Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Summer Travel Tips


One of the perks to summer vacation is that it is a great time to travel. Vacations rejuvenate us; they are a great time to explore new places, visit friends, and/or enjoy family time. There are several downfalls to traveling. One is all of the time and effort it takes to prepare to go someplace. Planning a trip might seem fun at first; but, when the trip is quickly approaching and it is crunch time things can get stressful. Everyone has felt anxiety about the money they have to spend on transportation. Then, you always worry that you forgot to pack something. To save yourself from a big headache, you must know that organization is the key. Below are some very helpful travel tips:
  • Print out all travel itineraries and reservations to store in one folder.
  • Cancel all of your “standing” weekly appointments.
  • Make arrangements for your pets.
  • Hire a house-sitter.
  • Go to USPS.com to place a hold on your mail.
  • Get your prescriptions refilled and purchase any other items you may need for the particular climate you will be in.
  • Pull out your suitcase 1-2 weeks before you leave so that you start to fill it little by little.
  • Use a travel packing list.
  • Pack clothes that hold up well in a suitcase.
  • Roll your clothes so you can fit more into the suitcase.
These tips may seem like small things, but they are all very important. Planning for a trip can be more fun than the actual trip itself; however, it has to be done properly. If you are not organized, things can go south very quickly. The stress may begin to consume you, especially if you are someone who already suffers from anxiety.
Travel doesn’t only affect your stress levels. Travel can also affect your sleep routine. Depending on where you travel, you can get into some serious jet lag. It is important to do your best to regulate your sleep routine. The following are some tips to minimize jet lag:
  • Select a flight that allows early evening arrival and stay up until 10pm local time. (If you must sleep during the day, take a short nap in the early afternoon, but no longer than two hours. Set an alarm to be sure not to over sleep.)
  • Avoid alcohol or caffeine at least three to four hours before bedtime. Both act as "stimulants" and prevent sleep.
  • Try to get outside in the sunlight whenever possible. Daylight is a powerful stimulant for regulating the biological clock. (Staying indoors worsens jet lag.)
  • Modifying your behavior can help your body cope and overcome jet lag. Melatonin is an over the counter product that can also help.
Traveling can be a great way to spend your summer vacation time. It is always good to have new adventures and experiences. However, it is important not to neglect your health in the process. Make sure to stay organized while preparing for the trip. Then, make sure you are taking proper steps to get back on track with a healthy sleep schedule.
EIU Counseling Center
If you do find yourself stressed and completely overwhelmed, EIU’s Counseling Center is a great resource. All enrolled EIU undergraduate and graduate students are eligible to use the Counseling Center. For an online screening, visit http://www.eiu.edu/counsctr/index.php. Students find these screenings to be extremely helpful. They are free of charge and completely confidential.
To make an appointment, call the office at (217) 581-3413. The Counseling Center is located in the Human Services building. In an emergency situation, do not email- make sure to call immediately. The Counseling Center is open Monday-Friday from 8:00am-4:30pm. If in crisis after hours, you may still call the Counseling Center and follow the prompt on the voice mail to be connected to an after-hours crisis line.
EIU HERC

The Heath Education Resource Center (HERC) is also a valuable resource went it comes to things like stress and sleep. The HERC is located in Booth House on 4th Street. The office is open Monday-Friday 8:00am-4:30pm. The phone number is (217) 581-7886. For additional information, email herc@eiu.edu.
EIU Health Service

For students who are planning to travel out of the country, the Health Service can provide a variety of immunizations. If you are planning to travel outside of the U.S. and would like to speak with an EIU provider, set up a consultation at least a month and a half in advance. Appointments can be made by calling (217) 581-3013 or logging into the MyHealth Portal in PAWS.
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If you would like the read the articles that inspired this blog post, you may visit the following links: http://simplyorganized.net/10-travel-tips-for-a-stress-free-summer-vacation/, https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-news/back-vacation-how-get-over-jet-lag.

