Things to do this Halloween!

We are kicking off National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week here at USD and reminding everyone that there are so many fun things you can do that don’t revolve around alcohol.  With Halloween approaching we wanted to share some fun things happening on campus and in San Diego that are free or relatively cheap to attend! CHWP interns have compiled a list below of activities and ideas that you can enjoy this upcoming week.  Grab your costume and trick-or-treat bag because these are sure to get you in the Halloween spirit!

Hosted by USD

Thursday, October 25th:

Pumpkin Carving Party with ISO at the UFMC

  • 12:30 pm – 2 pm, SLP 310
  • Pumpkins and lunch provided!

Women’s Soccer vs. Santa Clara

  • Torero Stadium, 7:00pm – 9:00pm

STEP (Second-year Torero Experience Program) Spooktacular

    • Palomar Gathering Space, 8:30pm – 10:00pm
    • Cookie decorating & ice scream!

*Residential Students: Check with your RA for floor-specific programming!

Friday, October 26:

Haunted Trails

  • A mile long trail through a twisted grove of pines and gnarled oaks in Balboa Park. Watch your back, you never know which way the ghoulish will appear from!
  • On Friday, October 26, Torero Program Board is providing undergraduate students $10 tickets to Haunted Trails! More Info

Men’s Soccer vs. St. Mary’s
Torero Stadium 7:00pm – 9:00pm

Monday, October 29:

Trivia Night

  • Join the Torero Wellness Peer Educators for Trivia Night! Trivia & treats to be enjoyed by all!
  • UC Forum A, 7:30 – 9:30pm

In the Community

BOOmont Park At Belmont Park

  • Free trick-or-treating (6:30–7:30 p.m.), Zombie Laser Tag, pumpkin painting, live performances, costume contests, and more.
  • Every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in October, as well as Halloween night!
  • 5:00 p.m. to close
  • Free to enter, though some activities have additional costs. More Info

3rd Annual Mr. Jack O’ Lanterns Pumpkin Patch

  • 6710 La Jolla Blvd San Diego, CA 92037
  • Photo booth, the spooky maze and more
  • Oct 5 – Oct 31, 2018, 11:00 AM – 8:00 PM (Fridays-Sundays until 9:00 PM)
  • $1 per ticket
  • More Info

SeaWorld San Diego’s Halloween Spooktacular Weekends

  • Halloween dance parties & special live shows
  • October  28 & 29
  • Trick-or-Treat hours: 12:00 p.m.–6:00 p.m. (included with park admission)
  • More Info

Haunted Hotel

  • 424 Market Street San Diego, Ca 92101
  • A haunted house with creepy dolls, a clown subway, a Zombie infested alley and many more terrifying things!
  • Now through October 31, open evenings: times vary by day but open 6:00 p.m.–1:00 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.
  • General admission is $20 (cash only at the door), $10 extra for a fastpass upgrade
  • More Info

Trick or Trot 5K and 1 Mile Fun Run

  • Through Morley Field/edge of Balboa Park, the cultural heart of San Diego. Prizes will be awarded for best time (by distance, by age group and costume categories) as well as best costume. Pumpkin decorating and a Pumpkin sprint are also part of the fun activities.
  • October 28, 9:00am – 11:00am
  • Register/More Info

‘The Rocky Horror Show’

  • OB Playhouse, 4944 Newport Ave., San Diego
  • Performed live and complete with audience participation, props and callouts, the quintessential cult theatrical experience “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” opens this Oct. 12 at the OB Playhouse! Join us for a very special Halloween night performance and costume contest. Attend the show dressed in your costumes for a chance to win Season Pass Subscriptions!
  • Ongoing from October 12 until October 28, 2018
  • $28 – $42
  • Buy Tickets

More Ideas for Getting Into the Halloween Spirit:

Make Festive Desserts

3-Ingredient Pumpkin Cookies Reese’s Bats            Dracula Denture Cookies

Carve a Pumpkin

  • Pick up a pumpkin from a local patch or grocery store
  • Check out this How-To Video

Have a Movie Marathon

  • The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • Halloweentown
  • Casper
  • Carrie
  • The Conjuring
  • Harry Potter

DIY Halloween Decorations


Ask the Question. Save a Life.

College Degree Research shares the following data on college students and the risk of suicide.

  • Every year, suicide is the second leading cause of death for 15-24 year olds
  • 8.5% of USD students have seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year. Almost half of each group did not tell anyone (NCHA 2018).
  • 1.5 college students out of 100 have attempted suicide.

You may hear these statistics about suicide and think to yourself that these statistics don’t actually apply to you or your social circles. You may think, “None of MY friends or family members would think about ending their own life.” Although you may think that this will never affect you, what if it does? Will you know how to respond?

I am no exception to this. I had just come back to San Diego after spending a semester studying abroad and was filled with excitement to be reunited with friends and to return to our beautiful campus. During this exciting transition I quickly realized that a close friend of mine was struggling. I noticed her withdrawing from activities and showing several signs of someone who may be experiencing an internal crisis.

Noticing or learning of a classmate, coworker, or loved one that is expressing signs of suicidal ideation can be scary. In this kind of situation, being aware of the warning signs and knowing how to appropriately respond in a supportive and understanding way can can play a powerful role in helping that individual get connected to the necessary resources.

Fortunately, I took a training at USD called QPR Gatekeeper Training which made me feel more confident in confronting my friend about my concerns for her well being. QPR stands for question, persuade, and refer. These words represent the 3 important steps anyone can take to support someone experiencing suicidal ideation.

Why get Trained?

Similar to the life-saving CPR training that we are frequently encouraged to learn, QPR is just as important of a life-saving skill to be trained in. Similar to how CPR acts as an emergency medical intervention, QPR can serve as an emergency mental health intervention. The purpose is for more people to be able to identify, intervene, and help direct individuals that may be considering to take their own life to the appropriate resources.

This training is incredibly valuable for ALL campus community members to participate in. You never know when you will be confronted with these warning signs in your daily life and  being QPR trained will help you feel more prepared to support an individual confronting these kinds of mental health concerns. In QPR training you get to practice how to have these difficult conversations and will walk away with a better understanding of how to connect people with the resources they need.

Below I have highlighted the three components of QPR: Question, Persuade and Refer.

  1. Question:

It’s important to remember that asking the question of whether or not someone is having thoughts of taking their own life, does not increase the risk. If anything, it may even reduce the risk. It can be a helpful way to show someone that you notice them, are concerned, and most importantly that you care about their well-being.

Potential Warning Signs:

  • Prolonged Depression
  • Erratic Changes in behavior
  • Alcohol and/or drug addiction
  • Giving away important personal items
  • Making final arrangements
  • Expressing desire to die/end life
  • Suicidal threats
  • Previous suicide attempts
  1. Persuade:

This step focuses on listening carefully and persuading the person to not follow through with any attempts. Using a sense of empathy and compassion helps create space for the person to feel understood and heard.

  1. Refer:

The final step is to ensure we are connecting this individual with the best resources that will be able to most effectively support them during this difficult and often isolating time.


USD’s Counseling Center provides confidential resources and is open Monday – Friday from 8:30am-5pm, with extended hours until 6pm on Wednesday during fall and spring semesters.

The easiest way to secure an initial consultation is by making a same-day or next-day appointment through your Wellness Portal. Students can also call (619) 260-4655 or come by the Counseling Center in Sts. Tekakwitha and Serra Hall, Room 300 to schedule an appointment.

If the Counseling Center is closed and you need immediate assistance for an urgent matter, a counselor on call is available to support students for psychological emergencies at all times. The counselor on call can be reached by calling Public Safety at (619) 260-2222.

Other 24/7 resources include the San Diego Access and Crisis Line (888) 724-7240 and the National Suicide Prevention Line (800) 273-8255, both of which offer crisis intervention, information and referrals.

GET TRAINED! Follow this link to be directed to the registration links for our Fall 2019 QPR trainings.



A Highlight on USD Resources

USD is committed to giving students resources that promote growth, learning, and the health and well-being necessary to strive for excellence. For this blog, I wanted to help highlight some of the helpful resources on campus that many students may be unaware of. While exploring some of the student resources on campus, I was astonished by how many I had never used or had little knowledge of before. Here is a list of four of the services I learned more about that can help make your time at USD even more successful by building your USD network of support!  

The Writing Center

The Writing Center is one of USD’s amazing tutoring services dedicated to helping students reach their academic goals. Providing services for students at any stage of the writing process, Writing Center staff can aid in the essay process and your overall success. At the heart of the Writing Center is the goal to engage in discussion, collaboration, and meaningful one-on-one exchange of ideas so that students learn to gain confidence in their writing abilities while improving their skills through process-oriented revision of essays.

Mary Berset, the Coordinator for the Writing Center says that “the University of San Diego’s Writing Center is an inclusive community serving undergraduate and graduate students from all disciplines. In one-on-one consultations, our experienced consultants provide critical reflection and constructive feedback during the multiple stages of the writing process, from planning to composing to revision. In this process, it is our goal to help students develop strategies for improving their writing, for gaining confidence in their writing, and for developing educational independence.”  

If you would like to contact the Writing Center, you can visit their website or call

(619) 260-4581. The Writing Center is located in Founders Hall 190B for those of you who wish to speak to a consultant in person.

University Ministry

University Ministry is a resource that engages with students to help them explore their spirituality and aid in its cultivation. Offering a number of faith-based programs and retreats for students seeking to enrich their spirituality, University Ministry hopes to engage and collaborate with students to help them address and respond to the emerging needs of our campus community. No matter a student’s spirituality, the University Ministry is here to offer support and engage in meaningful conversations that nurture personal development and encourage intellectual, social, and spiritual growth.

“Our hope is that University Ministry is a place where students can feel welcome no matter where they are on their faith journey or even if they are not religious.” says Maria Gaughan, the Assistant Director of University Ministry. “University Ministers hope to create a safe space where students can come talk to them about anything, whether it’s relationships, family, anxiety, vocational discernment, growing in their faith, etc. It’s such a privilege to be able to connect with students one on one during this really important time in their lives. We also strive to help students find a sense of belonging to community here at USD by providing awesome opportunities for retreats, service and social justice immersions and beautiful liturgies. Students can drop by any of the University Minister’s offices to chat or can set up an appointment via email.”

To contact University Ministry, you can visit their website or call (619) 260-4735. A list of activities and programs can also be found here for those interested in becoming involved in service opportunities offered through the University Ministry. Their main office is located in UC 238 for those interested in visiting and learning more about all they have to offer in person.

The Women’s Center

The USD Women’s Center creates an inclusive space for students explore their voice, identity, and sense of power. Offering a safe space for all members of the USD community, the Women’s Center invites students, faculty, and staff to engage in discussions around issues of oppression and inequality. Additionally, the Women’s Center does a great job at providing opportunities for students to learn more about pressing issues and what it looks like to transform this knowledge into action for positive social change.

Amanda Luckett, the Prevention and Education Coordinator for the Women’s Center says that “people are always welcome here. Although the space is only staffed until 5pm, it remains open until 11pm so if a student wants a space to come share in conversation or relax, this space is open to them. We would love for people to come and join in conversation while being their most authentic selves here.”

If you would like to contact the Women’s Center or learn more about what they have to offer, you can visit their website, call (619) 260-2396, or visit the center in SLP 420. You are always welcome!

The Center for Student Success

The Center for Student Success offers programs, services, and experiences designed to promote student excellence both in and out of the classroom. Known for their involvement in the First and Second Year Experience programs, the Center for Student Success also offers resources for academic coaching and unique online resource for students to track their college experience, titled the “Student Learning and Development Transcript”.

“The CSS offers Student Success Coaching where professional staff and peer coaches are available to meet with any undergraduate student experiencing challenges at USD that impact academic performance and persistence” says Taylor Avery, Program Assistant for the Center for Student Success.

To contact the Center for Student Success, you can visit their website or call

(619) 260-5995. You can also visit their office, located in UC 114, to learn more about their resources.

These four centers are just a small example of the many amazing opportunities for student involvement and supportive resources available on campus. The Writing Center, University Ministry, the Women’s Center, and the Center for Student Success are all equally wonderful places for you to build your network of support and create meaningful connections. The next time you’re in need of some help or wanting to get involved in a new community, remember that there are so great resources to explore on our campus!


Ways to Be Physically Active Around Campus

Health and fitness is such an important part of everyone’s well being.  After doing some research on our own website I was amazed at how many different workouts and activities USD has available for students to utilize.  USD has a plethora of resources to help students stay active and involved. Whether you are looking to get in shape, explore new forms of workouts, exercise with friends, get credit for an elective fitness class, or simply want to focus on your health, I encourage you to check out the many options USD provides us with to practice a healthy and active lifestyle!

McNamara Fitness Center

The McNamara Fitness Center, most commonly referred to as the JCP gym, is one of the two fitness centers we have on campus.  The McNamara Fitness Center is located in the Jenny Craig Pavilion, overlooking the USD baseball field. At this fitness center, you can find a variety of ways to workout including everything from treadmills, ellipticals, bikes, free weights, weight machines and padded mats so you can do your own floor workouts.  To access the McNamara Fitness Center you just need to bring your school ID for entrance.

Mission Fitness Center

The Mission Fitness Center is home to the three story fitness center located in the valley.  While anyone can go workout at the Mission Fitness Center with their school ID, students can also enjoy smoothies and food at the Missions Cafe located on the 1st level.  The 2nd level is home to all the cardio machines and the 3rd level is mainly dedicated to weights. The Mission Fitness Center also has a versatile studio located on the first level where a variety of USD fitness classes take place.


USD Fit is a workout program that allows you to take classes such as Yoga, Pilates, Spin, Abs & Toning and a wide variety of other fitness classes taught by USD community members.  With USD Fit classes, you pay a small fee to participate in a certain workout class for the whole semester. The USD Fit program offers classes year round during fall and spring semesters and our intercession and summer breaks.

USD Personal Training

While many don’t know it, USD offers personal training for students interested in one on one fitness coaching.  The personal trainers are trained to support you in working towards your personal goals onoverall health and physical activity.  To learn more about personal training packages visit the link above.


As many USD students know, intramurals are a great way to get involved on campus, meet new people and get a fun workout in while doing it.  Intramurals are $45 for a full year. Visit the link above to view the intramurals calendar and register!

Intramurals offered:

  • Basketball
  • Dodgeball
  • Flag football
  • Innertube water basketball  
  • Kickball tournament
  • Soccer
  • Softball
  • Doubles tennis
  • Ultimate frisbee
  • Volleyball

Sports Club

If you played sports in high school, joining a sports club team may be a great fit for you! It is a level down from being on the official sports team for USD but also a step up from playing on an intramural team.  Being part of a sports club requires an initial try-out for the team, attendance at weekly practices, games and tournaments. Click the link above to learn more about the different club teams that are available at USD.

Recreation Classes

Students are able to receive .5 units per semester for participating in a regularly scheduled recreation class.  Campus Recreation offers over 60 classes each semester to choose from. Visit the link above to learn more about the different classes you can choose from and how to register online.

Classes range in the following areas:

  • Recreation
  • Fitness and wellness
  • Dance
  • Martial arts
  • Swimming

Aquatics and Swimming

The Sports Center pool is a great place to relax with friends on the weekend or get a quick swim in on those warmer days in San Diego.  Click the link above to see when the pool is open to the public.

The Pool also offers:

  • Lifeguard certification
  • Masters swim training
  • Scuba Diving: Open Water Diver (Beginning)

Mission Bay Aquatic Center

The Mission Bay Aquatic Center is located in nearby Mission Beach and offers a variety of outdoor-ocean classes for USD class credit!

Classes offered:

  • Sailing
  • Surfing
  • Stand up paddle boarding
  • Wakeboarding
  • Windsurfing

Outdoor Adventures

USD Outdoor Adventures, also known as OA, allows students to take part in a variety of outdoor activities in San Diego and several out of state destinations.  Some of their most well-known programsinclude the Pre-orientation retreat for first-year students, overnight trips, outdoor recreation classes, and day trips around San Diego.  OA is located in UC 136.

OA also offers various rentals for students to use on their own adventures.  They rent out a variety of equipment including tents, sleeping bags, backpacks, stoves, kayaks, surfboards, wetsuits, bikes and so much more!  Next time you are planning a beach day or camping adventure remember to go check out the trips and rentals OA has to offer you!

OA’s Trips include:

  • Hiking
  • Kayaking
  • Snorkeling
  • Canyoneering
  • Backpacking
  • Paddling
  • Canoeing

USD Walking Map  

For the moments when you don’t feel up for an indoor workout but are still wanting to be active, consider utilizing USD’s campus walking map.  With such a relaxing and beautiful landscape, our campus provides a wonderful place to stretch your legs and take a break from your work indoors.

The (Mostly) Complete Guide to Protective Behaviors While Drinking

There are so many fun ways to celebrate the end of the semester before heading home. If you choose to add drinking to your plans, it’s important to be aware of protective drinking habits and safety choices. In case you’d like a refresher, here is a (mostly) complete guide to your best protective options!

How can I make sure I’m making the healthiest choices: Options for before and during an event.
Have a plan ahead of time …

  • Be familiar with what counts as “a drink” of different alcohols. Knowing this ahead of time allows you to measure out your drinks and keep a mental tally of your consumption. For example, “a drink” of wine is 5oz and hard alcohol is 1.5oz. You can add more ice to drink to help dilute the alcohol and stay hydrated.
  • Set a limit on the number of drinks you will have before the event. If you consciously decide how many drinks to have before the event starts, you will be more likely to stick to this decision later on.
  • Be sure to alternate drinks with water. Alcohol causes dehydration, and drinking water helps to replenish the water lost from drinking. Alternating drinks can also help reduce the amount of alcohol consumed overall.
  • Eat a full meal before drinking. Eating a full meal helps slow down the absorption of alcohol in the stomach, which allows your body more time to process the alcohol and prevents buildup of the chemicals that cause a hangover.
  • Drink an electrolyte beverage before going to the event. Having plenty of electrolytes and liquid in your body helps make the processing of alcohol more efficient.
    Stick to one type of alcohol. Mixing alcohols is one of the easiest ways to consume more than you intend and put your health at risk.
  • Avoid drinking games. Drinking games are a quick way to lose track of how much you’ve had to drink. One good way to avoid this is to decline an invitation to play by saying “I’m a really bad (game) player, but I can cheer for you instead!”
  • Leave the house with a set amount of cash for buying drinks and your ride home. This means no credit or debit cards either. When you run out of money, it’s time to stop drinking and start your get-home-safe plan!

