Mental Health on Campus

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By Dennis Austin

College marks an important period in a student’s life. As students begin to transition into adulthood, college is a playground of sorts, a place where experimentation, deep thought, and pondering on what lies ahead are all on the menu. Some students define their college experience through partying, sexual exploration, intense academic rigor, or a combination of sorts. However, for many students they are not in the least concerned with these activities as their energy is more focused on getting themselves out of bed, dealing with an anxiety attack or flirting with the idea of suicide.

Over the past few years mental health has become a hallmark on college campuses across the world. More attention and resources have now been dedicated in assisting students who struggle with their internal demons, which for many, is a case of life and death. Here at Genesee Community College, there is a noticeable sense of despair which afflicts much of the student body. I myself have seen people in my own social circle openly admit to cutting themselves, failed suicide attempts, amongst many other tragic stories. One student in particular had cut themselves multiple times in their abdomen, an event which required an overnight hospital stay.

Earlier this month at the behest of GCC President James Sunser, me and College Village Resident Assistant Randy Bumbury, visited Monroe Community College and advocated for more resources on campus to deal with this crisis. In a room filled with State legislators across various regions we plead our case as to why this issue requires urgent action. Jeanie Burdick is a fine counselor here at GCC and has performed her job well, but she is only one individual. Given that our estimated student population is well over 1,000 (more if our campus centers and distance learning students are calculated), there is simply not enough resources available to address the needs of students.

To be blunt, we need money. Monetary backing would ensure we could afford more than one full-time, qualified counselor as well as expanding our services at the Counseling Center. Thus, GCC could provide more options for students to better manage their health outside of what currently exists, such as Therapy Assist Online, a useful tool students can use, but doesn’t completely solve the problem. The issue we have is not a lack of motivation or skill. That much among faculty is present. We just don’t have the “cache” if you will, to go beyond our constraints and truly make a difference.

Dennis Austin is a graduating sophomore, majoring in Liberal Arts & Sciences. He is graduating this semester and will be attending the University of Illinois in January.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or dial 911. If you need to make an appointment with our Counseling Center, please contact Jeanie Burdick at jlburdick@genesee.edu or call (585)-343-0055 ext. 6219. The Counseling Center is open weekdays, Monday-Friday, from 9 AM to 4:30 PM.

Who Needs More Sleep?

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Sleep. Nice healthy sleep. If you’re like me, you could use more of it! According to the CDC – the Centers for Disease Control – 35% of US adults aren’t getting enough! The recommended amount of sleep per night is 7-8 hours. What happens to our bodies when we don’t get that recommended amount? I know with finals coming up, this might be good to know in the event that you find yourself awake at night, stressing over your next exam.

  1. You get sick! Losing sleep can target your body’s ability to fight off illnesses. sick
  2. Your heart pays. Getting too little sleep (less than 5 hours) and getting too much (more than 9 hours) have been shown to have a negative impact on heart health. Your chances of developing coronary heart disease or having a stroke are greatly increased with less sleep.
  3. Risk for cancer increases. Too little sleep is welcoming to different types of cancers such as breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and also prostate cancer.
  4. You forget stuff and can’t think properly. Even missing just one night of sleep can mess with your cognitive function. Not only can it damage your thinking, it can also make your memory impaired as well. In other words, we need adequate sleep to lock in new information and commit it to memory.
  5. You pack on the pounds! Research shows that people who don’t get enough sleep are at a larger risk for obesity.
  6. Your appearance suffers. If all of these effects don’t do it and make you want to change for the better, then perhaps this one will! Having not enough sleep can cause premature wrinkles and dark circles. It can also cause uneven skin tone.

So, with all of this information, you must be ready and willing to make a change. How – do you ask? Here is a list of things you can do to get more sleep, in case you’re having trouble.

