University Health and Counseling Services
Ambrose Center

Staying Healthy

Videos and Games:

Articles & Brochures:

For Better Health: Make Sleep a Priority

The consequences of poor sleep include poor grades, less energy for physical activity and dealing with stress, difficulty concentrating, increased mistakes, more prone to accidents, and an immune system that is not at its best to fight illness.

Students sleep six to seven hours a night, down from seven to eight hours in the 1980s. "Sleep difficulties" ranked third among UW-W students' "top 10 impediments to academic performance," according to the 2005 National College Health Assessment.

Start your day off right with a good night’s sleep.

  1. Give yourself “permission” to go to bed. Put your “to do” list away and make sleep a priority.
  2. Unwind early in the evening.
  3. Make a sleep ritual. Do the same things each night before you go to bed to signal to your body that it is time for sleep.
  4. Keep regular bedtime and waking hours.
  5. Create a restful place to sleep.
  6. Sleep on a comfortable bed.
  7. Exercise regularly, but avoid exercising late in the day.
  8. Avoid drinking caffeinated beverages in the evening.
  9. Don’t smoke.
  10. Reduce alcohol intake. Drinking alcohol shortly before bedtime interrupts and fragments sleep.

Source: Better Sleep Council, 2005

Anything less than five minutes to fall asleep at night means you're sleep deprived. The ideal is between 10 and 15 minutes, meaning you're still tired enough to sleep deeply, but not so exhausted you feel sleepy by day.

Seventeen hours of sustained wakefulness leads to a decrease in performance equivalent to a blood alcohol-level of 0.05%.

Seventeen hours of sustained wakefulness leads to a decrease in performance equivalent to a blood alcohol-level of 0.05%. NWI, 5-2010

FAQ for Healthy Traveling!

by Linda Lamont, APNP

Traveling can be an enriching experience with wonderful life-long memories. But making your trip a safe and healthy trip instead of a one you’d like to forget takes pre-planning. A travel consultation with a health-care provider can go a long way towards a safe, healthy trip.

Why should I meet with a health-care provider to discuss my travel plans?
Different countries, and sometimes areas within a given country, have different health issues. Many health-care providers can help you sort out what vaccines you need and precautionary measures you need to be aware of to travel safely.

Who should consider seeing a health-care professional for a travel consultation?
Travelers who:

  • are going to Africa, Asia (including India), Central and South America, Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, and the South Pacific (except Australia and New Zealand) require advanced travel planning
  • are traveling in the U.S. or other parts of the world who need an update on their vaccines or are uncertain of their vaccine status
  • have a chronic medical condition
  • who are pregnant

When should I make an appointment for a travel medicine consultation?
Ideally you should meet to discuss your travel plans 2 – 3 months before you travel. Some vaccines and preventive medications need to be started well in advance of your travels in order to be fully effective by the time you reach your destination. If you aren’t able to plan that far ahead, schedule the appointment as soon as possible.

What information do I need to bring to my visit?
Specific information as to where you will be traveling including:

  • Country, city names, areas of the country including if you’ll be traveling in rural, coastline, or urban areas
  • Activities you are planning
  • Detailed list of your previous vaccinations/ immunizations
  • The original pill containers for all prescription or over-the-counter medications you take
  • Name of any medication you are allergic to and the type of reaction you have
  • Details of any allergies you may have (foods, insects, etc.)

Where can I find a health care provider who offers travel medicine consultations?

  • UW- Whitewater Health and Counseling Services : telephone 262 472 1300 (for appointments)
  • Some public health departments
  • Your health care provider may offer travel consults or refer you to another travel clinic

What are some reputable on-line resources for travel information?

Questions? Call the Health Center for an appointment at 262-472-1300.

