5 College Stress Reducers

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Morning Madness

It might not sound ideal but getting up 15 minutes early in the morning has numerous benefits. Extra time allows for inevitable mishaps, time to wake up and  time to get ready to tackle the day. Prepare everything the night before: Make lunch, print assignments and pack for the following day. Mornings should be stress-free.

Disconnect

Snapchats, texts and Tweets can wait for an hour. Keeping up a constant connection can quick turn into just another stressful task. Do one thing at a time. Drum up the courage to temporarily disconnect all electronics for just a short time in favor of a book, a bath, a game or a walk.

Fill the Notebooks

Write everything down. Studies show that memory is closely linked to writing. Writing is also a great way to relieve stress. Make a to-do list to manage tasks and homework. Try journaling about the issues that trigger your stress. Making problems more visible is the first step to take each one down individually.

One Piece at a Time

Focus on what has to be done right now – not what has to be done tomorrow, a week from now or a year from now. Break long-term tasks into manageable pieces; “Today I will write one paragraph of the essay due next month.” All puzzles seem less overwhelming when they are tackled one piece at a time.

Forgive

Nobody is perfect –forgive others for their missed deadlines, forgetfulness and harsh words. Forgive your own imperfections. Most people are doing the best that they know how to do. Don’t let a few frustrating moments ruin an entire day. Accept that we live in an imperfect world and begin to let go of the stresses you cannot control.

 

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Good Morning Sunshine

Girl SleepingIt’s Monday morning and you just woke up early for the first time in two months. You’re groggy and the last thing you want to do is head to an early-morning class.

Getting back into the swing of school is never easy. Fortunately, the body’s clock can always be reset.

Instead of counting down the minutes before you can crawl back in bed, try these tips to make the transition a little easier and avoid drooling on your textbook.

Eat Breakfast

Food might be the last thing on your mind after waking up, but a balanced breakfast gives the body energy. Grab a protein bar before heading out the door.

Get some sun

Being in the sun increases vitamin D levels, which is a key component to physiologically fighting fatigue. Give yourself time to stroll to class and enjoy the natural benefits of the outdoors.

Skip Afternoon Coffee Breaks

One of the first reactions you might have to the “two-o’clock in the afternoon feeling” is finding the nearest Starbucks. However, large amounts caffeine after 4 PM has shown to reduce your body’s ability to fall asleep at night. Grab cold water and a high-protein snack instead.

Go To Bed Early Tonight

Going to bed at a reasonable time is most commonly a matter of planning and willpower more than anything. So start tonight — set a bedtime that is just a couple dozen minutes earlier than when you went to bed the night before.

Track sleep

Use an app such as Sleep Cycle or Sleepyti.me to wake up at the end of sleep cycles and feel more refreshed, or even consider seeing a specialist or contacting SOAR for more information on sleep resources.

Separate sleep and work

Don’t bring work into your bed or go over plans for tomorrow while trying to fall asleep. That blurs the line between work and sleep. Focus on homework in the library and sweet dreams when in bed.

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Colleges Facing Increased Demand for Student Mental Health Services

CAPITAL & MAINMental Health Infographic   
Inside Higher ED recently posted an article titled “Counseling Anytime, Anyplace” looking at the student demand for colleges to expand access to mental health services by embedding counselors in residence halls and creating 24-hour hotlines.
The mental and emotional health of students has been of increasing concern to colleges in recent years, even as many institutions struggle to find the resources to better address those concerns. More than half of college students say they have experienced “overwhelming anxiety” in the last year, according to the American College Health Association, and 32 percent say they have felt so depressed “that it was difficult to function.”
Nearly 10 percent incoming freshmen who responded to last year’s American Freshman survey reported that they “frequently felt depressed.” It was the highest percentage of students reporting feeling that level of depression since 1988, and 3.4 percentage points higher than in 2009, when the survey found the rate of frequently depressed freshmen to be at its lowest.
Follow the link to read the full article on the big changes happening in college’s mental health care.
https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2016/06/03/colleges-expand-access-mental-health-services-campus
To solve this problem, ACI Specialty Benefits partners with colleges and universities nationwide to offer SOAR: a comprehensive student assistance program that gives students 24/7 unlimited telephonic counseling to solve personal challenges and succeed to graduation.
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5 Tips to Build Credit in College

5 Tips to Build Credit in CollegeMy freshman year of college, I decided it was time to apply for my first credit card. The balance was around $500 and I felt like I could buy the world.

