Flu Shot Fair Tomorrow!

The beginning of flu season used to be a tricky time for me. I would catch sight of the first telltale pink nose and the sound of a croaky voice complaining of body aches, and turn into a different person. Suddenly, I would begin to glance suspiciously at the student who coughed behind me in class out of the corner of my eye (allergies? or streptococcus?!), start carrying around hand sanitizer and offering it all too enthusiastically to other people, and wipe down my phone and laptop keyboard with disinfecting wipes that I would have stored in my closet for this very season.  Yes, I used to be a different person then…but now I get a flu shot annually. I would personally recommend it for the physical (and if you’re like me, mental) health benefits it confers, and there’s no easier time to get one than tomorrow, Tuesday, October 1st, from 3-6 PM in the Diana Event Oval. The shot is free if you have the Aetna Student Health Insurance plan, and it costs $15 with other insurance plans (you may claim the shot to your insurance and have them reimburse you) payable by check or debit/credit card. You should bring your insurance card to the fair and will have to wait for 15 minutes after you receive the flu shot (during which you can eat our snacks and pick out an “I got my flu shot” sticker!). If you cannot make it to the flu fair, you can schedule an appointment with Primary Care anytime or visit during walk-in hours from 9am-11:30am Monday through Thursday and 9am-4pm  on Friday.

And here is a poem about one of the most common flu shot myths:

Myth Dispelled
by Adam Possner

The flu vaccine cannot
give you the flu, I tell him.
It’s dead virus, there’s
nothing alive about it.
It can’t make you sick.
That’s a myth.
But if we bury it in
the grassy knoll
of your shoulder,
an inch under the stratum
corneum, as sanctioned by
your signature
in a white-coated ceremony
presided over by
my medical assistant
and then mark the grave
with a temporary
non-stick headstone,
the trivalent spirit
of that vaccine
has a 70 to 90 percent
chance of warding off
the Evil One,
and that’s the God’s
honest truth.
“Myth Dispelled” by Adam Possner, MD /JAMA. December 5,2012 Vol. 308 (21):2178. “Copyright © 2012 American Medical Association. All rights reserved.

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And here comes the midterms…

It’s that time of year again.  The leaves are changing (in places other than NYC, where you can actually see trees) and Liz’s place has an assortment of pumpkin spice lattes.  Oh, and midterms are happening.  Midterms are a stressful time, but just how stressful they become depends a lot on how you handle it.  To give you some words of encouragement and some tips to relax, Steph and I made a video for y’all.*

Video can be found here:

https://docs.google.com/a/barnard.edu/file/d/0ByQQpegIsSf1RG9OYnY1dG5pNEU/edit?usp=drive_web

*originally made for an RA event on Elliot 4.  Video edited by Claire Bouchard.

Apply for the LGBTQA retreat!

LGBTQA Student Leadership Retreat 2013:  October 25-27th

Make new friends, build community, experience personal growth and discover leadership opportunities!  We will explore what brings us together within the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and ally (LGBTQA) community and how our different experiences create spaces for ally-building and activism. Visit our blog: lgbtqaretreat.wordpress.com

Apply by Friday October 4th, 2013 at tinyurl.com/lgbtqaretreat

 

I went last year, will be facilitating this year, and it’s a blast! Lots of discussion about how identities interact and how to build community, plus time to hang out and enjoy nature.

First Monday Message Challenge: Taking a step–outside–to be well.

Last week I explained the rules for my new blogging project – the Monday Message challenge. Today, I’ll be talking about how the first week went! This week’s theme was little things we can do outside in the lovely fall weather, and I decided to start off slow with something I already knew I would enjoy – going for a long walk in some crunchy leaves!

I go for afternoon walks in our neighborhood parks fairly regularly, so to mix it up a little, I decided to take this Riverside Park walk in the evening. I left around 7:00 pm, but it was already pretty dark out, thanks to the rapid shortening of our daytime hours. I brought a friend along this time, but would have enjoyed the hour-long walk by myself as well! The sunset over the Hudson was really beautiful, but unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures for to share this week, as my phone camera is not exactly amazing and only really works in broad daylight.

I love walking/hiking/generally most outdoor activities, so I wasn’t too worried about not enjoying this week’s “challenge.” Instead, I was concerned with trying to get something new out of it. Usually, when I go for walks, I use the time to think about the things that are going on in my life, like my homework, or the events I’m planning on campus. This time, though, I really wanted to focus on my own wellness and calm. I’d say this was a mixed success – just being conscious of the need for a more peaceful approach was a total step in the right direction, but I did find it hard to put all the distractions out of my mind. Overall, I would absolutely recommend going for a relaxing outdoor stroll or otherwise spending time outside before the weather gets too gloomy, and I look forward to picking another healthy Monday challenge to try next week!