International Travel - Playing It Safe

By Jim Ehlers, Advanced Practice Nurse Practitioner

The preventive measures you need to take while traveling to your particular destination depends on the area you visit and the length of time you stay. Medication and vaccination are often required or recommended. A travel clinic or the University Health & Counseling Services can assist you in this effort. They should be contacted 3-6 months before departure.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that all travelers should take the following precautions, no matter the destination:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water.
  • Walk and drive defensively since vehicle crashers are a leading cause of injury. Avoid travel at night if possible and always use seat belts.
  • Always use latex condoms to reduce the risk of HIV and other sexual transmitted diseases.
  • Don't eat or drink dairy products unless you know they have been pasteurized.
  • Don't share needles with anyone.
  • Eat only thoroughly cooked food or fruits and vegetables you have peeled yourself. Remember: boil it, peel it, or forget it.
  • Never eat undercooked ground beef and poultry or raw eggs.

Travelers visiting underdeveloped areas should take the following precautions:

  • Drink only bottled or boiled water, or carbonated drinks in cans or bottles. Avoid tap water, fountain drinks and ice cubes.
  • If you visit an area where there is risk for malaria, take your malaria prevention medication before, during and after travel as directed.
  • To prevent fungal and parasitic infections, keep feet clean and dry, and do not go barefoot.
  • Don't eat food purchased from street vendors.
  • Don't handle animals to avoid bites and serious diseases.

What you need to bring with you:

  • Insect repellent containing DEET, in 30-35% strength for adults and 6-10% for children.
  • Over-the-counter anti-diarrheal medicine.
  • Iodine tablets and water filter to purify water if bottled water is not available.
  • Sunblock, sunglasses and hat.
  • Ongoing prescription medication to take during your trip as well as a copy of the prescription.


50 Steps to a Healthier Life

A bunch of little things that will make a difference

  1. Drink more water
  2. Walk to work or campus
  3. Stretch a on a regular basis
  4. Eat more veggies and fruit
  5. Drink skim milk, not 1%, 2% or whole
  6. Establish goals and objectives - realistic, short and long term
  7. Prioritize exercise sessions like any other responsibility
  8. Develop effective coping strategies for stress
  9. Laugh often
  10. Don't try to lose more than 2 lbs. per week (ideal is 1/2 lb.)
  11. Eat three balanced meals a day
  12. Have fun while you exercise
  13. Quit smoking - Avoid secondary smoke
  14. If you drink, limit yourself to 1-2 glasses of beer, wine or mixed drink
  15. Throw your scale out - at most use it once a month
  16. Incorporate physical activity into your routine wherever possible
  17. Experiment with different types of exercise
  18. Establish a support and reward system
  19. Be realistic!
  20. Eliminate (or reduce) a problem food in your diet (200 cal per day=20lbs per year)
  21. Use your break time effectively/constructively
  22. Make sure you eat a good breakfast
  23. Maintain a positive mental attitude
  24. Use sun screen when in the sun
  25. Do not use escalators or elevators unless necessary
  26. Eat whole grain bread
  27. Recognize the difference between eustress and distress
  28. Do something about the distress; avoid, change attitude or cope
  29. Wear appropriate clothing when exercising
  30. Pack a bagged lunch
  31. Sign up for a biweekly exercise class
  32. Read spiritual writings and reflect on your life
  33. Read a book, a professional journal/article or take a class
  34. Adjust your work station
  35. Learn to sleep on your back or side
  36. Have your blood profile checked
  37. Wear your seat belt
  38. Use part of your leisure time to participate in some physical activity - gardening, bowling
  39. Find enjoyment and pleasure each day
  40. Eat more poultry and fish
  41. Eat fewer "sugary" foods
  42. Limit the amount of salt you add to your food
  43. Try a new wintertime activity
  44. Minimize the amount of caffeinated beverages you consume
  45. Learn the symptoms of a heart attack and how to do CPR
  46. Avoid cholesterol rich foods
  47. Avoid foods high in saturated fat
  48. Increase the percentage of carbohydrates in your diet
  49. Brush and floss your teeth daily
  50. Have your blood pressure checked annually

15 College Survival Tips

by Marilyn Kile, LCSW

  1. Get 8 hours of sleep at night, every night
  2. Drink plenty of water
  3. Don't drink plenty of alcohol
  4. Develop intimate friendships
  5. If you don't know ask; if you're upset tell someone
  6. Trust your guts
  7. Eat fruits, vegetables and whole grains to stay healthy
  8. Exercise every day
  9. Don't smoke or breathe in second hand smoke
  10. Practice only safer sex, which includes abstinence
  11. Set goals and priorities for your day, week, semester and life
  12. Spend time in personal refection every day. Be grateful
  13. Learn to relax and commit part of every day to mental and physical relaxation
  14. Look at the big picture
  15. Laugh often

Don't settle for being a survivor. Be a thriver!!