Little did I know, my spending would quickly catch up with me and entire paychecks would be spent as soon as I received them. Yes, walking to class every day with a venti latte in hand was great, but I hit my limit fast. So I applied for a new card. Word of advice: don’t be like me.

Today I have built my credit score back up through budgeting to pay off my cards. Becoming a college student often means becoming financially independent for the first time in your life; it really is easy to lose control. While the future might feel far off, building good credit now is the key to someday purchasing that huge apartment and new car you’ve always pictured yourself with.

Here are a few tips to achieve good credit that will pay off in the long run.

  1. Open a Credit Card– Applying for your first credit card might seem exciting. But do the research first. Often times banks will have college cards. Your credit score will take a 10% hit after opening a new card but will be back up in a year.
  2. Just One– One card is enough to start building up good credit. It’s easy to keep up with payments and stay in control. Wait at least a year before opening a second.
  3. Avoid flashy perks- Store credit cards often draw in customers with their rewards. It might sound enticing but focus on a low APR (annual percentage rate) and avoiding fees instead- which store cards often don’t have.
  4. Start Spending- Simply applying for the card does not help your score. Making purchases then and paying them off is what does it. Set a goal to pay the full amount before the due date and your score will rise.
  5. Check Your Scores- Head to AnnualCreditReport.com  and check your score for free up to 3 times a year. Don’t like what you see? Don’t sweat it- building it back up is possible- I did it. Remember, the U.S. average is 687.

HealthyU™, powered by ACI Specialty Benefits, is a resource for students and faculty members of ACI’s wide range of student assistance program clients. The blog features everything from study tips and time management, to finding important items on a budget and the latest education-based apps and utilities. Want more college tips? Contact ACI Specialty Benefits at (800) 932-0034 or info@acispecialtybenefits.com.

Anna Goforth, Student Ambassador and College Blogger for ACI Specialty Benefits, is a Journalism and Public Relations student at Point Loma Nazarene University. Anna writes for ACI’s HealthyU™ blog while keeping up with college life. After moving from Alabama to California for college, Anna spent a semester abroad in London where she traveled throughout Europe.

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#TeamMoreSleep

Tips for more and better sleep
The only way to score a 4.0 is through mass caffeine consumption and pulling all-nighters studying, right? Science says otherwise. Numerous studies show that getting a poor night’s sleep can greatly affect performance the next day.  CDC researchers even reported that students who only get five to six hours a night were twice as likely to report risky behavior.

If getting to sleep is impossible there’s a few easy step proven by science to get more rest and become your healthiest self.

Shut It Down

Experts say electronic devices with blue-light screens can mess up your body’s circadian rhythm. It is recommended to turn off phones, televisions and laptops an hour before bed. Sound too drastic?

Tip: Try downloading a blue-light filter app like f.lux. As the day changes, your device will start looking darker and warmer.

Don’t Be Scared of the Dark

Studies say that light can affect the production of melatonin, a chemical in the body that’s vital to sleep.

Tip: Try buying some black out curtains or investing in a sleep mask. Get your body ready for sleep by dimming the lights an hour before bed.

Embrace Power Naps

While staying up late may not be the best for the body, it is sometimes unavoidable when there are important projects to finish. Researchers have found that a long nap can greatly improve alertness for up to 24 hours.

Tip: If you are expecting a late night, give yourself a long nap of two hours or more beforehand.

HealthyU™, powered by ACI Specialty Benefits, is a resource for students and faculty members of ACI’s wide range of student assistance program clients. The blog features everything from study tips and time management, to finding important items on a budget and the latest education-based apps and utilities. Want more college tips? Contact ACI Specialty Benefits at (800) 932-0034 or info@acispecialtybenefits.com.

Anna Goforth, Student Ambassador and College Blogger for ACI Specialty Benefits, is a Journalism and Public Relations student at Point Loma Nazarene University. Anna writes for ACI’s HealthyU™ blog while keeping up with college life. After moving from Alabama to California for college, Anna spent a semester abroad in London where she traveled throughout Europe.

