Keep it “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”

How to Stay Healthy on Winter Break!

by Kirsten Falcone, RN

It’s mid-December, and you are looking forward to your semester break. Congratulations! However, because of the considerable stress most students endure at the end of the semester, they are often more susceptible to illness during the holidays. It is a bummer to be sick during the best time of the year. Here are some tips to help you fight off holiday illness:

  1. Maintain proper hygiene by washing hands frequently, avoiding touching your face, and covering your sneezes and coughs.
  2. Drink enough water. Try to drink at least 64 to 96 ounces (or more) per day or the equivalent of four to six 16-ounce bottles of water, or eight to 12 8-ounce glasses of water. Another way to measure is to drink 50 to 100 percent of your weight number in ounces. For example, if you weigh 150 lbs., drink 75 to 150 ounces of water every day.
  3. Manage your stress by not over-scheduling, sticking to a budget for gifts and entertainment, and avoiding negativity, e.g., watching too much TV news, letting a negative relative influence you, negative self-talk.
  4. Catch up on your sleep by going to bed at the same time each night. After all, you will not have to study for any tests! Try to get at least seven to nine hours of sleep each night.
  5. Stay warm and dry, and dress in layers.
  6. Eat healthfully, and avoid too many sweets. It is okay to take only one cookie or to save room for your favorite dessert, and forego having a slice of each one. Also, when you are consuming a large meal, eat your veggies first.
  7. Exercise wisely. It might be safe to go for a walk each day, but then again, there could be ice or snow in your way. Use proper footwear, or exercise indoors. Even in the winter months, exercise is important to maintain a healthy body and brain, and it keeps your immune system strong.
  8. Do not smoke or vape. Smoking exacerbates respiratory illnesses, and it lowers resistance to illness and disease. Even though vaping does not contain the tar in a traditional cigarette, it is still a danger to your health. If you smoke or vape, it is pertinent to your long-term health to quit now. You will never regret that decision!
  9. Be wise when drinking alcohol. Drinking alcohol is generally not healthful. In fact, the only alcohol recognized as beneficial is one glass (five ounces) of red wine per day for women (two for men). If you do happen to drink beyond what is considered healthful, here are some guidelines to follow: One drink per hour is all your liver can metabolize. One drink is defined as five ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer or one ounce of liquor. In order to maintain fluid levels, drink eight ounces of water per hour also. (In addition, this will help ward off a hangover the next day.) Don’t binge drink, which is defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) as imbibing five or more drinks for men, or four or more drinks for women, in a two-hour period.
  10. Down time. Make certain this involves praying, listening to music you enjoy, thinking positive thoughts, a hobby you love, and/or spending time with someone you enjoy.
  11. Be a blessing to others. Remember, holiday time is not all about you. The more you give of yourself, the more blessed and healthy you will be. Therefore, go caroling, visit an old friend or a nursing home, smile at and hug your negative relatives, and go to church. Do something good for someone else. Spiritual health and physical health are not two separate entities; they complement each other.

For more information on managing your health during the holidays, visit these Web sites:

CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA):

The Wellness Center wishes you a very healthy and happy Holiday Season and New Year!

Vote for Hilbert Students!

Eric Flores, Brendan Boechel, and Emily Pawelski are competing in a national competition!

We need your help to win by voting for our video!

The competition is called UNIGAMES sponsored by Unilever a profound personal care company. They launched a business case competition and 3 students from Hilbert have a good chance of getting selected!

We are competing against top tier schools and we want to put Hilbert on top!!


  1. Click the link (below)
  2. Watch the Video
  3. VOTE!​


Don’t Let Deadlines Make You Sick!: How to Manage Stress


by Kirsten Falcone, RN

It’s that time of the year again. School projects are in full swing, and finals are on the horizon. Many students are stressed, and most are losing sleep. Some have caught a “bug” and are now feeling behind. Stress is, according to, “a specific response by the body to a stimulus, as fear or pain, that disturbs or interferes with the normal physiological equilibrium of an organism.” But, according to, it is more simply “what you feel when you have to handle more than you are used to [handling].” Does that sound familiar? If so, read on.

