Always make time for yourself.
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Free your mind of clutter. This goes for both students and administrators!
Spring is a time of year when students may be at higher risk for stress and suicide.
The spring semester brings increased academic pressure in the form of final papers, final exams, and final grades. Students approaching graduation may worry about finding jobs, getting into graduate programs, and losing friends as they head their separate ways.
Drugs and alcohol can add to the dangers of spring. Some students drink or take drugs in an attempt to cope with stress. Others will try “study drugs” in the hope of improving their performance on exams, auditions, and job interviews. But using these drugs can trigger irrational behavior in people for whom they haven’t been prescribed, and drugs and alcohol are frequently involved in suicide attempts.
MyStudentBody’s Student Center has information for students on managing stress, the risks of study drugs and self-medication. We’ve also recently updated entries on coping with depression and what to do about suicidal thoughts—your own or someone else’s. We also have information for campus administrators on intervention programming for depression and suicide.
To access the information, go to www.mystudentbody.com, login with your username and password, and click on the Student Center tab at the top of the page.
Additional questions? Contact us.
Photo credit: http://pnhw.psychiatryonline.org/content/45/16/7.1.full
Contributed by C. Claire Armagnac, B.A.
A recent article in Inside Higher Ed titled “Turn Your Zzz’s Into A’s” got me thinking about how sleep affects the daily lives of college students. Many Americans, especially college students, do not get enough sleep due to stress and busy schedules, but sleep problems are an international phenomenon. For example, a 2002 study involving 10 countries showed that 32% of the study participants in Belgium, and 16% of the participants in Germany, reported that they frequently do not sleep well. In the U.S., things aren’t much better, with a 2009 poll by the National Sleep Foundation showing that Americans average 6.7 hours of sleep per night on weeknights, and data from the past 10 years show that the number of people who average less than 6 hours of sleep per night is steadily increasing. The primary reasons for decreased sleep levels are stress, general anxiety, and devices like smart phones and iPads that allow us to be connected and active at all hours of the day.
For college students, stress and distractions are compounded by term papers, exams, and dorm living. Many dorms have “quiet hours” to allow students to study and sleep, but in the dorms at my school the hours were rarely observed, and students were resigned to studying in 24-hour computer labs and lounges. The fact that computer labs and other venues were open 24/7 often made me feel as though I should have been working or socializing 24/7, which is very risky. Some students brag about the amount of sleep they don’t get, claiming to have aced an exam or partied all night on 2 or 3 hours of sleep. These students may appear to have superhuman energy abilities, but the truth is that long-term sleep deprivation is dangerous to everyone’s health.
Sleep deprivation impacts many areas of our daily lives, including our ability to drive. A study conducted in 2000 showed that driving after staying awake for 17 to 19 hours can be as dangerous as driving with a 0.05 BAC (blood alcohol content) level. Sleep deprivation can also lead us to consume unhealthy amounts of caffeine, which leads to dehydration. Plus, sleep deprivation can also change the way we eat, which can lead to obesity because our bodies crave high-energy foods that are easy to digest (such as refined flour and simple carbohydrates that give us a short boost of energy but leave us hungry again in a short amount of time) when we are tired. Exercise plans are often abandoned when students don’t have enough time to sleep. A lack of exercise combined with lack of sleep and a poor diet leads to a lifestyle that isn’t safe or sustainable over a long period of time.
The good news is that it’s never too late to improve your sleep habits, and summer may be the perfect time to do so. Living away from school may provide a quieter environment that is more conducive to sleep, and the absence of homework and tests leads to lower stress levels for many students as well. Summer is often less regimented than school, but for better health it is still important to set a regular bedtime, perhaps by telling yourself that you will go to bed after a favorite show every night or that you will always go to bed 2 hours after getting home from work.
Summer is also a great time to renew your dedication to an exercise program or to go to a local gym and try a fitness class that you did not have time for during school. The price of a gym membership varies by region, but in my town the YMCA offers summer memberships for young adults that cost about $20 per month and include unlimited fitness classes. Summer’s warmer weather also makes it easier to exercise outdoors and play games, such as volleyball and baseball with friends or with a town league. And, with all the extra sleep you’ll be getting, you’ll actually have the energy to do so!
Everyone is busy and stress has become the norm in many of our lives, but I can tell you from personal experience that allocating at least 7 hours per night for sleep has improved my health as well as my mood. Science and common sense both suggest getting more sleep, so please try to do it if you can. Good luck, and happy sleeping!