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/11/best-nap-napping-tips_n_5648651.html, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/17/better-sleep-tips-best_n_4958036.html

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The Science of Studying

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In the life of a college student, surviving finals week never seems to get easier. This year, put science on your side by using these proven study tips. It might be a bit more work but, in the end your GPA will thank you!

1. Space Out Study Sessions – Try studying small amounts for each subject every day. Cramming for hours actually isn’t the best idea. The American Psychological Association says research has shown breaks in-between studying improves long-term memory of information.

2. Test your Knowledge – Take a mock test, even if you‘re sure you know it. “Decades of research has shown that making yourself recall information helps strengthen your long-term learning,” says Henry Roediger, PhD, a psychologist at Washington University.

3. “Interleaving” – Mix up the tasks and topics during a study session, says Los Angeles psychologist Robert Bjork, PhD. In his 2008 study, those who saw a mix of information were able to identify it significantly better.

Also, check out these FREE study Apps:

Evernote – Stay organized with checklists and notes

Quizlet – Create flashcards and matching games

Brainscape – Create SMART Flashcards

duolingo – Study foreign languages

Mindshift – Reduce stress and think positively

Source: http://www.apa.org 

HealthyU™, powered by ACI Specialty Benefits, is a resource for students and faculty members of ACI’s wide range of student assistance program clients. The blog features everything from study tips and time management, to finding important items on a budget and the latest education-based apps and utilities. Want more college tips? Contact ACI Specialty Benefits at (800) 932-0034 or info@acispecialtybenefits.com.

Anna Goforth, Student Ambassador and College Blogger for ACI Specialty Benefits, is a Journalism and Public Relations student at Point Loma Nazarene University. Anna writes for ACI’s HealthyU™ blog while keeping up with college life. After moving from Alabama to California for college, Anna spent a semester abroad in London where she traveled throughout Europe.

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You Decide: Living on or off Campus

9.2.2015 campus or no

College is the time to figure out what it is that YOU like. That includes where to live. It is important to feel comfortable in your home, even if it is temporary.

Here are a few of the best things about living either on or off campus. Just remember that it is your college experience. If the traditional dorm and cafeteria life isn’t your style, that’s okay. You do you.

Living on Campus

FOOD- Pizza and ramen get old real quick. A major perk of living on campus is the easy cafeteria style meal plans that most schools offer. No, it’s not five star dining. But in the end it is cheaper and easier than ordering takeout every night. If cooking isn’t your thing, a meal plan is a must.

COMMUTE- Not a morning person? Getting an extra hour of sleep every day thanks to your short commute might be worth braving the dorms. For those of us who always seem to forget something, it is also convenient. Remember, you have your entire life to worry about traffic and parking.

SOCIALIZING- Random roommate assignments are terrifying. But those weirdos you get stuck with can end up being great friends you’d never meet otherwise. Sacrifice some privacy and be a part of the community. You’re never too old to enjoy having sleepovers with your bffs every night.

ACADEMICS- Keep your GPA high by keeping the library close. Attending random study groups or tutoring sessions is much easier when you’re located on to campus. Utilize those resources if you need them.

Living off Campus

KITCHENS- Can you really put a price on being able to cook a frozen pizza at 2 AM? Having a kitchen space puts you in control of your meals. It could also mean saving money on a meal plan and learning some great life skills.

FREEDOM- Living under your parents’ roof for the last 18 or so years might have left you desperate for some freedom. It’s time to spread those wings. You might feel like an adult for the first time when looking for an apartment and choosing roommates.

PRIVACY- Tired of having to wear pants all of the time? Having a room to yourself might be exactly what you need. Always having a quiet place to study or spend time with a significant other is another great perk.

LUXURY- This is a word that no one has ever used to describe on campus housing. If it is something you care about, it’s time to start commuting. Apartments and homes off campus typically come with much more living space.

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Branding Yourself Online

7.2.2015 millennial social branding

Millennials are known for being social media savvy. Most of our phones are filled with apps for connecting with others. If there’s something new trending- chances are we already know about it. Yes, getting your lip-syncing video on Vine’s popular page or over 100 likes on an Insta selfie is an accomplishment. But college is the time to start thinking bigger on branding yourself.

