Self Care

A Caucasian nurse putting a blood pressure cuff on a young Caucasian woman with blonde hair

Table of Contents  

Introduction

College life is a period during which individuals are for the most part exposed to stress and lack of time, posing a barrier to adoption of healthy practices. A variety of studies utilizing self-report measures consistently show that U.S. medical students often pay inadequate attention to self-care.

It is common for students to neglect their own health and self-care during this time with the pressures that academic and co-curricular commitments can create. Furthermore, professional degree seeking students can have additional personal factors to add to the complexities of establishing time such as having a family, full time job, or financial obligations. 

Self-care can best be defined as simply "behavior directed toward enhancing one’s health and achieving self-improvement" which can be tailored to each individual.

Common self-care practices can include:

  • Regular visits to Student Health Services or a health care provider 
  • Personal Hygiene (e.g. oral, grooming, bathing, etc.)
  • Getting proper amounts of sleep
  • Limiting use of alcohol
  • Avoiding use of tobacco and illegal drugs
  • Reflecting on overuse of digital devices
  • Other healthy habits that reduce chances of illness (hand-washing, getting flu vaccine, etc.)  

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Evaluate Your Self-Care –
Complete Survey for a Chance to Win a MUSC Promotional Prize

Share your story with us on what you already do that contributes to your self care and why it is beneficial to you. At the end of each month, we will draw from the submissions and award multiple MUSC Promotional Prizes (e.g. water bottle, beach towel, yoga mat)!

QR code. Takes user to Redcap promotional survey about evaluating different health and wellness categories

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MUSC Working Out Wellness Lunch and Learn Session

lunch and learn

With MUSC being an ACSM Exercise is Medicine campus, the MUSC Wellness Center and the Student Wellness Advisory Group sponsors a series of lunch and learns where campus and community experts are invited in for a discussion on student chosen wellness topics. Previous lunch and learn topics have included:   

  • Optimal Nutrition
  • Stress and Anxiety Reduction
  • Promoting Physical Activity
  • Fitting in Self Care
  • Sleep Hygiene
  • Proper Form for Weight Training

Are you an online or distance student? All sessions will be hosted Microsoft Teams and will also be recorded so you will have the ability to participate as well! More information will be updated here for access to upcoming sessions.

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Check Your Blood Pressure &
Learn to Lower Your Blood Pressure

High blood pressure often has no symptoms. Over time, if untreated, it can cause health conditions, such as heart disease and stroke.

The MUSC Wellness Center just installed a new blood pressure reader called Healthbot that can be found at the entrance to the Cardio Room. You can create an account and measure your blood pressure over time. There is also a "one time guest use" option if you choose not create an account. 

Health bot machine 

Learn what your blood pressure readings mean and the implications of those readings. 

Begin to make choices that contribute positively to your blood pressure readings, including:

  • Eat a well-balanced, low-salt diet
  • Limit alcohol
  • Enjoy regular physical activity
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Take all medications properly 

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Fitting Self-Care into Your Schedule

Illustrations of a woman cooking in the kitchen, a man on his laptop, and a woman exercising infoors.

Self-care does not have to be time consuming. For more on self-care, consider watching selections from this TED playlist on the topic.

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Understanding Alcohol Consumption – Rethinking Drinking Calculators

Have you ever wondered how alcohol can affect you outside of how it makes you feel?  Click on the images below to see things like how many calories you consume, and how much alcohol actually costs to you per week, month, or even a year!

Three cocktail drinks drink size calculator

alcohol calorie calculator alcohol spending calculator

 calculate blood alcohol content

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Alcohol Risk Reduction – Rethinking Drinking

Drinking can be beneficial or harmful, depending on your age and health status, the situation, and, of course, how much you drink. It is vital to regularly assess your drinking patterns and if necessary, make changes for better health.

Visit the NIH's Rethinking Drinking website and find out where you stand with your drinking habits. Complete the Check your drinking pattern and See signs of a problem sections to get instant feedback. 

A downloadable brochure on Rethinking Drinking is also available for your reference.

For campus resources with substance abuse, please visit the MUSC Student Counseling and Psychological Services Substance Abuse Counseling page.

