated and cared for. Plus, it’ll give them something to show their friends. Yes, they will probably show their friends, so be sure to send something nice.

Say it
This is the easiest suggestion of all: Just tell them you love them. It doesn’t have to be a major production. End the text, the email or the conversation with an “I love you.” Or, sign that at the bottom of the card. It’ll make their day (or week or month).

Do you have any other suggestions? We’ll share them with everyone.

Stay healthy using these tips

Today’s post comes from our awesome intern Abby, who how just completed her internship with us. We were sad to see her go. 

Flu season is right around the corner, and many students find themselves in dire straits when they have to miss classes and other obligations as a result of illness. Nicole Stark, a registered nurse and director of Student Health Services, has some tips on how to stay healthy this season.

Flu Vaccine— Flu shots, which are offered by Student Health Services, are the first line of defense against the flu, she said. Although they do not protect against bacterial infections, they go a long way toward helping the body defend itself against influenza-like diseases that can become serious if not treated properly.

Wash Your Hands— Ms. Stark reminds us that flu shots do not fully begin to protect the body until two to three weeks after injection. Therefore, wash your hands frequently and correctly until the shot kicks in and afterward in order to protect others. Use hand sanitizer in between washes in order to step up your germ protection.

Look, Don’t Touch— Be conscience of what you’re touching. Sharing things like cell phones, ear buds, cigarettes and drinks increases the likelihood of contracting an illness. Also remember to use sanitary wipes on spaces like doorknobs, countertops and keyboards in your home. The germs from your hands tend to collect on these areas and can make you sick.

Cover Your Mouth— Use the crook of your elbow instead of your hands to cover your nose and mouth when you feel the need to sneeze or cough.

Diet, Manage Stress, Sleep— These are hard ones. As students we are constantly under pressure, have little time to sleep and have trouble maintaining a healthy diet. Ms. Stark reminds us that adequate sleep goes a long way toward helping us fight off illness. “If you have inadequate amounts of asleep your body is too busy trying to function and won’t be able to fight off illness,” she says. Ms. Stark also recommends an “outlet for stress.” Having something to cut through the anxiety that school can bring to our lives is a good way to stay healthy.

What about if you’re already sick? Wash your hands, dispose of tissues correctly, clean surfaces, get plenty of rest, make an appointment with Student Health Services and get your flu shot when you’re feeling better. or visit the Self-Care room if the office is closed. 

Stay healthy, my friends.