Certainly, some stress can be a good thing. But did you know stress also plays a role in most illness? That is because when we are constantly stressed, an overabundance of epinephrine (a.k.a. adrenaline) and cortisol (stress hormones) prevent many bodily systems, including the immune system, from functioning at full capacity. Even busy college students can take the time to benefit from some key lifestyle changes in order to ward off the effects of stress. Some of the ways you can lower stress are:

Get enough sleep. Go to bed at the same time every night, and sleep at least seven to nine hours.
(For more information on sleep, read a recent Wellness Center article here:

Make a list each day, and put the most important items at the top. Check them off as you go.

Don’t procrastinate. Get your homework or important task done right away, so you don’t prolong the worrying and the nagging in the back of your mind. Even just getting started on a long project will lessen the impact of the work that lies ahead.

Don’t skip meals, and keep healthy snacks, like fresh fruits and vegetables and low-sugar granola bars in your backpack. Conversely, don’t overeat or load up on junk food. Give your body the fuel it needs. (Here is the link to last year’s article on what to eat at the campus cafeteria:

Drink enough water. This can range from eight 8-ounce glasses per day to an ounce for every pound you weigh. Drinking enough water will also help drive off the munchies, and it will increase your energy level almost immediately. (For my article on dehydration, visit this link:

Stay away from alcohol and drugs, and stop smoking and/or vaping. These put even more stress on your body by lowering your immune response. (Follow this link for my article on vaping:

Exercise. Take a brisk walk around campus twice, or work out in the campus recreation center. Do this at least three times per week. Look for any special programs that may be open to all students. (For my recent article on exercise, visit this link:

Humor yourself. Find the humor in situations. Subscribe to a joke page on social media. Ask your friends if they know any jokes. There is scientific evidence that making yourself smile actually increases your happiness. It is true that laughter is often the best medicine.

Talk to a good friend or counselor. Bottled-up emotions come out in other ways. Venting with a friend also helps your friend connect with you.

Some other ways to manage stress are, in no particular order:


Reading for leisure

Crafting, or following a hobby

Breathing exercises


Guided imagery

Progressive muscle relaxation

Positive thinking

Singing or playing uplifting music

Volunteering in the community

Caring for a pet

Relaxation time

Taking a nap

Worship/Reading the Bible


Bathing or swimming




For more information on stress, check out these sources:

CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention):


Mayo Clinic, Healthy Lifestyle Stress Management:

Mayo Clinic, Stress Management In-Depth:


Essential Oils: How “essential” are they?

From the Hilbert College Wellness Center
By Kirsten Falcone, RN

You may have heard of the trend toward using alternative medicine, such as essential oils, chlorophyll, wheatgrass, crystals and other “natural remedies.” Is there any solid footing here, or is it just quackery? As a registered nurse, educated with an “evidence-based” mindset, I am skeptical. So I set out to perform a little unscientific research of my own.

If you attended the recent Hilbert College Wellness Fair, you probably met Jill Chiacchia, of the “beHealthy Institute,” in Hamburg, New York. According to Jill, there is much testimonial and anecdotal evidence to the benefits of essential oils, in particular. “Whether essential oils are used for household cleaning, aromatherapy or reviving a stuffy nose,” says Jill, “most would agree that using something derived from nature is preferred over using some of the synthetic, environmentally unfriendly products currently available on the market.” Jill came in to the Hilbert Wellness Center to demonstrate to me some of the essential oils she has in inventory at her store. One of the benefits she mentioned was the effect on the human nervous system. I took a whiff, and my first observation was, yes, some of the smells were calming, some stimulating, and a lot in between. I have a sensitive nose, so my second observation was, a little goes a long way!

Research supporting the idea that essential oils should be part of a medical regimen is sparse. Therefore, I am inclined to rest on the notion that much of the current fervor is based on the placebo effect. The placebo effect is the idea that if you believe it will work, then it is more likely to work for you. And, that is a valid approach with some people. Many outcomes in life are affected that way.

Considering more closely, though, there may be some scientific reasons that some people find relief with essential oils and other natural remedies.