Staying Productive During the Summer


During the school year students have clubs, homework, and friends to keep them busy. Once summer hits, it is a different story. Many people become full time couch potatoes that binge watch every Netflix original series created. Why harp on you for being a bum during your break? Here is why being productive is so important:
  • Being productive gives you purpose. Having a to-do list with goals in mind can help you get out of bed in the morning. Focusing on these goals will improve your happiness.
  • Being productive keeps your mind active. An active mind is a happy mind. Staying busy leaves very little time for negative thoughts. Instead of thinking about stressors in your life, take time to learn something new.
  • Being productive can increase your quality of life. When you are passionate about something people take notice. For instance, your boss might see how driven you are and promote you. Never underestimate the perks of productivity.
  • Being productive can improve your mood. Being productive can simply mean you start participating in activities that alleviate stress. For example, you may start exercising or creating art.
  • Being productive helps you evolve. Being productive teaches you to continuously push yourself. The more productive you are, the easier it is to evolve into a better self. This leads to better habits and increased happiness.
  • Being productive motivates other people around you. Be proud of the work you do, and know that you pave the way for those who applaud you. Your steps leave footprints for others to follow.
Obviously, productivity is one of the keys to a fulfilling life. Wasting the summer months away is not satisfying; there are plenty of other things to do. In order to find inspiration, the internet is a great resource. The following link lists 100 productive ways to spend the summer: http://www.onlinecollegecourses.com/2009/08/12/100-productive-ways-to-spend-your-summer-vacation/. The list is long, but there are a few that really stand above the rest.
  • Volunteering is a great way to fill a few days or weeks of your summer. Helping others allows you to grow as a person, gain experience, and it even looks great on a resume. No matter where you live, there are bound to be plenty of volunteer opportunities available. For instance, retirement homes are always looking for people who are willing to chat and play games with elderly clients. If you are more interested in working with children, coaching a sports team is an option. The perk to volunteering is that you can do it as much or as little as you want; it works around your schedule. Taking some time to get a few volunteer opportunities in can be very beneficial.
  • Internships are an incredible way to gain experience in your field of interest. They also boost your resume and are an excellent conversation starter during an interview. If you have even considered doing an internship, summer is prime time to do so. Many students struggle when having to balance school and interning. Summer can allow more time to focus on the internship itself; that way, you can get more out of it.
  • Earning extra money and saving over the summer is one of the best things a poor, struggling college student can do. After longs day of class, putting in a bunch of work hours is not ideal. That is why it is smart to work as much as possible during the summer months. Many jobs are seasonal. For instance, summer camps are always looking for counselors. If you do not want to actually have to clock-in somewhere, selling unused items is also a way to make quick money. Looking through old movies and clothes is a great way to start.
There are many more suggestions on the long list, but these three are definitely a good start. Ensuring that your summer is packed with positive and productive activities is the key! EIU also provides volunteer, internship, and job opportunities on campus!

EIU’s Civic Engagement and Volunteerism

EIU’s Civic Engagement and Volunteerism office is committed to ensure that all students understand they have the power and ability to change the world and community for the better through volunteering. The office is located on the third floor of the MLK Jr. Union. They are open 8:00am-4:30pm Monday-Friday. For more information call (217) 581-3967 or e-mail volunteer@eiu.edu. Students may sign up for volunteer opportunities at http://www.eiu.edu/volunteer/.
Career Services
Career Services can help you find the right internship and/or job for you. The office is located in the Human Services building. They are open 8:00am-4:30pm Monday-Friday. For more information call (217) 581-2412 or e-mail careers@eiu.edu. Students may also search for internships openings at http://www.eiu.edu/careers/internships.php.
Literacy in Financial Education (LIFE) Center

If you choose to focus on earning money, the Literacy in Financial Education (LIFE) Center would be a great place to contact. The LIFE Center’s mission is to educate students on how to stay on top of their financial situation. For contact information to schedule an appointment or schedule a presentation, please visit the LIFE Center website at http://castle.eiu.edu/life/.
Health Education Resource Center (HERC)

The Health Education Resource Center (HERC) also offers internships and volunteer opportunities. The HERC office is located in Booth House on 4th Street. They are open 8:00am-4:30pm. For more information call (217) 581-7786 or e-mail herc@eiu.edu.

To read an article that inspired this blog go to http://elitedaily.com/wellness/blood-sweat-tears-happiness/1259555/.

