Midterm Madness got you Anxious and Stressed?


Good Stress versus Bad Stress. Yes, there IS such a thing as a bit of good stress. You know the type that motivates you to go the extra mile, push yourself a bit harder and that anxious butterfly feeling in your stomach on a first date. Those are okay for you and your body.  And lets face it; we can’t avoid stress even if we tried. So lets look at ways we can help alleviate the added anxiety and stress you may be feeling right about now over your upcoming midterms.

DESTRESS is better that DISTRESS

D = Diet and Nutrition – eat a well balanced diet

E = Exercise- get outside and go for a hike or walk, hit the gym for yoga or a class

S = Sleep- make sure you are getting enough of it

T = Time Management- procrastination can add stress -manage time wisely

R = Relax – a great relaxation technique is practicing mindfulness and breath work

E = Express Gratitude – boosts feelings of joy and happiness

S = Social Connections – stay connected to others – isolation can increase worry

S = Self Esteem, Compassion and Care- be kind to yourself and others

As mentioned above, mindfulness and breath work can help relax you. Mindfulness can help decrease stress and anxiety levels and aid in overall emotional wellbeing.

Tips for practicing mindfulness:

  •  Focus on your breath. This can be done at anytime and anywhere.
  •  Follow this rule: Inhale 4, Hold 7, Exhale 8.
  •  Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth.  Take a moment to bring  attention to slowly chewing your food.
  • Practice mindfulness meditation. This can be done sitting or lying down, or even walking.
  • Again focus on your breath- if thoughts enter your mind, acknowledge them and refocus on your breath. It’s okay- be kind to yourself.


Two more tips for managing midterm anxiety and stress:

HEARTMATH- Unwind by plugging into a HEARTMATH program. These aid in personal development and improved mental, emotional and physical health. And lastly, smile more.  Smiling lowers stress hormones, adds joy, improve’s your mood and eases anxiety and fears.

Now take a deep breath, focus and go tackle those midterms, you’ve got this.

Written By:  Deb Schork ~ HOPE & Wellness Center Intern 2017


It’s Time To Talk About Eating Disorders

lets_talk“Carolyn Proskow, Summa Cum Laude,” announced Dr. Eliza Bingham at the 2016 Commencement Ceremony for the College of Education, Health, & Human Services. For many of the students present that evening, hearing their name announced and walking across the stage was confirmation that despite every challenge that posed a threat to their academic achievement, they had made it…. in that moment, they knew that _______ was no match for their determination to succeed. For some, this “blank” was late-night cramming sessions in Kellogg Library during finals week. For others, this “blank” was having to balance a full-time job with a full-time class schedule. For me, this “blank” was my eating disorder. My eating disorder was no match for my determination to succeed, and indeed, that was something to celebrate on commencement day.

In Summer 2012, the course of my life was severely changed when I started to engage in the unhealthy behaviors often associated with bulimia nervosa. What began as a modest adjustment to diet and exercise rapidly and unintentionally transformed into a routine of restriction, binge eating, and self-induced purging. My hair began to thin and gather on the floor with each stroke of my hairbrush. My throat was persistently sore, and every muscle in my body felt weak. I refrained from social gatherings with friends and family to avoid being put in a situation where I felt pressured to eat. I became frail and disengaged, and isolated myself from loved ones because I was so comfortable living in the silence perpetuated by my eating disorder. I staggered aimlessly through two of the most important years of my life, my senior year of high school and my freshman year of college. Although I was able to maintain high marks and sustain a job, my day-to-day life lacked purpose, desire, and inspiration. I denied every opportunity to address my eating disorder, from confiding in my closest friends to seeking professional help in a consistent manner.