Avoid the “why aren’t you drinking?” question.

  • Hold a cup or bottle. Even if it’s filled with water or soda, people will likely assume that you are drinking just based on the situation.
  • Buy or make a nonalcoholic drink. Again, as long as you’re holding a cup or bottle you are unlikely to be bothered.
  • Be the Designated Driver. Your friends who are consuming alcohol will need a safe way home and will appreciate that you can help them.

If you choose to drink, make sure you stay safe during the event and get home safely:

  • Stay with a friend the entire time. Keep each other in sight. Leaving together helps both of you stay safe and minimize risk.
  • Always keep your drink in sight. Drinks are most often tampered with when their owner isn’t looking. If your drink doesn’t leave your hand or sight, it is harder for someone to mess with it.
  • Have your address and/or directions saved. Keep your address and directions in an easy-to-access location, like a picture on your lock screen, your phone notepad, or your rideshare app (like Lyft). This way, if you need to leave somewhere quickly, you can access your home information quickly.
  • Screenshot an emergency contact and save it as your lock screen. In the case of an emergency, the easiest way for someone to be able to help you is to have access to your emergency contact.
  • Plan to have a friend pick you up. If you have a friend who is willing, ask them to pick you up at a set time and location. This means you have a time and reason to leave if you need one, and if something goes wrong your friend will know immediately.
  • Plan to have a designated driver. Drinking and driving is never a good choice. Consider using Lyft or Uber for a convenient option.
  • Eat a small snack and drink an electrolyte beverage before going to sleep. Eating helps slow the body’s processing of alcohol, and electrolytes and fluids help the body process alcohol more efficiently.

Remember that this is a (mostly) complete guide, and that there are more protective choices than just those described here.

The best choices for you may include others that prioritize your safety and health based on the situation.

If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol dependence or abuse, please reach out! Student Wellness provides free consultations to students who have concerns about themselves or a friend. The Center for Health and Wellness Promotion can support and guide you in helping yourself or a friend. Helping others and/or asking for help can be stressful and we want you to know that you are NOT alone. Call (619) 260-4618 to set up an appointment or visit University Center Room 161.

Procrastination: What It Is and How to Beat It  

Have you ever sat down to study or to work on  an important assignment and suddenly found yourself mysteriously at your computer watching a YouTube video or reading a strange Wikipedia article?

Or maybe you got back from class and decided to reward yourself with one episode of your favorite show on Netflix before starting homework, and the next thing you know you’ve watched five episodes and it’s seven o’clock?

If you’ve fallen prey to these seemingly harmless habits of procrastination, you are not alone. For many people, procrastination is a strong impulse whose potency has led to many productive days being wasted, and for college students, procrastination is most evident during finals season when life can get a little overwhelming, to say the least. This article will focus on the causes of procrastination and offer tips on how to best avoid procrastination before finals.

To begin, we need to address what procrastination is and why we procrastinate in the first place. Procrastination is the practice of carrying out less urgent tasks in favor of more urgent tasks, or doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones, thus effectively putting off important tasks for a later time.

While everyone puts things off until the last minute sometimes, procrastination is the act of chronically avoiding difficult tasks or putting off important assignments in favor of distractions, which is unhealthy and can have negative results.

So what causes this behavior? Many psychologists are split on what exactly causes us to procrastinate, however the general belief is that procrastination is a kind of avoidant behavior and coping mechanism that has gone awry. This coping mechanism usually rears its head when people feel fear, dread, or anxiety about an important task, thus they cope by merely putting it off. The attachment of negative emotions, like anxiety, to an important task leads the individual to compensate by seeking activities that bring them joy or distract them from their fear-inducing responsibilities. Sadly, this relief is only temporary as procrastination can only provide brief relief before the impending reality of a task must be faced, thus leading to stress. The bright side? You can overcome procrastination with these helpful tips!


  • Set Priorities: The most important step to take in avoiding procrastination is deciding which task is most important and demands your immediate attention. For example, during finals season, prioritize which class to study for based on which class you feel you need the most help in or based on which class’s exam you will take first. This will help you keep a clear idea of what tasks need to be done first and it will help you avoid putting off studying until the last minute.



  • Break the Task Down: Instead of being overwhelmed by the whole of the task, break it into smaller, more digestible pieces that you can address in chunks. For example, break your final studies down by chapter and tell yourself you will study a certain number of chapters each day. This will not only make the subject seem less overwhelming, but it will also help you retain information and minimize your stress because you are handling small chunks of material at a time as opposed to, say, 20 chapters all at once.


  • Reward Yourself for Accomplishing Small Goals: The point of setting up small, reasonable goals is so you know when to reward yourself. If you told yourself you would study five chapters today and you studied one or two, it’s perfectly acceptable to take a small break and reward yourself before you sit down to complete the task. As long as you complete the big-picture task ( five chapters), it is great to reward yourself for the smaller goals you must accomplish along the way.



  • Create a Time Schedule: When trying to avoid procrastination, a great thing to do is allot specific times for a certain task. If you have a final on Friday, tell yourself that you will study for one hour a day from 3:00-4:00 up to the final and then hold yourself accountable. This will help you keep on schedule and complete your task without stressing.



  • Just Get Started: The first step to take in any task is just getting started. Even if you feel like you need to wait for inspiration to start that huge paper you need to write, tell yourself to write whatever comes to mind and then make amendments once the inspiration actually hits. Don’t allow yourself to make excuses, just do it!



  • Look At What You’ve Accomplished: It can be hard, especially during finals season, to see progress. With so many tasks, it is easy to remain overwhelmed until everything is done. To combat this, really focus on what you’ve accomplished. Reading three chapters and reviewing lecture notes is an accomplishment, so pat yourself on the back. Think of how the little tasks add up to complete the whole, and allow yourself to be proud of those little accomplishments. You won’t get everything done at once, so be happy with what you do get done.


Finals can be stressful and overwhelming, but be kind to yourself and try to avoid the temptation to procrastinate. Even though Netflix may be calling your name, make sure to take care of yourself and prioritize your studying! Get lots of sleep, eat healthy, and avoid procrastination for the best results on your finals.

If at any point you feel too stressed or you think you may want help, remember we have wonderful resources on campus, such as the Center for Health and Wellness Promotion, the Counseling Center, and other student care resources, and others – reach out if you would like some additional support! 

Best of luck on your finals, and happy studying!

Tips for College Students to stay Healthy + Happy During the Holidays

The holidays are always packed with family, food and good times. Sometimes this season of celebration can be overwhelming but by following these tips you can have a happy, healthy and relaxing holiday season!

Eat Well (or as well as you can during the holidays)

We all know the holidays are packed with rich comfort food and lots of sweet treats. Try to take small portions and eat in moderation to avoid stuffing yourself and regretting it later. Try your best to indulge only in your favorite holidays treats rather than aimlessly trying one of each of the sweets.

Stay Active

Working out during the holidays is just as important as it is any other time of the year. Especially when there is a lot going on, working out helps you feel energized and can even help relax you from all the gift giving and family time. And, what a better way to stay healthy than to workout to balance out the holiday food you may be indulging in!

Travel Smart + Safely

Many  of us will be leaving USD to head home or travel for the holidays. It’s important to do what you can while traveling on a plane or by car to stay healthy. While traveling, it is beneficial to wash your hands frequently to avoid catching a cold from any of the travelers around you. Stay hydrated and think about packing some healthy snacks to munch on  to keep your body replenished and healthy.


The holidays are meant to be a happy time with family and loved ones but sometimes they can end up being a lot more stressful than anticipated. Balancing family time and the financial struggle of gift giving are both prominent stressors during the holidays. A good tip for dealing with holiday stress is creating a plan ahead of time. Often we wait until the last minute to think about gifts or when we will see which family and friends. Try planning ahead and getting on top of all the planning a few weeks before break starts. Having a game plan can really help reduce stress during the holiday season.

Treat Yourself!

While the holidays are all about giving and spending time with family and loved ones, it is also important to show yourself some love. Remember to take some time out of the hectic family time to treat yourself! Whether that’s sleeping in one day, going on a walk to collect your thoughts, watching your favorite show or reading a book, find some time for you! Take time out of the busy holiday season to do something that makes you happy! Happy Holidays!

A Letter to a Perfectionist

Dear Perfectionist,

I wrote this letter about three times before the words felt right on my tongue. I guess that’s perfectionism for you. It took three times for my thoughts to feel sound. It was a strange, self-reflective process that led me to this point, and I wonder if any of you feel like this too? My guess: yes.

The funny thing about perfectionism is that you don’t realize how much it has consumed you until you are drowning in your own thoughts, in your own words. Perfectionism is something I’m working on. And I’ll be honest, it hasn’t been easy letting go. It has taken a lot of time, reflection and personal strength to learn to see myself as more than my accomplishments. I have a tendency to be overly self-critical and it isn’t easy to let go of the unrealistic expectations I sometimes set for myself.

I have experienced a lot of what the perfectionist in me would consider personal failures. Sometimes this looks like a lot of self-evaluation, a consistent reevaluation of goals, and an overwhelming amount of criticism.

It has taken a lot of growth for me to learn how to reframe what I sometimes see as flaws to things I accept and sometimes even love about myself. There are definitely still days I struggle with the critical voice in my head, and when I do, I use the list below to calm myself and reset my personal expectations. So, to all the other perfectionists out there, here is my advice to you:

  1. Let. It. Go. One of the hardest things for perfectionists is letting go, but we need to do it. Whatever it is that’s bothering you, whatever little mistake you’ve made, let it go. There is no benefit obsessing over something you can no longer change, so focus your energy on something positive, like how you will adjust to any unplanned outcome in your way.
  2. Mistakes happen.  Learn to be okay with those mistakes; believe it or not, mistakes are the best way to grow. You are a work in progress, and as such, you will struggle and, sometimes, you will fail. It merely builds character; keep your chin up, you will get to where you want to go.
  3. Be flexible. Open yourself up to alternatives. As Robert Frost said, sometimes the road less traveled makes all the difference. When life takes an unexpected turn, it is okay to be unsure. Just remember that being unsure shouldn’t stop you from acting. One of the greatest talents is being flexible enough to roll with life’s unexpected punches. Never let an idea of how things should have gone stop you from adapting to how things are.
  4. Take a big step back and look at the big picture. Sure, us perfectionists love details, but sometimes the details aren’t as important as the whole image. It is okay to be focused on the small things, but remember that the small goals are meant to create a bigger picture. One mistake won’t ruin your plans, and all of the little mistakes we make on the road to greatness do not overshadow where we end up. Your mistakes do not define you, and when you get to where you want to go, there should be no shame in the ways you learned. Life can be a hard teacher, but you’re tough, and you will get there.
  5. There is a difference between high standards and perfection; know it. It is okay to start small and be proud of the small steps we take towards a goal. Sometimes, we need to be okay with the little things we do. Making flashcards or starting an assignment is enough. Sometimes, having high standards for yourself simply means doing better than you did last time. Reward yourself for the small things, and some days you have to accept that making flash cards is the best way to start your trek to a goal.
  6. Breathe. Everything is a process. When you get overwhelmed, which is completely normal and 100% okay, step back for a moment and just breathe. Take a big breath in for 4 seconds, hold it for 4 seconds, then exhale for 4 seconds, and repeat until you are calm. Feel your lungs expand, feel your heartbeat, just be for a minute. Let the weight of your fears slide from your shoulders and just exist. When you’re ready, go back to what you were doing.
  7. Forgive yourself. Forgive yourself for your mistakes, forgive yourself for all the things you cannot be. It is okay. Learn to love yourself despite your flaws; learn to love yourself because you are flawed. I know forgiveness is hard, and I know it will take time to be okay with your imperfections but there is a difference between being perfect and being successful. Success comes from growth, and sometimes growth comes from mistakes. If you were perfect, there would be nothing to aspire to be; it is good to be flawed.

Failure will happen. We are human, and we will make mistakes. The goal is to try and let go of the need to be perfect and allow ourselves to be okay when failure or mistakes happen.    

To all my fellow perfectionists, you are not alone. You can overcome any negativity that you may be feeling. You are worth so much as a human being, and when you make mistakes, I hope you have the strength and grace to let them roll off your shoulders. Remember to take pride in the little things; even the smallest step in the right direction is growth. If you can learn to love your imperfections, laugh at your mistakes, and grow when things get tough, you will 100% stun the world. And maybe even yourself.

Love, a former perfectionist



Stand up to Stigma


If you have a cold or flu, you go see a doctor. If you break a bone you go to the emergency room. If you have a toothache you go to the dentist.

All of these involve seeking professional help, but none of them are regarded as “strange” or “abnormal.” But what about when you face a mental health issue? What do you do then?If your answer is “seek help” then you are on the right track! If not, it is something you should consider.

While young adulthood (otherwise known as college-aged) is characterized by an ever developing mind, more and more of those minds are developing mental illnesses.

1 in 4 college aged-students (18-24) have a diagnosable mental illness, but two thirds of students who are experiencing this do not seek help, according to a the 2015 spring assessment of the American College Health Association. Commonly, people will either ignore their mental health concerns or try to “figure them out” on their own.

Imagine breaking a bone and trying to drink milk to fix it or trying to correct a severe cavity with mouthwash – you probably wouldn’t try either of these methods. Yet, we may try to apply this same logic, and these individual and so called “healthy practices” with our brains. While challenging ourselves is good for us, failing to seek help when we are struggling may not be what we need. Sometimes we need to seek out the support of a professional – whether that is a dentist or a counselor. Getting enough sleep and eating right are always good health practices but for someone who is experiencing a depression, this may not be enough.

So why do we try to face these issues on our own when we know that our brains needs check-ups just like our bodies. Many of us are reluctant to make time to check in on our mental health. Seeking help for any mental health issue isn’t showing weakness – if anything, it shows strength. However, one major roadblock for many students may be the stigma surrounding mental health.

What is stigma? Why does it need to go?

 Stigma is when a person senses feelings of shame for experiencing a certain condition or illness (like depression or an eating disorder). It may feel like others are ‘looking down’ on them or even that they look down on themselves.

According to a study by Peter Byrne in advances of Psychiatric Treatment journal, a stigma is anything that produces these feelings of shame and can cause isolation, setting one person apart from another.

There are two kinds of stigma that someone with a mental health issue may face. The first is a social stigma when someone may experience discriminating behavior towards a person as a result of their mental health issue. The other kind of stigma is a self-stigma, this is the internalization of perceived feelings of prejudice due to the condition.

All of the stigma surrounding mental health causes people to view their own and other people’s mental health negatively thus resulting in a lack of seeking help.

Steps you can take to reduce stigma!

Just because this stigma exists does not mean there is nothing we can do to reduce and ultimately end it. The National Alliance of Mental Illness has highlighted many ways each of us can work to reduce this stigma everyday!

  1.  Be open about mental health.

Mental health is not taboo to talk about and you do not have to treat it like it is. Talking openly and honestly about your own experience with mental illness will let others know that they are not alone. This can empower others to share their own stories and experiences.

  1. Be conscious about language.

While sticks and stones may break bones, words can change the way a culture views mental illness. The way we speak about it influences how others feel and speak about mental illness. Refrain from labeling people with their mental illness. Instead, try “person first” language. For example, change “he’s bipolar” to “he has a bipolar disorder.” After all, people are people, and should not be defined by their diagnosis. 

  1. Educate yourself and others

Understanding mental illness is vital to breaking down the stigma. By learning the facts instead of accepting myths you can help teach others. One alone cannot end

the stigma, but one can make a difference and empower others to do the same.

If you are looking for more information about mental illness or if you are concerned about yourself or a friend, resources are available! Stop by the Center for Health and Wellness Promotion in UC 161 or the Counseling Center in Serra 300.







Finding Fall in San Diego

Admittedly, I moved to San Diego from the East Coast to escape the New England winter, I didn’t realize that meant giving up fall, too. This will be my fifth fall in SD and to be honest I’m still not over it. Don’t get me wrong, going to the beach straight through September is pretty awesome but by October 1st I want flannels, sweaters, boots, and hot chai lattes. So if 100 plus degree weather in October (thanks global warming) or even 70 degree weather in November has given you culture shock here’s a list of the best ways to get your fall fix in San Diego.

Fall Foliage

There’s no more iconic indicator of fall than the leaves changing colors and falling to the ground, that’s why it’s called fall after all. Unfortunately, palm trees look pretty much the same year round, but there are a few secret spots around San Diego where you can catch the leaves changing.

The Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa park is a great place to watch the seasons change all year round, so relax by the Koi ponds and take in the fall foliage. Tickets are $8 with your student I.D.  

If you don’t feel like spending the money on admissions at the friendship garden take a stroll through Balboa Park for free.

Apple (Pie) Picking

Apples are my favorite fall ingredient (sorry, not sorry, pumpkin spice), and apple picking is time honored fall tradition. Julian, CA is famous for their apple orchards. Unfortunately, all the orchards close for the season at the end of September, but Julian offers a pretty sweet consolation prize year round – that’s right I’m talking about the Julian Pie Company.

Sure, it’s a long drive to Julian and you could just pick one up at Von’s but nothing beats a warm, fresh baked slice of Julian apple pie and a scoop of cinnamon ice cream. If you’re feeling adventurous you can get yours with a slice of sharp cheddar cheese-yes it’s weird, but it’s also life changing.

Or you can skip the trip and order one of my favorite underrated fall drinks at Starbucks: the Caramel Apple Spice. “Steamed, freshly pressed apple juice and cinnamon syrup. Topped with sweetened whipped cream and caramel drizzle,” it’s basically apple pie in a cup so save it for special occasions.

