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Cougar Health Services September 2016

Know the signs of toxic drinking

know the signs of toxic drinking

Do you know how to tell the difference between a little too much to drink and a dangerous situation?

Many students at WSU choose not to drink. In a 2016 survey, more than 18 percent of WSU students said they’ve never used alcohol and another 14 percent said they haven’t used alcohol in the past 30 days.

However, even if you don’t drink or use alcohol in moderation, knowing when to get help for a friend can be critical. In the same survey, more than 85 percent of students said most of the time or every time they party, they stick with the same group of friends all night. Learning the signs of toxic drinking will help you know when it’s time to get help for a friend or acquaintance.

Watch out for these signs of toxic drinking. Seek medical attention for a person who:

  • Is passed out or semi-conscious and cannot be awakened;
  • Vomits while sleeping or passed out and does not wake up;
  • Has cold, clammy, pale or blueish skin; or
  • Is breathing slowly or irregularly.

If you suspect an alcohol overdose, call 911 right away. Be sure to call at the first sign of alcohol poisoning. Waiting for them to show more signs is extremely dangerous. It’s also incredibly risky to assume they’ll be fine if they just sleep it off.

If you’re worried about getting in trouble, keep in mind that WSU’s Office of Student Conduct follows a Good Samaritan Guideline that will protect you and your friend from university discipline for alcohol or drug use if you call for assistance. This guideline mirrors similar Washington state laws followed by law enforcement.

Hack your to-do list

hack your to-do list

We all know the feeling of not having enough time to accomplish everything on our to-do lists. Between school, work, relationships and other obligations, we have a lot to get done in a limited amount of time.

Everyone is different, and we all have preferences for how to keep track of tasks. Calendars, lists and reminders can be helpful, but it can still be hard to figure out what to do first and what is most important.

One way to revolutionize your to-do list is to prioritize it, to make sure you accomplish the most essential tasks before you move on to everything else.

Here are some simple formats for organizing your to-do list by priority:

Single out urgent tasks. Make a to-do list with three columns, and label each column A, B, or C. In column A, list things that must get done as soon as possible. In column C, list the things that you’d like to do, but are not essential. Put everything else in column B. Then, start with tasks in column A, and move on to the other columns when you’re able.

Sort all tasks by importance and urgency. Another strategy is using a matrix like the one below. Sort each task into the appropriate quadrant. Start with the most urgent and important to-dos in quadrant one. Schedule tasks from quadrant two on your calendar, allowing yourself enough time to meet future deadlines. Then, if you have time, you can get started on tasks in quadrants three and four.

Hack your to-do list

Keep in mind that when you prioritize one thing over another, something will always fall to the bottom of your to-do list. This is normal, and even required!

Sometimes when we don’t get everything done, we feel like we’re not meeting others’ expectations for us. But remember: only you know what matters most for you now, and for your long-term success.

If you want more help with time management, check out the programs we offer.

8 ways to study smarter

students studying together at a table

8 ways to study smarter

Want to overcome exam stress and maximize academic performance? There’s no sure formula that works for everyone, but there are some basic principles you can adapt to fit your classes, schedule and learning style.

  1. Schedule your study sessions. It’s easier to motivate yourself to study if you already have it on your schedule for a specific time.
  2. Take breaks. Giving your brain a rest every 30 minutes to 1 hour is better for learning than studying for hours with no breaks. Try setting a timer to study for 30 minutes, then take a 5-minute break and repeat.
  3. Make flash cards. Flashcards are often more effective study aids than highlighting, underlining, rereading or using mnemonic devices. Flashcards incorporate multiple learning styles, including visual, verbal and motor. Make sure to use your flashcards for review after making them!
  4. Set a specific study goal. Feeling overwhelmed? Set a specific goal before you start studying. For example, instead of saying “I’m going to study for biology lab tonight,” commit to reviewing your lab reports and quizzes or doing practice tests.
  5. Create practice tests. Creating practice tests is a great way to thoroughly learn concepts. This strategy also helps memory recall, which can reduce test anxiety.
  6. Practice by teaching others. Explaining material you just learned to others can improve your understanding the material. Just be sure to avoid getting off topic when studying in groups.
  7. Find a quiet study space. Try studying in an environment similar to the classroom where you’ll be taking your test.
  8. Remove distractions. Yes, that means turning off your phone and closing your internet browser. Removing distractions can significantly boost your focus. Listening to music can be distracting, and some studies suggest it may be less effective than studying in silence. If music helps you relax, try listening to it before and after your study session.

Everyone learns differently, so try out a few of these tips and see what works best for you. If you want to learn more about study skills, consider signing up for an educational workshop.

What is a gatekeeper?

What is a gatekeeper?

A gatekeeper is someone in a natural position to see warning signs of suicide in others. Gatekeepers interact frequently with students and can guide someone to the appropriate professional care or resources. Examples of gatekeepers might be Residence Life staff, academic advisors or student leaders.

Experts in suicidology have developed many kinds of training for gatekeepers. For WSU, we selected Campus Connect, a program developed by Syracuse University in 2005. This training teaches participants the warning signs and risk factors for suicide, how to ask someone if they are having thoughts of suicide and crisis response.

Campus Connect is a Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) best practice program. It’s a flexible training that allows us to adapt content to fit our university’s unique needs. A large portion of the program focuses on active listening and empathetic responses. These tools can help someone respond to any type of crisis.

This summer, we worked with Residence Life to train all Resident Advisors and Resident Executive Directors in Campus Connect.

Providing gatekeeper training is one step in many to prevent suicide on college campuses. Our next step is to take this training to other key groups, including:

  • Veterans Affairs
  • International Students
  • Campus Police

If you are interested in crisis response training, contact Victoria Braun by email or phone at 509-335-8998.

Get your meningitis B vaccination!

Meningitis is a rare but serious illness, with a high risk for young adults – especially those under 25 who live in close quarters with others, like residence halls or Greek housing.

By college, most students have received a standard 4-strain meningitis vaccine. For full protection, we strongly recommend you also get a meningitis type B vaccine.

For meningitis B, we currently offer BEXSERO, a two-dose vaccine. You’ll need to wait at least a month after getting the first dose to come in for your second, but you can get the second dose any time after that. BEXSERO is approved for use in individuals 10 through 25 years of age.

You can see a full list of the immunizations we offer on our services page or give us a call for details at 509-335-3575.