Conquering Dehydration. You can supplement water with certain essential oils, according to Jill. We all know that drinking water is good for you. Water is essential in just about every chemical reaction in the human body. If you are dehydrated, adding flavor to your water may help you drink more water, thereby keeping you hydrated. This is also true for drinking chlorophyll and wheatgrass shots. They are both loaded with water. Maybe that is why they are also touted as a hangover remedy. Good idea!

Smells are very closely associated with memories. You might have noticed this already. Somebody in your past may have worn a perfume that, if you sensed it now, you would remember a great deal about that person. For example, the scent of lilacs always brings me back memories of my grandmother, and the smell of balsam makes me long for family Christmases. The sense of smell is closely linked in the brain with memory and emotions, more so than any other sense. Smelling something that brings back positive memories, for instance, would probably help lift your mood.

Smells can help you remember. This is a good point for students to know. Studying with a particular scent, perhaps on your sleeve, may help improve your recall on tests. Also, test scores have been shown to improve when you study in the same environment as the one in which you will take your test. So, if you want to do well on your test, it might help to pick an essential oil fragrance you like, apply it to your sleeve, and go study in the room in which you will take your test (or one similar to it). Then use that scent on test day, and voile’! Jill recommends using peppermint oil to keep you perky.

Smells can help you relax. Is an upcoming project or test stressing you out? Are you losing sleep because of it? Many smells, including those offered with essential oils, can be soothing. Lavender has traditionally been recommended for this.

Alternative to taking medicine. All medications have side effects. It does not matter which one you are taking. If a natural remedy helps you avoid caffeine (a stimulant), assists you in attaining sleep without sleeping pills, clears your sinuses during a cold, or improves your mood without expensive depression medication, then those are benefits! However, even essential oils can have side effects. Be sure you do your research, and test just a small amount before you plunge in head first.

Even though essential oils and other natural remedies hold a great deal of possibilities, as a registered nurse, I am still inclined to recommend proper nutrition, adequate sleep, enough hydration, exercise and fresh air, socialization, and other lifestyle changes before I recommend using essential oils.

Both Jill and I agree there could be a good deal of untapped potential in the “natural” and “alternative medicine” world. We need more studies done. In the meantime, you can do your own unscientific “study” and try out some products on your own. The beHealthy Institute (located only three miles away from Hilbert College, at 40 Main Street, Hamburg, New York) offers goods and services ranging from fitness and cooking classes, living well seminars and clinics, to essential oils and nutritional supplements. The beHealthy Institute will honor Hilbert College students with a 10 percent discount on any class. Try your first class FREE, up to a $15 value. For questions, please contact Jill Chiacchia at this link:


For additional information on essential oils, visit these Web sites:

beHealthy Institute, Hamburg, New York:

WebMD, Dos and Don’ts of Essential Oils:

Easy Health Options, 8 Essential Oils for Health and Wellness:

National Institutes of Health, “Essential Oils: New Perspectives in Human Health and Wellness”:

Los Angeles Times, What are essential oils good for?

How Stuff Works, Smells and the Brain:

Brainscape, How smells might help recall on tests:

Holiday Food! Making Wise Choices During the Holiday Season

From the Hilbert College Wellness Center
by Kirsten Falcone, RN

How to Avoid the Holiday Bulge:
Making Wise Choices During the Holiday Season

With the Holiday season upon us, many college students are already regretting the “Freshman 15” (as well as the sophomore, junior and senior 15) they already added to their weight this year. But now, here come the Holidays, with their usual amount of irresistible snacks and food, and fewer chances to get outside and burn off the calories. It would be easy to just give up and buy a larger clothing size!

But wait! Before you devour that second piece of pumpkin pie and suck down the eggnog, here are some great tips that may help you to avoid the bulge this year, and not have to make losing weight part of your New Year’s resolutions.