Tips on Being Well for Introverts

I’ll preface this by saying that, unsurprisingly, I am a huge introvert. Let me also preface this by saying that introversion does not necessarily mean shyness. Really, it’s the way in which social interaction affects an individual that determines introversion or extroversion (meaning that introverted people can, in fact, be outgoing, and extroverted people can, in fact, be shy!) The key to understanding introversion is pretty simple: social interaction is draining to introverts, but fuels extroverts. 

Oftentimes, Barnard life seems to encourage extroversion. Here are a few things I’ve found help keep me sane when I feel frazzled and drained from life’s daily interactions.

1) Eat meals alone sometimes. Though catching up with friends in the Diana Center cafe can be one of my favorite things to do, I’ve learned that meal times can be really great for digestion (pun slightly intended.) No matter how busy your day is, sitting down to eat and catch up with your own thoughts can be an absolute lifesaver.

2) Make sure to schedule time for your “thing.” Correct me if I’m wrong in saying this, but my impression has always been that those who choose to go to Barnard are generally passion-filled individuals. Whether this passion be for art, sports, politics–you name it, there is more than likely someone here who loves it. My passion is writing. If I don’t schedule time for myself to write, I don’t feel fulfilled and I’ll get sucked into certain modes of thought (read: stress) more easily. Though this is absolutely applicable to anyone, it’s particularly important for introverts because it allows you that time to recharge while doing what you love.

3) Find a secret spot. Finding a place to be alone and observe life around you can be difficult in New York, but it definitely isn’t impossible. Between parks, coffee shops, and random benches in street medians, there’s definitely a space for everyone. Though I won’t give away my favorite secret spot (sorry!), I really enjoy absorbing the atmosphere of campus while sitting by the side of the Diana between classes. It’s simple, relaxing, and the crisp autumn air feels great.

4) Don’t be intimidated by others’ extroversion. This can be really hard to overcome. Watching everyone else do so much can easily make you feel like you aren’t doing enough or like the time you take for yourself isn’t worth taking. I struggle with this still, but one thing that has helped me quite a bit this semester is something one of our peer-eds said during training. FOMO, or “fear of missing out,” is something that can really easily affect your well being. While you’re worried about things people are doing without you, you lose that valuable time for self rejuvenation. Caroline introduced us all to a new acronym, JOMO, or “joy of missing out.” Basically, it’s all about perspective. Enjoy whatever you’re choosing to do and everything will work itself out.

Do you have any other tips on being an introvert? Leave them in the comments!

Be Well,

Shannon

Girls on the Run

Today was my first ever practice as a running coach for Girls on the Run! I am so excited about coaching 3rd and 4th grade girls and I wanted to spread the word about this amazing program with everyone. Girls on the Run is a non-profit organization in U.S. and Canada (and expanding!) focused on primary-aged girls. The girls come to practice twice per week and learn a lot about respecting others, appreciating themselves, and having fun all while running! The program culminates in a 5k at the end of the season. Every girl gets a running buddy, who is a volunteer from the community to run the 5k with. They are always looking for future coaches and volunteers in general. If you are interested in getting involved, check out the link below!

Girls on the Run

http://gotrnyc.org/

Happy Habits

You may have already seen this article about happiness that’s been making the rounds on social media. Some tips may not feel accessible to everyone (such as “spending money on other people”), but most tips are free and seem pretty mood-boosting.

I’ll confess that I found the list a little stressful in its length and its implication that these are somehow the only keys to happiness, so please don’t feel pressure to adopt any or all of these habits, especially all at once! At Well-Woman, we emphasize making positive changes one manageable step at a time rather than setting unreasonable expectations about changing ALL habits immediately and forever.

For example, say you wanted to spend more time in nature. Rather than committing to an hour-long walk in the park every day for the rest of the year, you will likely find it easier to build and maintain the habit by starting small: one 15-minute visit (even just sitting on a bench and relaxing!) to the park, one day a week, for a trial period of just that week. If you meet that goal, awesome — you could keep on with that goal for another week, and maybe the next week try increasing your goal to twice a week park visits. If you don’t like spending time in the park or find it stressful to meet that goal in the trial period, you can change your plan and try out another wellness practice without feeling bad.

Instead of setting too-high expectations and feeling stressed about not meeting them, incrementally building wellness habits (along with forgiving yourself if you don’t enjoy or can’t maintain the practice you try out) helps you learn what does or doesn’t make you feel more well in a gentle, low-stress way.