Questions? Comments? I welcome your feedback at email@example.com!
Contributed by Amanda Anastasio, M.S.W., L.C.S.W.
Or, in modern lingo, a cyber-bully. In this age of cyber-communication, everyone reading this is likely to fall into one of these categories: bully, bullied, or bystander. Cyber-bullies, unlike evil witches, can hide behind the anonymity of the internet, and the impersonal ways to broadcast information to many people at once. Unfortunately, the old house-drop won’t work here to get rid of them!
Cyber-bullies cut to the core of their victim’s social life and self-image using the most essential social tools for most young people — computers and the internet. While the bullies are at ease under the cover of the internet, victims have nowhere to hide. From offensive comments, embarrassing pictures, to full-on cruel websites devoted to mocking others, victims are humiliated publicly, and it often feels like there is no escape.
Your internet profile (Facebook, MySpace, Friendster, Orkut, etc.) represents your identity, and this online identity is at risk. If you’re a woman, you are more likely to be involved. According to Working to Halt Online Abuse (WHOA), women are targets of cyber-bullying by other women 71 percent of the time. What is up with this, girls?
I’m here to provide you with some information that will bust through the myths – let’s clear out this smoke, and expose the man behind the curtain!
There are three categories of people on the internet: the bullies, the bullied and the bystanders.
To the bullies: You can hide, but not forever.
Right now, there is not much legislation around cyber-bullying. Laws focus on safety and proof of harm. “Cyber stalking may be every bit as troublesome and unsettling and terrifying as stalking, but there really isn’t any way to address it legally unless it comes up to the level where somebody actually hurts someone,” says Thomas Nolan, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at Boston University and veteran of the Boston Police Department (Bostonia, 2009).
However, as incidents of “bullycide” (suicide as a result of bullying) spring up all over the country, more and more schools are recognizing the vital need to have a no tolerance policy when it comes to bullying. Most U.S. states now include statutes that identify bullying and cyber-bullying in the legal definition of harassment, which allows the act to be punishable by law. What this means for bullies is that there will be less tolerance and more action that can be taken in the court room as time goes on.
As colleges are making cyber-bullying more central in conversations about student issues, justice will be served, and it’s up to all students to speed up the process.
A popular myth about bullies is that they have low self-esteem. Actually, studies find that bullies view themselves as superior and powerful, often having an exaggerated positive opinion of themselves. Bullies are less concerned with harming others, and more concerned about themselves and preserving the sense of superiority they have (Sutton et. al, 1999).
The best way to deal with this kind of person is to not engage. Don’t give them fuel to publicly display power over you. An angry, emotional, or even very minimal response can be twisted around and used against you.
If you feel like you are being cyber-bullied, do not respond. Instead, save as much of the information as possible (no deleting), and report the abuse to your college’s student assistance office, counseling center, or a trusted staff or faculty member. You could also report it to the police or campus police if you have one.
Cyber-bullies preserve their false sense of superiority if they can control your emotional state, or get a reaction out of you. Unfortunately, many bullies don’t have life experience needed to feel good inside; in fact, they most likely have had to struggle with power dynamics in their relationships since birth.
Don’t play the game, and there will be no record of you lashing out in an emotional state that could be used against you later. Talk, talk, talk!! Tell someone what’s going on, and don’t keep it a secret.
To the bystanders: You are not innocent.
With the internet being so vast and impersonal at times, witnessing cyber-bullying may feel light-years away from affecting your life or being your responsibility. The truth is, the only way to combat this problem is for EVERYONE to do their part.
It’s simple. If you see a fellow classmate/friend/acquaintance being ridiculed online, or you receive an email or video that mocks or degrades someone else, be the one who breaks the chain of hurt and humiliation. The next video could be of you. You want someone to stop the download and say, “This isn’t right.”
Some people might be alive if today if their fellow students backed up and called out the cyber-bully.
The myth that cyber-bullying among students is not a critical issue of life and death is slowing dying. Increased awareness, conversations, education, and courage are all to blame. Let’s all find our courage to stand up for each other and do what’s right.
What have you done to combat cyber-bullying, either personally or on campus?
Sutton, J., Smith, P.K., and Setham, J. (1999) Social Cognition and bullying: social inadequacy or skilled manipulation? British Journal of developmental Psychology, 17: 435-450.
Daniloff, Caleb. Cyber-bullying goes to college. “bu.edu” - Bostonia, April 2009 - Boston University Alumni Magazine. Access Date: 4/5/2011