Monday, February 27, 2017

Sleep 101

Be in the Know: Sleep 101
College is one of the most exciting times in a person's life. However, it is also one of the busiest, most hectic times. Students juggle having to study, work, and a social life. The ideal 7-9 hours of recommended sleep each night becomes a distant dream. Furthermore, it is no surprise that researchers are finding that students are putting sleep on the back burner to accommodate their busy schedules. In fact, recent research has provided the following information:
  • only 11% of college students have good sleep quality
  • 73% have occasional problems sleeping
  • 18% of college men suffer from insomnia
  • 30% of college women suffer from insomnia
This data is nothing short of alarming. Life has become too fast-paced, competitive, and strenuous. College students are doing their best to hopefully join the workforce to pay off student loans and further their career goals. But as they get caught up in the fast lane, sleep is not always a priority. However, getting a copious amount of sleep actually makes students more successful. Some of the effects and benefits of good sleep include the following:
  • higher grades ("A" students generally get 25 minutes more sleep per night and go to sleep 40 minutes sooner than "B" students)
  • better emotional health
  • improved memory
  • improved focus
Not many students are aware of how sleep is affecting their academic performance.  There are several myths out there that hinder students from improving their sleep. Students often have no idea that pulling an "all-nighter" and cramming for a test can actually hurt grades. More total sleep, especially REM sleep, actually leads to better test scores and grades. Many students also do not realize that lost sleep cannot be regained by sleeping longer or later. Once sleep is lost, there is absolutely no getting it back. So how are we supposed to combat all these myths and get on track? Here are some helpful tips:
  • create a consistent sleep schedule (wake within the same hour daily, go to sleep within the same hour daily)
  • expose yourself to sunlight or other bright light each morning
  • avoid taking naps (and if you do nap, keep it to 20-30 minutes max)
  • avoid going to bed until you are drowsy
  • exercise regularly, but not within 2 hours of bedtime
  • if you snack before bedtime, make it a light snack
  • avoid alcohol and smoking within 2 hours of bedtime
  • avoid caffeine within 6 hours prior to bedtime
There is a long list of suggestions for students to improve their sleep habits. It is hard to be perfect when you are on a rigorous college schedule. Therefore, start out small. Pick one or two things from the list of tips. Start with those. Once you have mastered them, move on to something else. Even just changing a few behaviors can drastically change your sleep patterns for the better.
Snoozin' Like a Panther
The Health Education Resource Center (HERC) is always doing its best to educate students so that they can be healthy and successful here at EIU. The next Snoozin' Like a Panther presentation will be on March 22, 2017 at 7 PM in the MLK Union: Martinsville Room. Here, students can get additional information on sleep and ask questions.
For more information on sleep, please contact the Health Promotion Coordinator, Bree, at the Health Education Resource Center by calling (217) 581-7786, or email  If you would like to speak to a medical professional, please call the Health Service Medical Clinic at (217) 581-3013.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

National Eating Disorder Awareness Week: Be Happy in Your Skin

The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) organization promotes an awareness week in order to bring attention to eating disorders, as well as provide information on available resources. This year, National Eating Disorder Awareness week is February 26th to March 4th. Eastern Illinois University will be celebrating National Eating Disorder Awareness week from February 20th through February 23rd. The Health Education Resource Center (HERC) and the Counseling Center will be on campus, encouraging students, faculty, and staff to take the pledge to promote and wear good body positivity. Our mission is to provide everyone who visits our table with a better understanding of body positivity, as well as provide information on how to help those around them that might be struggling to love themselves.

What is an Eating Disorder?

An eating disorder can be an array of things but they are primarily mental disorders defined by abnormal eating habits that negatively affect a person’s physical and mental health. Eating disorders can have many different signs and symptoms, including:

The Mind:

1. Low Self-Esteem: feelings of inadequacy
  • Perfectionism: when they cannot achieve perfection they unrealistically blame and find a need to punish themselves
  • Unmotivated: when they feel depressed and isolated; they try and fill the void with food
2. Guilt: For not meeting the expectations of others or themselves
3. Power: the need to control physical and emotional surroundings. The eating disorder is a negative coping mechanism
4. Deception: Helps maintain that control they need
  • Lying about food intake or lack there of
  • Lying to avoid eating or to sneak food
  • Hidden use of laxatives
5. Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Lack of motivation
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Isolation and loneliness

The Body:

  • Feeling faint
  • Brittle hair/hair loss
  • Dental problems
  • Frequent headaches
  • Dry skin
  • Dramatic weight change
Compulsive Overeating
  • Exhaustion
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Decreased endurance
  • Muscle soreness

Want to Help Someone you Care About?

1. Support and encourage
  • Make a plan to talk to your friend and gently express your concern
  • Be caring but honest about what you have been observing and concern
  • If willing, offer your help
2. Attentively listen
  • Allow your friend a time to talk and encourage them to verbalize what they are feeling
  • Accept what is said in a nonjudgmental way
  • Gather information to find a path to recovery
3. Social support
  • EIU Counseling Center: A staff member will provide a FREE phone consultation for students with questions or needing assistance
  • Offer to take them and wait at their first appointment

Mindfulness Encourages a Positive Relationship with Food

Mindfulness is about experiencing life in the present. When practicing mindfulness, you are not judging your thoughts and feelings as “good” or “bad” but instead observing them.

Intuitive eating means being aware of your hunger and fullness cues, without judgement and not using emotions to fuel eating habits.  An intuitive eater has a peaceful relationship with food, not a dieting mentality, and does not label food “good” or “bad.”