Give your social media a healthy makeover and do it now. It is likely that when you show up to your next job interview they have already Googled you. While everyone seems to focus on what you shouldn’t be posting, aka anything offensive or illegal. Here are some tips for what you SHOULD be doing online.

  1. Claim your Name- Claim your full first and last name on every social media site you can to make it easier for employers to find you. Check out Knowem to find out what is still available- before someone else does.
  1. Find Your Expertise- Have a running list of areas you could say you are an expert in prepared for future interviews. On LinkedIn, add these to your profile under skills. If you don’t have a LinkedIn, go make one right now!
  1. Professional Profile Pic- Making your social media look professional starts with the photo. Use the same one for every page. Check out IFTTT to update them all at once. Some of the pros say to choose a photo facing forward shows that you believe in your work or an action shot doing something related to your field.
  1. Privacy Options- Keeping all of your social media pages private might seem easiest, but having a social media footprint doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Show enough publicly for employers to look at your pages and see what you’re all about such your school, clubs and job.
  1. Monitor Mentions– See who is mentioning you online and if it is something you want posted. Talkwalker and Google Alerts can notify you anytime your name comes up online.
  1. Snazzy Headline- That small sentence under your name is like an ad for yourself. Make it a good one. We’ve all seen the generic- “coffee addict, Gemini, lover of life.” But if you can come up with something new you’ll get a lot more attention. Focus on key words of the field you’re in.
  1. Personal Website- Make things simple. Create a personal website to house all links to all of your social media pages on WordPress, Weebly or Square Space.

Want more college tips? Contact ACI Specialty Benefits at (800) 932-0034 or info@acispecialtybenefits.com. ACI can also be found on Twitter, Facebook,Google+,Pinterest, orYouTube.

Anna Goforth, Student Ambassador and College Blogger for ACI Specialty Benefits, is a Journalism and Public Relations student at Point Loma Nazarene University. Anna writes for ACI’s HealthyU™ blog while keeping up with college life. After moving from Alabama to California for college, Anna spent a semester abroad in London where she traveled throughout Europe.

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Is study abroad right for you?

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Once you survive freshman year, your school’s campus starts to feel a little smaller and lot less daunting. If you find yourself missing the thrill of a new start, study abroad might be your perfect fix. We’ve all heard that getting the chance to try living in a foreign country can be a life changing experience. But with study abroad comes many more challenges than just taking a good passport picture and getting the right adapters.

If you’re still struggling to decide if you should pack your bags here are a few things to consider to before taking off.

Pros-

  1. See the World- This might seem semi-obvious, but getting the chance to travel to new places can broaden your perspective. If you have yet to get a passport and go abroad, college is a great time to do it. Once graduation comes there will be student loans to pay off and that means a full time job. Take the chance now to try living in a new country for a few months while you still have the opportunity.
  2. Friends in New Places- Meeting new people is a huge part of going off to college. When studying abroad, you will be thrown into a brand new place where everything is unfamiliar, but fortunately so will the other students in your program. Not only will you bond with other study abroad students, but you will make friends in the country you’re visiting. Making foreign friends can mean a free couch to sleep on next time you go abroad.
  3. Break from the Stress- Yes, study abroad offers stresses of its own- the public WiFi never seems to work and the maps are always confusing. That being said, it can also be a great way to step away from the books. Even though you are still taking classes while abroad, many programs are set up to give you less work and more time off to travel.

Cons-

  1. Money- Many study abroad programs are affordable and cost the same amount as a semester at your own school. Don’t forget, though, there are many of other costs to factor into your budget. For students with part time jobs while in school, it also means months out of work. The exchange rates, plane tickets, hostels, dinners with friends and numerous souvenirs add up fast.
  2. Getting Behind- Taking a break from a full load of classes might be exactly what you need for a semester. Unfortunately, when it comes to graduating the semester abroad can leave you behind on units. This could mean loading up on classes in your final semesters, taking a class during summer or even having to take another year to finish your degree.
  3. Homesickness- Homesickness might seem like something that you only experience as a child at summer camp. When going abroad, however, it can really affect your experience. The language, food, customs and people will all be completely new. Once the excitement wears off, it can you leave you feeling completely uncomfortable. Months of living this way can be way too much for some people, making a shorter trip abroad a better option.

