How to stay healthy during crunch time
Welcome to the May 2010 issue of the Health Matters Newsletter. The Health Matters
Newsletter is published on a monthly basis on the Health Center home page, and is
linked to the weekly Campus Report. The purpose of the newsletter is to share information,
regarding pertinent medical issue and health and wellness suggestions with the students,
faculty and staff here at SUNY Fredonia.
As the school year comes to a close, and the crunch is on, there can be anxiety and
frustration in trying to get everything done. Tests, papers, presentations, recitals
and final exams can put our minds and bodies to the test.
Stress is what you feel when you have to handle more than you are used to When you
are stressed, your body responds as though you are in danger. Your body makes hormones,
called endorphins, that speed up your heart, make you breathe faster, and give you
a burst of energy. It is important to take care of yourself during these high periods
of stress. Here are some of the things that you can do:
Set priorities.Use a day timer to schedule all of your commitments. Make a daily "to do" list.
Get some sleep. " All nighters" are not the answer. The lack of sleep slows down your thought process
hindering your ability to react quickly. A good average should be 7-8 hours of sleep
Avoid the use of stimulants such as caffeine, soda, or supplements. If taken in excessive amount, this can cause
more anxiety, hyperactivity, heart palpitations, nausea, vomiting , and of course
the inability to sleep.
Eat a well balanced diet. Food fuels both your mind and your body with energy to tackle stress.
Take a break. Exercise, take a walk, talk with a friend, watch some TV. These diversions can help
to relieve some stress, and make you more focused when you return to your work.
Avoid alcohol. Alcohol might relax you temporarily, but it also slows down the thought process and
you can become distracted.
Time Management 101
- Prioritize. As noted above, use a day timer to schedule all of your commitments and
- Make a daily "to do " list
- Be selective. You can't do everything. Quality is more important then quantity
- Learn to take power naps. A 20 minute nap can reenergize you for hours.
- Budget your time. Study while on the bus, review between classes, read while eating.
- Don't be overcommitted. Learn to say "no".
- Set aside some time to have fun.
- Know your peak energy times, and prioritize your activities when you know your energy
is at it's highest.
- Focus on one thing at a time.
How much sleep do I need?
Each of us has a specific daily sleep requirement. Some people need ten to twelve
hours of sleep each day, while others can get away with six. Everyone's "biological
clock" is different. The "biological clock " is a term applied to the brain process
which causes us to have 24 hour fluctuations in body temperature, hormone secretion
and a host of other bodily activities. Its most important function is to foster the
daily cycle of sleep and wakefulness. If this "clock" is persistently put to the
test with forces such as all nighters, excessive partying, alcohol, caffeine and stress,
it too can falter causing irritability, exhaustion, and possibly serious health problems.
Frequently , when students enter college, they are given plenty of information on
good nutrition and physical fitness. Unfortunately, sleep is never discussed on the
forefront. We must realize that we cannot be healthy unless our sleep is healthy.
NASA's Fatigue Countermeasure program developed the dangers of sleep deprivation which
indicates the less sleep you get, the greater the health risk.
8 hours -- Refreshed mood, alert, peak physical performance
7 hours -- Moody, occasional trouble concentrating, reduced short-term memory, some drowsiness
6 hours -- Testy, irritable, poor decision-making, weight gain, reduced immunity, impaired
5 hours-- Depressed mood, 50% slower reaction time, stressed out, great chance of heart and
stomach ailments, physical performance similar to someone legally drunk
4 hours-- Extremely irritable, exhaustion, higher risk for ulcers, diabetes, heart attacks
and obesity, dangerous to self and others on the job and while driving
Seven Secrets For Sound Sleep
1) Make sleep a priority. A good average is about 7-8 hours nightly
2) Establish a regular sleeping routine. Go to bed and wake up at the same hour (even
on weekends). This keeps your internal clock on schedule.
3) Develop sleep cues. Sleep in a quiet, dark room that is between 60-65 degrees
. Do something that you find relaxing prior to bed. You might read, listen to music
or take a warm bath.
4) Avoid caffeine and cigarettes. They are stimulants. If you must drink caffeine,
do so at least four hours prior to bedtime. Avoid alcohol as well. Although a night
cap may make you fall asleep, alcohol can cause your sleep to be light and fitful.
5) When snacking at night, try foods rich in tryptophan (an amino acid that aids in
sleep). This is found in dairy products, bananas, and turkey.
