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5 Stress Management Tips for College Students

May 14, 2019 | by timelymd

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Stress happens. Especially when you’ve just moved to a new city, embarked on a journey with new friends and are committed to hours of studying and homework. Being a college student isn’t easy, but it’s definitely manageable! Whether you’re a freshman taking your first steps on campus or a senior preparing for finals and a new life chapter, stressful times will indefinitely surface. Luckily, managing stress can (and should) become part of your daily routine. Here are our top 5 tips to help you along the way.

1. Sleep
We’ve all heard that sleep can go a long way when it comes to staying healthy. But do you really know what a good night of rest is doing to your brain? The American Psychological Association notes that good sleep allows our brains to recharge, our muscles to repair, promotes memory consolidation, along with many other benefits. In fact, 21 percent of adults feel more stressed from not getting enough sleep. There are so many reasons why at least 8 hours of sleep every night is great for your body; just don’t forget about the benefits for your brain too!

Still having trouble getting some shut eye? Try relaxing techniques like taking a warm bath, turning down the lights or relinquishing screen time at least one hour before bed.

2. Nutrition
While it comes as no surprise that we tend to overeat or undereat when we’re stressed, what exactly is happening in our bodies that link stress and bad nutrition? According to Harvard Medical School, stress can both shut down the appetite by releasing a corticotropin-releasing hormone or increase the appetite by releasing cortisol. Either way, your brain stressed out is sending the wrong signals when it comes to healthy nutrition.

Keeping up with your healthy eating habits start by managing your stress. Talk to friends, try meditation or develop an exercise routine to stay on top of stress levels.

3. Be active
If you’re too stressed to find an exercise routine, you may not realize that exercise itself can help you lower stress! The Mayo Clinic suggests that regular exercise not only increases overall health, but also has some stress-reducing benefits. Your brain produces feel-good neurotransmitters called endorphins. When you are physically active, those endorphins get an extra boost and can even give you that “runner’s” high feeling after a great workout.

If you’re struggling to get in a workout, try inviting a friend, changing up your routine or exercising in increments, which give brief bursts of energy. Don’t forget that all of this work will help the endorphin level skyrocket, keeping your stress at bay.

4. Find connections
Although it might sound obvious to seek out a connection with friends, coworkers or family when the stress levels are high, many people choose to hole up and try to tackle their stress alone. The Mayo Clinic states “studies have demonstrated that social isolation and loneliness are associated with a greater risk of poor mental health and poor cardiovascular health, as well as other health problems.” Many college campuses do a great job creating social groups for students. Try your student life center to see where you might fit in best.

So next time you’re feeling the anxiety creep its way in, call someone, grab a friend for coffee, or better yet, a walk around the park!

5. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help
Stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness all happen. The great news that someone is ready to talk to you about it. Reaching out for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Whether it’s a counselor, doctor, friend, parent, etc., asking for help is the first step to feeling better, and even feeling your best!

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Recognizing a Need for Help

Apr 16, 2019 | by timelymd

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Written by:
Dr. Jan
Janice A. Hall Ph.D.
Director of Mental Health/TimelyMD

Recognizing when a peer is struggling with anxiety or depression is sometimes difficult. Fellow students, classmates, dorm residents, the person who sits next to you in church or your service/social club, plays athletics with you or sits by themselves in your dining area may struggle with worry, depression, loneliness and even thoughts of death or suicide.

Some common signs that might suggest a peer’s need for help include when they:

  • Make comments about wanting to die, kill themselves or someone else, or death in general
  • Do not see solutions to their problems/feel trapped
  • Isolate/withdraw from friends, family or groups
  • Express hopelessness
  • Say that there is no purpose or reason to live
  • Start collecting pills, weapons or ropes
  • Increase consumption of alcohol and/or drugs
  • Express intense physical or emotional pain
  • Experience mood changes such as bouts of crying, agitation, anger
  • Take risks that put them in harm’s way, such as driving recklessly or are out late in unsafe places
  • Start saying goodbye to people at inappropriate times
  • Have major sleep issues (beyond the college norm)
  • Give away personal items of importance to them or get affairs in order

Getting Help – Connect, Ask, Stay
There are ways that you can help your friends, family or peers in need. First, connect with the person. Ask how they are doing. Specifically, ask if the person is having any thoughts of hurting or killing themselves or anyone else. All of the above signs are common in people with suicidal ideation. Asking shows concern; asking does not appear to increase suicidal thoughts. Do not promise to keep suicidal thoughts a secret. Let them know you want to assist them in getting help. Stay with them until you get them to help if you are with someone who is talking about killing themselves.

For campus resources, find the numbers below for your university:
Campus Police 24 hr #
911
TimelyMD (24 hours): Login at timely.care or call 833-484-6359
Campus Counseling Center
Psychology Clinic
Marriage & Family Institute
Title IX Office for Sexual Violence
Dorm Supervisor/Housing Director

If a person is in moderate distress and not having thoughts of killing themselves or someone else, support them while they get help. For example, have them call the campus counseling center or login to TimelyMD (24 hours) or another campus resource for an appointment.

Besides professional support, if the person has another friend, family member, church member/pastor, dorm supervisor, faculty or staff that seems supportive to them, suggest they contact that person.

When a person is in distress, they need a sense of connection, support and belonging. See the powerful video below, “You Belong,” by Mental Health of America Texas.

Follow up
Following up may include walking with your friend to their appointment at the counseling center, making a time to meet for a coffee/snack or meal, meeting after class, inviting them to a social or church gathering or calling them to see how life is going. If you ask how they are doing, it’s important to be ready to listen. When someone is down, ask about what is going well. Recognizing even small positive happenings is helpful!

References
Mental Health of America Texas. You Belong. Video developed under Contract No. 2012-039469-001 for Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to Mental Health America of Texas (MAAT). https://youtu.be/UeJL9F-4rNA

Texas Suicide Prevention Council (2019). ASK? Ask About Suicide to Save a Life. https://texassuicideprevention.org/training/

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Mental Health (2018). Suicide in America: Frequently Asked Questions (NIH Publication No. 18-6389). Retrieved from http//.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/suicide-faq/index.shtml

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What do I have? Cold vs. Flu vs. Allergies

Jan 31, 2019 | by timelymd

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We all know the feeling. You wake up one morning with that familiar soreness in the back of your throat, the cringe with every swallow. Up next is the runny nose, cough, body aches, and the list might go on. If you’re stuck wondering if you have the full-blown flu, a cold or just allergies, you’re not alone. Overlapping symptoms make each of these diagnosis a bit harder to differentiate.

TimelyMD’s Chief Medical Officer Alan Dennington, MD weighs in on which symptoms align with which infections and the best way to seek treatment.

Cold/Upper Respiratory Infection

This viral infection typically starts off with a mild to moderate sore throat as the virus accesses your body through your respiratory tract. As the virus replicates, it ruptures and destroys cells in the throat. Those replicated viral bodies then go out into the rest of your body causing other aggravating symptoms.

After this initial stage, your body will start to recognize that it has an infection and will generate an immune response. This immune response is responsible for the long list of additional symptoms you might feel, such as:

  • Stuffy nose/sinus congestion
  • Cough
  • Chest discomfort
  • Fatigue
  • Body aches/pains
  • Fever

Influenza (the flu)

The flu attacks the body in the same way as other viruses that cause upper respiratory infections.  As such, it will present with many of the same symptoms. The differentiating factor is that the flu virus is much better at replicating within the body and can cause a more severe infection.  This can heighten some of the typical cold symptoms and possibly cause much more serious issues like pneumonia, bacterial infections or hospital stays.

Knowing that the difference between the presentation of the flu and a common cold is the level of severity, these symptoms should be closely monitored as they are more commonly associated with the flu:

  • Fever (might have quicker onset with the flu)
  • Body aches
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Chest discomfort
  • Headache

Allergies

Like the other two illnesses mentioned above, allergies share a lot of same symptoms, though you typically won’t experience fever, body aches or chills. What you may notice are symptoms associated with a lot of histamine release which can cause:

  • Runny nose
  • Nasal drip
  • Sneezing
  • Congestion
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Some fatigue

Treatments

While each diagnosis produces similar symptoms, they are often treated differently.

A common cold will usually require symptomatic treatments (medications to treat the symptoms). These might include over-the-counter medications like cough medicine or a decongestant, or in some cases, prescriptions cough medicines or inhalers. Always get lots of rest and plenty of fluids.

If you suspect you might have the flu (example: sore throat on day one, fever on day two), it’s imperative to seek medical care within the first 48 hours of symptoms. This is because any medications that physicians are able to prescribe to combat the flu virus itself are only effective during that time. Should you notice shortness of breath or chest pain, you should immediately seek medical attention, as those symptoms might warrant a chest X-ray to check for pneumonia.

Allergies are commonly treated with antihistamines, preventative medicines (such as intranasal steroids) or immunotherapy (allergy shots, drops, etc.).

If any of these illnesses and their symptoms last more than 10 days, present a fever, produce shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, you should immediately seek medical care.


Thankfully, each of these conditions can be treated via telehealth, which is where TimelyMD comes in. We make it easy, immediately accessible for patients to take timely action for any ailment.

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6 Things College Students Should Know About Therapy

Jan 9, 2019 | by timelymd

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Starting a new chapter in life, particularly away at college, is not an easy feat. There’s a new schedule to adhere to; classes and exams take up most of your day; and relationships, studying and extra-curricular activities consume your life after school. Not to mention, you’re meeting brand-new friends along the way!

Jumping into this new normal is an amazing experience, but it can be difficult and stressful at times. To help combat these ever-changing parts of life as a new student, counseling is a fantastic tool. But don’t let the word “counseling” keep you from picking up the phone. SELF Magazine’s article, “6 Things Every College Student Should Know About Therapy” takes a powerful look into the life of a college student and why it’s OK to ask for help.

  1. A crisis isn’t the only time to seek help.

A 2017 annual report from the Center for Collegiate Mental Health (CCMH) at Pennsylvania State University noted that counseling can help students manage everything from anxiety and depression to substance abuse and body image. Even if you’re experiencing homesickness, a difficult class or a tough relationship, talking to a counselor might help keep the stress at bay and give you tools for managing life’s obstacles.

  1. It’s ok to keep your therapy hush-hush.

Try not to let cultural stigmas surrounding the word “therapy” block your decision to schedule a visit. Therapists and counselors are obligated by law to protect your information (unless he or she feels like you may harm yourself or others, in which case the necessary steps will be taken to promote safety). This is why telemedicine is a great way to utilize a counselor. You don’t have to be seen walking into an office, but rather can take the call from the comfort of your couch!

  1. Don’t worry about ongoing appointments.

Counseling doesn’t have to be every Tuesday at 4 p.m. You can seek help from a counselor at any time you feel it’s needed with TimelyMD programs. On that note, be sure you’re comfortable with your therapist or counselor, and that he or she is a right fit for you.

  1. You could get free (or cheaper than you think) visits.

Campus health centers are usually stellar at offering students a certain amount of free sessions. And even once these free sessions are up, the rate might be cheaper than you think. TimelyMD offers free visits for campuses we serve.

  1. Get connected with other resources on campus.

Think of this as a huge favor for yourself! Making an appointment with a counselor or therapist is just one step closer to finding out about all of the other resources housed on campus that are available to you.

  1. One small step leads to one big accomplishment.

It’s empowering to take one small step (making an appointment or just seeking help) when it comes to stress management and counseling. Remember, your health and emotional wellness are the most important things in your life, and they should always remain a priority. Kuddos to you for taking the first step!

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Spring Break Alert: Allergies are more than an annoyance for your students

Mar 6, 2018 | by timelymd

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Spring break is nearly here! While students are excited for a little vacation, college administrators may be just as thrilled to enjoy warmer weather. Hitting the beach, the slopes, or just kicking back to catch some March Madness is fun for everyone — so long as you don’t get sick.

Getting sick just before or on vacation is incredibly common. One reason may be the work crunch we put ourselves through just before we take time off. Another may be that warm weather brings with it a spike in seasonal allergies. Often, allergy symptoms are mistaken for other illnesses. Left untreated, what started as a simple allergy can turn into a nasal infection.

Allergies can take students by surprise. Allergies now affect as many of 30% of adults — researchers think about ~50 million people in the United States suffer nasal allergies — and allergies are on the rise. The serious fact for healthcare administrators to consider is that allergies are the 6th leading cause of chronic illness in this country.

Telemedicine can help. Easy to access, even on-the-go, TimelyMD programs can accurately triage sick students and guide them to appropriate symptom management. If an ailment goes beyond allergies, a telehealth visit can offer the right prescriptions, or advise students who need to see a doctor to get help. 

Yes, common allergy remedies are available over the counter. But allergy sufferers aren’t always sure what’s making them feel ill, or how to combat symptoms. Billions of dollars are spent each year on avoidable doctor visits for Spring allergies. And for your students, missing a trip due to illness, or finding a healthcare resource far from home or campus may be tricky — and expensive.   

The constant sneezing, watery eyes, and mouth-breathing allergy sufferers face may add up to more than a minor annoyance for your favorite Spring Breakers. If you’re in charge of campus healthcare, allergies and other manageable health issues could be costing students a lot more than you think.

Luckily, it’s easy to put technology to work, saving students time and trouble — whether they feel sick after hours or out of state. Thoughtful telemedicine programs empower you to put healthcare at your students’ fingertips, 24/7, no matter where they roam.

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It’s time to get smart about flu outbreaks on campus

Jan 25, 2018 | by timelymd

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college health, flu

Flu, College Health

Time to get smart about flu outbreaks on campus.

Your students may be the smartest, most responsible kids to ever grace a college campus. But guess what? Despite the deadly nature of flu, they likely fail when it comes to getting a flu shot each year.

While annual vaccination is the best way to reduce the chance of coming down with our friend, influenza, flu vaccination rates on US college campuses are strikingly low — between eight and 39%. And in a campus setting, flu can spread incredibly quickly.

What should a sick student do if they suspect flu? Both act fast and stay home! Isolating sick patients and getting them timely treatment are critical factors in treating flu. Unfortunately, students tend to do exactly the opposite of what they should:

Act fast! Anti-virals like Tamiflu (oseltamivir phosphate) can reduce flu severity and duration if given within 48 hours of flu onset. But too often, students try to push through! Ignoring first symptoms, they may wait too long to get treatment  — all the while infecting their peers.

Stay home! The CDC says “If you go to the emergency room and you are not sick with the flu, you may catch it from people who do have it. So, when our sick student finally decides to head to a campus clinic — or worse, an urgent care or ER — that’s when they may actually catch and/or contribute to flu’s spread!

It doesn’t have to be this way. The smart solution for managing flu across your student population is virtual care. Campuses can offer students an incredibly easy way to get diagnosed, get timely treatment, and reduce potentially contagious contact.

Telemedicine is a cost-effective, convenient way to cut flu cases, flu severity, and flu duration. Imagine our sick student — busy, under deadlines, filled with the optimism of youth, but not feeling so hot today. A quick telehealth visit is all it takes to give that student peace of mind, and faster, more effective treatment if they have the flu.

Visits by laptop or phone are so easy, students are more likely to reach out in a timely manner. If a student does have flu, helpful prescriptions are filled faster to fully benefit the patient. If they do NOT, one more student is saved from contagious contact with peers who really do have the bug.

Today, students who get flu end up sick for eight days or more on average — that’s way too many days of poor academic performance, missed activity, and infecting others. Sick students may not only infect their peers, but also faculty and clinic staff, leading to cancelled classes and further overburdening campus clinics. As flu sweeps through campus, worried parents can become frustrated with university management of student health.

The good news? Virtual care is a natural fit for student lifestyles, making it easy to help students understand how to protect themselves, and how to behave if they suspect flu. Telemedicine creates a valuable communications channel between campus health resources and students — one that can comfort parents, and even remind students to get that flu shot in the first place!

The time to think about next flu season on campus is now. You have the power to simply and significantly change next year’s flu equation for your campus with telemedicine. Talk to TimelyMD today, and take steps to a smarter way to manage flu this coming year — and every year.

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Can we decrease the cost of chronic conditions?

Jan 16, 2018 | by timelymd

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Can we decrease the cost of chronic conditions?

Short answer: Yes, we can. When we look at the overall health of patient populations, a handful of conditions stand out. These acute and chronic conditions are some of  the most costly to manage and are a significant contributor to hospital readmissions.. No doubt you’re familiar with the conditions in the table below:

Think the cost of managing chronic conditions like these is staggering today? They are, and what’s more, those costs continue to rise at an unprecedented rate every year in the US.

The dream is to find a way to take better care of these patients so they cost the system less. Making this dream a reality is of paramount importance to all stakeholders in healthcare, from systems managers to providers to patients. But how can we offer more care without increasing the cost.

Virtual care may be the key. These acute and chronic conditions follow predictable patterns. Improved outcomes can be seen when patients simply stay motivated, comply with treatment programs, and take effective action in times of trouble. That’s where cost-effective interactions can make a huge difference to health outcomes — and to the bottom line.

Ask yourself: What if you could offer your neediest patients a cadence of virtual visits tailored to their condition as part of their treatment program? Telehealth programs can be designed to specifically support acute or chronic conditions, offering patients personalized interactions at just the right times in just the right ways.

The cost of virtual care is affordable. Virtual visits by phone, laptop, or mobile device can leverage motivational interviewing and teach-back techniques to keep patients engaged, increase compliance with treatment plans and promote positive behavior change.

Timely intervention improves patient compliance and staves off costly escalation. The intersection of innovative care strategies with technology can enable health systems to take better care of the most costly and needy patients by giving them more – more frequent and more personalized interactions with caring providers.

There’s no doubt about it. Effective management of acute and chronic diseases can help patients live happier, healthier lives and unlock cost savings for healthcare systems. Telehealth’s role in the care management team is just emerging — the time to design virtual care programs that better support patients and create critical efficiencies is now.

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Healthier students build stronger campus communities.

Jan 10, 2018 | by timelymd

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Healthier students build stronger campus communities.

The physical and mental health of your student population impacts the strength of the university as a whole. Thoughtful telehealth solutions can help you improve student health, optimize campus resources and concretely demonstrate caring for the needs of students and families.

Around-the-clock access to quality healthcare gives both students and parents valuable peace of mind. When students are supported and empowered by telemedicine, colleges see:

  • Better overall health. Untreated illness can spread disease, fuel campus epidemics and promote the overuse of over-the-counter medications.
  • Reduced absenteeism. Illness can hinder student achievement and grade performance, leading schools to loss of reputation, or even accreditation.
  • More extracurricular participation. When students aren’t healthy, they can’t take on additional activities that create a vibrant, attractive campus life.
  • Optimized campus clinics. Seamless integration, accurate triage and after hours support lets clinics focus on the right cases, so students who need appointments get in quickly.
  • Stronger community. Thoughtful telehealth programs offer a new communications channel between school and student — one focused on good health and positive health routines
  • Happy Parents and Students. Convenient, 24/7 access gives parents confidence that students will get the healthcare they need when they need it.

Explore TimelyMD solutions for higher education.

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