Body Piercing

In today's society, many people engaging in this art of body modification are increasing their risk of receiving and transmitting infectious and non-infectious diseases. It is because of this increase in risk that they must be made aware of the complications that can arise.

The risks involved when obtaining a body piercing can range anywhere from an allergic reaction to contracting a life-altering virus. If the facility where the procedure was administered is not sterile (including the room, tools, and piercer) an individual is at risk for contracting infectious blood pathogen diseases such as human immuno-deficiency virus (HIV), the virus that causes AIDS and hepatitis. It is due to this risk that the American Association of Blood Banks states an individual must wait one year after receiving their piercing to donate blood.

According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, cases reported of transmitting hepatitis B (HBV) through tattooing or have been reported. There only needs to be a small amount of infected blood for HBV to be transmitted. The pathogen can live in dried blood for at least 15 days and even longer if the blood is in liquid form. An individual who is receiving a body piercing can come in contact with the pathogen if the equipment used is contaminated and not sterilized after use and/or if the needles are recycled. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is currently conducting a study to evaluate tattooing as a potential risk for transmission of the hepatitis C virus as well.

Non-infectious complications are also common with body piercing. A person who has been pierced is susceptible to metal-allergic dermatitis, jewelry that implants itself in the skin, and the risk of lymphadenopathy or swollen glands. There have been reports of local tissue damage when tongues are pierced.

If appropriate disinfection and sterilization techniques are used, the health risk factors associated with body modification are minimal. However, all individuals are at risk of disease transmission when the piercer does not follow proper infection-control procedures. These risks occur when piercers:

  • Reuse tattooing needles or dye;
  • Inadequately sterilize needles between customers; or
  • Break sterilization technique.

When dealing with piercing complications, the problems vary depending on the area where an individual is pierced. Some individuals may react to the metal used for the piercing. It is advised to use jewelry that has no nicks, scratches, or irregular surfaces, and that is a non-toxic metal such as surgical steel, 14K gold, niobium, or titanium in order to prevent infections and allergic reactions. Jewelry should not be worn too tight or blood supply will be denied. Complications may also arise depending on the area of the body that is pierced and the aftercare treatment. When an individual receives a tongue piercing, it is recommended to use a 12-gauge needle tipped with two balls. Many describe the jewelry as an imitation of a barbell.

In tongue piercing, the pain can last for a month, and during this time, there can be complications. There can be nerve damage that affects the way one speaks and swallows and a risk of chipping teeth if the individual has the tendency to "play" with the jewelry. Also if the jewelry is not securely fastened, one may choke. Ear cartilage piercing does not heal as quickly as the lobe due to the different type of tissue. Naval piercings are common for infection because tight-fitting clothes inhibit air circulation, allowing moisture to collect around the piercing site. As for nipple piercing, milk-producing ducts can become infected and cause problems for those who chose to breastfeed later on in life. Aftercare is essential to ensure individuals will not experience any non-infectious problems with their new tattoo or piercing.

Given these risks, it is important for people to thoroughly review all of the risks associated with these acts before participating in what may become a life altering experience.


Managing Your Headaches
If you suffer from headaches, you are not alone. Over 90 percent of Americans suffer from a headache at some point.

Here are some tips from the National Headache Foundation (NHF) to help you manage your headaches.

Keep a diary of your headaches. Track when they started, how often they occur, how long they last, intensity and location of the pain, and triggers, such as certain foods, physical activities, bright light, strong odors, change in temperature or altitude, noise, smoke, stress, or oversleeping. This information will be very helpful when you work with your doctor to determine the type of headache you have and the treatment that is best for you.

Maintain a regular sleep/wake cycle. Plan to go to sleep at the same time every night and wake up at the same time each morning, including on weekends. This maintains the body's natural circadian rhythm.