Towards the end of my freshman year of college, my parents had scheduled an appointment for me to meet with an intake specialist at what was formerly the Eating Disorder Center of San Diego. After being asked to recount my experiences with bulimia and describe my physical and mental health status in detail, I was asked whether or not I would be willing to take an indefinite leave of absence from college in order to fully concentrate my energy towards recovery as part of an inpatient program. I will never forget being asked that question and having to confront for the first time all the things in my life that my eating disorder had taken away from me… my confidence, dignity, and sociableness; my parents’ trust when I went upstairs to take a shower and my ability to distinguish adrenaline from the sudden anxiety that comes with a binge; my emotion, sense of control, and freedom. I took a deep breath and expressed to the woman in front of me that under no circumstances was I going to let my eating disorder strip me of my education, my future. I had come this far, I wasn’t prepared to sacrifice that too. As I walked to my mom’s car after the appointment, I pledged to take my health and recovery seriously; and I understood that even though my eating disorder would always be a part of my past, it no longer had to define who I was as a person or interfere with my relationships, passions, and endeavors. In response to this pledge, I began seeing an eating disorder specialist, going to individual and family therapy, and tracking my recovery progress with my primary care physician. I confided in multiple people about my past health adversities in order to be held accountable in the event of relapse, and began to ask rather than deny help, support, and guidance. I celebrated every milestone of my recovery, and remained focused despite temptation and pressure often exerted by media and popular culture. Slowly but surely, with each day that passed, I regained parts of myself, of my personality and spirit that I had once given up until the time came that I truly felt whole again.

A few months after my appointment at the EDCSD, I applied for an internship position with the H.O.P.E & Wellness Center and officially became a peer health educator in January 2015 under the Healthy Cougars: Peer Advocacy & Wellness Support (PAWS) program. At the time, I was a few months into my recovery and needed something else in my life for which to invest time, energy, and creativity. I remember questioning in the internship interview whether or not I was ready let alone capable of being an advocate and champion of mental health. However, I recognized that I had an immense responsibility to inhibit and/or narrow the scope of this issue on my campus through means of mental health education and promotion. I was ready to serve others and finally take control of an opportunity that I felt passionate about, an opportunity that my eating disorder could not impede. Throughout the course of this internship, I worked closely with Mental Health Educator Cheryl Berry to create and facilitate programs, presentations, workshops, group discussions, and campus awareness events that accentuated public health topics like eating disorders, body image, depression, stress, and anxiety; and also embraced the opportunity to share my own experiences with bulimia as a panelist during two on-campus “talks”. I developed enduring relationships with my fellow interns and supervisors who encouraged me to relinquish my apprehensions and guilt in order to fulfill a higher purpose. The H.O.P.E & Wellness Center provided a safe and supportive environment for me to maneuver through my own recovery while helping others in the process. It gave me purpose, and is largely to thank for where I am in life today.

For anyone reading this who is struggling with an eating disorder or related mental illness—whether it be anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, body dysmorphia, etc.—please know that it is never too late to seek help. There are resources all around you and those who have dedicated their entire careers to helping people just like you find hope in healing. The key to a lasting recovery is you making the decision to be better because it is what you want. A quote that I was presented with numerous times in my recovery was that of Eleanor Roosevelt: “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. Do the thing you think you cannot do.” Although recovery may seem unattainable, it starts with taking that first step into the unknown.nedflyerlighter-002

Written by:

Carolyn M. Proskow

Alumna CSUSM 2016

MPH Student, Health Management & Policy

San Diego State University, Graduate School of Public Health



National Eating Disorders Week @ CSUSM

In United States, 20 million women and 10 million suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder (http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/types-symptoms-eating-disorders).

At least 30 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder in the U.S (http://www.anad.org/get-information/about-eating-disorders/eating-disorders-statistics/).

The media depicts images that our society should abide by. We mostly see images that show women and men should have these perfect bodies that would be admired by anyone. Losing weight is what comes to mind when you want to have that perfect body to be admired, loved, and happy.

If you have an eating disorder or know someone who does, you are not alone. Knowing that others have experienced eating disorders, hopefully allows you to believe there is hope and will encourage your willingness to get help. Every 62 minutes at least one person dies as a direct result from an eating disorder (http://www.anad.org/get-information/about-eating-disorders/eating-disorders-statistics/). Continue reading

Be Heart Smart!

fheart.jpgYour heart is the core at which you exist, the center of your body’s entire universe. It is the essence of your innermost self. So with that being said, how are you making sure to take care of it?

In the United States, someone has a heart attack every 34 seconds. Every 60 seconds, someone dies from a heart disease-related event. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States as cardiovascular diseases obtain more lives than all forms of cancers combined. But do not fear, for it is preventable! So always remember to be Heart Smart!

