National self-care awareness month

September is National Self-Care Awareness Month, and in the wake of such unprecedented times, taking care of ourselves is becoming not only a valuable skill, but a necessary one. So what exactly is self-care and what are we supposed to be doing to take care of ourselves?

According to the World Health Organization, self-care is defined as “what people do for themselves to establish and maintain health, and to prevent and deal with illness.” This refers to physical and mental health, and everyone has different strategies for both.

According to the International Self-care Foundation (ISF) there are seven foundational pillars for being an active participant in one’s own self-care.

Knowledge and health literacy is about knowing your body and knowing enough about the health world to be able to advocate for yourself when needed. Mental wellness is about checking in with yourself mentally and being proactive about known mental health concerns. Physical activity is about keeping yourself active enough to maintain a sense of health and control over your body. Healthy eating has similar goals, but is more focused on what you give yourself as input than the output you produce. Risk avoidance is about sustainability, and looking at what you can do today to make life better for your future self. Good hygiene is about taking care of yourself both to prevent unnecessary health risks, but also feel good in your own skin. And rational use of services and products is about learning how to do things in moderation. 

While self-care places an emphasis on taking individual responsibility for one’s well-being, the “self” part of the word is not all important. In fact, ISF notes that knowing when to consult a healthcare professional and implement “collaborative care” as the ISF puts it, is an important self-care skill related to health literacy and mental wellness.

Senior Psychology major Nancy Mullins wants to make sure people know that self-care isn’t synonymous with selfishness. “Something I really wish people understood about self-care is that it’s not about going on a shopping spree or doing something impulsive. Self-care is about getting your needs met. When you’re in a state of depression or high stress/anxiety, it’s hard to do things just for yourself. But it’s crucial to make sure you’re doing those things.”

There are many things you can do to take care of your physical and mental health, and they don’t have to be time-consuming to be effective. Something as simple as a five-minute walk around the block can be a useful palate cleanser, and flossing your teeth can be a relaxing task to help wind down after a long day. In the end, the specific tasks and strategies you can implement are all up to you, but please take care of yourself.

By Miranda Morris

Enjoying a sleepful semester

This fall, many students are excited to be back on campus (or nearby) to enjoy an in-person college experience once again. As we delve into this semester, it is important to recognize the little ways in which academic performance and overall well-being can be improved. One significant component of a healthy college career that is often lacking (if we are honest with ourselves) is sleep.

Throughout the summer, many students adjust to various work, family, and personal sleep schedules. It is not uncommon that sleep may vary day by day during the summer months. However, now that Greensboro College students are back to academics, athletics, extracurriculars, and work-study, a normal sleep schedule becomes increasingly crucial.

In one American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) article, Dr. Clete A. Kushida states that being routinely tired during the daytime in classes or other activities is an indicator that a student is not getting enough sleep. He goes on to say that sleep quantity and quality are two equally important factors that affect the degree of daytime alertness.  

What are the consequences of poor sleep quality or quantity for students, you may ask? The same AASM article describes how college students with insomnia have significantly more mental health problems than those without insomnia, and poor sleep quantity or quality is shown to affect grades in math, reading, and writing courses.  

Some students may dispute these facts by saying that they stay up late on school nights but make up for it on the weekends. This, however, has also been proven to lead to decreased academic performance because it makes it more difficult to readjust one’s biological clock to an earlier wake time at the start of the new week.  

There are numerous, feasible ways to improve your sleep hygiene this semester. One tip is to identify your own personal sleep needs, as this varies between individuals.  

Some students may need a full eight hours of sleep each night to function optimally, while others may need less. In order to make this determination, sleeping without an alarm one night will help you discover your body’s natural rhythm.  

Regular exercise (30 minutes of moderate physical activity, 5-7 hours before you go to bed) will also benefit sleep quantity and quality. Winding down before bedtime, such as by reading a book with a cup of decaffeinated tea or journaling your thoughts from the day, without the distractions of Netflix or TikTok, is something most college students can easily change to improve sleep.  

Other tips offered universally by many sources include avoiding caffeine at night, maintaining a dark bedroom, and creating a consistent sleep schedule. We can all benefit from better sleep. My advice is to identify where you can make doable adjustments, so you are sure to have a successful and healthy semester!

By Carly Uhlir

Health vs. AirPods

AirPods. The cordless Bluetooth
earpieces that are perfect for music lovers out and about. They are the latest sensation and the greatest…or are they? Scientists have been wary about the effects Bluetooth devices can have on a person’s health for several years now. Their concerns have to do with the amount of electromagnetic field (EMF) radiation that these devices emit when they are in use, as well as the proximity to a person’s body.

Cellphones are devices that con- stantly emit radiation, even more so when the Bluetooth feature is turned on, and they are more hazardous to health when they are pressed right up against a person’s body. AirPods are used in a similar, potentially danger- ous way. With AirPods, there is no distance between you and the device. What is more, without a cord, like regular earbuds have, AirPods must communicate with each other through electromagnetic pulses– quick bursts of electromagnetic energy. In the case of AirPods, these pulses travel from one AirPod right through your brain to the other one.

So what is the big deal, some people might ask. That can be answered by the World Health Organization’s international agency for research on cancer, which classified EMF radia- tion as “possibly carcinogenic [caus- ing cancer] to humans based specifi- cally on the increased risk for brain tumors.” So while there may not be concrete proof of AirPods actually causing cellular damage and tumors, the potential is there.

Joel Moskowitz, the director of the center for family and community health at the University of California at Berkeley, says that there is very lit- tle research specifically on Bluetooth, but research on EMF radiation sug- gests negative health effects could be the result of these headphones and earbuds. He is not alone in this assumption.

“My concern for AirPods is that their placement in the ear canal exposes tissues in the head to relatively high levels of radio-frequency radiation,” stated Jerry Phillips, a professor of biochemistry at the University of Colorado. Phillips’ concern is not limited to AirPods, it is for “all technologies that operate at radio-frequencies.”

Phillips and Moskowitz are two of the nearly 250 scientists to sign the 2015 petition appealing to the World Health Organization to further study the potential dangers of EMF radiation in Bluetooth devices. Their apprehension over the rising use of AirPods and other Bluetooth earbuds like them is credible and is shared by many other scientists. Moskowitz, among others, is someone who believes that using wired earphones is a simple way for people to lower their exposure to emitted EMF radiation from cell phones or Bluetooth earbuds.

While it may seem like a less con- venient step back from recent tech- nology, what you must ask yourself is, are you willing to deal with the very real possibility of your health being increasingly impacted by the use of these devices?

GC student Adora Txakeeyang listening to music through Bluetooth earbuds.

by Breanna Adamick