The Elusive LDR

Long Distance Relationships (LDRs for short) are an interesting beast.  These romantic relationships are ones where the couple has decided that even though distance separates, the commitment will continue.  They are not impossible, but LDRs present their own set of difficulties.  Recently, I had the chance to interview a college senior who has been in a successful 3 year LDR.  I used the opportunity to pick her brain about what she believes are some practical tips for maintaining a healthy relationship over the miles.   While she stressed that normal relationship qualities are important like commitment, fidelity and love, she also had some great specific advice for LDRs.

Facetime/Skype/Google + Hangout – Seeing the person’s facial reactions and being able to read social cues are much better than when you are reading or listening.  Technology has made this even easier as newer smartphones can stream video chats with a Wi-Fi connection.  She said that Facetime has better video quality and the calls aren’t dropped as often as Skype.  She also told me that even though she may have an iPad or a computer, she prefers using her iPhone 4s because it is so portable.  We aren’t in full hologram mode, but the race is on between Google and Apple to see who gets there first I’m sure.

Leading a Normal Life – She stressed that leading a normal life outside of the relationship is essential.  Being active in school and with her social life help keep her from missing her relationship as much and help her establish a good balance.  She acknowledges that at times she has had to accept being the 3rd wheel with a good spirit.  I thought this was pretty refreshing because she admits that there are tradeoffs to the LDR.  Not everyone likes 3rd wheel status, but if hanging out with your friends is the priority, then you have to suck some things up!

LDRs won’t work without seeing one another – It is important to keep up regular intervals where you see one another.  Ultimately, the relationship needs physical contact and shared experience.  Not breaking these commitments is important and she stressed that it “has to be kept even.”  If she went to visit him this time, then he is coming the next time.  That way they don’t worry about if someone is more committed than the other.  This advice seems simple, but I think it taps into a big fear that couples have going into and even in the midst of an LDR.  Negotiating how long between visits and keeping it even can go a long way to introduce more stability into an unstable equation.

Taking Advantage of Longer Stretches – When visiting, it is rare that actual face time is more than two days.  Her insight was that anyone could put on a good face for 2 days, and that doubt can creep in.  “Do you really know the person?”  Her advice was to take advantage of breaks when you are able to spend more time together so that you can get to know each other outside of these short stints.

Worlds Colliding – Making sure that visiting weekends are not only date nights has worked for this relationship.  This student said she usually spends one night with her boyfriend and one night with her boyfriend and his friends.  This is the same when he visits.  That way they are able to integrate and get support from their friends when there is distance.  I felt like this was the best piece of advice that she gave.  When she told me this, she was clear that this process was purposeful, and it makes sense.  It can be really easy to get wrapped up for the short period of time that you have together and not acknowledge the life that one another leads when you are gone.  I feel that this can also be helpful in combating the inevitable creep of jealousy that happens in LDRs.  If you hung out last weekend with all the people who tag your significant other in Facebook photos, it is a lot easier to talk yourself down off the jealousy cliff.

What I really liked about the combination of these pieces of advice was that it really showed a nice balance between connecting with your partner and accepting the role that distance plays in the relationship.  Like all LDRs, she hopes to break up with Distance one day soon and be monogamous with her boyfriend.

-Logan Williamson, LPC

 

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Smardi Gras

Carnival season is here and what a great time to be in New Orleans! Beads, doubloons, throws, and king cake—all things that incite excitement and wonder to new comers and old faithfuls alike. Whether you choose to watch the parades on St. Charles Avenue or join the madness of the party on Bourbon Street, keep these safety tips in mind to have a Smardi Gras:

  • Travel in groups to and from parking spots and be aware of your surroundings. Leave nothing of value in plain sight in your car.
  • Carry valuables (I.D, keys, cash) in your front pockets. This puts would be pickpockets at a disadvantage. Avoid carrying bulky purses and don’t wear expensive jewelry.
  • Pre-program your cell phone with 2-3 local cab numbers and carry enough cash to cover a cab ride.
  • The drinking age is 21 and please be safe if you choose to drink. Set a reasonable limit for yourself and stick to it.
  • Look after your drink. If you leave your drink unattended, just get a new one.
  • Pack snacks. Bring non-alcoholic drinks and food to stay hydrated and energized.
  • Check the weather forecast. It can be very warm or very cold. Whether or not you wear a costume, it is a day outdoors, so plan accordingly: wear comfortable shoes, sunscreen, and layered clothing.
  • Bring a plastic or cloth bag with handles with you to hold all of the trinkets that you catch.
  • Be extra aware when using your cell phone in public.
  • Respect the police. Our NOPD officers are working overtime and are deserving of your cooperation and compliance. It is very easy to get arrested for being overly intoxicated or obnoxious. Have fun but be smart.
  • Visit the Smardi Gras table in the Danna Student Center on Thursday, February 7th from 12:30- 2pm to get great giveaways!

-University Counseling Center

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In an earlier post I mentioned my bias against Reality Television.  If I was being honest, it is more of a disdain.  A disgust.  Like when someone says “Moist” really slowly and accentuates the “st” at the end.  “Moi…STTT.”  That is how much I do not like Reality TV.  (Sorry for making you read that.)

The source of my revulsion comes from the way that Reality TV pretends to take away the veil between fiction and nonfiction.  You are watching people talking to one another, going through their lives, relating to one another, relating to you through the confessional booth, and having conflict.  The problem is that this isn’t the reality television that I grew up with – when reality TV shows came out of a writers strike and the broadcasters had to create a product that didn’t require scripts.  No, this is a highly scripted, highly crafted and focus group tested exercise turning you into a consumer of these quasi-celebrities’ lives.  Honestly, shows like MTV’s Real World or Survivor weren’t all that “Real” either though.

Snapple Fact of the Day: The first reality TV show that, which is still being aired today… COPS.

Not only do we become consumer of fake-real people, but I feel like it adjusts our baseline for reality (real reality, not reality TV).  Instead of using our internal experience of conflict as a guide, we buy into the idea that the fights that these people have on screen are real representations of conflict – even though they aren’t.  The worst case scenario is that we take these actors as a guide for how to relate, and the best case scenario is that we use their overreactions as a comparison point for our behaviors.  “At least I didn’t string together a dozen cuss words like one of the Kardashians.”  All of this tends to happen on a subconscious level as well.  We aren’t having this conversation with ourselves, it just happens.

Lastly, I feel like these shows are exploitive.  Some are explicitly exploitive like the Honey Boo Boos and Toddlers and Tiaras.  These shows serve only as ways to make fun of these odd subgroups – a modern day PT Barnum.  They’ve replaced the Bearded Woman with, “The Woman who hyper-sexualizes her child.”  BF Skinner, father of modern behavioral psychology, once famously said that he could get any woman naked, given the right conditions.  He of course was referring to how people routinely take off their clothes for medical professionals and do not ascribe the same meaning that they do for this same behavior with their romantic partners.  Reality TV producers have taken this literally, putting out shows like, “The Man who will eat Beetles by the handful and then stab his friend in the back for CASH!”

I feel like it is important to burst the Reality TV bubble so that when we watch these shows, we appreciate them for the fiction that they are, in hopes that they don’t subtly shift our values.

-Logan Williamson, LPC

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I once had a professor tell me that she could tell the difference between a successful and an unsuccessful college student with one question.  “Do you have a planner?”  At the time I thought she was being overly simplistic, but that was because I didn’t own a planner!  The more that I learn, work and live, the more I find value in her words and in organization as a whole.

The brain is a funny thing.  It is so immensely complex and functional that sometimes it fools us into thinking it can do more than it is capable of doing.  It reminds you of when it bailed you out and when it was able to outperform your expectations.  We all know that cramming for tests is the worst way to study, but remember all of those times when you crammed last minute and still did well on that test?  What about the paper you threw together right before the due date?  It turns out that if you are at Loyola, then you are probably naturally smart enough to do things like this every once and awhile.  But success doesn’t come from winging it.  Success comes from consistency. 

After winning his 3rd National Championship in 4 years, Nick Saban was asked if Alabama was a dynasty.  He replied, “I don’t think words like dynasty are words that I’m interested in.  We’re interested in accomplishment and consistency and performance.

http://www.wbir.com/news/article/248668/2/Blowout-Alabama-routs-Notre-Dame-for-repeat-BCS-title

/Side note – if you read between the lines, he was saying, “Yes, we are a dynasty you idiot.  I won 3 of 4!”  Because what is a dynasty if it isn’t accomplishment, consistency and performance?/

Consistency is where organization comes into play.  Organization allows us to increase our speed and efficiency (read: performance).  Imagine if every time you were looking for something, the last place you looked was 3 places sooner.  5 places?  Imagine that the answer to simple questions about scheduling or due dates were answered in 30 seconds as opposed to 5 minutes?  What if you were able to use those minutes towards being productive?  Admittedly, there are limited hours during the day where our brains are operating at a pace where we are truly productive.  Sure we can stretch these hours during finals and midterms, but in a typical day there is only so much energy that we have to put towards our endeavors.  If we are spending those precious minutes answering questions that organization can answer quicker, then we are not operating in a successful pattern.

I found the most value in organization came from decreasing the amount of brain power spent maintaining the organization system in my head.  Sure I knew when that paper was due, but it was because I was actively storing and recalling that information.  The simplest verified fact that neuropsychology catalogued was the brain has its limitations.  Sure, some people are smarter than others, but everyone maxes out at a certain point.  Because organization invariably taxes our resources, why not implement a healthy tax cut this semester and buy and use a planner.  Get to know Google Calendar or iCalendar.  Sync it up to your smartphone.  Enter in all of your due dates and have it send you reminders.  Use it for social events too.  If you only use your calendar for school then you can’t look ahead to the fun stuff.  Don’t let your brain fool you into thinking it can do more than it can and make the first place that you look for information, the last place you have to look.  A little organization can help make your college career a dynasty!

-Logan Williamson, LPC

***Thanks for covering your mouths when you cough and getting those flu shots!  Student Health hasn’t diagnosed a case of the flu in over a week!***

Wait! Don’t Go!  Check out past posts on the Care For The Pack blog.  Also, keep checking back as we have 4 articles that will be posted in the next two weeks, and we update the blog twice a week with contributions from our staff at the UCC and Student Health!

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Non-violence seems like such an easy concept. The difficulty, of course, is in the application. As I think about the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I honor not only what the Civil Rights Movement did but also King’s underlying philosophy which still rings true with wisdom for us today, decades after the Civil Rights Movement.

MLK described non-violence as “…a willingness to be the recipient of violence while never inflicting violence on one another…” (You can listen to him speak on the topic at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1K1j9FaH2io)

Non-violence is not agreement with or consent for a system or an act. It is not avoidance of injustice so as to minimize conflict. It is a methodology, a way of opposing injustice that does not create more violence.

Decades later, we live in a world where there is still injustice and systemic oppression even if the manifestations have shifted. Human trafficking, modern day sex slavery, sweatshop labor, rigged financial systems, oppression of women in various parts of the world, and unsustainable stripping of ecological systems are a few.

Closer to our daily lives are the kinds of interpersonal violence that many students directly experience. Bullying, holding grudges, blaming, victim blaming, retaliation, cyber stalking, domestic violence, threats with intimidation and vicious gossiping are all too common. These may not be structural systems of injustice, but they are acts of violence that inflict unnecessary harm on others.

We have all been recipients of violence. How do you choose to respond?

Perhaps the “natural” reaction is to respond in defensiveness with more violence. When we sense injustice toward us, we tend to feel anger. But if we hold onto and then act on that anger with violence, our own cause can be overshadowed. There are reverberations which harm both parties, leaving both less free.

If we want a world that is less oppressive, less cruel, less unjust, then non-violence urges us to willingly receive the violence that comes to us while refusing to inflict that same violence on another. We are to oppose injustice and violence with steadfast determination but do so in a manner that does not use the very method that we are protesting against.

“There is no road towards peace. Peace is the road.” –Ghandi

(To hear MLK speak on Ghandi’s influence on him, go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eDpd0oM2x_E)

Brooks Zitzmann, LMSW

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Making an Error

I recently read the book, Moneyball, and thoroughly enjoyed the quick pace and how Michael Lewis made people like Billy Beane and Bill James jump off the pages.  For those who haven’t read the book, it focuses on how baseball teams that spend much less money can still be successful.  Instead of spending money on players who could hit the ball the best, the author writes about the development of a system that values getting on base; in whatever way possible.

I was struck most by a section that redefined some of the most basic of statistics in baseball; remembering that in baseball, statistics are everything.  For instance, Lewis looked at how Errors in baseball mean much more than a bad play.  The original purpose of the Error was to differentiate a ball that someone could have fielded from a ball that was impossible to make a play on.  It used to be a much more important statistic because baseball fields were not the carefully manicured and maintained sanctuaries they are today.  Additionally, Errors are not specifically defined like a hit or a homerun, but are determined off the field by an umpire.

Moneyball argues that in order to get an error, you have to be doing a bunch of things right.  Someone has to be in just the right spot for them to field that tough ball.  They have to have a certain skill set and even a reputation for an observer to say they erred in their play.  Instead of looking at errors as terrible and marks of a bad player, the author argues for errors to be seen as marks of a good player, or at least an inaccurate judge of someone’s ability.

When I read this passage, it made me look upon human errors in a new light.  If human errors can be compared to baseball errors, then we should try and place less importance on counting them by number and cataloguing them for future review.  Errors are judged by humans, and thus subject to… well… error.  An overemphasis on mistakes can lead to ignoring what was going right, and may even encourage future errors.  This viewpoint is inherently sophisticated and nuanced.  Of course you should pay attention to mistakes, but you have to be willing to play and make mistakes too.  In a culture of success and drive such as Loyola, errors can feel very negative.  Instead, see how you are doing things right amongst the errors and know that even the pros make them.

-Logan Williamson, LPC

**Please note that Student Health Services is sold out of Flu Shots – local pharmacies still have them available.**

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The Flu Facts

As I’m sure you’ve heard already, flu season is upon us!   This year, the flu virus has been detected in all 50 states with high activity levels in the South Central and Southeastern United States (CDC, 2012).  The flu typically occurs every year from October through May, with peak months of January and February.  However, a higher number of flu cases have been reported earlier in this season than in the past few years.

Each season, the flu severity is unpredictable and it can vary widely depending on what viruses are spreading, the availability of vaccine, and how well the flu vaccine is matched to the flu viruses that are causing illness.  This year’s vaccine covers two new strains of the virus plus the same H1N1 compared to last year’s vaccine.  Enough of the vaccine supply is available at local pharmacies and doctors’ offices and it’s a good match for the virus this year.   Thus, if you haven’t done so already, please get your flu shot!

So, what is the difference between a cold and the flu?

The flu and common cold are both contagious respiratory illnesses but they are caused by different viruses.  The flu is caused by the Influenza A and B viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs.  The flu usually comes on suddenly; you may or may not have all or some of the symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, and fatigue.   Most people who get influenza will recover within a few days to a few weeks with very little health compromise.  However, some people, especially those with other chronic conditions and the elderly, can develop complications such as pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infections, or other secondary infections. 

On the other hand, over 200 viruses can cause a common cold.  The rhinovirus is the most common virus that causes colds. The symptoms of fever, body aches, fatigue and dry cough may be similar in both illnesses but more intense with the flu.  People with colds are more likely to have a runny or a stuffy nose.  Colds usually do not result in serious health problems and/or complications.  Since common cold is caused by a virus, antibiotics will not help. There are prescription medications available for the flu called “antiviral drugs” that can be used to treat the flu.  When used appropriately, these medications can shorten the duration and severity of illness by 1 to 2 days and prevent serious complications.  Laboratory testing can be done to better differentiate between the cold and flu, however, recent studies indicate that adults with mild illness without high risk conditions who are younger than 65 years of age do not require testing or treatment (CDC, 2012).  Treatment with antivirals is recommended to individuals within 48 hours of onset of symptoms but not afterward.  Overuse of antiviral agents can promote resistance of the virus to the medication that could lead to these agents becoming ineffective.  Additionally, antiviral drugs have some side effects including nausea, vomiting, dizziness, runny or stuffy nose, cough, diarrhea, headache and some behavioral side effects. 

Prevention is key!

CDC recommends that all individuals six months of age or older receive the flu vaccine annually.  By getting the flu vaccine you can protect yourself and others from the spread of influenza.  It’s ideal to be vaccinated before the onset of flu activity in the community; however, it’s not too late to be vaccinated now!  The protection of the vaccine should last the entire season.  You can get vaccinated at a local pharmacy and your insurance should cover the cost. 

Other preventative strategies against a cold or flu:

  1.  Wash hands/keyboards/phones/door knobs and other surfaces you may share with others
  2. Cover your mouth with your elbow or a tissue if you have a cough
  3. Don’t share drinks or food with others
  4. Exercise – studies have shown exercise can boost your immune system
  5. Get plenty of rest/sleep
  6. Eat a well-balanced diet

Please call us or stop by the student health center to receive more information on the flu vaccine and over the counter remedies.  For more information please visit our website at http://studentaffairs.loyno.edu/health.

Irina Foxman, ANP

Student Health Services

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The Spin on Facebook

I recently went to the 60th Annual Tulane Brain and Behavior Conference, which was a two day event that brought together a wide variety of mental health professionals.  It was filled with informative lectures on a variety of topics and great discussion by some of the top minds in the country.  Truly, this was an experience on the cutting edge of research and practice for psychiatry and psychology.  I wanted to share a few thoughts with you from this weekend.  A little bit of a winding post, but stick with me through it!

In one presentation, Dr. Richard Dalton gave an overview of how psychologists viewed the development of “The Self.”  There have been many psychological theories on how The Self has developed over the years.  As a profession, it has been important to define what it is inside us before we can talk about how we interact among each other and what is “normal.”  Dr. Dalton’s described this process as figuring out, “who owns the negative affect?”  Infants believe that everyone feels they should be as upset as they are in the moment, but eventually realize that their caregivers are fine and do not have the same emotions at the same time.

This process changes into: as you grow up, how do you learn to tolerate bad feelings?  Do you over identify it as your fault?  Are you more likely to make it someone else’s fault?  What about a more balanced perspective that allows you to tolerate bad choices or mistakes and maintain a sense that you are still a good person?

That was a long way to get to this point:

Using the lens of, “Who owns the negative affect?”  How does this process interact with our use of Facebook and Social Networking?

People post information online about themselves and typically it is Spin.  That Spin is how people are framing their lives for other people to see and react.  But, if someone says something negative about the views we put on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., then we have to make a choice about how to handle the negative reaction.

Suddenly, we are put in the position of defending the Spin.  Do you struggle to get that person to see you the way you want them to see you?  Do you give up the struggle?  Do you change your view of Self based on their negative comment?

Social Networking provides a very new and sometimes tricky place for us to exist and it is just beginning.  I found this topic to be profound as we spend so much time using Social Networking to interact with one another, without much regard for how it affects us or who we are connected to online.

-Logan Williamson, LPC

While you are here, please check out Student Health Services posting on the services they provide and check back to this blog soon for what to do if you have the Flu!

http://blogs.loyno.edu/counseling/2013/01/07/student-health-services-what-we-do-and-how-we-do-it/ 

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Life at Loyola can be fun and exciting while at the same time stressful and demanding.  A visit to Student Health Services could be your answer to getting well and staying well as you navigate the responsibilities of being a student and as we venture into the peak of flu season.  Your Student Health Services clinic provides healthcare for all currently enrolled Loyola students including residential, commuter, full-time and part-time.  SHS is staffed by contracted employees of Ochsner Health System and consist of a nurse practitioner, registered nurse, and a medical assistant.  You can check out their individual biographies on our main page: http://studentaffairs.loyno.edu/bios/dept/health.  Our collaborative physician/medical director is Dr. Margaret Pelitere. 

There is no cost beyond your tuition for the medical care provided at SHS; however, there are fees associated with laboratory testing (lab work sent off-site), prescriptions (Loyola does not have a pharmacy), outpatient x-rays, and immunizations.  If you receive a prescription, you will need to have that medication filled at a local pharmacy.  We can provide you with a list of nearby pharmacies.

We are located in the basement of the Danna Center, directly below the Orleans Room (OR).  Our office hours during the fall and spring semesters are Monday-Friday 8:30am-4:45pm.  There are limited same day appointments available with the nurse practitioner and nurse consultations are always available during office hours.  Medical services are provided for illnesses such as the flu, strep throat, urinary tract infections, sinus infections, dermatological conditions, just to name a few.  Think of SHS as your on-campus urgent care clinic. 

If you are sick and would like to see the nurse practitioner, simply call (504)-865-3326 or stop in to schedule your same day appointment.  It is best to call or stop by as early as possible in the morning to schedule your appointment, as there is a limited number of students that the nurse practitioner can see each day.  If the nurse practitioner’s schedule is full for the day, you can consult with the nursing staff.  She can offer you medical advice and provide a referral if necessary.  If you need medical attention after hours, you can refer to our website for area urgent care options.  For on-campus medical emergencies, contact LUPD at (504)-865-3434 for an ambulance. 

SHS staff can also make referrals to local hospitals, walk-in clinics, physicians, and specialists in the area.  Wellness appointments, such as well-woman exams and physicals, are scheduled in advance as opposed to same day “sick” appointments.  Immunizations for MMR (measles, mumps and rubella), tetanus, meningitis, flu, and TB test are available at a cost.

Strict confidentiality laws are firmly respected in SHS.  All medical records are kept strictly confidential and are not a part of the student’s academic record.  Medical records are only released with the signed consent of the student. 

For more information on SHS, please visit: http://studentaffairs.loyno.edu/health

Amie Cardinal, RN
Student Health Services

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Good Grief!

Recently, there have been more clients coming into the UCC needing help around the loss of a loved one.  Whether planned or unplanned, processing through loss can be incredibly difficult.  Sociologically, different cultures handle this process in a wide variety of ways, but every culture acknowledges grief’s role in maintaining a healthy community.

It seems counter intuitive.  How could someone permanently leaving be a strength in a healthy community?  But it is.  Death reminds us of our humanity and that we do not have forever to participate.  It centers us in the community that supports us.  It provides us with opportunity to give and receive support from others, which is necessary in our human relationships.  It also serves as a time for remembrance and reflection on the lives of those who mean so much to us.

The beauty among the wreckage, that is death, is that we don’t start relationships with the hope that someone will be there for us when we need it.  In grief, we don’t expect reciprocation because in that moment we can’t imagine anyone else possibly understanding what that loss means to us.  And yet we are still given support.  This comfort is so helpful in processing through the range of emotions that we feel for those who have passed, as sometimes we grieve for those who were wonderful influences, and sometimes for those whose death is more complicated.

So for those who are grieving, lean on your community.  We’re here for you.  For those who are being leaned on, know how much your support is needed.

-Logan Williamson, LPC

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