FROM THE HILBERT COLLEGE WELLNESS CENTER
How to conquer homesickness while away at college
By Kirsten Falcone, RN
Are you, or someone you know, feeling a little blue lately? It isn’t difficult to imagine that this is a common problem across college campuses right now. The excitement of being away from home and the novelty of new classes have worn off, and reality has set in. This is hard work! Plus, you miss your family, friends, and even your pets! Everything is a little overwhelming, to say the least. Sometimes it is easy to fall into a brief pit of depression.
It is, therefore, helpful to know the difference between depression and homesickness. Depression has these signs and symptoms: feeling down, hopeless, worthless, helpless, irritable, restless, disinterested in activities you formerly enjoyed, difficulty concentrating, difficulty making decisions, disturbed sleep patterns, weight gain or loss, and sometimes thoughts of death or suicide. Homesickness usually exhibits milder symptoms and is accompanied by longing thoughts of people and places left behind, and a feeling of loss, especially loss of real connection.
If these feelings are new to you, perhaps you indeed do have a bit of homesickness. You are not alone! Homesickness is normal! Even seasoned college students have this feeling from time to time. The good news is homesickness can be only temporary, if you make some adjustments. Here are some ideas:
- Sleep. Make sure you are getting the right amount. Seven to nine hours of sleep at the same time every night does wonders for the mood. It is also crucial for good health.
- Exercise. Just a brisk half-hour walk three times per week is enough to change your outlook, especially if you take a friend. On Hilbert’s campus, Don Vincent leads a group on runs or walks on Wednesdays at 3:15 p.m., meeting out back by the service road in between the soccer fields.
- Fresh air. A dose of fresh air can lift your spirits. Go outside!
- Sunshine. Besides improving our moods, sunshine actually has a reaction with your skin that produces vitamin D. Studies show that vitamin D could lessen the symptoms of depression.
- Vitamin D Supplements. You can also supplement with vitamin D. However, since your body uses fat to absorb vitamin D, you may want to consult your doctor before taking large doses. The best bet is to add food rich in vitamin D to your diet. Some foods that have vitamin D are salmon, swordfish, mackerel, tuna, sardines, egg yolk, beef liver, and fortified cereal and milk.
- Proper nutrition. Skip the sugary pop, junk food and fried food, and opt for some fresh veggies and a lean piece of meat. Add vitamin D fortified milk (see above) and some whole grains, and you will feel human again.
- Hydration. Drinking enough H2O is actually energizing. It increases a sense of well-being by helping to maintain almost every chemical reaction in your body. In fact, depression is one of the symptoms of dehydration.
- Socialization. This is what you especially need right now. One idea is to attend religious services. Mass on Hilbert campus is Sundays at 7:30 p.m., Wednesdays at 12:30 p.m. and Thursdays at 8:00 a.m. in St. Clare Chapel. There are also numerous churches in the area who will welcome students warmly. Other ideas are joining a club, attending social events on campus, and becoming a volunteer. Hang out with new friends. Be patient if you don’t connect with everyone you meet on the first try. Just don’t spend too much time alone. Be selective, and choose positive people.
- Talk therapy. Go talk to someone who is trained to help walk you through. Sometimes having an expert there to hold your hand is just what you need. At Hilbert College, that expert is Psychologist Phyllis Dewey, who is located in St. Joseph Hall. Phyllis is eager to help all students with this and any other issues that crop up. Phyllis’s phone number is 926-8930, and her email address is email@example.com.
- Avoiding alcohol. Alcohol is a known depressant. Overdrinking on a regular basis can cause brain damage and change your brain chemistry. Currently, the only alcohol considered healthful is five ounces of red wine per day for women and 10 ounces per day for men.
- Antidepressants. Use these only as a last resort after you have made lifestyle changes, and only if you experience long-term depression. There is no “happy” pill. In fact, these drugs take several weeks to take effect. Antidepressant medication has side effects that are…well…depressing! Their dosage also needs regular fine-tuning. However, some people do show improvement on these drugs, and physicians prescribe them quite regularly.
- Perspective. Get off-campus once in a while. Plan to go home for the weekend occasionally, if possible. (But, ideally, not every weekend!) Try something new, or go see a movie. Drive to Lake Erie to watch the sunset. Visit downtown Buffalo’s waterfront. Take a trip to a museum, or visit a local park. Do something to take your mind off your homesickness.
- Keeping organized. Write down all your assigned work, classes, and events in an agenda. The Student Life office, in Franciscan Hall, has free Student Handbooks with an academic calendar contained inside. Writing everything down will increase your sense of control, thus reducing your homesickness.
- Journaling your feelings. Vent your concerns safely in a journal or diary. This will help you become more aware of your feelings, so that you can move forward.
- Play music. Listen to upbeat music. Make certain its message is positive. You might even want to sing along, which can help move oxygen throughout your body and brain. If you can play an instrument, go ahead and serenade your roommate!
- Calling home. Give yourself permission to call home as much as you need to, right now. A phone call is better than a text or an email (or even snail mail!) because your voice inflections can be heard, and you can hear theirs. One useful suggestion is keeping a picture of your loved ones handy to remind you how much you are loved.
