Mardi Gras is over, and whether your holiday break was filled with excitement or with rest and relaxation, returning to school can be difficult, especially with mid-terms approaching. Getting back into a routine can evoke anxiety and stress. This may seem inevitable, but there are ways to manage your anxiety and make the transition go a little more smoothly so that you can more appropriately and effectively prepare for those mid-term exams.

1. Prioritize sleep. Getting enough sleep is crucial for your health and mental health, overall.

2. Learn to say “no”. If you feel like you often take on more than you can handle, think about taking certain things off of your plate. Make sure that your needs take precedence.

3. Exercise regularly and eat healthy foods. This includes drinking enough water. Making this a part of your routine can relieve anxiety and make you feel refreshed.

4. Do something for YOU. Do you love to draw? Read? Do yoga? Make time for the thing that you love, especially when you are feeling overwhelmed.

5. Talk to someone. Call a friend, a family member, a counselor – or come to the UCC Anxiety Management Groups! Talking about your worries and anxieties out loud can often make them seem more manageable.

If you would like more information on managing your anxiety, join the University Counseling Center for FREE anxiety workshops. All groups meet from 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm in Marquette 112.

The March schedule is as follows:

Wednesday, 03/09/16 Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction Asia Wong, LMSW
Wednesday, 03/16/16 Rewiring Your Anxious Brain Alicia Bourque, PhD
Wednesday, 03/30/16 Progressive Muscle Relaxation Erin Shapiro, LPC
Wednesday, 04/06/16 Self-Care and Stress Management Gil Lerma, LPC
Thursday, 04/21/16 Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction Asia Wong, LMSW
Thursday, 04/28/16 Rewiring Your Anxious Brain Alicia Bourque, PhD
Thursday, 05/05/16 Progressive Muscle Relaxation Erin Shapiro, LPC
Thursday, 05/12/16 Self-Care and Stress Management Gil Lerma, LPC

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February 22-26 is Love Your Body Week at Loyola, a time to promote positive body image and healthy habits.  Love Your Body Week coincides with National Eating Disorder Awareness Week and is a great time to discuss the long term effects of negative body image. The media is saturated with images of individuals that embody “the beauty-ideal” and many internalize these messages negatively, believing that they are not good enough. Negative body image may lead to behaviors such as dieting and approximately 35% of “normal dieters” progress to pathological dieting. Of these, approximately 20-25% progress to partial or full eating disorders.

Love Your Body Week activities include a poster and social media campaign, tabling in the One Loyola room, a mindful dining campaign, a brown bag lunch talk on women’s health and sexuality at the WRC living room on 2/25, Fitness Friday on February 26th, and three productions of the Vagina Monologues put on by Feminist Fridays on February 24th, 25th, and 26th at 7:30pm.

If you or someone you know may be struggling with an eating disorder and you want help, please contact the University Counseling Center (UCC) to make an appointment.

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Did you know that February 14-20 is Random Acts of Kindness Week? At Loyola, it’s also our week for Compassionate Campus. During this week, we make a renewed commitment to being men and women for and with each other. It’s a time to notice all the compassion already around you, and to reflect on ways to increase your own capacity for compassion.

What comes to mind when you think of compassion, and is it meaningful to you? Sometimes it can feel daunting to try and embody lofty ideals. Other times, it can feel as if these ideals are saccharine greeting card notions, devoid of substance. How do you keep the idea of compassion relevant and present for yourself?

At its root, compassion means to “feel with.” In every day practice, compassion means to acknowledge the suffering, real or potential, of the people you interact with, and to do your best to lessen it. Do people leave their interactions with you happier or sadder; angrier or consoled? How do you like to be treated, and is it difficult or easy for you to treat others this way?

Often we are our own harshest critics. Do you treat yourself with compassion? Do you talk to yourself like you talk to your best friend, or your worst enemy? Many people believe that they won’t accomplish anything without self-criticism, but try using self-encouragement instead. Feel too drained to take care of anyone else? Start with yourself. Compassion is not about perfection or self-sacrifice, but rather the belief that collectively we have enough resources to take care of each other and ourselves, or at least the desire and ability to work towards this abundance.