Outdoor Ice Skating

Finally, if you’re feeling especially homesick for changing seasons you can go outdoor ice skating. Yep, you read that right, outdoor ice skating in San Diego. Believe it or not there’s more than one spot to go outdoor skating in SD.

Winter and finals are quickly approaching and before you know it you’ll be home for the holidays and hopefully these activities will help you stave off the homesickness until then. With that in mind, remember to make time for you! Balance is important, so  take a break from studying and essay writing and see what San Diego has to offer.

What’s your Poison?

The Biology of a Night Out: Alcohol and Your Body.

Have you ever been out and had a bartender say something along the lines of , “pick your poison” when you order a drink? Well, they’re not kidding; when we drink, our bodies actually think we are being poisoned.

The active ingredient in most alcohols is this little chemical, ethanol: . A small chemical with widespread effects on different parts of our bodies.

Brain: When you’re drinking, alcohol travels up and into your brain, causing two main effects…


GABA | Alcohol

Ethanol mimics a natural brain chemical, GABA, and fits right into the receptors made for GABA. Since GABA is a chemical that sends signals to block certain brain processes, when ethanol binds to those receptors, it also sends signals to block some brain
processes — just like GABA.

Ethanol also blocks a different natural brain chemical, Glutamate, which makes the brain more active. Ethanol fits into the receptor for Glutamate, but this time, instead of sending the same signals, it prevents any signal from being sent at all, so the brain can’t become more active.

Glutamate | Alcohol

Why is blocking important? Alcohol s l o w s  d o w n  your brain. The more alcohol consumed, the more processes are blocked in the brain… processes like making memories (a “blackout”), healthy decisions, even just normal conversation.

GABA is also involved in the brain’s reward pathway, which is the way the brain high-fives itself after something fun happens. The high-five occurs when dopamine is deposited into a part of the brain called the nucleus accumbens (NA). Normally, GABA can block some dopamine from being deposited. But when alcohol enters the brain, it prevents GABA from doing that job, meaning that more dopamine can be deposited onto the nucleus accumbens. Read: high-five after high-five after high-five.

Why is reward important? While it contributes to the happy, light feeling that is associated with drinking, if that high-five happens too often, the brain starts to feel like it deserves the high-five, and can’t function as well without it. This is called addiction.

Body: When you’re drinking, alcohol affects the body several ways. The riskiest of these are…

Byproducts. In the stomach, small intestine and liver, natural enzyme called ADH breaks ethanol down into a toxic chemical called acetaldehyde. During binge drinking, there is an acetaldehyde “backup” because the enzyme that neutralizes acetaldehyde works slower than ADH.

Why are byproducts important? This “backup” causes high body levels of toxic acetaldehyde, which is to blame for some hangover symptoms. Women and younger people are especially vulnerable to an acetaldehyde “backup” because they naturally have less neutralizing enzyme than men and older people do. Acetaldehyde also causes some of the poor coordination, memory impairment, and sleepiness that are associated with drinking.

Spread. Ethanol is also unique because it literally floods the body. Ethanol can cross cell membranes, so during drinking, alcohol doesn’t stay just in your digestive organs. It leaches out of the digestive tract, cell by cell, and spreads across the body.

Why is spread important? This means that nearly every cell in the body has some amount of alcohol in it during drinking, and is exposed to toxic acetaldehyde. In this respect, men also tend to fare better. This is because men tend to have more muscle tissue than women. Muscle has more water than fat, so the acetaldehyde from ethanol will be diluted more in a person with more muscle tissue.

Dehydration. Ethanol also interacts with an enzyme that controls the amount of water in the body. When ethanol levels increase, they block the enzyme from being released, and the kidneys don’t get the signal to retain water.

Why is dehydration important? This is why drinking is correlated with frequent urination and the dehydration/electrolyte imbalance that is the culprit for some hangover symptoms.

For these reasons, and a few more, it is a good idea to avoid binge drinking. Most research has shown that reaching a blood alcohol concentration of 0.1% is all it takes for most people to experience these brain and body functions to a degree that causes a hangover the following day.

If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol dependence or abuse, please reach out! Student Wellness provides free consultations to students who have concerns about themselves or a friend. The Center for Health and Wellness Promotion can support and guide you in helping yourself or a friend. Helping others and/or asking for help can be stressful and we want you to know that you are NOT alone. Call (619) 260-4618 to set up an appointment or visit University Center Room 161.

Finding Your Place At USD

Feeling connected on campus can have a huge impact on your college experience, take it from a super senior who watched the majority of my friends graduate and leave San Diego.

Growing up in Boston, I went to a small high school where no one other than my college counselor had ever even heard of USD, so when I pulled up outside Founders on move-in day the only person I knew was my roommate who I had become friends with on Facebook about a month before. It definitely didn’t help that I was shy and reluctant to reach out to the other students in my classes or pop into an open door in my dorm hallway and introduce myself like every first year college advice article I read suggested. My roommate on the other hand, was from Santa Cruz in Northern California and had already met some other incoming first-year students through mutual friends back home and was just generally more outgoing than me. Being the introvert that I am, I was extremely lucky to meet one of my best friends at USD through my roommate.

As the year went on, I clung to my roommate and my friend until I got more comfortable, made more friends and realized most people were anxious about finding friend groups, too. So, the moral of the story is that things worked out for me and I didn’t end up friendless and miserable like I had secretly feared I would, but looking back four years later I wish I had been more proactive about creating the college experience I wanted for myself. My best friend went on to rush during formal recruitment and joined a sorority, and while I still believe not joining Greek Life was the right choice for me, maybe it wouldn’t have hurt to rush and put myself out there. Afterall, stepping out of my comfort zone was one of the reasons I had chosen to go to school all the way across the country in the first place (well, that, and to escape the New England winter). I am eternally grateful for the friends I’ve made and the experiences I’ve had at USD, but I’ve learned that you can’t always sit back and just expect them to happen to you.

Transitioning from high school or even another college can be difficult, and finding your place can be intimidating but it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. Whether you’re a first-year, a transfer student or even a returning student, clubs on campus are a great way to get involved, meet new friends or get out of your comfort zone and try something new.

USD has over 180 student organizations including academic, cultural, service, athletic, religious, and Greek organizations, there’s something for everyone. So, in case you missed the Alcala Bazaar or just need a refresher you can check them all out by visiting Torero Orgs. And on the off chance you can’t find a club that interests you, you can always start your own.

Some other awesome places where you can get involved or just hang out:

United Front Multicultural Center
Black Student Resource Center
Women’s Center
Veteran’s Center
Center for Student Success
Student Leadership, Involvement and Changemaking
Center for Health and Wellness Promotion
University Ministry

Learn more about getting involved!

Recovering After a Tough Workout

We all know the terrible (and yet somehow rewarding) feeling of not being able to walk the next day after a tough workout because our bodies are so sore. I recently experienced this level of  soreness and decided to look into ways to recover the body after a tough workout. Below are some ways to help recover your body so you’re ready for that next workout! 

Foam Roll + Stretch!

Foam rolling and stretching are important both before and after a workout. Foam rolling and stretching warms up your body for your workout and cools your body down afterwards. Using a foam roller and making sure to stretch also helps to relax overworked and tense muscles and helps stimulate blood flow. Loosening the muscle fascia after a workout by stretching helps your body recover better after working out and helps reduce soreness.


After a big workout it is important to fuel your body with healthy food to jumpstart your recovery. Eating protein helps recover damaged muscles. Get the Gloss suggests that “eating 0.3 x your bodyweight in kg of protein, so 21g of protein for a 70kg individual, completely activates the pathways that lead to muscular recovery and stops any breakdown caused by exercise.” Some good proteins to eat after a workout are tuna, chicken, or eggs. Carbs are also important in the recovery process. Eating healthy carbs, like a banana, or going with more hardy carbs, like brown rice or pasta are all great options. You can decide whether to go with a healthier or a hardier carb depending on how vigorous your workout was and how hungry you are.


When you workout your body sweats to cool itself down. To replenish the water in our bodies that we lose from sweating we must drink additional water to refrain from getting dehydrated. According to Get the Gloss, “If you’re thirsty, you are already 2-4% dehydrated and 2% dehydration can reduce your physiological output by up to 20%.” So how much water should you be drinking? On days when you have a challenging workout you should be drinking at least 2.5L to replenish your body of all the hard work it’s doing. You should start drinking water 15 minutes before working out and 8 ounces of water for every 20 minutes spent working out.

Take Rest Days

Taking a rest day is a crucial part of letting your body recover and grow stronger. Strenuous workouts cause stress on the body and in order to be able to see progress and keep pushing yourself to do more challenging workouts you need to take a time off. Rest days allow your body to go back into balance and prepare for the next workout. Matt Roberts, a celebrity personal trainer says that 2-3 rest days a week is ideal.


Christina Howells, a well known personal trainer says that “When we sleep, we move into what is known as an anabolic phase, which literally means rebuilding.” Sleep allows our body to relax and replenish and allows our muscles have the chance to take a break. The National Foundation of Sleep suggests 7-8 hours of sleep a night.

Next time you have a tough workout planned don’t forget to follow these steps and tips so your body can recover quickly and you can avoid being super sore!


How to help a friend struggling with alcohol

Even with his eclectic and unusual style, he was still really good looking.  My friends and I were instantly attracted his good looks, dubbing him “The Unicorn” for the easy way he carried himself. We would occasionally giggle and chat about him if someone saw him on campus, but nothing much came of it.

Fast-forward 6 months to an early evening mid-week.

Walking back from a rec class, my friend spotted something in the bushes. It was a pair of feet. Upon further, tentative, inspection, my friend realized it was ‘the Unicorn’  – he appeared so drunk he was almost unconscious. Since we were off-campus, we called for an ambulance and contacted his roommate to ride with him to the hospital. From his roommate we would learn that his friend was concerned about him and his increasing use of alcohol over the past few months. It seems that he’d been overwhelmed by the demands of school and extracurriculars, and had turned to alcohol to cope with the stress.

We were shocked, but we shouldn’t have been.

Alcohol and other substance dependence disorders are often hard to detect, especially in a high-risk college environment. Moving to on- or off-campus housing increases the availability of alcohol and other drugs, especially in social settings where a  main focus can be alcohol. A new sense of freedom and a new set of responsibilities away from parents can also lead students to experiment with alcohol and other drugs, facing decisions that they haven’t had to encounter before.

This experience also demonstrates that someone’s outward appearance  doesn’t always reflect their reality, making detection of alcohol abuse or dependence that much harder.

So, how do I know if a friend (or me!) is struggling with alcohol abuse or dependence? What can you do? 

If a friend is showing any of these symptoms and you feel comfortable talking to them, engage in a calm, non-accusatory conversation about the changes you’ve noticed in them.

If a student wants to seek off-campus help, call or visit the Center for Health and Wellness Promotion. For off-campus resources San Diego Alcoholics Anonymous offers online resources and in-person meetings.

If the student is extremely intoxicated or needs medical attention, call Public Safety at 2222 (on campus) or 911 (off campus). College can be stressful and overwhelming and finding new and healthy ways to cope with the changes isn’t easy. By being a resource for someone who may be struggling you can help provide support. Don’t hesitate to reach out!



The Forgotten Issue

I recently worked a table at the Alcala Bazaar for the Center for Health and Wellness Promotion (CHWP). Incentivized with the softest t-shirt to have ever been created, students spun the wheel to test their knowledge on categories ranging from alcohol and other drugs to mental health.

Students did surprisingly well with many of the questions, even ones that called for specific statistics and numbers. However there was one question that was answered incorrectly several times. For context, our students/participants ranged from ages 18 to upwards of 50, differing in backgrounds, knowledge sets and majors, but nonetheless this question stumped many. What was the question, you may ask? Falling under the category mental health for 100 points, the question read: “What is the #1 mental health concern students report negatively impacting their academic success?”

Common answers included: anxiety, depression and lack of sleep.

While all of these can and do definitely have a negative impact on many students’ academic success, there is another factor that many have reported is far more common: Stress. 

Eight in ten college students report having experienced extreme stress in their lives in the past three months according to a 2008 mental health study by the Associated Press.Many students were very surprised and many of them stated that, “they did not know that stress was a mental health concern” or that it could negatively impact academic performance. That being said, not all stress is bad stress, but too much stress can become detrimental.

Types of Stress: The Good, the Bad and the UGLY:

Short-term stress is very common. You may recall learning about the fight or flight response in high school. This refers to the physiological symptoms you experience when you feel stress and includes but is not limited to an increased heart rate, muscle tension and perspiration. In small amounts this type of stress can be good for you. This stress helps you focus on upcoming tasks like a test, presentation or important job interview. If we are able to find a way to relax after we deal with our stressors then our body returns to normal.

Elongated or chronic stress is the kind of stress that we want to avoid when possible. Many people do not see stress as a mental health concern, which can be why many choose to ignore chronic stress in their life.  According to the American Psychological Association, “an extreme amount of stress can have health consequences and adversely affect the immune, cardiovascular, neuroendocrine and central nervous systems.” While everyday stressors can be usually managed by stress management practices (such as exercise, meditation, appropriate sleep, etc.) chronic stress can harm you physically and psychologically.

See the chart below for different symptoms of chronic stress:

While some of these symptoms may seem small they may lead to even greater health problems. APA research has shown that chronic stress can contribute to the development of anxiety, depression, heart disease and even obesity.It is time we take stress more seriously and treat it like any other mental illness! If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms or are worried that you or a friend are experiencing chronic stress tell someone!

On Tuesday, October 24th, Student Wellness is putting on their bi-annual Mental Health Check-ins from 4 to 6 pm in the UC’s. Stop by for a free 15-minute confidential check in with a wellness professional. This is a great opportunity to show yourself some love and to focus on your own mental health especially during midterm season.

In addition, The Counseling Center is a confidential resource open Monday – Friday from 8:30am-5pm, with extended hours until 6pm on Wednesday during fall and spring semesters. The easiest way to secure an initial consultation is by making a same- or next-day appointment via the Wellness Portal. Students can also call or come by the Counseling Center to arrange for an appointment.

I need to talk with someone now and the Counseling Center is closed!


If you have an urgent matter or are having thoughts of suicide, a counselor on call is available to consult about after hours psychological emergencies at all times. The counselor on call can be reached by calling Public Safety at (619) 260-2222. Other 24/7 resources include the San Diego Access and Crisis Line (888) 724-7240 and the National Suicide Prevention Line (800) 273-8255, both of which offer crisis intervention, information and referrals.


What kind of learner are you?

What Kind of Learner Are You? How to Better Understand Your Learning Style and Maximize Your Studying!

Many people recognize that individuals learn differently, and that some styles of learning work better for one person than for another. In college, it is extremely important to understand how you learn best and to use that understanding to maximize your study time. There are three primary styles of learning: visual, auditory, and tactile/kinesthetic learning, and each will be addressed here.

Are You a Visual Learner?

Visual learners do best when reading or seeing pictures; they understand and remember material best through sight and visualization. They typically remember what they see, more so than what they hear, so classes with diagrams and pictures are great for people with this learning style. Visual learners typically need an overall view and purpose before beginning a project, and in lecture based classes they excel when they read and write their notes instead of listening to the instructor without taking notes. Here are some great study tips for visual learners:

  • Take written notes in lectures and class
  • Use colors to highlight important points and color code your notes
  • Draw pictures and charts based on your lectures and then explain them in your notes
  • Write down key words, ideas, or instructions
  • Use flashcards to learn new words
  • Sit near the front of the classroom
  • Avoid distractions during study time (especially visual distractions like your phone)

Are You an Auditory Learner?

Auditory learners find success  by hearing and listening. They are typically good at following verbal instructions and they tend to talk to themselves while working. Auditory learners like to hear people explain things, and they like explaining ideas to others as well. They typically like to read aloud, and group discussions or debates are great ways for them to learn. Here are some great study tips for auditory learners:

  • Read stories, assignments, or notes out loud
  • Explain or “re-tell” a concept you have learned to someone else
  • Sit where you can hear best in your classes
  • If possible, record and then listen to your lectures when you study
  • Make flashcards to learn new words or concepts; be sure to practice them out loud
  • Start or join a study group
  • Have a friend quiz you orally

Are You a Tactile Learner?

Tactile, or kinesthetic, learners absorb the most information through hands-on experience and remember things best when they learn them through physical movement. They memorize a concept by moving around and seeing or experiencing it first-hand. Tactile learners often take notes or even draw or doodle while listening, and they love hands-on activities and group interaction. Here are some great study  tips for tactile learners:

  • Use flashcards and arrange them in groups to show relationships between ideas
  • It’s okay to move around while studying or learning; chew gum, walk around, tap your foot or pencil, or hold onto something
  • Participate in activities that involve touching, building, moving, or drawing
  • Relate facts or theories to your own experience
  • Learn or memorize information by teaching or telling someone else
  • Start or join a study group

Healthy Study Habits

No matter what kind of learner you are, these study tips are great to keep you on track and help you be an amazing student!

  • Take frequent breaks while studying: beleive it or not, one of the most effective ways to study is to take frequent, short breaks during study sessions. Short, regular study sessions help you to maximize your time because regular periods of repetition strengthen understanding of material and make it easier to remember, and regular, sustained study reinforces the material better than cramming everything into one long study session.  
  • Use a regular study area: pick a study location and stick to it! Your body knows where you are so when you study in the same place regularly, you train your body to get in the studying mindset when you enter this space. This makes it easier to focus and maximize your study time within your chosen study location.
  • Always take care of yourself first: when studying, sometimes we forget that we need to give ourselves a break. If you’ve studied for three hours, it is healthy to take a break to go out with friends or to grab a quick meal and destress. To study effectively, we need to be in a healthy state of body and mind, so remember to get adequate amounts of sleep, exercise, and food. Also, don’t forget to give yourself little rewards along the way! If you spent 40 minutes mastering a concept that was really challenging, give yourself the credit you deserve, whether that be a quick study break or that ice cream sandwich you’ve been saving for a special occasion.
  • Ask for help when you need it: no one is here to tear you down; if you don’t understand a concept, the best thing to do is ask either a peer or an educator to help you! We are all rooting for you and want you to succeed, so asking for help is never a bad thing. If you feel you need extra help in a subject, you can always check out USD’s amazing tutoring services.
  • Students can also meet with a Student Success Coach in the Center for Student Success to work on improving study habits, managing time commitments and finding balance. 