Eat a balanced diet and avoid foods that trigger your headaches. Be your own expert and keep a log of the foods that trigger your headache attacks. See if removing these foods from your diet reduces your headaches. Remember not to skip or delay meals.

Exercise regularly. Exercise can reduce the frequency and severity of headaches. According to an online survey of headache sufferers conducted by the NHF, 72 percent of the respondents considered exercise to be a part of their treatment program.

Relax. Practice deep breathing. Slowly inhale through your nose, filling your lungs with fresh air, and slowly exhale through your mouth. Slow and steady breathing can promote overall relaxation. Try biofeedback. This therapy is often used in headache and pain treatment. Biofeedback training uses special equipment that monitors physical responses to teach an individual how to control the physical processes that are related to stress.

Try massage. Studies suggest that massage can decrease headache frequency and increase body awareness. A massage is good for general relaxation as well as to relieve stress buildup in the muscle tissue. Personal preference is the best way to choose what type of massage to use.

Practice visualization/guided imagery. This technique combines relaxation exercises with the creation of mental images. By learning the skill of detaching from stressful events that may occur in daily life, some people are able to interrupt headache pain during the early phases of an attack.

Consider acupuncture and/or acupressure. These ancient treatments for pain relief appear to work by stimulating the release of endorphins, the body's natural pain killing substance. Relief from both pain and nausea, a decrease in the frequency of headache and a reduced need for treatment medication have been shown through these methods.

Use Hot or Cold Packs. Ice and heat can be used to lessen the pain of your headaches. Place a heating pad on the base of your neck or a cold pack on your forehead. A warm or cool shower may also be helpful.

Practicing headache self-management and maintaining a partnership with your doctor will help ensure effective management of your headache.

For more information on headache causes and treatments, visit the National Headache Foundation website at

10 Ways to Maintain a Healthy Back

43% of UW-W students surveyed said they experienced back pain in the past year (NCHA, 2005)
Here are the top 10 ways suggested by the American Council on Exercise to maintain a healthy back.

  1. Maintain a healthy weight.
    Excess weight tends to creep up slowly, so we may not be aware of how it affects us. But try carrying a 20-pound pack on your back all day and you’ll have a better idea of how extra weight takes a toll on the whole body.
  2. Strengthen the abdominal and back muscles.
    You’ve heard it before, but strengthening the abdominals really does help protect the back. In fact, a strong core—which includes all the muscles of the trunk—is important for avoiding injury, whether you’re cleaning your house, playing tennis or sitting at a desk all day.
  3. Lift items properly.
    Protect your back when lifting anything by standing close to the object with your feet apart to give you a stable base. Squat down while keeping the spine in proper alignment and contract your abdominals as you lift using your legs.
  4. Strengthen the leg muscles.
    Along with the core muscles, the leg muscles play a vital role in helping you maintain good posture and body mechanics. And strong leg muscles can take much of the burden off the back when you’re lifting heavy items (see above).
  5. Stay flexible.
    Inflexibility in the form of tight hamstrings and a limited range of motion in the trunk can increase your risk of injury or make existing back pain worse. Some forms of exercise, such as yoga, Pilates and tai chi, may help relieve or prevent back pain by increasing flexibility and reducing tension. These exercises should not be done, however, if they are uncomfortable or place a strain on the back.
  6. Maintain good posture.
    Correct posture and body mechanics play a vital role in preventing back pain because pressure on the discs and strain of the muscles, ligaments and back joints is aggravated by incorrect posture and body mechanics. When your posture is good and you move your body correctly, you reduce the strain on your back.
  7. Buy a comfortable mattress.
    Most of us spend a good deal of time in bed, which is why a good mattress is such a wise investment. Do some research, test the mattress out at the store and ask for recommendations. Remember—what works for one person may not work for you so take the time to find the mattress that suits your needs.
  8. Reduce stress.
    Stress increases tension in all your muscles including your back. Reduce or better manage your stress and you may literally feel as if the weight has been lifted from your shoulders.
  9. Warm up before activity.
    Beginning any activity with cold muscles and joints puts you at risk for injury. Jumping right into intense activity increases your risk of injury, so take the time to get your muscles and joints warm and limber first.
  10. Support the lower back when sitting.
    Use a rolled towel, small pillow or specially designed seat support available at medical supply stores. Remove the support every half hour for five minutes to give your lower back a change of position. After sitting for a prolonged period, straighten your back to an upright position and, if possible, stand and walk around to give your back a break.

Source: The American Council on Exercise. For more health and fitness tips, see website 2005


Cell Phone Usage Increases Car Crashes - Hands Free or Not

Healthy U, Issue 2, Sept. 2005

An Australian study of 450 drivers found that it is the distraction of using a cell phone, either with or without hands, that is dangerous for drivers. Drivers were four times as likely to be using a cell phone within 10 minutes before they were involved in a car accident compared to accidents when not using a cell phone. Source: British Medical Journal, July 12, 2005

Eliminate all distractions when driving a car especially in heavy traffic or on unfamiliar roads. Pull over to read directions, eat, put on make up, engage in a heated conversation or pick up an item you dropped on the floor.

Profile of a Healthy Person

Healthy U, Issue 4, Oct. 2005

A healthy person has a robust immune system. The right nutrition and adequate exercise are essential, but are you aware the role your thoughts, emotions and attitudes play in triggering chemical changes which either strengthen or weaken your immunity?

Factors related with healthy immune function are:

  • Work that gives meaning to your life
  • Expressing anger effectively
  • Asking for help when needed
  • Feeling loved by self and others
  • Saying No to excessive demands
  • Taking time to play every day
  • Learning and growing from unpleasant experiences
  • Helping others
  • Acting in accordance with your values

Source: Bernie Siegel, Bottom Line Health, August, 2005

New Year’s Resolutions?

Healthy U, Issue 5, January, 2005

  1. List the benefits of the behavior change.
  2. Set clear and realistic long- and short-term goals that are achievable for you.
  3. Identify strategies and seek out resources to help you succeed.
  4. Plan to encounter and overcome obstacles.
  5. Alter your environment to help support your change.
  6. Elicit the help of friends and family to support you in your effort.
  7. Track your progress.
  8. Reward yourself for your accomplishments.

Find you are not achieving the success you had hoped for?Review your strategies, and try a different approach. a long-time behavior may take several approaches and several attempts before you achieve your goal.And remember to have fun in the process.

Source:“Making Wellness Work for You,” National Wellness Institute,

Enjoying the Holidays

Healthy U, Issue 4

The holidays can be pleasant or stressful. Here are some tips for having happy holidays!

  1. What do you really want for the holidays? What do you need to fill your heart and soul? Have you asked people for what you want emotionally and spiritually?
  2. Realize you don’t have to celebrate the holidays that same way every year. As a matter of fact, change is inevitable. This year make conscious decisions about how you want to celebrate the winter holiday(s) that are meaningful to you.
  3. Think back over the past 5 years and list the things you liked best about the holidays and the things you liked least. Be honest with yourself. Ask your family members what they liked best and least. You may be surprised.
  4. Make a plan to include those people and activities this year that are most important to you. Be flexible. If you can’t see important people in person this year, write, call, or send photos or a video. If you won’t be home for the family tree trimming, is there another meaningful family activity you can do when you get home?
  5. Look for a way to discontinue those aspects of the holidays that distress you. Let go of the “shoulds”. Why should you? Who says? What will happen if you don’t?
  6. Have realistic expectations. If your family and your life isn’t like the sentimental portrayals in the movies, remember neither is anyone else’s! Relax and enjoy the family and life that you have.
  7. This year give yourself permission to feel whatever you feel, instead of trying to make yourself feel "merry".If you are blue or disappointed, feel it and let it pass.When you are feeling terrific, notice it and be grateful for that moment.
  8. Create rituals alone or with others that will celebrate your past, recognize the reality of your present or launch your future.
  9. Take initiative to make positive contact with others, either family/friends or strangers in need. Don’t wait for someone else to make the first move.
  10. When doing holiday chores, challenge yourself to do it with gusto or don't do it at all.
  11. Plan your time to include energizing physical activity, and quiet nurturing time.
  12. Seek out humor and laugh often!