Sun Safety


Summer is a great time to soak in that Vitamin D! It is nice to lay by the pool all day with a cool beverage in hand. It is a relaxing activity, and by the end of the day you are feeling warm and relaxed. However, days in the sun can put us at risk for sun poisoning and dehydration. The following tips are great ways to reduce your risk of succumbing to sun-related issues:
  • AVOID MID-DAY SUN: The sun’s UVB rays are most intense between the hours of 10 AM to 3 PM. However, the UVA rays that contribute to premature skin aging are present all day.
  • COVER UP: Although clothing does not completely protect you from the sun’s rays, a sun hat, long sleeves, and long pants can help.
  • BE CONSCIOUS OF REFLECTED LIGHT: Sand, cement, water, and snow can reflect harmful radiation. Even on cloudy days, up to 80% of the sun’s radiation reaches the ground. So, try to stay in the shade as much as possible.
  • DON’T MIX SUN AND CERTAIN MEDICATIONS: Some medications cause the user to be more sensitive to light and susceptible to burning. Always read the warnings for your medications before going out in the sun.
  • USE A SUNBLOCK AND REMEMBER TO REAPPLY: Reapply sunblock if you towel dry or if you have been in the water. Remember, sunblock will only provide protection for the length of time indicated by the Sun Protection Factor number.
  • EXAMINE YOUR SKIN REGULARLY: Be on the lookout for any new raised growths, itchy patches, non-healing sores, or changes in moles or new colored areas that might signify a form of cancer. If any of these conditions are present, see a doctor immediately!
One of the best clips to show how damaging the sun is can be found on YouTube. Luckily, it also shows how effective sun screen is. This video is extremely eye-opening and definitely worth the time you will take to watch it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9BqrSAHbTc
 
Dehydration
The sun’s harmful rays don’t just put your skin at risk; you also have a higher chance of dehydrating. If you are drinking alcoholic beverages, make sure you alternate between water and non-alcoholic and non-caffeinated beverages. Alcohol dehydrates the body. When adding salt and sun to the combination, the body is even more susceptible to dehydration. Be sure to alternate between alcoholic beverages and water.
Mild to moderate dehydration is likely to cause: dry or sticky mouth, sleepiness or tiredness, thirst, decreased urine output, few or no tears when crying, dry skin, headaches, constipation, dizziness or lightheadedness.
Severe dehydration is likely to cause: extreme thirst, irritability and confusion, dry mouth and skin, little or no urination, urine is darker in color than normal, sunken eyes, low blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, rapid breathing, no tears when crying, fever, delirium or unconsciousness.
If you or someone you know starts experiencing these signs, see a medical professional immediately.
Questions or Concerns?

If you have more questions on sun safety, the Health Education Resource Center (HERC) is a great resource. The office is located in Booth House on 4th Street from 8:00am-4:30pm Monday-Friday. For additional information, please call (217) 581-7786 or e-mail herc@eiu.edu.

In-Season Fruits & Vegetables

One of the best parts of summer is that many of the fruits and vegetables that we have missed are back in season. They are a tasty way to spice up your daily diet. It is important to know what produce you should be taking advantage of during the months of June, July, and August. Not only is this the time they will be tasting the best, but it is a great way to incorporate nutrient-dense foods into your diet.
 
Pinterest is a particularly helpful resource when it comes to finding healthy recipes. You can create a Pinterest account for free and add recipes to a “board.” That way, you can always refer back to it whenever you are ready to try a new recipe. If you need additional inspiration, the Health Education Resource Center (HERC) has a recipe page at the following link: http://www.eiu.edu/herc/nutrition.php. Summer is the perfect time to be testing out new recipes. You can even take a healthy recipe to a picnic or 4th of July gathering.
One question many people ask is how to properly clean produce. It is common knowledge that there are may be some harmful substances present in the soil and water during the growing process. Poor hygiene may also be a factor during the harvesting, packing, and transportation of the produce.



How to wash fruits/veggies:
  • Once home, store perishable fruits and vegetables in the refrigerator (at 40 degrees F or below) until you're ready to use them. Always store precut fruits and vegetables in the refrigerator, too.

  • Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and warm water before and after handling fresh produce.