Studying is not the enemy, and knowing the best way to study for yourself as an individual can really help you reach your academic goals. If you are interested in learning more about your individual learning style, you can take this quiz and determine what percent of each learning style you have. Best of luck, and happy studying!

5 Tips for Making a College Routine

For those of you just starting at USD, you’ve probably been told many times that college is a big change. For many students it is a big change, living far away from home, being able to eat whatever and whenever you want, having classes at many different times of the day… it can be hard to create a schedule or routine for yourself because you are balancing so many different demands. However, by creating a consistent routine we are able to ease into college life much better.

Create a Balance

College is all about finding the balance between school work and having fun. It is important to figure out that balance early on before stressing yourself out when all the homework builds up or focusing too much on friends. If you get into the habit of always hanging out with friends you’ll fall behind in school. Figuring out how much time to spend on certain classes and giving yourself time limits to work on specific assignments can really optimize your efficiency when it comes to doing school work.

Eat Healthy and Regularly

Another freedom that comes along with college is the abundance of food all around you. When eating at the SLP it is so easy to help yourself to multiple servings that you would not have normally taken if you were at home. Or, if you’re swamped with homework it can be easy to microwave mac and cheese or a quick dinner that is low in nutrients. Having this freedom lets us make our own food decisions and sometimes over stress or tiredness can get in the way of having healthy eating habits. Simply stocking your mini-fridge with healthy snacks and working on getting in some fruits and vegetables everyday makes all of the difference. When you eat well, you feel better, sleep better and are able to focus more in school.

Keep track of school assignments with a to-do list or a planner

The easiest way to stay organized is to create a to-do list with assignments and tasks. Make regular to-do lists with your highest priority tasks at the top and least important tasks towards the end. When it’s time to get to work, start at the top of your list and tackle the most important tasks one. If you don’t complete the bottom of your to-do list by the end of your work session, it will be less stressful knowing you’ve completed your highest priority assignments. It’s important to always create new to-do lists to keep your projects organized.

Fit exercise into your schedule

Exercise is a great way to reduce stress. Creating a schedule where you allow time for exercise will actually help improve your focus, stress management and you will sleep better. When we have a lot of things on our plate all at once we tend to cut out exercise to create more time for other things but in fact, when you have a lot of things going on, exercise can be most valuable tools as it helps relieve stress and improves your mood.

Get good sleep

We’ve all heard that we are supposed to get 8 hours of sleep every night, but we know that in college that it can be difficult with the amount of activities and classes we are juggling. A Huffington Post article concluded that only 15% of college students actually get 8 hours of sleep on average. A lot of students put off having good sleeping habits during the week and say that they will make up for it on the weekend in order to fit everything they need to into the day. We, as students, don’t like to believe it but we all know we function better when we’ve had a good night’s sleep. After a certain point our brains aren’t going to function and retain the information as well when it starts to get late and we’re tired. Sometimes it’s better to get to bed at a decent hour and wake up refreshed to finish homework or studying.


Calling all First-Year Students!

Dear you,

Yes you, the one sitting in your dorm room, on a bed that you are trying to pass off as comfortable.

The You who moved into a new room, a new life, a new you. The You sitting on the grass beside the Immaculata. You’re about to embark on the most magical journey of your life, I promise. Take a moment,  come into this space fully and just breathe.

You are here,
you are worth it,
and you are deserving of all of the greatness that comes with beginning school here at USD. Welcome.
Welcome to your home for the next while.

So how are you feeling? Can you put into words what you’re experiencing right in this moment? If you can, let’s talk about it. And if you can’t, that’s okay too, we’ll talk about that as well. I’ve been there, and you’re going to be all right, trust me on that. As a freshman, Ole Weekend came and went in a wonderful, excited, anxious blur of emotions. I had to keep asking myself, “How do I make friends again?”, “How does one approach another human being?” These questions carried into my first day of classes and for days to come after. I’ve gotten better about feeling  awkward and  you will too if this is something you struggle with.

Right now, you might be feeling overwhelmed, uncomfortable, and like you may never adjust. And let me tell you, this is actually all good. If you’re feeling this way, it means you are truly diving into the experience and taking on the new college student identity. Embrace all of these feelings. The amazing thing about college is that we all have different backgrounds but get to come together in the role of student as our common unifier. I find comfort in this. I want you to feel proud that you are here. I want you to feel like you belong and have a place to call your own. Maybe you don’t know what that place is or should be yet. But know that there is a place and You will find it.

College is a new chapter and a new beginning where you get to come into your own in a world of new possibilities. There may be some challenges, periods of   adjustment, transition, and change, but…it’s probably the most transformative four years that you will ever get to experience in your lifetime and it will go by quickly.

Write it all down.
Take every picture.
Sing every song.
And say everything you want to say.
Because life is just too short.

Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Join one of the many clubs on campus that plays to your strengths, interests, and passions. You’re going to find your passion. When you find that thing people tell  you won’t get you  anywhere, won’t make you money, won’t amount to anything. Don’t ignore it. Draw, write, paint, read, film, learn, create, share, move. You have a talent, I know you do.

Along the way, you’ll meet people that share these similar passions. Make friends with your roommate. Make friends with people that pass you by on the sidewalk. Make friends with people in your classes. Make friends with people lounging in the hammocks around campus. You never know when you’re going to meet that one person that will change your life forever.

Show up. Show up to class. Show up to a random lecture. Show up to career fairs. Show up to a coffee date with someone new that you want to get know. Just do it. Not only for the people that want to be in your presence, but show up for yourself. Show up to learn something new and to learn something about yourself. Every situation that you show up to is an opportunity to learn. And one day, after you’ve graduated, you might find yourself saying, “Wow, I really miss learning”.

Get comfortable with the uncomfortable. Be vulnerable. Acknowledge the newness of it all and then rise above it. You’re going to constantly hear “College is what you make of it” from now until the end of your years here. Don’t be easily intimidated by your surroundings telling you what you can and cannot do. Your dreams are the start to accomplishing a goal and you are the vehicle to make those dreams a reality. You will be tested and knocked down over and over again, by others and yourself. Rise up because this is what builds you, what changes you, and what moves you to keep going. It’s going to hurt, so badly, but it’s so worth it.

You’re going to be OK.
You’re going to adjust.
You’re going to thrive.
You’re going to love.
And be loved.

And I think the most important piece of advice is probably the cheesiest. It’s something your parents probably told you before you left for college. It’s something your first grade teacher repeated over and over again. It’s what all the kids cartoons you’ve ever watched had to say about growing up. But it’s also something that is so easily forgotten the moment we step foot onto college and begin this four year journey. Be yourself. All this advice is useless if we don’t bring it back to ourselves. I’ve witnessed and have experienced the race that we often put ourselves in to change every little thing about ourselves that we hate. Don’t run this race. It’s taken me almost four years to realize that the very things I’ve struggled with since high school through the first couple years of college, are the very things that make me stand out from the rest.

Learn to look deep inside yourself.
Be that self, the genuine one, be yourself.
You’re already turning into something pretty great.

There’s probably still a million other things I need to tell you, but there’s also a million things you need to experience on your own, with or without my advice. But just know, I’m always ready to give it if needed. I may not know you, but I’m here for you.

You will have your bad days (or weeks!) but you will also have your fair share of the most amazing days. Days where you can’t help but look at a sunset and cry because it’s so beautiful, that life is beautiful.

Remember where you’ve been.
Remember who you are.
Remember where you’re going.

You’re going to be okay, I know, I’ve been through it. I’ll tell you all about it.


Summer in San Diego

Summer is here and San Diego is heating up! If you are around San Diego this summer, one of our recent USD grads, Emily Brennan, has compiled a list of activities you can enjoy right here in this beautiful city. Check it out!

  • Promised yourself you’d learn to surf? Want to ride bikes or skate down the boardwalk? USD’s Outdoor Adventures can help with that! Here on campus, they have surfboards, body boards, wetsuits, snorkel gear, kayaks, paddle boards, and much more for students to rent. If you feel like going camping, they have tents, sleeping bags, and other camping gear available to rent as well. All in all, Outdoor Adventures is a great resource for getting active!
  • If you don’t have access to a car to get the Outdoor Adventures equipment rentals down to the beach, there are also plenty of inexpensive rental companies on Mission Beach offering equipment to meet all of your water and land adventure desires!
  • Ever wanted to swim with sharks or explore some caves? Be daring and venture into the La Jolla Sea Caves. You can snorkel or kayak and there are plenty of guided tours that will also help you enjoy the experience.
  • Feeling like you’re Ariel ready to meet your Flounder? Swim with the fish and snorkel in La Jolla Cove! There are gorgeous reefs with thousands of colorful fish. Don’t forget, you can rent snorkel gear from Outdoor Adventures!
  • Get active and try a beautiful San Diego Hike!
  • Explore our country’s largest collection of outdoor murals at the beautiful and historic Chicano Park.
  • Gather some friends together, roast marshmallows or hot dogs and have a bonfire in Mission Beach, Mission Bay, or Ocean Beach.
  • Take advantage of San Diego’s one of a kind sunsets and have a picnic at Sunset Cliffs.
  • Looking to immerse yourself in the rich history of San Diego? Check out Balboa Park and explore the park’s variety of offerings, including 15 museums, free daily park tours, public organ concerts (Sundays), and beautiful gardens (seven of the gardens are free daily!). Also, on the first Wednesday of every month, the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park offers free stargazing! The San Diego Astronomy Association provides telescopes for people to marvel at the incredible stars in the sky.
  • Interested in some fresh food and sunny vibes? Check out any of San Diego’s dozens of wonderful Farmer’s Markets!
  • If you or a friend has a car, consider cruising up San Diego’s 59-Mile Scenic Drive (or at least part of it) and venture through the unique spots in San Diego!

These are just a few examples of the many awesome, unique things to do around San Diego. College flies by and everyone should take time to play tourist in the beautiful city surrounding our campus. Wherever you are this summer, we are wishing you a wonderful three months full of self-care and soul-feeding activities!


Sleep Tips for Finals

Sleep Week Tips at USD

Finals are coming up and it seems as though stress levels couldn’t be any higher this time of the school year. If stress is something you are experiencing right now, it is likely that many aspects of your life are being impacted, one of these being your sleep.

You may believe that you can run on only four hours of sleep and compensate with coffee and energy drinks. However, you are not Superman (or woman). Unfortunately, you do not have the incredible power to do everything fueled by only a few hours of sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that the average adult gets  seven to nine hours of sleep a night. As hard as it may seem, strive for that range  of hours this finals season in order to be at your best for those tests and papers!You can even make them some of the best sleep hours that you’ve ever gotten with these helpful tips:

Stick to a sleep schedule

This might be the most important strategy for getting better sleep. Get in touch with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle or circadian rhythm. This involves consistently sleeping the same number of hours at the same times every night. Whatever schedule you find to work for you, seek to maintain it over the weekend in order to keep your body in sync.

Find a bedtime ritual

Try deep breathing and meditation, light stretching, or massage before bed to relax and wind down for the day. You can even try reading a few pages of abook to put yourself in that dreamlike state. Whatever you do though, avoid bright light of any kind (so say no to your smartphone) right before bed.

Avoid long naps

This one is pretty difficult to follow, coming from a hardcore nap-lover. But I can definitely attest to getting a better night’s sleep on the days that I refrain from taking a long nap. The more tired  you are, the better you’ll be able to go to sleep and stay asleep at night. If you do take a nap, try to keep it to no longer than 15-20 minutes.

Exercise daily

It’s proven that those who get regular exercise sleep better and feel less sleepy during the day. Exercise can also increase the amount of time that you spend in the good, deep restorative stages of sleep. The more vigorous the exercise, the likelier you’ll be able to reap the sleep benefits. However, even light exercise can improve sleep quality. Make sure that you’re not exercising a couple hours before you go to go to bed, though, as this can make it difficult to wind down for sleep.

And If you can’t sleep…

We’ve all been there. We’re lying in bed, wide awake, staring at the ceiling, trying to count as many sheep as we possibly can to force ourselves into deep sleep but nothing is working. In this case, the best thing to do is get out of bed, go to another room, and try doing a light enjoyable activity until you start to feel tired. For me, this is usually reading. Nothing puts me to sleep more effectively than reading my textbook. Also, avoid screens and bright light during this time.

Good luck with conquering those finals. May all the good sleep be ever in your favor.


Honestly, being present is more difficult than it sounds.

We become so absorbed in our jobs, our relationships, and our work that we rarely have the time to check-in with ourselves. To really be in-tune with our minds and bodies is an art and a practice. But, there’s a little tool called “mindfulness” that has a lot to do with how we incorporate being present in the present.

Mindfulness is defined as the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something. It’s the ability to focus one’s awareness on the present moment while simultaneously checking in with our thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations.

There’s no right or wrong way to practice mindfulness, but here are a few pointers to help you get begin.

Start the day right

How we start our day can really influence how the rest of the day plays out. Waking up with good thoughts is extremely powerful in the way that it shifts our mindset.

It’s the difference between “today is going to be terrible”  vs. “today is going to be great.” Believing the day will be terrible before it even starts will have you anticipating and anxiously worrying about what could go wrong. You see the day in a gray, foggy lens and even the good moments don’t seem to shine as bright.

But, if you can shift your perspective even a little, and begin to believe that there will be at least one good thing will happen… maybe put some favorite inspirational words on sticky notes and post them on your bathroom mirror; those words will be the first thing you see in the morning. Having the right attitude forces you to be present and attentive to the good that surrounds us.

Set an intention

Setting an intention will also help you to maintain the right mindset throughout your day. What do you want for yourself today? What do you want to accomplish? How are you going to get there? What do you want to let go of? Focus on keeping your goals in mind.

Constantly affirm yourself during the process. Repeating phrases like “I am worthy, I am enough” is one of my go-to affirmations. What we might deem as pointless in the act of affirmations is actually what holds genuine value. A few words or a simple phrase reminds us to stick to what we intended for the day, rooting us in something true and forcing us back to a place of presence.

Take a pause

Take a break and complete a task that gives your mind a break and allows you to slow down. It can be anything from reading, journaling, listening to music, running or yoga. The main purpose is to unplug for a little bit. Engage in something that’s meaningful to you for about 30 minutes, and go without the distractions of your phone, TV, people, and all the other noise that can pollute quality “me” time.  


Meditation is the perfect gateway to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness meditation is rooted in allowing us to become present with our surroundings and our thoughts. The goal is not to quiet the mind or achieve an eternal state of calmness. Rather, the goal is to sit, be cognizant of the present moment, and let thoughts and judgements come and go.

This is way easier said than done, I know. It’s going to be difficult at first because your mind might wander to what you’re going to eat for dinner or what homework assignment you have due the next day, etc.

Try this: sit in a comfortable position and just breathe. Let your random thoughts come and allow them to pass on. And breathe, breathe, breathe. The breath is what anchors you in the present.


With mental health check-ins coming up, it’s now more crucial than ever to pay attention to our body presence: what our body is trying to tell us at every moment of the day.

Taking care of your health should always be a top priority. Set aside some time to body scan. Sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes, breathe, and visualize each part of your body and the sensations you’re feeling. Start from the top of your head and work your way down. Really take time to listen to what your body is telling you.

The Mental Health Check-ins are Wednesday March 22 from 4-6 in the UC Forums. Please come take the time to get a check-in and engage in some much needed self-care.


Tips for a Safe Spring Break

University of San Diego Tips for a Safe Spring BreakSpring break is finally here!

You’ve been working hard this semester and deserve a week to yourself to recharge, relax, and reset this spring break.

Maybe you’re going on a road trip with your best friends, flying to new countries, or stay-cationing right here in San Diego.

Whatever your idea of the perfect spring break is, don’t forget to be mindful of your health and take care of yourself.

Make this year’s spring break memorable with friends and family, but also remember to be safe along the way.

Have a Plan

As difficult as planning the details of a trip can be, it can really help to have a general idea of where you want to go, what you want to do and see, and how you’re going to do it.

You don’t have to plan every second of your trip, but a game plan will alleviate travel stress, especially if you’re going to a new place or country. Plan how you’re going to get there, where you’ll stay, what tourist attractions you’ll want to see, and about much money you plan to spend.

Take Care

Spring break is a time for carefree fun and complete relaxation, but you can’t neglect your overall health and wellbeing. If you’re planning on spending extended amounts of time in the sun, don’t forget to wear sunglasses and sunscreen with at least an SPF of 30 to protect yourself from harmful UV rays.

It can also be difficult to make healthy eating decisions when you’re on vacation, so consider packing  an assortment of healthy snacks like fruits, vegetables, and nuts before you head out.

Stay Mindful

It’s important to remember that alcohol does not have to be involved in order to have a good time. However, if you do choose to drink, make sure you’re making smart decisions. Go into an event with a set number of how many drinks you plan on drinking and stick to that plan.

Make your own drinks so you know how much alcohol you’re consuming and don’t accept drinks from strangers. Remember to alternate your alcoholic beverages with water so that you stay hydrated. Also, make sure to stick with one or two close friends when you go out.

Be Present

Being caught up in the fun and excitement of adventure can sometimes lead us to being less focused on our  surroundings. If you’re traveling to a new place, it’s important to remain extra vigilant.

Stick with friends and determine a meeting spot in case you do lose each other. If you have to withdraw money from an ATM, scan the surrounding area before going up to the machine. Also, have a list of taxi numbers stored on your phone before you go out.

Slow Down

Don’t forget that a vacation should be a vacation. A time to slow down and relax so that you can finish the semester strong. As much fun as hiking, biking, swimming, flying, and any other “ing” can be, it doesn’t hurt to have some down time.