December, 2004

Consumer Reports: What Insect Repellants are Worth Buying?

Besides the itchiness and scratchiness of bug bits, our six-legged friends can cause many more serious issues like Lyme's disease and the West Nile Virus. Consumer Reports recent ranking of repellants recommended the following:

Off Deep Woods Sportsmen II; 30% DEET; cost: $1.25 an ounce.
Cutter Backwoods Unscented; 23% DEET; cost: $1.33 per ounce.
Off FamilyCare Smooth & Dry; 15% DEET; cost: $1.63 an ounce.
3M Ultrathon Insect Repellant 8; 25% DEET; $1.67 per ounce.
Repel Plant Based Lemon Eucalyptus; active ingredient oil of lemon eucalyptus; cost: $1.94 an ounce.
Natrapel 8-Hour with picaridin; 20% picaridin; cost: $2.00 an ounce.

Others tested included:
Avon Skin-So-Soft Bug Guard plus IR3535 Expedition SPF 30, active ingredient IR3535; cost: $3.50 per ounce.
Bite Blocker Xtreme (organic); Plant oils are listed as the active ingredient; cost: $1.34 per ounce.
Cutter Skinsations Clean Fresh Scent; 7% DEET; cost: $1.04 per ounce.
Burt's Bees All Natural Herbal; active ingredient plant oils; cost: $2.00 per ounce.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says DEET is safe when used as directed however, toxic reactions have occurred when not used as instructed. The EPA also says DEET shouldn't be applied to babies less than 2 months old.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has advised against using repellents with DEET concentrations higher than 30% on any kids. And Consumer Reports Health says no one should use a repellent with more than 30% DEET.

Remember, if you are going to be outside for long periods of time, reapply repellant at least every six hours.
© 2010 National Wellness Institute, Inc. All rights reserved

Be Smarter than the Sun!

By Brandy Proctor

Spring has sprung and summer's right around the corner! In these late spring/early summer months it can be easy to ignore the sun; it doesn't seem nearly hot enough to cause harm. Without realizing it, the sun could be damaging your eyes or your skin. Take the necessary precautious to prevent UV radiation complications.

Being exposed to too much UV radiation has been shown to cause a variety of visual impairments. The American Optometric Association ( informs, "The sun's UV radiation can cause cataracts; benign growths on the eye's surface; cancer of the eyelids and skin around the eyes; and photokeratitis, sometimes called snow blindness, which is a temporary but painful sunburn of the eye's surface." They recommend practical over fashionable sunglasses. For more information on what to look for while shopping for sunglasses search the AOA website. Many people realize that their skin needs protection from the sun, but they neglect to protect their eyes. Putting sunglasses on can save your eyes from overexposure to the sun.

Name five items you would never forget to bring to the beach . . . go! Ok, I imagine that a towel and a beach ball were at the top of your list, and I hope sunscreen was too. In the hot summer months it's easy to remember your sunscreen. What many people don't realize is that it's just as important in these late spring/early summer months to apply sunscreen before spending time outdoors. Where there is sun, there is UV radiation and it's important to protect your skin against the harmful effects of over-exposure. Minimal sunburn is usually just a nuisance and disappears in a couple of days, but it's also an indication that you should have applied more sunscreen. The Skin Cancer Foundation warns that, "One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime." Take preventative steps to deter becoming one in five. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends applying a sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher 30 minutes before going outdoors and to continue applying sunscreen every two hours of sun exposure. For more skin cancer prevention tips visit

Don't let the sun fool you. Wear your sunglasses and sunscreen whenever you spend time outdoors!

© 2010 National Wellness Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.


All information on this website is written by UHCS professional staff unless otherwise noted. No data is collected on visitors to this site. Financial Support for this web site is provided by University Health & Counseling Service, Division of Student Affairs, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. This web site does not accept advertising.

This site is not meant to replace the advice of a health care or counseling professional. You should not rely on any information on these pages, or information generated for you by this site, to replace consultations with qualified professionals regarding your own specific situation. Some links take you to a source outside of UHCS. The owners of that site, not UHCS, are responsible for the content.