Want more college tips? Contact ACI Specialty Benefits at (800) 932-0034 or info@acispecialtybenefits.com. ACI can also be found on Twitter, Facebook, Google+,Pinterest, orYouTube.

Anna Goforth, Student Ambassador and College Blogger for ACI Specialty Benefits, is a Journalism and Public Relations student at Point Loma Nazarene University. Anna writes for ACI’s HealthyU™ blog while keeping up with college life. After moving from Alabama to California for college, Anna spent a semester abroad in London where she traveled throughout Europe.

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LGBT Pride: Free support and resources for the LGBTQQI community

ACI Specialty Benefits celebrates LGBT Pride Month and is proud to offer tailored support and resources for our LGBTQQI clients and family. Whether or not you are an employee/student of an institution that provides ACI’s benefits, free resources and support are available at the following links. For further assistance or more information about ACI’s  Employee Assistance Program (EAP), SOAR Student Assistance Program, CORE Wellness and Leverage Concierge, email us at info@acispecialtybenefits.com.

Happy Pride!

AARP Pride

This is AARP’s online home for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. The page is designed to spotlight articles on news, personal finance, relationships, travel and other topics of concern to older gay Americans, and their family and friends.

American Civil Liberties Union

For almost 100 years, the ACLU has worked to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

Campus Pride Resources

Campus Pride represents the leading national nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization for student leaders and campus groups working to create a safer college environment for LGBTQ students. The organization is a volunteer-driven network “for” and “by” student leaders. The primary objective of Campus Pride is to develop necessary resources, programs and services to support LGBTQ and ally students on college campuses across the United States.

Family Equality Council

Family Equality Council is changing attitudes and policies to ensure all families are respected, loved, and celebrated – especially families with parents who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Family Equality Council is committed to bringing you the most up-to-date information in as easy-to-follow formats as possible. We strive to empower you to take action on behalf of your family in your daily lives and to do so in accessible, step-by-step ways.

Fenway Health Free LGBT Help Lines

Anonymous and confidential phone lines that offer lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning adults and young people a “safe place” to call for information, referrals, and support.

GLMA

GLMA’s mission is to ensure equality in healthcare for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals and healthcare providers.

GLAD

Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) is New England’s leading legal rights organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation, HIV status and gender identity and expression.

GLSEN

The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network strives to assure that each member of every school community is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.

Human Right Campaign Resources

Working for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Equal Rights. Through research, educational efforts and outreach, HRC encourages lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans to live their lives openly and seeks to change the hearts and minds of Americans to the side of equality.

IGLHRC Org Resources

The mission of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) is to secure the full enjoyment of the human rights of all people and communities subject to discrimination or abuse on the basis of sexual orientation or expression, gender identity or expression, and/or HIV status.

Lambda Legal

Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.

Matthew Shepard Foundation

The Matthew Shepard Foundation empowers individuals to embrace human dignity and diversity through outreach, advocacy and resources, effecting positive change.

NCLR

The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.

National Center for Transgender Equality

The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) is a 501(c)3 social justice organization dedicated to advancing the equality of transgender people through advocacy, collaboration and empowerment.

National LGTB Cancer Network

The National LGBT Cancer Network works to improve the lives of LGBT cancer survivors and those at risk.

NGLCC Org

The NGLCC is committed to forming a broad-based coalition, representative of the various interests of LGBT owned and friendly businesses, professionals, and students of business for the purpose of promoting economic growth and prosperity of its members.

National LGBTQ Task Force

The National LGBTQ Task Force advances full freedom, justice and equality for LGBTQ people.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

No matter what problems you are dealing with, we want to help you find a reason to keep living. By calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255) you’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7.

Out & Equal

Out & Equal Workplace Advocates™ educates and empowers organizations, human resources professionals, employee resource groups, and individual employees through programs and services that result in equal policies, opportunities, practices, and benefits in the workplace regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, expression, or characteristics.

The Trevor Project

The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24. The Trevor Project operates the only nationwide, around-the-clock suicide prevention helpline for gay and questioning youth.

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