In fact, your mind and body will thank you. Self-care should be a major part of your break, just as it should be in daily practice. Try listening to some guided meditation. Youtube, Spotify, and phone apps like Headspace and Calm, offer short meditations that can be done in any quiet space. Take time to read that book that you’ve been wanting to finish for so long.

Know When to Get Help

Before you go, make a list of numbers that you could call in the case that you find yourself in a dangerous situation. If you are traveling internationally, contact the State Department or the American Embassy of the country.

Also, know that USD’s Student Wellness Resources, including the counselor-on-call and CARE Advocates, are available 24/7 for students on or off campus by calling Public Safety at (619) 260-2222. The National Sexual Assault Hotline (800-656-HOPE) is also available for anyone impacted by sexual violence.

Learning How to Find Love in Yourself

“Love Yourself.”

Two simple words that nudge us toward the idea of embracing all that we are and of putting ourselves first. However, with the busy schedules and chaotic lives that we throw ourselves into, it is often anything but simple to make time for ourselves. If we are to live the best versions of who we are, it must start with taking care of the body responsible for getting us through this life.

To love is to live and to live is to love yourself. This requires respect just as much as it requires patience. It is when times are the hardest that is can be most beneficial to try to recognize and find those places where we are able to soften.  The messages on our screens are full of fear and hatred and it is more important than ever to  be courageous in love. There is so much violence and pain that having love and a nonjudgemental eye for what surrounds us starts with loving ourselves.

So right now, stop everything you are doing and take a moment to hug yourself and say “I love you. I am enough just as I am.” I don’t care if it feels silly or looks stupid. Do it anyway because you really are enough. We need a little more of these small but impactful self-love moments in our life.

Here are a few other changes we can make in our day to not only lift us up, but to also lift up those around us.

  1. Talk to yourself

Have you ever taken time to really pay attention to the inner voice in your head? What kinds of things are you saying to yourself? What kinds of words are you speaking? Are they kind, gentle, loving? We often find we have the most cruel and unforgiving things to say to ourselves. Our inner monologues can really have a transformative effect on the way that we feel and act on the outside. Practice self-kindness little-by-little and shift the way in which you speak to the yourself. Let the first thing you say to yourself in the morning be “I love you”. Close your eyes and bring to mind an image of your nine year-old self: braces, embarrassing glasses, awkwardness and all. What would you tell them? How would you assure them?

  1.  Be still

It’s hard to make time in the day to just sit and be still. However, even in our busiest days, there is still quiet to be found. Wake up a little earlier before the rest of the world starts its day. Find somewhere beautiful to go take a walk. Go to a park and just sit there, observing what is right in front of you. Meditate and set an intention for how you want the day to go. Meditate and reflect on what happened in the day.  Just breathe. Making time for stillness and unplugging from our screens regularly will allow you to become more in-tune with yourself.

  1. Create rituals

Planning something to look forward to or create small traditions for yourself or with others who can help you get through the most mundane parts of your week. Treat yourself with coffee every Monday as a way of starting the week. Attend the farmer’s market on the weekend and cook a meal with your fresh produce. Gather your closest friends and try to meet up once a week to watch the sunset. There’s love to be given and received in the smallest, yet most profound  moments throughout our days.

  1. Share the love

As you fill yourself up with love and self-acceptance, you become a wellspring of kindness. You may find yourself smiling at strangers, holding open doors, having more patience to really listen to the words others long to speak. Full of appreciation for all that is within, you start to appreciate all that is without. Start to feel the joy that sharing a compliment can bring. Tell someone you like their smile, you dig their pants, you enjoy the way their laughter fills the room. They will feel good hearing it, and you will feel good sharing it.

Share the goodness that you hold inside. Acknowledge that it’s within you. That is what the world needs right now, that is what the world is aching for. Kindness is small but lasting. Kindness toward yourself is where it begins and ultimately it’s the only way we can be kind to others. When did it become uncool to be kind? When did we stop hugging each other and start folding our arms? Open up, share some warmth. People need tenderness, so be that tenderness. Start with yourself and become overflowing.

Top 5 Reasons to Take the USD Health Survey

Take the USD Health Survey today!
An important survey is coming to campus. It’s a survey where you, a student and a human being that matters, will have the ability to confidentially report various health concerns you are facing as a college student.

Every year, the American College Health Association (ACHA) sends out the National Collegiate Health Assessment (NCHA) to universities across the country. The survey provides data to gauge the biggest wellness concerns and assess the needs for improvement.

As college students, we are diverse, and therefore have our own specific health needs. So let’s rise up to the occasion, take the survey, and make sure USD is informed about the issues we are facing and the resources we need.


1. It’s a big deal: universities across the nation, and government policymakers all use the NCHA to make decisions that affect our health and our education.

2. It will help universities track the biggest wellness concerns: taking the survey provides critical data needed to improve campus wellness resources. The survey covers a wide range of issues including: alcohol & drug use, sexual health, weight & nutrition, mental health, and personal safety & violence.

3. It helps universities acquire grants: the more people who take the survey, the more money we get to improve campus resources.

4. You get prizes: students who complete the survey are eligible to win one of ten $50 prizes.

5. The results are looked at as a whole: the survey is confidential; answers to the survey questions aren’t looked at individually and the data is only received in aggregate from ACHA. Take this time to really reflect on your own health and well-being!

So, make sure you voice your concerns about current wellness issues and improvements that you would like to see implemented on campus. When you take the survey, you’re not just taking it for yourself; you’re taking it for the good of the entire USD community.


Finding the Perfection in Imperfection

Find your perfection in imperfection.I’m going to be honest – it took me a while to write this blog, maybe because I’m a perfectionist….

You know, not all perfectionists manage their time effectively. Perfectionists are sometimes procrastinators too. Perfectionists may ultimately strive for perfection but you know, we’re not perfect.

And this is okay.

We as humans, are programmed to be perfectly imperfect, and that is perfectly beautiful. It’s hard sometimes though. No matter how much we convince others (and ourselves) that we do not fall prey to perfectionist tendencies, we all can get caught up in striving for perfection from time to time. Living in a society that values the idea of perfection doesn’t help very much either. We all try to succeed in the responsibilities and goals that we set for ourselves. However, success is often mistaken for the need to be perfect in each of those responsibilities.

So what is a perfectionist by definition? When it comes to perfectionism, people often take a more extreme approach to achieving excellence and completing their goals. Instead of trying to achieve their goals in a healthy way and accepting failure as part of the process, perfectionists will dissect the goal down to the most minute detail, to the point where accomplishing anything less than their perception of perfect is unacceptable.

There is a fear of failure, disapproval, of making mistakes and a constant comparison of oneself to others that goes along with this extreme method of completing tasks.

I think the general belief about perfectionists is that they always complete their goals. They’re driven, they get things done on time, they’re highly motivated, and they’re all around fearless in a sense. Yes, some of these are definitely true, but we’re forgetting something very important: Perfectionists can also suffer from stress, anxiety, and depression, just like any other person. Perfectionists aren’t superheroes, despite the way some may think they are, or the way in which perfectionists may view themselves.

There’s no true research showing that perfectionists are better or more successful than non-perfectionists. Yes, perfectionists may get more things done or be highly motivated in completing tasks, but perfectionists can also be procrastinators. Perfectionists often have an “all-or-nothing” mentality, where they believe that everything can be separated between only ‘good’ or ‘bad’, with nothing in between. Therefore, if something they are completing can’t be perfect, they have the sense that it’s not worth trying at all. Yes, some perfectionists can be fearless in the sense that they believe they can do it all, however, perfectionists can’t overcome every obstacle like Superman or whoever your favorite superhero is. This superhuman mentality is the perfectionist’s kryptonite and ultimately may lead to greater stress, and even more serious mental health issues including depression and anxiety.

This is some serious stuff. So with all of this, let’s talk about a better way of completing goals and accomplishing tasks:

Enter healthy striving. There’s a huge difference between perfectionism and healthy striving. Healthy strivers will take the extremity out of working toward their goals and enjoy the actual process rather than only the end result. They can set high standards, but within reason and in reach.

They are not afraid of failure or disappointment. They also see mistakes as opportunities to learn and can take criticism constructively. It seems as though healthy strivers may be considered to be the fearless ones after all. In the face of conflict, a healthy striver looks at the risks of a situation and goes for it, because they’re strong enough to know that disappointment awaits, but so does success.

It can be a slow process to let go of perfectionist tendencies. The thing is that we all have them. This is so true. But there are a few things you can do to transition from perfectionist to healthy striver. Don’t worry! We need to start by accepting the fact that we are humans, not robots. We are all prone to making mistakes and this is just part of life.

  1. Start by making realistic goals
    • Learn your limits and don’t take on more than you can handle. Start out by setting short-term goals initially so it’s less daunting. You can always work up to long-term goals so that you’re dreams look more achievable. Because they are!
  2. Learn to deal with criticism
    • I’ll be honest, I hate criticism. But sometimes we really need it. How would we get better or to the place we are now without it? Start by changing the word “criticism” to “advice” or “suggestions”. Look at criticism as a way of expanding your abilities and an opportunity to grow.
  3. Make a list of disadvantages and advantages to being perfect
    • You may find the list of disadvantages is a little longer than the advantages in every situation. There’s a lot more room to take risks, get creative, and be yourself if you choose the less perfect path.
  4. Focus on the process of doing an activity rather than the end result
    • You know that one thing you’re passionate about? Maybe it’s drawing, writing, painting, playing an instrument, or playing Pokemon Go (lol). Do that! Do that first before you dive into your adult responsibilities. Because when you are doing something you’re passionate about, you’re not focused on the end result, rather you’re present and you’re just enjoying the moment. Maybe that passion will carry over to your priorities.
  5. Set time limits for all your projects
    • Because perfectionists struggle with time management, it can be extremely helpful to set time limits for projects. Say you have a paper to write, readings to do, projects to complete, pizza to eat…Decide to work on each for about an hour and then move on to the next tasks as soon as that hour is over. You may find you really do get more work done as a result. Also remember to make time for eating that pizza, taking stretch breaks, or talking to friends.
  6. Try to handle situations with grace
    • Grace is defined as a simple elegance or refinement of movement. This is so beautiful to me because it goes hand in hand with healthy striving. Sometimes we need to take a step back or step outside ourselves to see how a difficult situation can be completed. Sometimes we have to do that in order to see the best plan of action. I often have 100 worries at once but 99 of those are just made up ones in my head that I if I really examine, I can let go. So just take a step back, take a deep breath, and know that even if you make a mistake, it’s not the end of the world. Believe in the truth of that. Or maybe just pretend you’re Audrey Hepburn or Beyoncé and ask yourself, “how would they handle this?”
    Just remember, you really don’t have to do it all and make it perfect all the time. Taking a step back does not mean you will fail, only that you’re giving yourself a little more room to take risks and to truly live.

So I urge you, be a little more accepting of yourself and perhaps this world may be a better place little by little. A better place for you.

The Art of Napping

Learn about the importance of sleep and establishing proper sleep hygiene at USD. Sleep is a beautiful thing. However, in college these days, everyone is just plain exhausted. You can see it in students’ posture as they walk, inherent bags under their eyes (those bags must be designer), and the naps they try to sneak in during class lecture. Why is everyone so tired?

You hear it on the news, you hear it from USD’s Student Wellness resources, and you also hear it from people like me: sleep is so important. The facts are there and the statistics tell no lie; sleep is essential to maintaining many aspects of your life, including strong academic performance, a balanced mood, and overall physical health. Look at any two people on campus to see who actually caught some major zzzz’s. One of them is effortlessly glowing (they’re literally radiating their own source of light) and the other is trying to find the best way to situate themselves in class so they can sneak in a quick nap. Is it really worth it to pull an all-nighter to hopefully feel prepared for an exam when in actuality you might end up doing poorer based on a lack of sleep the night before?

About 22.2% of USD undergraduates reported that sleep difficulties resulted in a lower grade on a test/project (USD NCHA 2014). Does this change things at all? Would I have your attention more if I also said sleep deprivation increases your risk for getting cancer? According to the Harvard Medical School, not getting enough sleep leads to major health risks like cancer, along with obesity, increased stroke risk, weakened bone structure and memory loss. We hear about these side effects all the time, yet people rarely seem to improve their sleep schedules.

So I want to propose something…I think our community, among other universities, needs to improve our napping game.

We can argue about how we’re so busy and don’t have time for the suggested 7 – 9 hours of sleep, but what about naps? It seems like we forgot about these powerful little guys, maybe because we have different ideas of what constitutes a good and time-effective nap. Here are some tips that will have you feeling awake and ready to conquer any and all school obstacles.

  1. Take a short nap

Enter the magic that is a power nap: a short nap that lasts about 20-30 minutes (or one sleep cycle) that will leave you with improved alertness and performance and won’t affect your nighttime sleep schedule. It will take some time to get used to this if you’re someone that typically takes 4 hour naps, but you’ll see how much better you feel when you don’t wake up groggy and feeling worse than you did before you started sleeping. Be sure to set your alarm.

  1. Time it right

Typically, it’s best to take your naps before 4pm. You don’t want your naps to interfere with your actual sleep schedule and prevent you from being able to fall asleep at night. The power hours for those naps take place between 1-4pm. The 4pm cutoff also goes for caffeine, too, so that you have an easier time falling asleep later on.

  1. Find your couch

I don’t know about you all, but I think one thing we’re really blessed to have on this campus is the variety of comfortable couches scattered around. Along with that power nap, it’s essential to find that one place that you can call your own; where you feel you belong and can just close your eyes and let it go. There are some great couches in the SOLES study room, UFMC, Maher Lounge on the 5th floor, Crossroads down in the Valley, and the Commuter Commons down in the UC’s. There’s even the great addition of hammocks in strategic places on campus. If you want, set up camp on the grass or just about anywhere else. You could even take a quick nap under a table in Copley Library. You have a ton of options.

And if you drink coffee or other caffeine…

  1. Try drinking your caffeine before your nap

According to the National Sleep Foundation, research suggested that the combination of napping and caffeine proved to have a beneficial effect. The results may vary from person to person, but try drinking a cup of coffee before you take a nap if you normally do drink caffeine. Caffeine takes 20 minutes to kick into your system after drinking it. If you drink a cup of coffee and then take a nap for 20 minutes, you’ll wake up feeling like a brand new person (people won’t even recognize you; you won’t even recognize yourself).

Go forth and conquer finals everyone. Good luck! And good luck conquering the perfect power nap, too.

For more sleep tips, visit the sleep management page.

Socializing without Drinking

35 things to do without drinking in San Diego
Talking about drinking can get pretty touchy. Bring it up in conversation with to the people that tend to drink a lot, and they can become offended. Mention it to those who  choose not to drink, and things could get uncomfortable. This might be because of the social pressure and stigma associated with drinking as well as the long-standing myth that it’s more unlikely to have fun without some type of alcohol in your system. It’s unfortunate that this idea is still ingrained in our brains and society in this day and age.  And for those feeling the pressure, it’s important to know that not everyone around you is drinking. In fact, USD students perceive 3% of their peers don’t drink or rarely drink when in actuality, over 25% of USD students do not drink or rarely drink (USD NCHA 2014). The bottom line is, having a good time comes down to what you want to get out of a social situation; the choice is yours. There are many ways to have a great time without drinking alcohol.

Go eat

Enjoying a tasty meal with friends is probably one of the oldest forms of socializing around. Lucky for us USD students, San Diego is one of America’s “foodie” destinations, hosting a diverse array of eateries. Check out a new place with some of your roommates or invite classmates to grab a bite after class one day. Try sushi at PB Sushi, burgers at Hodad’s in Ocean Beach, and brunch at Olive Cafe in Mission Beach. Limited time or travel options?  Urbane Cafe, JV’s Mexican, and J&T’s Thai are all delicious and located just at the bottom of Linda Vista Road! And if you’re itching to find the perfect study space that offers some of the best coffee and tea, try hitting up Lestat’s Coffee House in North Park, Better Buzz in Mission Beach, or Pannikin Coffee & Tea in La Jolla (my personal favorite).

Go experience

Our university also happens to be conveniently located near an abundance of popular sights and destinations. Go see a Padre’s Game at Petco Park, take a day and visit the San Diego Zoo, experience a concert at the House of Blues downtown, or explore Birch Aquarium in La Jolla. Even switch things up and take the trolley downtown to explore the Gaslamp District instead of jumping in your car. And who can forget about the greatest attraction of them all: the beach! We’re lucky that the beach is just a short ten-minute drive away. Witness one of life’s natural miracles and go with some friends to watch the beautiful sunset at Sunset Cliffs. Or, try kayaking at La Jolla Cove, another hidden gem.

Be present

Sure, some occasions call for extra celebration, but sometimes you lose sight of what’s really important: the people you’re spending time with. When the edges of your world start to blur, and the details of the experience slowly slip away from you, how will you remember what was right in front of you at that moment? Will you enjoy not being able to fully remember a birthday or graduation party and the awesome people who experienced it with you? On the occasions that you choose not to drink, pay attention to the vibrant youth surrounding you, the pure unrestrained laughter, and the colorful sensation of memories being made in the present. This is what you’re missing. It’s better to be in the here and now. If you find yourself at a party and choose not to drink, others should also respect your decision. You can carry a cup filled with a non-alcoholic beverage or tell people that you have an exam to study for later that night. Even bring a friend that is also choosing not to drink that night. Just remember your decision is completely up to you and should not be influenced by others. Own your choice because you become a role model in doing so.

If you do choose to drink, always remember to have a designated completely sober driver, call a cab, or stay the night at a friend’s.

Here are some more great activities for fun without alcohol!