  1. Eat your vegetables first. Your plate should be half-full of vegetables, more than a quarter grains and rice, and less than a quarter protein. If you eat the healthiest part of your meal first—your vegetables and fruit—you will have less room for fatty and calorie-laden foods.
  2. Keep your protein lean. If you are eating turkey, remove the skin. Don’t dump on lot of extra gravy. With fatty meats, cut back on your proportions, skip the breaded selections, and trim off the fat.
  3. Skip the fat. (See above.) If your table is like mine, everything on the table is bound to be loaded with fat. Be aware of choices between buttered broccoli and green bean casserole. While we all love green bean casserole, with its mushroom soup and crunchy deep-fried onions, the broccoli is a much better choice, even with some butter on it. Also, instead of au gratin potatoes, settle for mashed or baked.
  4. Skip the salt. Most likely, the cook already added plenty of salt to your meal. Before you pick up that salt shaker, sample your selection first. Your cook will thank you, and so will your blood pressure!
  5. Skip the sugar. Sugar has long been linked with diabetes, as well as obesity, high blood pressure, cancer and inflammatory diseases. But now there is new evidence pointing out that it is actually worse for your arteries than cholesterol. There is an amazing difference between sweet potatoes with marshmallows and sweet potatoes baked and served whole. Choose the latter. Instead of two slices of pie, have only one, or ask for a “sliver” of pie. Take it easy with the whipped cream!
  6. Go for a walk. After dinner, instead of napping, as many are prone to do (no pun intended), go outside for a walk. It may be a challenge if the weather isn’t cooperating. If so, try and remain active inside. Help clean up, run up and down stairs, play some active games, and don’t be a couch potato. On non-feast days, exercise for a half hour every day or every other day. This will help burn calories, as well as increase your sense of well-being.
  7. Resist the temptation to snack. As difficult as that sounds, with plenty of temptation around, give yourself permission to have one small snack per day. Stick with it.
  8. Eat only half of what you would normally eat. On the days between feasts, this is a great idea! If you are eating at a restaurant, it is OK to eat only half. Restaurant portions are not usually healthful, anyway. (If you are afraid to waste food, ask for a doggy bag.)
  9. Use a smaller plate. It tricks you into thinking your portion is larger than it is. (And don’t go back for seconds!)
  10. Liquid calories count! Be aware that a large percentage of the meal’s calories can be hidden in the beverage, so always opt for healthful choices, such as skim milk, unsweetened tea, or just plain water.
  11. With alcoholic drinks, choose wisely. If you must imbibe in alcohol, be smart. Most college students are not of legal drinking age. That aside, also know that the only healthful alcoholic drink is five ounces per day of red wine for women, and 10 ounces for men. Beyond that, you are taking your chances. If you choose to venture into this territory, be aware that a serving of beer is 12 ounces, and a serving of liquor is one ounce. Your liver cannot process more than one serving per hour. If you damage your liver, contrary to hearsay, it does not always grow back to normal. (Think fatty liver and cirrhosis.) With all this knowledge, however, the liquor stores are still in business. As far as calorie content, generally you should choose wine over regular beer, and Champagne over eggnog. Drinking alcohol can also lower your inhibitions and cause you to succumb to tempting snacks, so drink in moderation.
  12. Skip the caffeine, if possible, or limit it to the equivalent of two cups of coffee per day. Caffeine can be found in chocolate, tea, soft drinks, and other foods. Consuming too much can cause headaches, heart palpitations, shakiness, disturbed sleep patterns, and dehydration.
  13. Take the proper amount of time to eat, since the stomach will not usually register it is full until 20 minutes afterward. Slowing down to savor your favorite Holiday food will also decrease heartburn and gastrointestinal issues.
  14. Keep hydrated. One of the current recommendations for how much water to drink involves doing a little math: Take your weight in pounds, and drink from half that amount to that whole amount in ounces every day. For example, someone who weighs 150 lbs. should drink 75 to 150 ounces per day. This seems like a lot, but all the liquid from your diet adds up. Sometimes when we think we are hungry, we are really just dehydrated. Drinking a glass of water before you eat will cut down on how much you eat.
  15. Be wise. Remember that these are the Holidays. If you follow some healthful guidelines, you will be able to enjoy yourself. As the late Oscar Wilde is often quoted, “Everything in moderation, including moderation.”

For more information, try these sources:

National Institutes of Health (NIH), Healthy Holiday Foods:

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Choose My Plate:

WebMD Low-Calorie Cocktails:

MedLine Plus on Caffeine: