Tips to Make the Most of Your Winter Break

by Molly Louzan on December 15, 2014

to do list - nothing

If you’re not finished yet, you’re almost there! Just a few more exams before you’re sitting beside a fireplace, relaxing. After a semester of hard work, we are all thrilled to take one whole month to relax and rejuvenate. That means enjoying some extra zzz’s, reconnecting with friends and family, and of course…. catching up on laundry. Make the most out of your winter break and BE SMART to truly enjoy your time off. Here are some tips for keeping safe and staying on track during your break.

Be careful on the road. Drivers can be erratic around the holidays. Be cautious of other cars on the road, and keep a safe distance from any vehicles that are speeding or swerving. It is no news that the roads can be terrible this time of year. With snowstorms and black ice, it is easy to lose control of your vehicle no matter how good you normally drive. Slow down and give the road your full attention.

Stay on a schedule. It’s okay to sleep, but just because your “to do” list has dwindled down, it doesn’t mean that you should sleep until noon every day. After all, that would make it more difficult to get back in your school routine when second semester rolls around. It’s a good idea to keep a regular bedtime, as well. No “binge watching” Netflix until 3 a.m.

Be active. If you’re not working over break, it might be tempting to not stray far from the couch. “Vegging” too much is just going to make you feel more sluggish, and wouldn’t you rather spend that time doing something fun and productive? Get outside and move your body. Bundle up and go for a walk, or ice skating with your friends.

Keep your mind sharp. Sure, your brain is tired after all that it’s accomplished in the past few weeks. However, you’ll thank yourself when next semester starts if you partake in at least one thought-provoking activity each day. Try reading a book, perusing through online articles/websites/blogs, or completing puzzles. There are plenty of websites and apps that strive to exercise your mind. For example, Luminosity is a website and app that improves memory and attention through use of puzzles and other problem solving activities. You can download the app to your iPhone or iPad to “train your brain”.

Don’t give into mindless munchies. Both having free time, and a change in routine can lead to excess snacking if you’re not mindful of what you’re eating. Eat nutrient-dense foods when you are hungry, and stop when you are full. Do not eat in front of the television, but rather sit in a designated “eating area” with your food on a plate and all packages away. It may be helpful to keep to regular eating times that you normally follow.

Enjoy the company of your friends from home, but do so safely. We know that winter break can be a popular time for alcohol use. If you choose to drink, BE SMART about it. To BE SMART over break, use all of these practices when out with your friends.


1. Don’t drink of you are under 21. If you choose to drink, make smart choices and be safe.

1. Drink non-alcoholic drinks when you are playing drinking games.

1. Know your limits, set limits – and keep to your limits.

1. Pace yourself and drink less alcohol per hour.

1. Substitute alcohol with non-alcoholic drinks.

1. Designate a driver or sober buddy to call.

1. Look out for your friends’ safety.

1. Eat foods that contain protein before and while you drink.

Combine these strategies for smarter and safer choices

1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1 = BE SMART


Nourish your Brain

by Molly Louzan on December 8, 2014

brain food

Did you know that what you eat directly impacts how you function? Let’s be honest… with finals approaching, we need to function as best as we can! Certain vitamins, minerals, and food groups can actually boost stamina when studying, increase retention, and improve comprehension.

Whole Grains

Whole grains are the best source for energy. Unlike refined carbohydrates, glucose is released slowly from whole grains, which helps to stabilize blood sugar levels and keep you alert throughout the entire day. In contrast, refined carbohydrates cause blood sugar to “spike and crash”, giving you a burst of energy followed by the sudden need for a nap. Whole grain foods include whole- or multi-grain breads, crackers, cereals, and pastas. Opt for a 100% whole wheat alternative if these options are unavailable to you. Oats offer another whole-grain option that leads to sustained energy.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids (the “Good Fats”)

Omega-3 fatty acids aid in brain function. They are known for helping with concentration, especially for students struggling with symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in a variety of foods, including walnuts, flaxseed, salmon, trout, herring, sardines, flounder, halibut, and mackerel.

Fruits & Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables provide numerous essential nutrients. Specifically, they are a great source of antioxidants, which are known for fending off toxins. The addition of vitamins (particularly Vitamins C and K) and minerals into your diet boosts memory and enhances “brain power”. Foods that are high in Vitamin C include oranges, grapefruit, pineapple, kiwi, cantaloupe, raspberries, and papaya. Foods that are high in Vitamin K include kale, spinach, mustard greens, and broccoli. Blueberries are well known as being linked to improved learning and memory as a result of their many nutrients.

Dairy or Dairy-Replacements

Dairy products provide an abundant amount of vitamins, and typically contain a lot of protein. Protein allows you to concentrate and work efficiently. Plain, non-fat, Greek yogurt is a terrific option since it is loaded with protein. Dairy milk (low- or non-fat) and soy milk, also, contain a significant amount of protein.

Avoid foods with “empty calories” that contain few nutrients, added sugar, high sodium, and unhealthy fats. They may be tempting, but will make you feel sluggish and cause a negative effect on your academic performance. Incorporate these nutrient-rich foods into your diet, and you’re all the more likely to do great on your final exams. Go get ‘em!


Interested in learning more about moods foods for success? Check out the article titled, “Feed Your Body, Nourish Your Mind” from the March 2013 edition of Student Health 101. Scroll to the second page, then click on the tab that says “Mood Foods” the top right hand corner to see the article.


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