35 things to do in San Diego (that don’t involve alcohol)

Go eat at some of SD’s favorites:

  1.  Hodad’s Ocean Beach
  2.  Olive Café Mission Beach
  3.  Lucha Libre Mission Hills
  4.  Snooze Hillcrest
  5.  PB Sushi Pacific Beach
  6.  Miguel’s Old Town
  7.  Hash House a Go Go Hillcrest
  8.  Phil’s BBQ Point Loma
  9.  Casa de Reyes Old Town
  10. Check out the new Liberty Public Market! Point Loma 

Go do some sightseeing:

  1. Take the ferry to Coronado
  2. Wander the shops at Seaport Village
  3. Visit the museums at Balboa Park
  4. Hike Mount Woodson (aka Potato Chip Rock)
  5. Watch the sunset at Sunset Cliffs
  6. See the animals at the world famous San Diego Zoo
  7. Snorkel or kayak at La Jolla Cove
  8. Touch a starfish at the Birch Aquarium Tide Pools
  9. Take in the views at Torrey Pines State Beach
  10. Sit atop Kate Sessions Park for arguably the best view in San Diego

Catch your favorite artist or find a new favorite:

  1. San Diego House of Blues
  2. San Diego Open Air Theatre
  3. Sleeptrain Amphitheater
  4. Humphrey’s Concerts by the Bay

Go find the perfect study spot:

  1. Dunkin Donuts for those who miss home
  2. Lestat’s Coffee House
  3. The New Downtown San Diego Public Library
  4. Better Buzz
  5. The Living Room Coffeehouse
  6. Any beach spot!

Miscellaneous Adventures:

  1. Explore a Farmer’s Market Linda Vista, Ocean Beach, Little Italy, Hillcrest, or others!
  2. Watch a movie at the Santee Drive-in Theatre
  3. Visit the fascinating UCSD Stuart Collection
  4. Add to the “Before I Die” wall in Hillcrest
  5. Grab a photo in front of the famous and historic Hotel del Coronado




Tips for a Safe Spring Break!

Learn tips and tools for having a happy and healthy safe spring break at USD You’ve been working hard this semester and now you may be thinking, “Hey, I deserve a break!” Right when you need it most, Spring Break appears around the corner! Instantly, thoughts of palm trees, sun, and surf flicker through your mind… but before you toss your rainbows in your suitcase and say, “Bon Voyage,” let’s take a moment to think about making the most of your break. These tips will help make your Spring Break sweet and safe. Let’s create good memories!

Know Before You Go

If you’re planning to travel, organizing and mapping out plans can be very helpful. Rather than being stressed about how to get from point A to B the day before school lets out, consider setting aside some time beforehand to make a game plan. This doesn’t mean you have to plan every single detail; just ironing out pieces like how much money you plan to spend, what transportation you will use, hotel costs, and meeting places can help a ton. One of my personal favorite apps is Yelp, which gives peer reviews of restaurants and even occasionally has coupons! Trust me, your sanity will thank you for all your prep work. If you’re traveling to a foreign country or unfamiliar area, make sure you have a general sense of the lay of the land. Pay attention to traffic signs and familiarize yourself with the basic road laws. Research local emergency contacts and save them in your phone. 

Planning to use a ride-sharing app? Pay attention to the rating of the driver and be sure to verify their identity and the car before getting in. Also, wait inside for the app to notify you that the driver has arrived rather than waiting in an unsafe area. Finally, share your location with someone you trust!

Take Turns Behind the Wheel

If you will be driving for long periods with other people, try rotating drivers to keep everyone fresh and alert. Speaking from personal experience, I can devote myself to about two hours of quality driving. Fun tip: try letting the person driving at the time choose the playlist, this way you get an awesome mash up of songs to make the time fly by!

Protect Yourself from the Sun

Many Spring Break plans involve some serious time in the sun. Avoid ending up with a bad sunburn and the harmful effects later on by protecting yourself! Wear a sunscreen with at least SPF 30 and seek shade or cover-up as much as possible. Time in the sun is fun, just be careful as excessive sun exposure puts you at risk for serious skin conditions. Don’t forget your favorite shades – your eyes need protection, too!

Eat Healthy

When you’re busting out the Whip and Nae Nae on the dance floor, it’s best to have some pre-performance fuel. Honestly, it’ll make for better dance moves. Instead of stopping for fast food on the road or before you go out to explore the town, try considering some healthier options. Bring fruits and vegetables along with you or maybe even pack some items like nuts or a turkey sandwich for snack time; it’ll be healthier and your wallet will thank you. Don’t forget to keep yourself hydrated with lots of H20!

Stick Together

Keep an eye on your friends and form a buddy system. If one goes, you all go. Whether you’re relaxing at home with family and friends, or traveling to a new place, it’s important to keep track of everyone’s location. It’s easy to lose track of someone in the chaos of the dance floor. I get that no one wants to be a babysitter, but do you really want to be the one to explain to your friend’s parent how they ended up stranded?

Take it Slow

Spring Break is a time to have fun and relax – alcohol does not have to be involved. If you do choose to drink, however, be smart about it. Rather than chugging unidentified liquid from a sketchy looking water cooler, consider the safer alternatives. Be sure to make your own drinks, that way you know how much and what alcohol you’re consuming.  Also, determine the number of drinks you want to have over the course of the evening in advance and stick to your plan. Finally, alternate alcoholic drinks with water or non-alcoholic beverages to allow your body time to process the alcohol and stay hydrated. It’s all about being responsible and encouraging your friends to do the same!

Know When to Get Help

It’s okay to call in for some extra support when a situation gets out of hand. The most important thing is that everyone stays safe. If you feel you’re in a dangerous situation, call for help. If you are traveling internationally contact the State Department or the American Embassy of the country to get in contact with special services for American victims of crime abroad. Also, know that USD’s Student Wellness resources, including the counselor-on-call and CARE Advocates, are available 24/7 for students on or off campus by calling Public Safety at (619) 260-2222. The National Sexual Assault Hotline (800-656-HOPE) is also available for anyone impacted by sexual violence.

Spring break should be rejuvenating, fun, and a memorable time in your college experience. Get back in one piece, well rested enough to pick up where you left off, and ready to crush those finals!

Connecting on Campus – A How to Guide

A how to guide for connecting at the University of San Diego

Congrats! You’ve made it through the fall semester rush. Chances are, you know your way around campus, you’ve learned a lot of content in your classes, and you’ve made some new friends since starting at USD. If you have been here just one semester or this is your last semester at USD, I’m guessing that you have a general understanding of the ins and outs of campus, BUT things could be better. So what’s next on the list? Creating a legacy on campus? Taking the student-body by storm? Well, maybe not… How about we start small and talk about connecting on campus in new ways? I’ve been here for four years and I still don’t know everything that our campus offers, but I can give you a good idea of some places to start!

Join a Club: As bad as this might sound, it wasn’t until my senior year that I discovered Torero Orgs, USD’s club registry. It’s a magical list of all the organizations on campus ranging from the Astrology Club to the Basement Society. Try scoping the list for any organizations within your major or any that compliment your personality. Are you passionate about political causes? Well, there is a club for that! Get out there! Share your beliefs, change a few minds, and gain a new perspective. It’s a win-win situation for everyone! In the event that you find that the club of your dreams is not listed, then step up and start your own organization.

Stay Plugged into Social Media: Let’s be real, your phone is usually glued to your hand. How about we use this to your advantage? Instead of mindlessly scrolling through your timeline, giggling at cat videos, how about you like a USD page or two? A good one would be the page for your class year. For example, USD Class of 2019. It’ll give you a chance to get a good of idea of who’s in your class, while also keeping you up to date on different campus happenings. Many clubs and organizations on campus use social media as their way to communicate important information about meetings and new developments. There’s a page for literally everything USD, with limitless opportunities to stay connected while getting another like or two on your profile picture in the process.

Join a Fraternity or Sorority: USD has a large, well-established Greek community. By joining a sorority or fraternity, you can meet a LOT of really great people who can become life-long friends. Going Greek is also a great way to develop your leadership skills, serve the community through philanthropy, and to get connected to a large network of members beyond USD. It may seem a little intimidating at first, but take the plunge with an open mind and I think you could find lots of benefits from this wonderful community!

Get on an Intramural Team: It’s all the fun of being on a sports team without the headache of going to consistent practices! Imagine a bunch of your closest friends crushing your fellow classmates in a soccer game. Sounds fun, doesn’t it? It’s also another way to stay in shape playing the game you love. Don’t let your dream slip away; keep it alive, whether it be by playing lacrosse, baseball, volleyball, basketball, or flag football. There are endless opportunities for you to strut your stuff, while also getting to know the person on the other side of the net! Jump in, even if you’ve never played the sport before. That’s the beauty of intramurals; it serves as an avenue to try something new without the pressure of a competitive atmosphere. Get the ball rolling and check out the Campus Recreation website to get more info!

Hit up some On-Campus Events: The Torero Program Board and other organizations work hard to plan great events that will give you the chance to make connections on campus and in the surrounding community. Be on the lookout for events that will take you to Mission Beach, Little Italy, or even Disneyland. Even if the event being put on isn’t your ideal way of spending time, check it out anyway. Try to keep an open-mind and remember that every event serves as a chance to meet new friends. For example, head to a campus movie night in front of the SLP, the BSU Poetry Slam, or even a small mixer put on by your RA. If you’re feeling really adventurous think about making the trek over to the JCP to cheer on your fellow Torero sports teams. It’ll give you a chance to let out some of that pent up post-midterm aggression by heckling some of our opponents. Not only will it help boost your school spirit, but it will also make you feel more at home on campus. And a plus… everyone will love you for it!

Get a Job on Campus: Who wouldn’t want some extra cash to put towards their tuition? I’ve been lucky to have several jobs on campus. It’s a great way to make new friends and you never know what professors or administrative staff you might have the opportunity to begin connecting with outside of class. Plus working on campus has its own set of perks. They are great at accommodating your class schedule and understand what it’s like to be a student balancing multiple demands. In the process of working you also gain knowledge about campus services and events going on. Lastly, with an on-campus job comes free food! You never know when there might be a stray cupcake or leftover pizza on the office counter. So be on the lookout for upcoming student employment opportunities and when one comes your way make sure to apply ASAP!

Find the Crowds: No idea where to begin? Start frequenting campus hotspots. It’s the law of numbers; the more people, the more connections that are bound to happen. Try the Student Life Pavilion, where you’ll find tons of students, waiting in the pasta or American line for their next meal. Catch someone in between their 2nd and 3rd course and strike up a conversation. If the SLP isn’t your scene, try Aromas Cafe. There you’ll have the ambiance on your side. Slide into a comfy chair next to someone and compliment their choice of a double pump, non-fat, sugar-free Chai Tea Latte.

Lastly, in your quest for connecting, it helps to figure out what you’re passionate about. it’ll serve as a beacon, and help you maximize your time here at USD. No need to get super narrow, just a general idea of what peaks your interest will help a lot. Are you looking to make social connections? To make a change? To build your academic skills? After drawing up a quick sketch of what you want to accomplish, keep your ears to the ground. Odds are, that exact opportunity may present itself. Lastly, GO! Once that event catches your attention – go to it, worse case scenario you leave with some food and a couple words of caution/wisdom to pass on to your roommates! Often it can take several tries to find people you connect with, so don’t give up if the first new connection you try isn’t a great fit.

The Goodness of Vulnerability

Take some time to connect at USD When attending a small private university, odds are you’re going to run into the same people on a consistent basis. There’s beauty in that though; the fact that I can walk from Maher to the UC’s, and ALWAYS be stopped somewhere in between to chat or exchange a quick hug is very comforting. I feel fortunate that I get stopped several times throughout the day because it’s a reminder of how hard I’ve worked to maintain the relationships that have blessed my life.

While some of these relationships just sort of happened, most of them required a little more work than a message on Facebook or “sliding into someone’s DM’s.” It took actual face-to-face communication and more coffee dates than I can even count. “Wow! Face-to-face communication? What is a face? What is communication?” It’s sad when you realize that good rhetoric and simply sitting down and making conversation are forgotten arts, a mere illusion to a time that once was. When did speaking from the heart and emotionally connecting with the rest of the world become so antiquated?

Sorry, I’m just so “busy.” I hear this a lot from people these days, but what does that mean? Are people “busy” because they accidently spent 30 minutes checking their social media and now have to catch up on school work? Or are they “busy” because the very act of sitting down, looking into someone’s eyes, listening, and conversing has now become a phobia plaguing our generation? If I had to give an answer to this, I’d say it’s a little of both.

Face-to-face communication is something we think we don’t have time for nor are we comfortable in doing. Instead, we rely on a host of social media platforms to avoid this dilemma. We give ourselves the illusion that we are forming “strong” relationships and getting to know people for who they really are. We live in a #nofilter world, yet have become so comfortable  living in an alternate reality, that filters begin to surface here too, not just in the confines of our Instagram photos.  Long story short, here’s what I’m really trying to get at: our generation has become so afraid of being vulnerable with one another that it prevents us from truly getting to know all of the wonderful people around us. Every day on campus, you may pass by the same guy or girl, but due to our crippling fear of communication, you neglect to converse with that person. And what’s scary is that that person could be a best friend or a significant other just waiting to enter your life, but you’re never going to know because you didn’t have the guts to say “Hi” or “How are you?”

Now, I’m not urging you to go out and say “Hi” to literally every person on the street with a pulse. But I think there’s a difference between asking the rote “How are you?” and the thought-provoking “How are you, really?” The latter is more empathetic and asks the individual in question to open up and become a bit more vulnerable.


It’s such a powerful and anxiety-producing word. It’s so easy to encourage someone to put themselves out there, but in actuality it takes so much practice. But, once we make that giant leap of faith and break through  surface level conversation to the deep inner levels of a person, you quickly begin to see that the risk was worth it. The fears that you had before becoming vulnerable somehow melt away as you unveil the hidden gem that is the soul of the person sitting in front of you. You find someone that is either so akin to you or the polar opposite, providing you with an awesome and entirely new perspective. And it’s crazy to think that it all started with “hello.” Adele would be so proud.

The definition of ‘vulnerable,’ according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is having the ability to be physically and emotionally wounded. I think the biggest issue that people have with vulnerability is that they view it as putting your weaknesses and the darkest parts of yourself on display. We believe these parts are embarrassingly unforgettable and warrant judgment from the outside world the minute we let them in. On the contrary, I think there’s immense strength in showing your scars, because this is all part of the human experience. Being sad is human, being happy is human, and having flaws is human. I think we’re missing some of this humanness in the world and it starts with being able to ask someone “Not how are you, but how are you really?”  Give someone the opportunity to share their experience with you. Everyone has a story that is waiting to be told, and they’re desperately waiting for the right person to come along to listen.

This blog is a small window into the benefits of vulnerability and communication. I encourage you to be vulnerable because it’s such an amazing skill to have and will equip you with the ability to form fulfilling, long-lasting relationships. For me, getting comfortable with vulnerability, happened through a slow, ‘baby-steps’ process. I recommend you start with random acts of kindness, like complimenting a stranger or helping someone find their way on campus. Odds are the other person is just as afraid of speaking up as you are, so they’ll be happy that you made the first move. Self-disclosure is a beautiful thing, so make the effort. Take risks, do something scary every day and be your beautiful, unfiltered self. That self is so much more loved and appreciated by the people around you than any variation of yourself you could ever imagine. Get out there! You’ll never truly know who you could meet or what kind of conversation you’ll strike up that could change your life forever.


Life after Living Abroad

Did you study abroad last semester? Imagine traveling to a magical land filled with endless amounts of espresso and croissants. You’re surrounded by beautiful people and architecture and casually stumble upon one of the Seven Wonders of the World – the Eiffel Tower. This magical land is called Paris and I had the incredible opportunity of traveling and studying abroad there this summer.

As a Communication Studies major, having the chance to take a course in Paris was a once in a lifetime experience. It wasn’t just the course; it was being in a foreign country, roaming the streets, finding historical buildings, pretending to be Parisian on the metro and eating endless amounts of bread that all contributed to an irreplaceable experience.

My initial nervousness being in a foreign country faded and the culture shock turned into excitement. I got used to my new life and somehow the idea of leaving a country that was once foreign to me, became one of the most difficult parts of my study abroad experience.

If you have ever studied abroad or plan to in the near future, my experience is that while a great adventure awaits, there also be the hardship of the experience ending and returning home.

Transitioning to life after my experience abroad was harder than I thought it would be. To start, let’s talk about the jet-lag that robbed my body of energy as soon as I returned. I swear I slept for a week straight and most of my friends thought I didn’t make it back because I wasn’t answering their texts. I thought I’d be able to win the war against jet-lag but quickly found out I was very wrong. Along with the drowsiness came confusion–hopping in my car to go run errands and discovering I was on the opposite side of the steering wheel made me feel like I was in Driver’s Ed all over again. Sometimes I even realized I was handing a barista euros trying to pay for my coffee! And while we are on the subject, can I just acknowledge how strong, powerful, and bold the espresso is across the pond and how it’s completely irreplaceable here in the states?! It’s fascinating and disheveling to once again re-insert oneself into the ebbs and flows of life back in the U.S.

Have no fear, I’m here to help explore some of the main challenges of life after living abroad:

  1. Know that you are not alone…many students miss being abroad!

There’s something so beautiful about being able to call a foreign country home after just a few weeks. It’s so easy to create a routine in these foreign lands, and find a home away from home. As creatures of habit, saying goodbye to a routine proves to be quite difficult. What helped me was realizing that I could once again fall back into old routines, and even make new ones back home in the good old U S of A. With that being said, it is still okay to acknowledge the longing for the way things were. I found it helpful to remember that my peers who went abroad with me were having these same feelings of withdrawal and the urge to drop everything and catch the next plane to Europe was overwhelming for more than just me. Catching up with these friends and sharing memories as well as getting this close to buying a one way ticket helped me relieve some of the sadness of being back home.

  1. There is no “right” timeline for adjusting.

Everyone is different in how both they cope and how long it takes them to adjust from being abroad. It truly varies for everyone. For some, it can take as little as a week or two to readjust to their routine. While for others, a whole semester can be needed to get things back in order. Either way it’s completely normal. It could also depend on whether you’re coming back from an intersession or semester program. Both intersession and semester program students equally have their own challenges of finding their place back home. Don’t be in a hurry to get rid of the nostalgic feelings.