  • Use a sharp paring knife to cut away any damaged or bruised areas of the fruit or vegetable.
  • Wash the produce before you peel it. That way, contaminants will not be transferred from your knife to the fruit or vegetable.
  • Hold the fruit or vegetable under cool running tap water, gently rubbing it as you rinse it.
  • For firm produce, such as melons and winter squash, use a clean vegetable brush to scrub the surface as you rinse it.
  • Produce with bumpy, uneven surfaces, such as cauliflower and broccoli, should be soaked for 1 to 2 minutes in cold water to remove contaminants from the nooks and crannies.
  • Use a clean cloth or paper towel to dry the produce before using it.
How to wash salad greens:
  • For leafy lettuces, such as green or red-tip leaf, butterhead, and romaine as well as endive, remove and discard the root end. Separate leaves and hold them under cold running water to remove any dirt.
  • For smaller greens, such as spinach and arugula, swirl them in a bowl or a clean sink filled with cold water about 30 seconds. Remove the leaves and shake gently to let dirt and other debris fall into the water. Repeat the process if necessary. Drain in a colander.
  • For iceberg lettuce, remove the core by hitting the stem end on the countertop; twist and lift out the core. (Do not use a knife to cut out the core, as this can cause the lettuce to brown). Hold the head, core side up under cold running water, pulling leaves apart slightly. Invert the head and drain thoroughly. Repeat if necessary.
  • For mesclun (a mixture of young, small salad greens often available in bulk at farmers markets), rinse in a colander or the basket of a salad spinner.
Health Education Resource Center
 
The Health Education Resource Center (HERC) is a great resource to use if you are interested in more information on healthy eating. The HERC even offers one-on-one nutrition consultations. The office is located in the Booth House on 4th Street. During the summer, the office is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and Friday's from 8 a.m. to noon.  For more information call (217) 581-7786 or e-mail herc@eiu.edu.
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For more information on food safety, please visit: https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/types/fruits/tipsfreshprodsafety.html.

If you are interested in exploring seasonality of other fruits and vegetables, go to: https://cookingmatters.org/tips/savor-seasonal-fruits-vegetables.

Summer Colds


Often, we think that we are invincible when it comes to getting sick during summer months. We compartmentalize colds in our minds and only think they come about during winter; however, this is not the case. Not all viruses that cause colds are the same. In fact, all viruses have a different seasonality. Rhinovirus thrives during the winter months, causing our incessant sneezing and coughing. During the summer enterovirus is extremely common. The symptoms present themselves a bit differently than a winter cold, and include the following:
  • coughing
  • congestion
  • fever
  • diarrhea
  • sore throat
  • rashes
  • body aches
  • longer-lasting (1-2 weeks)
  • Obviously, summer colds are a nightmare. How do we get rid of them?
  • get plenty of rest
  • hydrate
  • use over-the-counter medications (pain relievers, cough drops, nasal sprays, and cough syrups)
Unfortunately, you just have to wait a summer cold out. Since the root of the issue comes from a virus, antibiotics are ineffective. In addition, the cranked-up air conditioning might make you more susceptible to catching a cold because it constricts the blood vessels in the nose and throat. There is also no scientific evidence that supports "sweating out" a cold through exercise or loading up on vitamin C when you are ill.
Even though summer is the best time to enjoy the outdoors, it is important to stay inside when you are ill. In addition, make sure you are washing your hands often. That way, you do not spread your summer cold to others.
EIU Health Service & Pharmacy

If you happen to catch a summer cold, EIU has plenty of resources available to help you get through it. To make an appointment or to ask additional questions, contact the Health Service at (217) 581-3013, health@eiu.edu, or visit the first floor of the Human Services Building. Students can set up an appointment by visiting the MyHealth Portal through PAWS. The clinic's summer office hours are 8:00am-4:30pm Monday-Thursday and 8:00am-12:00pm on Friday.


Located conveniently in the south quad, EIU Pharmacy stocks a large selection of over-the-counter medications, as well as other personal items, so individuals don’t have to leave campus! Over-the-counter medications include, but are not limited to: pain, fever, cough, cold, allergy, sore throat, heartburn, nausea and topical. The Pharmacy is open Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 5 PM during the academic year. Summer hours are Monday through Thursday 8 AM to noon and 1 PM to 4:30 PM. Friday hours are 8 AM to noon.
EIU Health Education Resource Center (HERC)
The Health Education Resource Center (HERC) is also here to help. The HERC can be found in the Booth House on 4th Street (across from Pemberton). You can also call (217) 581-7786 or email herc@eiu.edu. During the summer, the HERC is open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and Friday 8 a.m. to noon.
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To read the article that inspired this blog go to http://health.usnews.com/health-news/health-wellness/articles/2015/07/22/surviving-a-summer-cold.