  1. Avoid caffeine at night time and also limit yourself during the day. Caffeine is only used to help people stay awake, therefore, if consumed at night, it’ll only worsen your ability to fall asleep at a decent time.
  2. No alcohol before bed! Yes, alcohol is a downer. However, it also keeps your mind going in an opposite direction as opposed to winding down before bed.
  3. Don’t sleep in on the weekends or when you have late class. Wake up close to the same time everyday so that your body and mind get used to the schedule.
  4. Try different decaf coffees or teas to help nurture yourself into sleeping. I know that when I drink something hot or warm at night, it instantly gives me all the warm and fuzzies and makes me feel comforted and ready for bed.
  5. Try working out during the day to wear yourself out! Being tired is half the battle, after all 🙂
  6. Put books and homework away at least 30 minutes before bedtime. When you’re stuck thinking about tomorrow’s exam that’s in store, it’s probably extremely hard to get sleepy!
  7. Listen to a meditation video on Youtube! Just go to Youtube.com and type in “meditation video” in the search bar, press play, close your eyes, and do what they say. You’ll be relaxed in no time!

 

Now that you have these tools, you should be good to go and able to catch up on your z’s! Good luck!

Making the Change to Clean Eating

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clean eatingEveryone wants to feel good; that’s no surprise. What if your fatigue and sub-par moods are being caused by the food you’re eating? Have you ever thought of the grease and fats from fast food being the cause of your discomfort? If so, I’m here to help.

Clean eating is defined as eating whole foods or “real foods” – those that are un- or minimally processed, refined, and handled, making them as close to their natural form as possible. This is important to know so that you can base your diet around clean foods. For example, instead of going to Subway to get a turkey sub with turkey that’s been processed with salt and other unnatural flavors, consider making your own sub at home from a turkey you made in the oven. It costs sway less and its super good for you!

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Other ways you can make the transition are as follows; when you’re grocery shopping, stock up on fruits and vegetables! When it comes to eating them, most of us aren’t getting enough. fruits and veggies

Another way to eat clean is to eat whole grains. The cleanest whole grains are those that have been touched the least by processing. Think whole grains that look most like their just-harvested state- quinoa, wild rice, oats,… just to name a few. If you opt for cereal, look at the ingredients list! Whole grains should be the first on the list. When you swap out refined carbs (like white pasta, sugar, and white bread) for whole grains, you’ll get more fiber, anti-oxidants, and anti inflammatory phytonutrients.

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Eating less meat can help your diet as well! Al the fat that’s in meat is NOT good for you and can really take a toll on your heart. Instead of getting your protein from meat, try beans, yogurt, and plant based proteins instead.

Watch out for processed foods! I’ll be the first to admit that my happiness can be found in a box of au-gratin potatoes, but I feel so guilty afterwards! All the sodium and powders they use to make it sustainable for storing for long periods of time just make it not worth putting into my body.

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So there you have it folks! IF you’re concerned about how your next 50 years are going to go, take this advice, bite the bullet, and change your habits! I’ll be doing it right along with you, so this will be exciting. Good luck!

Come one, come all! Housing Survey!

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housing batavia

Hey y’all! It’s time to participate in something. Let your voice be heard in this online survey. Basically, it’s a survey given by Genesee County and they’re trying to decide what type of housing and additions to add to Batavia!

If you or someone you know would like to participate in helping the town of Batavia develop and grow, please fill out this short 11 answer questionnaire given in the link below. It has to be in by the 17th of November.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/XZBVSXP

Thanks and have a great day!

How to Travel on a Budget

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Everyone wants to get out and about every now and then. There’s nothing wrong with that! Somehow, getting out of your humble home to travel and experience new things makes you feel more at home when you finally get back. Stronger social skills, feeling more at peace, and becoming more creative are all linked to people who travel. With that being said, if you have the time, do it! Go see some stuff and come back feeling fresh and rejuvenated.

If money is an issue, take my blog as a survival guide to traveling on a budget. Lodging, food, and transportation can all be calculated to make an affordable trip.

First – Place to stay…

Try www.airbnb.com to find someone who is renting out their home for the duration of your trip! It’s definitely better than staying in a hotel and cheaper too! Since it’s someone’s home, you’ll be able to use their kitchen! – which goes into my next topic.

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Food – what to eat and how

Since you’re getting to live in a home you found on Airbnb, try cooking most nights! To learn how to cook like the people of the place you’re visiting, consider taking a local cooking class to buff up your skills.

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Transportation

This is a little tricky. If you’re in the US, try either renting a car, bringing your own, or taking the public transit! When I lived in Vegas, I didn’t have a car, so I used the bus. It was only $5 to ride all day! Many cities have this option, you just have to do a little research.