  1. Make a list.

As I started to pack my suitcase to head back home to the motherland, I made a list of what I loved most about my time in Paris as well as one that said what I missed about home. I used it as a reminder of the comforts that I forgot while living a European life of luxury. I know when I was abroad; good Mexican food was what my heart and soul ached for. But more importantly, I missed our campus and all the amazing people on it. I even really missed the Tu Mercado sandwiches.

  1. Be adventurous.

When I was living abroad, phrases like, “Oh, I’m heading to Barcelona for the weekend,” or “I’m just taking the train to London for the day,” became weirdly commonplace. Traveling abroad is so simple that I took it for granted, and once I got back home I ached for the adventures I was just having. The spirit of wanderlust took me on a wild ride and I couldn’t help but say yes to everything. When I got back home, I really tried to carry on that sense of adventure. It’s easy to become bored of our hometown because it feels like we have seen and done it all, but challenge yourself; find a new place – a coffee shop or a park to journey to. Yes, it might not be as grand as Monet’s gardens, but the curiosity and excitement of discovering something new is all the same.

  1. Recognize that things change.

Whether we want it to or not the world keeps spinning, and things change. Coming back from abroad, I felt out of place with friends who used to be my closest confidants. A lot happens on campus while we are away and the FOMO (fear of missing out) can really take its toll. But the same goes for students who decided to stay at USD–the ones who have been watching Snapchat stories of their friends frolicking through Italy with gelato in hand at all hours of the day are feeling like they missed out on something as well. We should ask ourselves how we can better relate when our experiences have been so entirely different? It starts with respecting everyone’s experiences, whether someone chooses to study abroad for a semester or a couple weeks, or to not to study abroad at all. Remember that everyone’s experience is unique and valuable, so embrace these differences by talking about what both experiences were like and how they felt. It will strengthen relationships and provide both parties with new and exciting perspectives. This can even lead to finding a new similarity within the differences of where we chose to spend our summer or semester. For example, even though abroad experiences may differ, there are consistent aspects of life that will always be the same: venting about challenging classes, giggling over cute classmates, or discussing ever-present roommate problems.

  1. Know the resources.

Sometimes we all need a little help finding our place  and that’s okay. USD is home to a lot of great resources that are always available to us. The International Studies Abroad office knows how to connect students who may feel disconnected after their return. The Center for Health and Wellness Promotion as well as the Counseling Center are two great places to find support – offices that provide for the emotional and physical well-being of students. Sometimes it just helps to talk, and these are all people who are here to listen.

Studying abroad is wonderful experience. And as with all things that come to an end it may be hard to say goodbye. Remember, coming back home doesn’t mean forgetting all the memories and friends – now I have the best of both worlds; a home away from home, and hundreds of pictures to prove it.

How to Have a Safe and Fun Halloween

Safe Halloween options at USDHalloween is best known for scary creatures, chocolate and candy, pumpkins, costumes, and more candy.  I’ll get down with Milky Ways and Kit-Kats but Halloween has never been my favorite holiday. Maybe it’s because I’ve never been attracted to horror films or it might be because it pains me to see so many people I know getting in trouble with alcohol on this particular night. Halloween is meant to be an enjoyable time spent with friends, bonding over your love for all things spooky and delicious, but many people take partying too far. Don’t get me wrong, of course you’re supposed to have fun, but does alcohol always need to be a prerequisite for it? Safe can be fun too, so here are the top 5 tips to keep in mind in order to have safe, yet memorable Halloweekend.

1. Explore Halloween activities in San Diego.

Aside from trick-or-treating, there’s a myriad of activities that you can partake in on Halloween, that don’t involve alcohol. San Diego’s largest haunted attraction is The Scream Zone featuring haunted houses and hayrides. The Gasplamp Quarter in downtown San Diego has their annual haunted house, The Haunted Hotel, which will not disappoint. The Haunted Trail of Balboa Park is also another scary attraction.

Want to stay on campus but not sure what’s happening?  Torero Program Board is hosting a “TPB Takeover” on Friday (10/30/15) at 7pm at the Valley Circle. Residential Life is hosting a number of Halloween Happenings across campus on Saturday (10/31/15) including movies at 7:30pm in Camino/Founders Lounges, 8pm in the UC Forums and Missions Crossroads, and 9pm in the Palomar Lounge.  For more information on these events please contact Residential Life at 619-260-4777.

Not looking to be scared, (aren’t mid-terms scary enough?), opt to volunteer at a local Trunk or Treat/Halloween carnival right up Linda Vista.

2. Trick-or-treat

Alcohol and partying aren’t the only forms of fun on Halloween. Remember the good old days when you were a kid and would get dressed up, thinking you were so cool, stay out late at night (more like ‘til 8 pm),  scavenge for candy, and then come back home to marvel at your winnings? Who says you can’t still do that? You might get some weird looks from parents and little kids, but who cares? Find a nearby neighborhood, take your roommates and go have a wild night searching for the best Halloween candy.

3. Don’t be scared, travel with a buddy

On the night of Halloween, you are surrounded by some pretty freaky stuff. Even though there may be a lot of distracting activities and large groups of people, don’t be fooled into thinking it’s safe to walk alone at night; the powers of ghosts and ghouls will not protect you. Make sure to travel with a close friend or someone you trust as you head out for the night. Maybe even coordinate your costumes so that you are meant to stay together for the night.

 4. Eat before going out (food, not chocolate)

If you are planning on going out, and you choose to drink, practice some safe drinking strategies. It is important that you eat a solid meal. Did you know that if you wear a costume to chipotle you can get a $3 boorito? Also, be aware of standard drink sizes and try to keep track of how much you’ve drank throughout the night. Keep it classy and avoid any cups or tubs of “Halloween Punch,” since no one knows what’s been in there. Lastly, Pace ‘N Space your drinks, instead of chugging try alternating your drinks with glasses of water and maybe a couple pieces of candy.

5. Have a Plan

While you eat your boorito discuss with your friends the plan for having a safe ride home. For example, how are you going to get home and who’s the DD? BUT,  What if one of you gets separated from the group? *Clue in Dark Music* What happens then? Well you’re in luck, USD has a safe ride program called College Cab to get you away from the vampires and werewolves and back onto campus safely. Know your options; don’t get caught in the dead of the night with only Dracula to keep you company.

So there you have it. You have a burritos, haunted houses, candy, and one awesome plan to make your Halloween a night you can remember. Keep it classy and be safe out there this Halloween, Toreros.


7 Tips for Giving an Awesome Presentation

Overcome your fear of public speaking!

What better way to quell your fear of public speaking than by taking a public speaking course? “It will be fun,” they said. A couple weeks later, I found myself in front of a bunch of strangers, regretting not wearing deodorant and clutching onto my notecards for dear life.

My plan was to write out my speech on a stack of notecards while alternating glances strategically enough so that my teacher wouldn’t notice that I was reading straight from my notecards.

Needless to say, the first presentation didn’t go so well, but as they say – what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. So, here are 7 tried and true tips from someone who struggled (and prevailed!) through a semester of presenting weekly.

  1. Start in advance. Presentation making is a process of devising, revising, and rehearsing. Take your audience on a journey and with every journey lies a very well planned beginning and end. Plus, the extra practice will make you a whole lot more comfortable on the big (presentation) day!
  2. Be concise. Don’t tell us everything there is to know about a particular topic. Instead talk about the parts that are particularly salient to you. And of course convince your audience why they should care as well.
  3. When writing out your speech think about how your favorite actor might approach his or her new movie role. If you’re Sofia Vergara, Johnny Depp, or Denzel Washington odds are you’re going to add your own personal flair to the script. It’s called improvising and this is the mindset you should have when jotting down what you want to say to your audience. Form an outline hitting key themes, ideas, and phrases that your audience needs to know, but avoid pigeonholing yourself into scripted dialogue. It’s best to keep things natural; if you’ve memorized your presentation to a tee, it robs the audience of the natural dialogue and the flow that a great presentation needs.
  4. Know your audience. Think about it… How might you present to a class of 5th graders compared to a group of parents? To point you in the right direction, try gauging how much your audience knows about your topic. Using technical language may lose your audience; however, watering down your slides may also cause you to lose effectiveness by making your presentation seem repetitive.
  5. Craft an awesome opener. If you’ve always been the class clown, crack a couple of jokes relevant to your topic. If comedy isn’t your strong suit then go for an interactive opener like a relevant quote or an interesting fact. Ask how many people have heard about the topic and what they know about it. You could even start with telling a story or personal experience. Telling a story is something you always have and doesn’t have to be memorized because it’s a part of you and makes your presentation more conversational.
  6. Use a visual aid. A PowerPoint or a poster can give your audience something to look at and can enhance what you’re talking about by providing a picture to the message. It can also take some of the edge off of presenting; if your audience has something to look at less of their focus will be on you. But, be careful not to use this as a crutch. Visual Aids are supplements meant to enhance the presentation, while reading directly from the PowerPoint detracts from your presentation’s effectiveness.
  7. Be confident. I’ve given countless presentations with a miniature earthquake shaking inside of me and my audience was none the wiser. Remember, no matter how nervous you seem on the inside, your audience can’t see that. Focus on keeping your tone consistent, stick to the script, and even if you get stuck, keep pushing forward.

By following all of these steps, you too can unflinchingly give a speech about Kim Kardashian’s rise to fame for your final grade, woo the uninterested masses and shown them that regardless of your topic, you came to shine.


Balancing Athletics and Academics

Academics and athletics - how to manage your timeThe first semester of your freshman year is one of the most challenging adjustment periods; a lot of the time-management strategies you developed in high school just don’t work. Practices are longer, classes are more time consuming, and your days feel like they are getting shorter. It may seem like you’re starting from scratch developing the most basic time-management skills, but a lot of the skills you’ve learned on the court or the field can help you successfully tackle life’s demands.

Prior to hammering out a study schedule it’s important to be a leader and take charge of your class schedule early on. If after getting your syllabus and consulting with people who have previously taken the class, you feel the class may be too difficult for you to handle then let your academic advisor know. Try taking it on it in the off-season when you have more time.

Although it sounds simple, it may be easier said than done to know when a class may be too much. As athletes we’re told to always confront a challenge, but sometimes you have to pick and choose your battles. My advice is to be knowledgeable about your strengths and weakness and bring them to your athletic and preceptorial advisor’s attention. Make your athletic and academic advisors your best friends. You know yourself, but they have the mechanisms to make the journey a bit easier. For example, they can assist with your credit load. If possible, try to take 4 courses during season, 5 in the off-season, and 1 course during the summer. Having more manageable course loads will really free up some time to devote to your sport and social activities.

Once you’ve locked down your class schedule try getting a visual organizer, like a corkboard or agenda. After you’ve received all of your syllabi write down any important due dates for exams, papers, quizzes, or homework. From there identify any problem areas, where you may have multiple exams or papers due in one week or times when you are traveling and have things due. Come up with a plan of action, it may be as simple as starting that paper a week early. For things like making up exams try to build a relationship with your professor. A lot of them are more understanding then you might think. You may find they’re more lenient with paper and exam dates if you are friendly and let them know in advance that you’re traveling.

Now for developing and sticking to a studying schedule. You have the ability to make it to practice on time, right? Of course, you have to. Why not use your ability to be punctual and disciplined enough to make it to practice for studying? Think about your studying schedule as mandatory practices to help you gear up for game time. Also keep in mind that you want to create a study schedule for yourself with some flexibility. Things pop up all the time in athletics, like an impromptu coach meeting or team activity, same with your studies. An assignment may take longer than you expected, or you may not be able to concentrate as long on an activity as you planned.

Effective time management skills require you to know what’s best for you! When do you study most effectively? Where do you get the most done? If you are not a morning person, scheduling time to study at 7 a.m. might not be the best time to plan on getting things done. The same can be said for location. Studying for a final at the Student Life Pavilion or Missions Café could present a lot of distractions. Try finding a place to study that’s somewhere quiet yet comfortable; like the top floor of SOLES or downstairs in the UC.

Just like college, developing time-management skills is all about trial and error. So don’t be too hard on yourself. After coming out of high school as valedictorian and receiving my first semester GPA, I was left cringing for months. It’s okay. Being an athlete is hard. Find out what works for you and implement some changes to continually boost your GPA semester after semester.


The $16,000 cocktail

Don't drink and drive!

You drive to Taco Tuesday to meet some friends for dinner and drinks after class. You spend about an hour and a half hanging out and eating, and before you know it you’ve had 2 margaritas. You think to yourself that you’ve had an entire basket of chips and a few tacos and you feel totally fine to drive home. Beware of this $16,000 cocktail. To legally drive, your BAC must be below 0.08 if you are 21 and over. You may not even feel buzzed, but those 2 margaritas could have easily raised your Blood Alcohol Content to a .09, which is still considered a DUI, and is no different legally than if you had a BAC of .20. Having a few drinks with dinner can be especially deceptive, because you will likely not be intoxicated enough to feel it. Always plan to have a designated driver, and do some research on how alcohol influences your Blood Alcohol Content so that you can make an educated guess about yours. Most importantly, do not risk it. You’ll never regret taking a cab or calling a friend, but the consequences of getting a DUI are steep.

In 2013, the Automobile Club of Southern California calculated that a first-offense misdemeanor DUI conviction can now cost up to $15,649 in California. The penalties are even higher for teenagers. The expense of an under-age-21 first-offense misdemeanor DUI is up to $22,492.

If you are convicted of a California DUI charge, a drunk driving charge will result in a variety of DUI costs and consequences in California, including:

  • Loss of your drivers license in CA for at least one year (perhaps longer)
  • The loss of your driver’s license could restrict you from getting to your place of work, or obtain future employment opportunities. Also, if your position requires you drive you might lose your job.
  • You have to pay for anything the judge orders you to do. If you get an ignition interlock device, there are many costs associated with installation, monitoring, and removal. In addition, you will have to pay for court mandated alcohol education classes, and renewing your license.
  • A conviction of a DUI will cause your CA car insurance payments to increase. Also, if you are in an accident and are convicted of driving under the influence, the insurance company could cause issues with payment.

While those two margaritas may seem like no big deal, the moment you see red and blue lights pulling you over, it is a very big deal. If you have any doubts about your ability to legally drive, take a cab back to campus for about $7, and save yourself $15,649.00. . .you do the math.



Give a Hoot about your Health

Give a hoot about your health at USDHealth is a component of well being which requires regular maintenance in our lives. Even the seemingly insignificant habits we create for ourselves can have a significant cumulative effect on our health. Health is impacted by the small choices we make throughout the day: From our first meal of the day to the time of night we hit the hay.

Most of us identify health as a priority, and desire to maintain our health as we age. School, work, and other commitments can keep us busy, and even though we know health is a lifelong priority, it often takes a backseat to our more pressing demands.

As we enter the final stretch of the semester, we may be tempted to fall into some unhealthy habits to unwind and distract ourselves. It’s easy to get wrapped up in a new season of Netflix, stay up late cramming with caffeine and sugary snacks, focus on unnecessary tasks like deep cleaning and reorganizing, or giving up our exercise practices to make more time to study.

No matter what you juggle, it is important to give your body and mind the thoughtful attention and awareness they deserve. When you submit those final papers or exams, we want to make sure you’ve been maintaining your healthy habits so that you can begin your summer feeling accomplished, energized, and worry-free.

We came up with this nifty list of tips to help you build and practice some easy, healthy habits:

  1. Eat Well: When you wake up, eat something nutritious. Opt for high-fiber cereal, fresh fruit, and a hard-boiled egg. The better the meal, the better you’ll feel, thus helping your energy and ability to focus. Healthy snacks will energize you and you will avoid a sugar crash.
  1. Breathe and Relax: Take a moment and make sure you are breathing deeply. Oxygen flowing to your muscles will keep them from tensing. Relax by quickly stretching your entire body; this will take just two minutes and can really help you relax.
  1. Exercise: You might think you don’t have time for exercise—think again! Exercise helps you focus. It gives you additional energy, and it releases endorphins to make you feel better.
  1. Get plenty of rest: The night before a final, go to bed early! Staying up all night to cram is not helpful. Study an hour or so before bed, and then take some time to relax before you go to bed for the night. A good night’s sleep will help you feel refreshed for your finals.



We also have plenty of resources on campus to help! Stop by the Center for Health and Wellness Promotion in UC 161 if you’d like more tips on staying healthy!

Sleepless in San Diego – Sleep Management Tips

Sleep Management tipsWe are a generation of college students who flaunt our busy schedules, our Venti iced coffees, and our all-nighters like a badge of honor. If I were to “complain” (AKA brag) to a friend that I only got five hours of sleep last night, they would likely one-up me and say, “I’ve only gotten four for the last two nights.” I would honestly be impressed and feel like a bit of slacker for giving myself that extra hour.

We have been raised in a society that values busyness and productivity, and we pride ourselves on taking on as many responsibilities and commitments as we can handle. Many of us are juggling classes, jobs, internships, relationships, community service, family, and social commitments, AND trying to make the most of our college years. Exhaustion is a constant state of being, but we put it on the back burner and keep on going.

According to the Palo Alto Sleep Foundation, sacrificing sleep may seem like a short-term solution, but sleep is absolutely critical to our long-term health and well being. Our minds and bodies need 7-9 hours of sleep each night, and if we continuously deny our bodies those hours, we are accumulating a sleep debt that causes immediate and long-term consequences.