Literacy in Financial Education (LIFE) Center Blog

College is a life-changing and worthwhile experience; however, it isn’t free. Recent debt statistics report that 71% of students graduating from four-year colleges have student loan debt. This suggests that over 11.3 million students graduate with debt. This is extremely stressful because the majority of students have never had to handle loans before. Luckily, EIU has a Literacy in Financial Education (LIFE) Center to educate students on how to stay on top of their financial situation.

The mission of the LIFE Center is to change student knowledge and behaviors related to money management by providing financial education through various tools and resources. Furthermore, the goal is to encourage students to practice responsible financial behaviors and graduate with a lower debt level by developing strategies to reduce their discretionary spending. 
The Graduate Assistant from the LIFE Center offers presentations to classes, clubs, or groups! Below are samples of topics they can bring to you:
  • understanding different types of debt
  • debt management
  • creating a budget
  • understanding credit
  • time management
  • retirement planning
  • choosing a major
  • financing an education
  • evaluating job offers
  • preparing to live on your own
  • student loan debt and post-graduation
  • leasing VS buying a car
  • paying back student loan debt
The LIFE Center works with students on common financial problems experienced by many college students. It is truly an invaluable resource. Your finances are something that follow you for the rest of your life; therefore, it is important to start practicing responsible financial management during your college years. For contact information to schedule an appointment or schedule a presentation, please visit the LIFE Center website at http://castle.eiu.edu/life/.

EIU Counseling Center

When you hear the word “counseling” does it catch you off guard? Does it make you pause for a moment? That is a pretty typical response. Mental health in general can have a very negative stigma attached to it. However, counseling is much more common than many students realize. Here at Eastern, the Counseling Center sees over 600 students a year. Students may go to the Counseling Center for a variety of reasons, such as (but not limited to):
  • adjusting to college
  • alcohol and drug-related issues
  • anxiety
  • assertiveness
  • depression
  • eating disorders
  • grief
  • LGBTQ issues
  • perfectionism
  • procrastination
  • relationships
  • self-injury
  • stress
  • test anxiety
EIU Counseling Center

Are you surprised by some of the words on this list? Don’t be. Many of us struggle with at least one issue on this list, especially while attending college. Counseling is a completely normal and healthy thing to take part in. If you have never been to a counseling session and are considering it, this is the perfect time. The Counseling Center here at EIU is free. In addition, all sessions are completely confidential. Therefore, there is no reason not to go if you are interested.

The Counseling Center is staffed by counselors and graduate students. It is accredited by the International Association of Counseling Services.  The staff is dedicated to assisting students in their pursuit of personal and academic growth, to helping students gain a better understanding and appreciation of themselves, and to supporting students as they make important decisions about their lives.
The staff at the Counseling Center understands that every student is different. In order to tailor their services to each unique situation, they provide the following services:
  • consultation
  • online anonymous screening
  • emergency services
  • group counseling
  • housing recourses
  • medical withdrawal
  • personal counseling
  • presentations
  • couples counseling

All enrolled EIU undergraduate and graduate students are eligible to use the Counseling Center. For an online screening, visit http://www.eiu.edu/counsctr/index.php. Students find these screenings to be extremely helpful. They are free of charge and completely confidential.
Make an Appointment
To make an appointment, call the office at (217) 581-3413. The Counseling Center is located in the Human Services building. In an emergency situation, do not email- make sure to call immediately. The Counseling Center is open Monday-Friday from 8:00am-4:30pm. If in crisis after hours, you may still call the Counseling Center and follow the prompt on the voice mail to be connected to an after-hours crisis line.
Health Education Resource Center (HERC)
The Heath Education Resource Center (HERC) is also a valuable resource. For additional information regarding service, programs, and information, please call (217) 581-7886 or e-mail herc-mentalhealth@eiu.edu.