Tips for eating mindfully & intuitively
  • Sit down at the table
  • Eliminate distractions, such as TV
  • Put away phones/social media
  • Choose a smaller plate or bowl
  • Portion your food (you can always go back for more)
  • Put down your utensil between bites
  • Resign from the “clean your plate club”
  • Enjoy the flavor of your food in each bite
Mindfulness and intuitive eating are just two ways to help form a healthy relationship with food. Other techniques include keeping a journal to describe how you feel before or after meals, or expressing your emotions to someone you trust.

On Campus Resources

Counseling Center
Office: 217-581-3413
After Hours Phone Number: 217-581-3413 or 1-866-567-2400
Human Services Building

Health Education Resource Center (HERC)
Booth House on 4th Street

Health Service
Human Services

Housing & Dining
MLK Jr. University Union
*Through the Health Education Resource Center, EIU students can meet with the Nutrition Promotion Coordinator to discuss their personalized nutritional goals. For more information or to set up a free nutritional analysis consultation, please click here.

Off Campus Resources

Sarah Bush Lincoln Hospital
1000 Health Center Dr.
Mattoon, IL
Journey Counseling
304 8th St.
Charleston, IL
750 Broadway Ave. East
Mattoon, IL

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Practicing Healthy Sexual Behaviors

With Valentine’s Day today, it’s important to communicate with your partner about healthy sexual behaviors.  Below are ways you and your partner can have a healthy relationship, the importance of being tested, and resources that are available to you.
10 Tips for Healthy Relationships:
1.      Keep expectations realistic

2.      Talk with each other

3.      Be yourself

4.      Keep a balanced life style

5.      Be dependable

6.      Think before you speak

7.      It’s an ongoing process

8.      Welcome change

9.      Respect each other’s space

10.  Show your warmth

STI Services:
The HERC offers one-on-one consultations on sexual health to discuss preventative methods and current sexual health behaviors.  This consultations and free and confidential.  To schedule a consultation, complete the online request form.

Health Service offers STI and HIV testing at the EIU clinic and most of the cost is covered through student insurance.  To make an appointment, call, walk-in, or use the MyHealth tab through your PAWS account.
Rubber Lovers:
A free interactive program offered through the HERC that educates students on condom use and healthy sexual behaviors.  Students also get a discount card at the EIU Pharmacy for safer sex supplies. 

Upcoming open sessions:
                MLK Union: Effingham Room
6 PM
                MLK Union: Martinsville Room
6 PM
                MLK Union: Martinsville Room
7 PM
                MLK Union: Effingham Room
5:30 PM
                MLK Union: Martinsville Room
7 PM
                MLK Union: Martinsville Room
6 PM
You can also request a presentation by filling out the Program Request Form to have us come to you!  If you have any questions, contact the Health Promotion Coordinators at 217-581-7786 or and

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Coping with Work Stress

According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (2016), job stress can be defined as the harmful physical and emotional responses that occur when the requirements of the job do not match the capabilities, resources, or needs of the worker. Job stress can lead to poor health and even injury.

The concept of job stress is often confused with challenge, but these concepts are not the same. Challenge energizes us psychologically and physically, and it motivates us to learn new skills and master our jobs. When a challenge is met, we feel relaxed and satisfied. Thus, challenge is an important ingredient for healthy and productive work. The importance of challenge in our work lives is probably what people are referring to when they say “a little bit of stress is good for you.”

Warning Signs
When people feel overwhelmed, they lose confidence and become irritable or withdrawn, making them less productive and effective. Their work then becomes less rewarding. If the warning signs of work stress go unattended, they can lead to bigger problems. Beyond interfering with job performance and satisfaction, chronic or intense stress can also lead to physical and emotional health problems. Some signs and symptoms of excessive stress include:
  • Muscle tension
  • Headaches
  • Stomach pains
  • Social withdrawal
  • Using alcohol or drugs to cope
  • Feeling anxious, irritable, or depressed
  • Apathy, loss of interest in work
  • Fatigue
  • Trouble concentrating

Preventing Stress
No standardized approaches or simple “how to” manuals exist for developing a stress prevention program. Program design and appropriate solutions will be influenced by several factors: the size and complexity of the organization, available resources, and especially the unique types of stress problems faced by the organization.

Although it is not possible to give a universal prescription for preventing stress at work, it is possible to offer guidelines on the process of stress prevention in organizations. In all situations, the process for stress prevention programs involves three distinct steps: problem identification, intervention, and evaluation.
Coping with Stress
The troubled economy may feel like an emotional roller coaster. Since job and workplace stress grow in times of economic crisis, it’s important to learn new and better ways of coping with the pressure. Feeling emotional and nervous or having trouble eating or sleeping are often common reactions to stress, but they aren’t beneficial to your well-being. Engaging in healthy activities and getting the right care and support can put problems into perspective and help stressful feelings subside. The ability to manage stress in the workplace can make the difference between success or failure on the job. Listed below are a few tips to help you manage both work and general stress.
  • Avoid pitfalls
  • Communicate effectively
  • Plan regular breaks
  • Prioritize tasks
  • Delegate responsibilities
  • Don’t over-commit yourself
  • Break projects into small steps
  • Eat healthy, well-balanced meals
  • Exercise on a regular basis
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Talk to others about your feelings
  • Avoid using drugs or alcohol to cope
  • Recognize when you need help

On-Campus Resources
Health Education Resource Center
(217) 581-7786

Counseling Center
(217) 581-3413

Health Service
(217) 581-3013