- Focusing on the positive. “Eighty percent of success is showing up.”—Woody Allen. So, just show up. Don’t miss class, even if you don’t feel motivated. Get involved in campus activities, even if you doubt yourself. Invite a new friend to go to lunch with you, even if it feels awkward. Remember, everyone else feels that way, too, even if it doesn’t appear that way. Ask your R.A. for advice. But most of all, give it time. Give yourself a break. Take a deep breath. Things will get better!
For additional information, visit these Web sites:
WebMD general information:
From the Hilbert College Wellness Center
Roll up your Sleeve:
Flu Shots are on the Way!
By Kirsten Falcone, RN
If you have not received your flu shot yet, here is good news! There are two dates approaching on which you may be able to attain your flu vaccine on campus in the West Herr Atrium. Mark your calendar for:
Wednesday, October 11 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., or
Wednesday, November 1 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Here is what you need to know about the flu vaccine:
What is the flu? Influenza (flu) is a contagious infection that spreads most easily each year from October to May (flu season). A virus causes the flu, and coughing, sneezing and personal contact are the ways it spreads. Everyone is susceptible to the flu virus, but symptoms can vary by age and immunity status. Typical symptoms are fever with chills, sore throat, achy muscles, unexplained fatigue, coughing, headache and a runny or stuffy nose.
The flu causes thousands of deaths in the United States every year. Many more are hospitalized. Most of these people are immunity challenged, such as infants and young people, people 65 and older, pregnant women, and others with compromised immune systems.
How can I prevent contracting the flu? Even if you are not immunity challenged, one of the best ways to stop the virus from spreading is by attaining a flu vaccine. A flu vaccine can also keep you from contracting the flu, or it may help make your symptoms less severe. Because there is no “live virus” in the vaccine, a flu vaccine cannot cause the flu. (As always, remember hand washing is the ultimate way for you to prevent the spread of viruses.)
Can I still get the flu if I get a flu vaccine? Yes. A flu vaccine contains only those strains of the virus thought to be most prevalent for the year in question. The flu vaccine offered on campus will be “trivalent,” meaning it will protect against three common flu strains. (There is also a “quadrivalent” flu vaccine available many places, upon request.) It is possible to contract a rarer strain of the virus. Further, because the vaccine takes approximately two weeks to become effective, you may still become ill within that two-week window of time. However, once immunity is established, it will protect you for the entire flu season.
There are illnesses that look like flu, but are actually other illnesses. This may explain why some people have claimed that the flu vaccine caused them to contract the flu. This is really not the case.
Should some people forgo the flu vaccine? Yes. People who have had Guillain-Barre Syndrome, or someone not feeling well, should not get the vaccine. In the past, people with egg allergies could not receive a flu vaccine. However, now only a very small percentage of those people ever have any kind of reaction. If you have a history of a severe egg allergy, you should still get your flu shot in a medical setting, and be monitored for 30 minutes.
For otherwise healthy people, side effects of the flu vaccine can be rare or mild. But, according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), they may include skin soreness around the area of the vaccination; hoarseness; itchy, sore, red eyes; cough; muscle aches; fever; itching; fatigue; and headaches. These mild effects usually last one or two days, but they are a much better alternative than contracting full-blown influenza. Most health professionals agree that the flu vaccine is a worthy effort in keeping healthy through the winter months. So go ahead and roll up your sleeve!
For more information, visit these Web sites:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
The International Day of Peace (“Peace Day”) is observed around the world each year on 21 September. Established in 1981 by unanimous United Nations resolution, Peace Day provides a globally shared date for all humanity to commit to Peace above all differences and to contribute to building a Culture of Peace.
Hilbert held events on campus to observe Peace Day, including a Global Feast for Peace, which featured international foods and creating individual peace flags; a minute of silence/moment of peace, which connects Hilbert with people around the world in observing a moment of silence in the noon hour in every time zone; and a presentation – Home Begins Again – which featured stories of conflict, displacement and, ultimately, hop that led people from around the wold to Western New York.
Photo credits: Mary Kate Wirfel, Hilbert Marketing Dept.
The Hilbert College Student Veterans Association and Leadership Program will be hosting their 1st ever Zombie Run on Saturday, September 23. The event will run from 8:00AM to 4:30PM, and is located on the soccer field behind Trinity Hall.
An early bird special will run from now until August 7, or for the first 25 people for $15. Tickets after the special will be $30 and can be purchased on the day of the run. The money raised helps to send our Veterans to San Antonio, Texas for a national conference run by the National SVA. The money will also go to helping the Leadership Program build a patio for St. Joe’s.
For more information and to purchase your tickets head to https://www.eventbrite.com/e/hilbert-college-5k-zombie-run-tickets-35825122907
The Hilbert College Student Veterans Association is hosting a Therapy Paint Series for Veterans and Friends on Saturday, June 3 at 4-6 pm in the Hilbert College Quad. You can paint the sunset above and the cost is only $5. There will be raffle items as well.
If you are interested in participating, please reserve a spot through this link >>>