  • Anxiety
  • Drowsiness
  • Distractibility
  • Decreased performance and alertness
  • Memory and cognitive impairment
  • Stressed relationships


  • High blood pressure
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Obesity
  • Psychiatric problems including depression and mood disorders

Despite the fact that poor sleep habits have some alarming consequences, college students have a hard time getting adequate sleep. 22.2% of USD undergraduates report that a lack of sleep has impacted their performance in class, or their GPA at some time in college (NCHA Health Survey 2014). Fortunately, good sleep habits can be cultivated as easily as healthy eating habits, exercise habits, and study habits. If we choose to make sleep a priority, we can begin to build a lifetime of healthy sleep patterns. Here are some tips for achieving a healthy sleep routine, and getting a good night’s sleep:

  1. Stick to a sleep schedule. Try to maintain a set bedtime and wake up time, even on the weekends to help regulate your body’s clock.
  2. Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual. Put away homework, phones and computer screens, and separate your sleep time from activities that can cause excitement, stress or anxiety. Take a hot shower, read a book, do some yoga, and allow yourself to unwind.
  3. Exercise daily. Vigorous and moderate exercise will tire you out, and help you to get a great night’s sleep. Just try to avoid exercise late in the evening, as it wakes your body up and makes it hard to fall asleep.
  4. Create your space. Design your sleep environment to establish the best conditions for sleep. Try to keep your room cool and free of noises that can disturb your sleep.
  5. If you can’t sleep, go into another room and do something relaxing until you feel tired. Check out these meditation exercises for a quick way to relax.
  6. Avoid alcohol and heavy meals in the evening. Digestion can cause discomfort and take away from a restorative night’s sleep, and alcohol causes you to fall asleep faster, but prevents your body from going into restorative REM sleep cycles (National Sleep Foundation.)

The University of San Diego has many resources on campus where you can learn more about the importance of sleep. For more information, and tips on improving your sleep hygiene, check out our page on Sleep Management, or visit the Center for Health and Wellness Promotion in UC 161.


The Top-Secret Trick to Increase your GPA

Increase your GPA

It’s hard to believe that letters on a piece of paper hold so much importance. What happened to high-fives and sticker charts? Shouldn’t we all get a trophy? Unfortunately, as we progress through school, grades begin to take on more serious implications. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to maintain good grades, because they can directly impact our future. Fortunately, academic success is largely determined by our individual efforts, which means that in theory, anyone who is willing to put in the effort can earn top grades.

But let’s be real: sometimes life happens and the grades seem to be dropping from the top of the alphabet towards the bottom! Although this isn’t the best-case scenario, it is natural for grades to slip when something else becomes a bigger priority. This is when a magical thing called office hours becomes handy. Office hours are a mystical college resource often overlooked or outright avoided. Believe it or not, professors set aside several hours each week when they are located in their respective offices and are available to help discuss grades, clarify questions, or just talk. More often than not, they just sit and wait. Office hours tend to get busy right before a mid-term or final, but they are a chronically underutilized resource most of the semester.

There are a few steps to follow for a successful conversation about a grade that could have a significant impact when it comes to an increase on your GPA.

  1. Determine if you have a basis to ask your professor for a grade review. You have to make sure you understand the professor’s point of view when it comes to grading. A professor is not going to change a grade unless there is a very legitimate reason, or if the grade was miscalculated.
  2. Make an appointment with the professor to discuss how you got the grade and how you may be able to avoid getting that type of grade on the next assignment. Professors encourage you to be proactive, and like to help prevent you from getting a poor grade in the first place.
  3. Prepare for your meeting. Go back into your lecture notes or your syllabus, and be sure to know the material well or know what the professor was looking for.
  4. Be courteous and professional with your professor. Do not be accusatory or claim you deserve a better grade. Do not accuse the professor of favoritism by starting with the line “I did the same thing my friend did in the class and got a lower grade.”
  5. Emphasize that you want to make sure you want to catch any problems before the next exam or paper is due. It will show the professor that you are not there just to complain.
  6. Highlight specific areas of concern and ask for an explanation of what went wrong.

True, talking to a teacher about an unsatisfactory grade is often a daunting task, but what exactly are the professors here for? To teach and help us succeed! Developing professional relationships with your professors can build a lot of credibility and go a long way. Most professors are compassionate and understanding if you are going through personal difficulties, and will make accommodations if you reach out to them early and openly. Do not wait until you are failing to seek support. As cheesy as that sounds, it’s completely true. It’s better to talk to them and work out a strategy to raise the grade rather than spend the next couple semesters staring at that unfortunate letter that forever resides on your transcripts.



Redefining the Designated Driver

Designated DriverDo you like spending the weekends with your friends, being both social and productive, enjoying your days as much as your nights, and making sure that your friends all get home safely? Then I have the perfect job for you: The designated driver. This position requires immense amounts of patience, a good attitude, a BAC of .00, a valid driver’s license, and a motor vehicle.

Being the DD is extremely underrated. Sometimes perceived as a hassle or an annoyance, the designated driver actually gets to experience the best parts of the night, without having to worry about finding a safe ride home, being out extremely late, or having to nurse a hangover. If you want to go out with friends who are choosing to drink, but are not feeling up to drinking yourself, offering to be the DD is the perfect compromise.

Acting as the DD, you are putting yourself in a position to go out and socialize, maintain alertness, meet new friends, keep an eye on your friends, and decide when it is time to head home. The DD holds the power! Everyone loves you, and the best part is that you’ll be able to wake up early the next morning, clear-headed and energized to spend the day working on homework, enjoying the beach, or hiking around San Diego.

Being the Designated Driver does mean that you are taking on more responsibility for the night, and you may spend some time tracking down your friends, but there are a lot of benefits too. One unforeseen bonus of being a DD is that oftentimes your friends will want some late night snacks, and the designated driver is often paid in free meals, (or if you’re lucky, trident layers). Many people also like to pay it forward, and will offer to be the DD next time you go out. It is important to always have a plan for safe transportation at the end of a night. Whether you are attending a party, having a few drinks with dinner, or playing trivia at the local sports bar, you’ll need a sober ride home and taking turns being the DD is a responsible, free, convenient plan.

At the end of the night, it comes down to two things. First, the story. Since the beginning of designated driving, DDs have experienced countless adventures. These stories are often unbelievable, but I assure you, the tales are true and they are enjoyable to re-tell. Second, and most importantly, you were a good friend, and you did your part to help make the USD community safer. It’s nice to know that you were there for your friends as they would be for you. Also, now they owe you a ride, which I recommend cashing in for that 6 AM flight.



Simple Strategies for Overcoming Homesickness

How to overcome homesicknessAt this point you are about a month into the fall semester and the “honeymoon” is all but over. Maybe part of you is questioning why you even moved away from home. You are looking at your calendar and realizing you won’t be going back for a visit for another two months. This is the longest you have ever been away and a sense of sadness may be settling in. You miss your family, friends, home cooked meals, your bed, your dog, a shower where you don’t have to wear sandals and most importantly your PRIVACY! I probably left a few things out but you get the idea.

The bottom line… you are homesick.

First of all, I want to tell you that this feeling is completely normal and most first year students (and even some upperclassmen!) are feeling and thinking the exact same thing. People may not be talking about it but everyone is going through something right now. Another thing I can tell you is that this feeling will go away. It just takes time. You have to find your groove and your place in this new community you now call home. Here are a few ideas to help get you started overcoming homeskickness:

  1. Get Involved: Joining clubs on campus will help you meet new people who share similar interests .No one will ever be able to replace your high school friends and the special bond you share but having a support group in college is important. While it may take some time to make these new connections and it is not as easy for some people to put themselves out there, try not to get discouraged! It will happen in time.
  2. Maintain Contact with Family and Friends: Just because you are away from home, it does not mean you have to miss out on what is going on in your family and friends lives Talk to them about the new people you are meeting and ask them about their new friends. Remember to send a quick text message to your family when you think of them, a Snapchat to your best friend when you see something that reminds you of them or a status update on Facebook about all the new things you are doing.
  3. Try to Avoid Going Home Every Weekend: This can be a hard one but it is important to do. Each time you go home, you are starting all over again with adjusting to your new environment. Sticking it out is really the best way to get over homesickness. The more you can be at school making new connections, the easier the transition will be. This is not to say that you should not go home but allowing yourself some time to adjust to your new environment is important and does take time and effort.
  4. Talk with Others about Your Feelings: There is a good chance that others are feeling the same way and having that support can be very comforting. It is always nice having someone who understands what you are going through. Homesickness hurts but it does get better.
  5. Make your dorm room or apartment feel like home: Bring pictures, posters, pillows or scents that remind you of home. It is important to make your room feel like YOU and a place you can go to reenergize.

Remember, everyone moves at their own pace and it may take some time to get used to being in a new environment. Be patient with yourself and allow yourself time to adjust.

If you feel like you need extra help making connections on campus, please call Student Wellness at (619) 260-4618 or visit Serra Hall 300. The counselors have plenty of tools to help you through this exciting and overwhelming time! Good luck and enjoy your first semester at USD!

7 Ways to Eat Healthy on a College Budget

Eating Healthy College Budget

So you want to eat healthy, but you’re on a budget? This is a common problem for college students. We often go for the cheapest foods, whether they are good for us or not…and we all know that endless buffets and the many options in meal plans can make it tough to make healthy decisions.

For me, my first year was the most challenging because of the ample options and easy access to junk food. I made the effort to go to the gym, but still found it difficult to make healthy eating choices with an array of unhealthy options at every meal. A word of advice – avoid sitting next to the dessert bar! My friends and I used to sit right next to the ice cream machine, I’ll just say, this was a bad decision! If you are on a meal plan, look for the healthy options in your dining hall.




Here are some examples of dishes USD serves:

  • Grilled chicken with brown rice
  • Cooked vegetables
  • Fresh fruit
  • Salad bar (this was my main staple)
  • Hard-boiled eggs at the salad bar
  • Omelettes (breakfast)
  • Veggie-heavy stir-fry

As a second-year, living in an apartment with a kitchen and having more control over my meals made it much easier to choose healthy foods. I was able to make meals that were both delicious and nutritious. However, shopping on your own, and on a budget, for the first time can be overwhelming. To make this process a little easier for fellow USD students, here are my best tips for eating on a budget (I may have adopted these habits during undergrad but I still use many of them now that I’m a grad student!):

  1. Cut Coupons & Check Ads. Get the Sunday newspaper each week. This has grocery store ads from around the San Diego area and each store advertises what’s on sale that week.  In addition, there are coupon sections. Coupons can save a lot of money each week.
  2. Plan Ahead. After seeing which stores offer the best prices, formulate a list based off of the meals you want to make that week.  STICK TO YOUR LIST!   Every addition will add up quickly. Here’s an example: Think protein. This week, Ralph’s organic chicken was on sale, and I bought ground turkey from Costco, buy three packages, get one free (the freezer is your friend people). On Sunday, I cooked half of the chicken with salt, pepper, garlic, and olive oil. The same afternoon, I cooked the ground turkey with sautéed onion. From these two products, I planned to produce a number of meals: pasta with chicken, tacos, turkey burgers, chicken salad, chicken with Masala sauce, rice, and garbanzo beans… the possibilities are endless.
  3. Think Fresh. The more packaged foods you have in your cart, the higher the likelihood that the food is unhealthy (although tempting, they often contain lots of calories and/or unhealthy preservatives). Instead, choose a quick, healthy snack, such as raw veggies with hummus.  If you’re feeling hungry in between classes, grab a piece of fruit, granola bar, yogurt, or cheese stick.) Try to pack in fresh fruits and veggies from your formulated list.
  4. Try Farmer’s Markets.  Not only does this help your local community, but often, markets are cheaper than grocery store produce. Check out the local Linda Vista farmers market just up the street or grab a friend and venture to Ocean Beach for the OB market on Wednesday evenings.
  5. Know What Foods Are in Season.  For example, berries and avocado are summer foods, meaning they are in season during the summer months, and will therefore be cheaper. Apples, squash and sweet potatoes are fall foods. If you buy foods when they are out of season, they are more expensive.
  6. Eat Protein & Whole Grains. Protein and fiber keep you full longer than carbohydrates.
  7. Balance. Keep everything in balance. It’s okay to treat yourself now and again!

Here’s to happy (and healthy!) eating!


Prevent End-of-Semester Stress

As the end of the semester rolls into sight, it may seem like it’s not possible to fit one more thing could on your already overloaded plate of to-dos.

Finals are looming and you are beginning to prepare, it seems like someone is already asking you to make decisions about what classes you’re taking next semester (and this semester isn’t even finished yet!) you might be thinking about graduation or beginning to explore housing options for summer or next year. Needless to say, there is a lot going on.

With so many things happening, now is a great time to take a quick step back and look at the big picture. There IS a lot going on but there are also some really important things we need you to keep in mind to stay healthy and happy and prevent stress you consider all of the many important decisions about your future.

One of the single-most important pieces of advice we can offer is taking some time to plan. Carve out a little bit of room to make sure important deadlines are honored (did you know you can begin to register for fall classes as early as April 1 in the spring and for fall classes Nov. 1 for spring?!?) so that you’re not losing out on much-needed sleep in the weeks to come. Being well rested and dedicating some specific time to studying will actually go much further in helping you prepare for finals than those late-night cram sessions. And remember, artificial energy boosts like power drinks or other unhealthy eating choices only sabotage your efforts. Here are a couple quick tips for managing the end-of-semester stress and getting through finals feeling fresh and fabulous!

  • Get enough water! Try to drink your 8/8 – that’s 8 glasses of 8 ounces – go on! You can do it!
  • Divide the big projects into smaller, more manageable chunks and tackle one at a time.
  • Designate a specific study time during finals and stick to it so that your sleep and other activities don’t suffer
  • Ask for help if you need it (Seriously! We love seeing your face!) The Center for Health and Wellness Promotion has a lot to offer, even if it’s just an extra pen or a stress ball – stop by!

And, if you happen to have questions (like, if you are looking for an apartment off-campus for the first time and aren’t sure where to start or maybe do need some advice on managing bills) we would love to talk you through some of that! This guide to off-campus living is also a great first place to start.

Finally, take time to celebrate your accomplishments, even if they seem small. This is a busy time and it’s okay to feel overwhelmed but you will get through it!

For more stress management tips, visit our page on dealing with stress!

7 Secrets to Balancing Your Life

College is an incredibly fun and exciting time and there are so many great opportunities that present themselves during this period of your life. Sometimes it may feel like you want to be involved in everything! But there may also come a time where participating in so many great things becomes overwhelming – the excitement begins to fade and you may start to feel like even the “fun” things in your life are a chore. All you want is a break! This can be tough, especially if you feel obligated to continue with any commitments you have made.

You may have the thought, “I can just hang in there for the rest of the semester.” But often times, it is hard to break the cycle of committing too much or being too busy.

How do you know if you’ve taken on more than you should? What are some potential consequences of doing too much?

  • You may experience a decline in your physical health
  • You may notice a decline in your academic performance
  • You might become more irritable
  • You are experiencing decreased sleep and feeling tired
  • You have a sense of anxiety
  • You feel depressed

It is important to make sure that you have a good balance in your life and aren’t doing too much. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to see if you may be doing too much:

  • Am I doing so much that I am not doing anything well?
  • Am I not enjoying things that I was initially excited about because it now feels stressful with everything I have going on?
  • Do I feel like I’m running from one thing to the next with no down time?
  • Do I have less time to sleep than I used to?

If you have determined that you may be doing too much but aren’t sure what to let go of, here are some things to consider when deciding what to give up and how to make sure you are balancing your life with your school obligations well:

  • Decide what your short-term and long-term goals are. Does the activity help you with your goals?
  • What is your motivation for doing the activity? (Is it to please someone else or yourself?)
  • How do I feel after the activity?
  • How might I feel if I don’t do it? (Regret? Relief? If regret, why?)
  • Did you make a firm commitment or do you just feel like you should go?

Here are seven simple ways to keep yourself from doing too much:

  1. Learn to say no. This can be challenging, but is essential. No one can say yes to everything. Sometimes it can feel like if you don’t do it now, you never will. Remember that most of the time, saying no to something now doesn’t mean you can never do it (or something similar) in the future. Perhaps you will even enjoy it more later on in life when you have more time.
  2. Remember that things will get done without you. Often times, people who tend to overcommit think that if they don’t do it, no one will. You may be the type that is eager to volunteer first, so it may seem like no one else would do it if you weren’t there. This usually isn’t the case. By saying no, you may even open up an opportunity for someone else who may not be as quick to volunteer.
  3. Learn to negotiate. Sometimes, there will be things you really want to do, but the timeline is not realistic. Work on talking with those in charge. Let them know you are interested in participating, but it is a busy time for you and see if there is any flexibility on dates and deadlines.
  4. Remember that what you do doesn’t define you. This may be something you have heard before, but in our achievement-oriented culture it can be easy to forget. When we buy into this mentality, we often try to do more to make ourselves feel good about who we are. Sadly, it can have the opposite effect when we do too much and feel like we aren’t doing any of it as well as we could.
  5. Ask questions.  Before you decide to commit to something, learn more about what the experience will be like. First, it is important to not only think about the time commitment involved and how it will affect your schedule. Then, you will also want to look at how the experience will impact you. Sometimes we sign up for things that turn out to be very different than we expected.
  6. Set limits in advance. Decide what is not negotiable to you. While this will vary for everyone, it is important to think about your top priorities. Though it can be problematic to have too many non-negotiable limits as this would prevent you from being able to do much of anything, people who tend to overcommit may not have any in place. For example, you may decide that it is important to you to be able to make time for 3 daily meals, exercise 4 times a week, and other personal commitments (e.g. time with friends twice a week, attending church, etc.). If this is decided in advance and someone wants you to volunteer between basketball practice and an evening study group, if this is the only time you have for dinner, say no.
  7. Take time to reflect regularly. Think about how you have been feeling physically and emotionally. Was this week more stressful or busy for you? If so, why? Will this likely continue or were there extra one-time commitments involved? Think about your current schedule. Can you make any changes to keep yourself from becoming overwhelmed? Sometimes even moving some activities from an extra busy day to a day with more free time can lower your stress-level, make your schedule feel more manageable, and make you feel more balanced.

We know that there are going to be many things that come up throughout the course of your college and academic career that are going to cause you to have to make choices about how to spend your time. If you are able to reflect on some of these questions and use some of these tips to assess which activities are the most beneficial to your overall mental and physical health, it may help you create some balance when trying to decide which of the next fun activities to add to your plate!

For more information on balancing all of the competing demands of college-life or to talk to someone or reach out to Student Wellness (619) 260-4618.