For more information on what's happening on campus, visit the MUSC CDAP website and consider joining the MUSC CDAP's Friends List to receive the latest news on alcohol research.

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Practicing Digital Detox

Group of people on their phones. Hovering above the phones are different types of social media and text messaging notification icons.

This article from Forbes provides strategies to consider when practicing digital detox.

Read More

 

The oxford dictionary defines digital detox as "a period of time during which a person refrains from using electronic devices such as smartphones or computers, regarded as an opportunity to reduce stress or focus on social interaction in the physical world." This idea is a result from the growing volumes of research depicting the negative effects that can occur from overuse of digital devices for internet and social media use.

As the research builds on negative effects, so does research on the benefits of practicing digital detox. For example, in a recent study on university students practicing digital detox, the majority of participants reported a positive change in mood, reduced anxiety and improved sleep during and in the immediate aftermath of the detoxification period.  

Read the articles above and challenge yourself to try some of the methods for digital detox and see what benefits you might experience. Challenge yourself, but consider the time you choose and any obligations you have. In the event you are unable to completely withdraw from all digital devices, especially if it will negatively impact your academic commitments, consider limiting just one area (such as social media) for a given period of time.  

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Time Management – Strategies to Consider

Balancing the demands of a busy lifestyle is not an easy thing to do but is best managed by regularly reviewing and assessing priorities. Even if you don’t have much control over your class and work schedule, you can focus time and energy on creating a successful balance between work and your personal life to reduce stress and increase happiness. The goal is to strike a balance between life, work, relationships, relaxation, and fun. Time management strategies can help reduce stress associated with finding that correct balance between work, family, self, and down time. 

Watch Laura Vanderkam's TED talk and read the articles below to find out time management strategies to consider incorporating into your routine: 

Woman in a blue shirt standing and talking in front of a screen with an alarm clock projected onto it. 

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Treat Yourself – Do Something Just for You

treat yourself

Treat yourself to something you enjoy in your life. Make sure to be mindful of how it makes you feel in the present moment. An example could be grabbing a scoop of your favorite ice cream, taking a long walk in a park or sitting on the beach for an hour. The great thing is it's entirely up to you how you "treat yo' self!"

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Smoking Cessation – Establish a Quit Plan, Quit and Maintain a Tobacco-Free Lifestyle

Establish a Quit Plan -

Get informed. As a start, watch “How Smoking Affects Your Body” featuring Dr. Susan Johnson, Director of Health Promotion at MUSC.

One of the keys to successfully quitting smoking is planning and preparation. A quit plan is a great step in preparing to quit smoking. Building a quit plan will help you stay focused and motivated to quit throughout the entire process of quitting tobacco.

Build your free quit plan and call the SCIENCE Quit Line (1-800-QUIT-NOW) to speak to a counselor about your quit plan.

Quit Smoking -

Smoking is the leading cause of heart attacks and heart disease. But many of these heart risks can be reversed simply by quitting smoking. By quitting smoking, you are protecting those you love. Smoking not only harms your health, but it hurts the health of those around you: exposure to secondhand smoke increases the risk of lung cancer and heart disease in healthy nonsmokers.

Read about the benefits of smoking cessation and then schedule a visit with an MUSC Tobacco Treatment Specialist.

Oral Tobacco Products are Dangerous Too:

The most common types of cancer are mouth, tongue, cheek, gum, and esophageal (throat) cancer. Chewing tobacco, snuff, or smokeless tobacco effects health adversely with oral cancers, gum disease, tooth decay (cavities), tooth loss, and bad breath. Cutting snuff and other tobacco products from your life will lower your chances of developing cancer, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

Maintain a Tobacco-Free Lifestyle - 

Maintaining a tobacco free lifestyle is important for multiple reasons, including improving overall health, reducing risk for major illnesses like lung cancer, heart disease, and stroke, saving money, and looking and feeling better.

1.    Sign up for a free tobacco treatment text message program

2.    Schedule a visit with an MUSC Tobacco Treatment Specialist

3.    Reduce overall cravings by wearing a nicotine patch

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