6) Nap for twenty minutes or less during the day. This will refresh you as much as
an hour of sleep.
7) Be wary of sleeping pills. Sleeping pills can become additive, and should only
be used for very short periods of time. Never use them for more then three nights
in a row. If not used properly, sleeping pills can lead to further sleep disruption
and daytime fatigue. If you must use them, try for a low dose pill that works for
a short period to avoid drowsiness the next day.
Eating is primitive, like sleeping or going to the bathroom. When food sources are
abundant, our brains are trained to eat as much as our body needs to function, survive,
and reproduce. Eating can also be a source of comfort and pleasure. For some, food
is a way to relieve the stress of our day to day lives. Balanced nutrition is essential
to maintaining overall good health, but it also can affect your ability to cope with
stress. Let's face it: Food is good! Eating is fun! It's no wonder we find it hard
to deprive ourselves of this most basic and nurturing act. It all begins with balance.....
The Food Groups
The best way to jump start your metabolic function is to eat well, regularly and often. Food
is the fuel needed to keep your body and brain energized. Try to eat a variety of
foods and don't skip meals. Including all food groups in your daily eating is important
because it helps to full your brain as well as your body. In times of stress, maintaining
a well balanced diet becomes even more important.
Grains. Grains provide your brain and muscles with energy and are a good source of B-vitamins
and iron. Include grains like rice, potatoes, pasta and whole grain bread at every
Fruits and Vegetables. Fruits and vegetables help to boost your immune system, and are good for your eyes,
hair and blood . They are a good source of vitamins A and C, minerals and fiber.
A healthy diet should include 5 - 7 servings each day, of fruits and vegetables like
apples, broccoli, pear, carrots, squash.
Milk and Dairy. Dairy products help to maintain strong bones and teeth. They are a good source
of calcium and protein. Try to aim for a three servings of low fat dairy foods like
8 oz milk, 1 oz cheese, 1 cup of yogurt, cottage cheese , pudding or frozen yogurt
Meat and Protein. Protein helps to build muscles, fight infection, and heal wounds. Try eating beef,chicken,
peanut butter, fish tofu or eggs at two meals daily.
Fats and Oils. Fats keep hair and skin soft while giving you a feeling of fullness. Include a
little fat like salad dressing, olive oil, guacamole, nuts or seeds at each meal.
Healthy Eating Tips
1) Eat a good breakfast every morning. Breakfast kick starts your metabolism. It
provides your brain and your body with the energy needed to feel good, cope with stress
, and perform better in the classroom and on the athletic field.
2) Eat three meals a day and two or more snacks. Eating every two to three hours is
a good idea if you are under stress. This will help to prevent your body from getting
hungry leaving you even more stressed and more apt to binge.
3) Eat fruits and vegetables. Foods high in potassium, such as orange juice, squash,
potatoes, apricots, limes, banana, avocados, tomatoes, and peaches are low in calorie
and high in energy. They can be used in a meal or as a snack to help keep your body
4) Eat foods that are high in calcium, such as yogurt, cheese, and tofu. These foods
will build up stores of calcium in your body and prevent osteoporosis in later life.
5) Eat protein at every meal. Protein helps build muscles, fight infection, and heal
6) Include healthy fats in your diet, particularly foods rich in omega-3's . Avoid
7) Completely avoid soft drinks and juices with high fructose corn syrup. Limit use
of artificial sweeteners. These drinks can give you instant energy, but the fall out
is that the energy is short lived, leaving you feeling lethargic and lazy shortly
8) Drink lots of water. Water is a very important nutrient that is often forgotten.
Your body needs at least eight glasses of water each day, and if you exercise, or
play sports, you may need more.
9) Limit sugar, sweets and junk food from your diet. These foods, available in most
vending machines, offer minimal nutritional value and cause an immediate "high" followed
by a prolonged "low".
10) Limit alcohol. Alcohol depletes your body's B vitamins and can disrupt sleep
and impair judgment or clarity of thought.
11) Avoid caffeine (coffee, tea, cola, and chocolate). Caffeine causes nervousness
and inhibits sleep if too much is ingested.
12) Take a daily multi-vitamin. A daily multivitamin can minimize the physical damage
caused by stress.
13) Sleep deprivation can also contribute to snacking and poor food choices. When
you are tired, your body releases hormones that affect your metabolism and make you
crave empty calories like cookies and chips. So another healthy-eating strategy is
making sure that you get the eight to ten hours of sleep a night that you need.