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Shopping

When you’re out on the town shopping, I suggest buying goods from stores that you don’t have back home. The point of traveling is to see new places, so the material you accumulate should reflect the uniqueness of the place you visited.

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If you’re ready to get out and about, you should! There’s no reason you can’t do something like travel. Our planet is home to all of us, so we should feel like we can visit it whenever we want!

The Benefits of Taking Walks

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If you’ve ever felt cramped from being inside too long, I feel your pain. Going outside is so relaxing and it’s a good way to take a break from everyday duties of studying and taking care of our responsibilities. I mean, lets face it! We all need to get out more instead of being under the same old fluorescent lighting we find ourselves in everyday. Although going on walks outside is a good way to stretch our bodies and minds, there are also a ton of other benefits to it!

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Just walking for 30 minutes everyday can strengthen the cardiovascular system and prevent diseases. Walking greatly reduces the risk of stroke, as well. This exercise is ideal for lowering blood pressure, it improves blood circulation (so no more pesky cold feet), it reduces bad cholesterol, and helps increase good cholesterol.

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Don’t just dismiss this as health mumbo jumbo! There are real benefits to going on walks everyday. Another good benefit is that your mood will improve. Research shows that regular walking modifies your nervous system so much that you’ll experience a decrease in anger and hostility.

Anyone worried about losing weight? This may seem obvious, but doing a little cardio (something like WALKING 🙂 or running) can help those jeans to fit a little better!

I know it seems a little redundant, however, it’s time go get some walking shoes and start taking care of the only body you have. Why don’t you go do it in our new gym? That place is AWESOME! They have treadmills that look out over the campus and state of the art equipment ready for you to get some use out of. Best thing is that it’s free!

How to Take Control of Your Busy Life

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Being a college student, working, staying involved on campus, amongst other things sounds great; and you probably came into this semester thinking it would be great. But 3 weeks in you’re probably feeling super overwhelmed, and realizing it’s easier said than done. With the millions of opportunities in and out of school, it’s actually quite normal to have a busy lifestyle. I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks along the way that have allowed me to enjoy my crazy life a bit more, and I thought I’d share them with you!

Prioritize

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At this point in my life, I never thought I’d have such a massive list of to-do’s every single day, but the reality is that I do. And the even bigger reality is that most likely half of it won’t get done in 1 day. The key is to figure out what is most important, for example homework and work, then go from there. Do whatever must be done first, and try to figure out what can wait.

 

Note: I love writing assignment due dates in my agenda and highlighting it, so I can take a quick glance and see what’s coming up and what can wait.

 

Plan Your Day

 

You most likely read this tip and thought “well, duh”, but I don’t mean just write a long list of everything going on throughout your day, I mean sit down and thoroughly plan it out. What you have going on, and when you’re going to do. It’s like a class schedule but instead of times blocked off for classes, it’s blocked off for your tasks. It doesn’t have to be exact, just a guess-timate in order to formulate some sort of plan.

 

Take a Break

 

Learn when to relax. Yes it is important to take care of your homework, go to work, and do your daily tasks; however, you and your sanity should come first. Know when you’ve reached your limit, and take some time to relax or do something you enjoy.

 

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Another tip is to use the site Tomato Timer, which sets a 25 minute timer in which you work on your homework or a task, when time is up you get 5-10 minutes to relax and do whatever you want. Then back to 25 minutes of your task, and so on. You repeat the loop until you’re done!

 

I also like that Tomato Timer gives you the option of a short (5 minutes) or long break (10 minutes).

 

Most Importantly: Take Care of Yourself

 

When life gets crazy, we sometimes forget to take care of ourselves, and begin to skip out on basic necessities. Unhealthy eating and a lack of sleep will sooner than later, catch up to you. A night or two of staying up late is normal in college, but it is important to not let it become a habit. Unhealthy eating is another thing that can easily become a habit, but you have to fight the urge. It can be easy to pick up fast food at first, but you’ll regret it when you tack on the ‘freshman 15’, which will take much longer to lose than it would have for you to make a home cooked meal.

 

Your mental and physical health conquers everything else. Take care of yourself, love yourself, and never let anything distract you either of those tasks.

 

If you take these tips and use them, I know you’ll rock out this semester, and hopefully with a little less stress.

 

“The elevator to success is out of order. You’ll have to use the stairs…one step at a time.”

-Joe Girard

-Danielle