Compassionate Campus is not only about reflecting on your own capacity for compassion, but also a chance to notice the compassionate acts taking place around you all the time. Imagine yourself as a kindness curator, and your world suddenly becomes a lot easier to inhabit.

Sound impossible? Not sure where to start? Stop by the One Loyola Room this week, and get some help. Commit to living a more compassionate life for one week, and see if it makes a difference.

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Here’s to a fun and safe Mardi Gras season!


Don’t be shy! Make sure to carry your state, Loyola ID, and debit/credit cards with you at all times.



CHEERS! But drink safely. The legal drinking age is 21. Set a reasonable limit for yourself and stick to it. If you leave your drink unattended at any time just toss it. And please don’t carry glass containers.




Chill out. Stay hydrated and bring snacks. Keep an eye out for restrooms, as they can be difficult to find.




Respect the NOPD. They are working overtime and are deserving of your cooperation and compliance. It is very easy to get arrested for being overly intoxicated or obnoxious. Do not touch the police horses.




Drive safe, or not at all. Pre-program United Cab Company’s number in your phone: (504) 522-9771 or download/use Uber.



And don’t forget Loyola’s MEDICAL AMNESTY + GOOD SAMARITAN POLICY: Loyola University encourages students/student organizations to help others by calling for medical assistance in instances of excessive alcohol and/or drug use. You can seek medical attention for yourself or for someone else without fear of disciplinary actions.

Call LUPD at 504-865-3434 to get help! You will not get in trouble for saving someone’s life!


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Make this a semester of moving forward in a positive direction!  For the spring 2016 semester, the University Counseling Center is offering several group counseling options for students looking to enhance their anxiety management, engage in personal growth, quit smoking, and/or find ways to connect with other students.  Be on the lookout for our full schedule of dates and times to attend an upcoming session at  All services are free and confidential to all Loyola students enrolled for the spring 2016 semester.

Anxiety Management Group

Worried?  Tired?  Irritable or having trouble concentrating?  Then join a member of Loyola’s University Counseling Center team to engage in small group counseling sessions devoted to topics such as:

  • Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction:  Learn how to focus on the present instead of getting lost in anxiety about the future or regrets about the past. Find ways to attend to your emotions without magnifying problems, or getting lost in criticism and self-judgment.
  • Change Your Thinking to Change Your Mood:  Find out more about your specific thought patterns that cause anxiety and stress, and learn how to change them!
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation and Meditation:  Take time out of your busy day to truly relax for an hour! A trained counselor will lead you through calming guided imagery and progressive muscle relaxation. You will also learn how to do this on your own. At the end of this session, you should feel relaxed, focused and ready to face your challenges.
  • Self-Care and Stress Management:  Ever felt hangry? Too tired to focus? Learn about the behavioral and biological factors that contribute to stress, what you can do improve self-care, and form a plan to implement change.

Anxiety management group meetings will be held at various points during the semester to coincide with the beginning of the semester, midterms, and finals.  There is no obligation to attend all sessions.  Walk-ins welcome!

Sexual Assault Survivors

Support, counseling, and hope for adult survivors of sexual violence are offered to Loyola students through weekly group sessions with a counselor from the University Counseling Center.    For more information about the Sexual Assault Survivors group, please call the UCC at 504.865.3835 or visit our website at

Smoking Cessation

Loyola has been tobacco free since August 2015 and cessation group services are being offered to Loyola students to assist with maintaining our commitment to your health.  This seven week program will address the risks of tobacco use and will support cessation efforts by providing evidence-based strategies.  The time to quit is now! For more information about the smoking cessation group, please call the UCC at 504.865.3835 or visit our website at

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Congratulations, you’ve officially made it through the fall 2015 semester!  Time for some much deserved R&R with family and friends during the break.  If your family lives in the Greater New Orleans area, you have probably been back and forth on several occasions to do laundry, eat a home-cooked meal, or just touch base over a cup of coffee.  If you live further away, the winter holidays might be your first trip home for the academic year.

Going home for the holidays can initially be filled with great expectations and a little anxiety.  You might believe that you have changed dramatically in your time at Loyola and wonder what your family will think of the “new you.”  In some ways, Loyola might feel more like “home” to you.  This is absolutely normal and signals your shift toward independence and adult living.

Don’t be surprised if you notice that your family and friends “back home” have also changed since you’ve been away.  You have probably heard the talk time and time again about how college changes the student; however, it is also a time of transition for your loved ones.

Here are a few tips to cope with the holiday trip home:

  • Holidays can be both joyful and stressful.  If you notice yourself feeling the “holiday blues” think about your expectations for returning home and put things back into realistic perspective.  Consider recording a “home for the holidays” playlist to assist with relaxation.
  • Try pre-planning your trip.  By setting a loosely structured schedule, you can more easily make time for friends and family.
  • Make time for rest and self-care.  You are likely to feel exhausted after the semester and final exams but still want to visit with everyone back home.  Plan your time to include sleep, exercise, and relaxation.
  • Talk openly with your parents about household rules.  Discuss curfews, chores/upkeep, and be open to compromise.
  • Keep in contact with your friends from Loyola.  Make a few phone calls, facetime, or send email/text messages.  You’ll be happy to pick up where you left off when you return to campus in January.
  • Volunteer.  Remembering the Jesuit ideals of compassion and dignity this holiday season and giving of your time and energy to assist in the lives of others will leave you feeling a sense of renewal and motivation for the spring semester.

So, here’s to you and making the most of your time over the holidays. Enjoy and we’ll see you in 2016!


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Since the days are shorter and it may be dark when you leave campus for the day, are you finding yourself increasingly irritable, sluggish, and craving carbohydrates? If so, you could be experiencing symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), “SAD is a depression that occurs each year at the same time, usually starting in fall, worsening in winter, and ending in spring.” It is more than just the “winter blues” or “cabin fever.” Seasonal Depression occurs when our bodies have decreased exposure to sunlight, and the internal biological clock that regulates mood, sleep, and hormones is shifted. As stated above, these symptoms may include the following: sadness, anxiety, irritability, loss of interest, social withdrawal, concentration difficulties, extreme fatigue and low energy, increased need for sleep and craving for carbohydrates with accompanying weight gain.

It is important that you listen to these internal cues and that you consult with trained professionals for assistance. Although your subjective input is vital to your diagnosis; you may need to seek medical and/or mental health services for an evaluation. A medical assessment can determine whether your symptoms are due to a medical diagnosis such as fatigue, anemia, a virus, thyroid malfunction, or an electrolyte imbalance. Once you are cleared medically, and a medical reason for your symptoms can not be determined, you would be referred to a mental health provider. A mental health provider such as a psychologist or counselor can evaluate your pattern of symptoms, determine the frequency and intensity of what you are experiencing, and identify whether you are experiencing SAD or another type of mood disorder such as Major Depression.

If a diagnosis of SAD is deemed to be present, then your mental health provider will work with you to identify healthy ways to cope with symptoms. The NIH suggests the following:

• Spend some amount of time outside every day, even when it’s very cloudy. The effects of daylight are still beneficial.

• Eat a well-balanced diet and include sufficient amounts of vitamins and minerals as recommended by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This will help you to have more energy even though your body is craving starchy and sweet foods.

• Exercise for 30 minutes a day, three times a week.

• Stay involved with your social circle and regular activities. This can be a tremendous means of support during winter months.

If you believe you may be experiencing symptoms of SAD, please visit Loyola’s Student Health Services clinic in the basement of the Danna Student Center or call (504) 865-3326 to make an appointment. Loyola’s University Counseling Center is also available to help and is located on the second floor of the Danna Student Center in room 208 and can be reached by phone for an appointment at (504) 865-3835.




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Every year, on the third Thursday of November, smokers across the nation take part in the American Cancer Society Great American Smoke-out. They may use the date to make a plan to choose a tobacco free lifestyle, or plan in advance and then choose to abstain from using tobacco products that day. The Great American Smoke-out event challenges people to abstain from using tobacco and helps to create awareness concerning the many resources that are available that can assist with successfully choosing a tobacco free lifestyle.

During this time, the Loyola community uses this event to publicize the benefits of choosing a tobacco free lifestyle. So what are some of these benefits?

  1. Stop smoking for younger looking skin.
  2. Ex-smokers have whiter teeth.
  3. Quitting smoking improves smell and taste.
  4. Within 6 hours of quitting smoking your heart rate slows and your blood pressure decreases.
  5. 5.Within a day of quitting smoking the level of carbon monoxide in your blood has dropped and oxygen can more easily reach your heart and muscles.
  6. Quitting smoking equals a lowered risk for lung cancer and many other types of cancer.Stop smoking for more energy.
  7. Within 2 months of quitting smoking your immune system begins its recovery so your body is better at fighting off infection.
  8. After 1 year of quitting smoking your lungs are now healthier and you’ll be breathing easier.
  9. Quitting smoking boosts mental health.

It can be difficult to quit tobacco. Research shows that smokers are most successful in kicking the habit when they have support, such as:

  • Telephone smoking-cessation hotlines: 1-800-QUIT-NOW
  • Stop-smoking groups: During the Spring semester Loyola University will offer cessation groups to students.
  • Online quit groups: Freedom From Smoking Online, QuitNet, etc.
  • Counseling
  • Nicotine replacement products
  • Prescription medicine to lessen cravings
  • Guide books
  • Encouragement and support from friends and family members

Using 2 or more of these measures to quit smoking works better than using any one of them alone. For example, some people use a prescription medicine along with nicotine replacement. Other people may use as many as 3 or 4 of the methods listed above.

Visit to learn more about quitting smoking, improving your health, or getting involved with the Great American Smoke-out in your community. Or just call your American Cancer Society anytime at 1-800-227-2345.

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Sexual assault is a heavy topic for a Saturday. Yet this weekend, 14 people gathered to spend the better part of a day participating in the Sexual Assault Response Advocacy training.

The training is collaborative in nature with faculty from the Department of Criminal JusticeLUPD, the Title IX Coordinator, the Department of Counseling, and the University Counseling Center (UCC) providing information in their areas of expertise. These speakers address the gendered nature of violence, review various options available (including medical, legal, and judicial options), and provide empathic communication skill building. Each trained advocate then serves as a knowledgeable, initial point of contact, connecting survivors to community resources for health and healing.

Among the participants this weekend included students, staff and faculty representing a variety of departments, ages, cultural backgrounds, genders, and grades. Herein lies the note of hopefulness: many people from many backgrounds care and are seeking ways to address the problem of sexual violence. Though sexual violence permeates our culture, there are individuals choosing to teach, learn, listen, brainstorm, volunteer, and dialogue.

If you are a survivor, a list of trained advocates and a list of local resources can be found on the UCC’s webpage.

If you are a community member looking to engage this topic further, consider the following:

  1. Challenge your peers who make comments that blame victims.
  2. Reflect on the posters in residence halls highlighting the link between alcohol and sexual violence.
  3. Look for information about Sexual Non-Violence Week (in early April).
  4. Consider being trained as an advocate.
  5. Attend a lecture on a related topic.
  6. Talk to a counselor about how you can engage this topic.


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Please see the reflection below provided by A’Niya Robinson, a senior at Loyola pursuing a degree in political science.


Through the entire Take Back the Night planning process, one theme stayed on my mind: community. I was reminded that survivors of sexual assault and their supporters have the opportunity to come together to produce a formidable force. I was reminded of community when I saw the six different universities and members of the Crescent City come together on Thursday night. The Loyola Horseshoe was transformed into a huge crowd of supporters, survivors, and organizations. Towards the end of the event in the Horseshoe, participants were given candles to carry if they chose to march to Tulane. The small light flickering in the darkness of the night may look insignificant at first. However, when all of the candles gather together, an incredible light is produced. That light, for me, translates into a feeling of solidarity, hope, and support. At certain moments, survivors of sexual violence had the opportunity to share their story in the presence of supporters who gave hugs and words of encouragement.

I like to think of Take Back the Night as 600 friends that you never knew you had. In addition to the Horseshoe ceremony, our community was fortunate enough to host additional activities that gave support to survivors. There are truly no words to express my emotions as more stories are shared: the anger and hurt I feel for other survivors and my pride as I see their bravery. While we all are on different steps of our journey towards healing and reconciliation, I’d like to think other survivors feel that same reward. To me, that’s what Take Back the Night represents. We gain strength from our stories and from each other.

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