With February being Heart Health Month, it’s time to rev up 2017 by making heart-healthy choices and maintaining it throughout the year! Here are a few tips to lead you in the right direction as to how to reduce putting your heart at risk.ilovemyheart

Tips to eating Heart-Healthy:

  • Be conscious of what’s on your plate.
  • Eat fruits and vegetables
  • Eat whole grains and minimize processed foods with added sugars
  • Reduce sodium
  • Include heart-healthy fats
  • Hydrate with eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day
  • Replace red meat with fish

Tips to a Heart-Healthy Lifestyle: Continue reading

Lets Talk About Sex Baby



Sex can be HOT and FUN with pleasure but there are risks involved:

  • STI’s
  • Unplanned pregnancy
  • Reduced self esteem
  • Sexual violence

Safe sex involves communication with your partner. Before you have, sex talk with your partner about intimacy. Considering what you like and what you do not like is an important conversation. Discuss how you will protect yourselves.

Ask for:

  • A sexual report card (clean bill of health)
  • Get tested (you can do this right at CSUSM Hope & Wellness Center)
  • Get vaccinated (HPV)

Why is sex so hard to talk about?

  • You may be ridiculed
  • You may not be well acquainted with the person
  • You don’t want to kill the “mood”
  • You may not know how to have sex let alone use protection
  • It may be your first time
  • You may feel fear or anxiety

Continue reading

Resiliency: How We Can Put Humpty Dumpty Back Together Again

Let’s think back to our childhood nursery rhyme friend Humpty Dumpty. If you need a refresher the nursery rhyme goes like this:

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall,

All the King’s horses and all the King’s men

Couldn’t put Humpty together again.

Sometimes I can relate to Humpty. Life, regardless of want or expectation, throws some immense, life altering challenges at us. Sometimes, the challenges, conflicts, and stress can leave you feeling broken, undesirable, and even unable to see hope for your future. We want you to know there is HOPE. You can build your ability to be resilient. Not only can you bounce back from minor hassles or survive major hardships, you can also thrive!

How do you do this? Imagine if Humpty realized that instead of being an ooey gooey disposable mess, he could be transformed into a yummy, fluffy, scrambled egg. A trial turned triumphant! Broken turned resilient! You can reimagine and rebuild your state of being towards resiliency.

Current research indicates that humans have ability to be extremely resilient, and there are protective factors that allow people to build resilience. Resiliency can be taught and learned; it is not a fixed trait.

Our desire is to help you boost your resiliency in order to not only survive college, but thrive! We don’t want anyone to be stuck in a Humpty Dumpty mindset.

Continue reading

Out With the Bad, In With the Good

Did you know there is good and bad stress? Good stress or, eustress, is a mild kind of stress that helps motivate us to complete given tasks and goals. This “good” stress will excite, invigorate, and motivate you. There is a sense of accomplishment and an ability to relax after the task has been completed. This eustress is actually good for the body. The small amount of good stress that pushes you to finish that essay and the period of relaxation and accomplishment felt afterward are good.

So what does it mean to have bad stress? Bad stress, also known as distress, is the type of stress can be debilitating. It is when you are feeling so overwhelmed that your body does not have time to feel accomplished, invigorated, or excited. It is important to know the signs of distress in order to try to decide how to best cope as an individual.

Possible Signs of Distress

Emotional– Depression (general unhappiness), low self-esteem, lonely, worthless, overwhelmed, out of control, frequent crying spells, moodiness, apathy, irritable, short tempered, agitated, inability to relax.

Cognitive– inability to concentrate, seeing only the negative, anxious or “racing” thoughts, difficulty with decision-making, trouble learning new information, constant worrying, nightmares, guilt, poor judgment, forgetfulness, disorganized.

Physical– nervousness, shaking, weakness, fatigue, twitching, aches, pains, diarrhea or constipation, nausea, dizziness, light-headed, hair loss, acne, rashes, numbness, hot/cold waves, low energy, headaches, insomnia, heartburn, panic attacks, difficulty breathing, clenched jaw and grinding teeth, cold sweaty hands/feet, dry mouth, weight gain/loss without diet change. Continue reading

Gobble Up Gratitude

gratitude_keep_calmTypically, November kicks off the season of many thanks and celebrations. However, this year we want to shake things up a bit. Rather than just a season, we want to make gratitude a daily lifestyle habit.

Why should a college student make gratitude part of their busy daily routine? By celebrating what we already have we increase our happiness, health, and ability to cope with life’s challenges, all of which increase our academic abilities. Here are several other ways gratitude benefits you:

Emotional-More Positive Feelings, More Relaxed, More Resilient, Happier Memories, Less Envious Continue reading