Thursday, November 20, 2014

Guest Post: Holiday Stress by Luis Espinoza

Many of us are counting down the days till Thanksgiving and Christmas. I know I am.  The holiday season is supposed to be a wonderful time where we get to spend time with our family members and friends, but let’s be honest… it can be just as stressful.

Stress can be caused by having to make decision on what gifts to buy, dealing with particular family members or even resisting those holiday cravings.  All these occurrences can lead to a stressful holiday season.  Fortunately, you can stay mindful and happy during the holiday season by mastering the following tips:
1.    Don’t be afraid to partake in some indulgences such as pumpkin pie or that extra sitting of turkey.  The goal is to fill your plate with a large portion of healthy foods so you can still enjoy those not so healthy ones (Krippendorf, 2010).
2.   If you are traveling and are ill please bring extra supplies and medications just in case you experience travel delays (Nurmi, 2011).  As a general rule carry snacks and a blanket on your travels should you experience some type of delay (Steffes & Steffes, n.d.).
3.   Consider online shopping to reduce that stress that comes with last minute impulse buys and reduce the strain to your bank account (Palmer & Cooper, 2013).  Holidays are not about buying extravagant, expensive gifts.
4.   If you are hosting a meal during Thanksgiving or Christmas be prepared to have extra food should someone stop by unexpectedly (Krippendorf, 2010).  Word to the wise, go to the grocery store and buy more food than you will need at least 4 days before.
5.    We all have those family members we could go without seeing, however, don’t let them be the reason you dread the holidays (Nawijn, 2012).
6.   Exercise regularly to reduce holiday stress.  It is a way to let go of the bad and feel better afterwards (Adamson, 2009).  Exercise is vital to everyday health.

I hope you enjoy the holiday season and see the rainbow at the end of the season. It is after all about spending time with your loved ones and giving thanks for everything you have. 


Adamson, E. (2009). 365 ways to reduce stress: Everyday tips to help you relax, rejuvenate, and refresh. Adams Media.
Krippendorf, J. (2010). Holiday makers. Taylor & Francis.

Palmer, S., & Cooper, C. (2013). How to deal with stress (Vol. 24). Kogan Page Publishers.

Nurmi, N. (2011). Coping with coping strategies: How distributed teams and their members deal with the stress of distance, time zones and culture. Stress and Health, 27(2), 123-143.

Nawijn, J. (2012). Leisure travel and happiness: An empirical study into the effect of holiday trips on individuals’ subjective wellbeing. Faculty of Social Sciences (FSS).

Steffes, B. & Steffes, M. (n.d.). Your mission: Get ready! Get set! Go! [Brochure]. Retrieved from

Stress free holidays [Image]. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Luis Espinoza is a Sociology doctoral student at Texas Woman's University (TWU) with areas of specialization in Social Stratification/Social Inequality and Health & Illness. His research interests include: Maternal and Child Health, Latino Disparities, Medically Underserved Populations, Health Education/Health Promotion, and Infectious & Chronic Diseases. If you are interested in getting in contact with him please contact him at

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Guest Post: Get Smart about Antibiotics Week Nov. 17-23rd by Christine Heady

Antibiotic Resistance

Antibiotic resistance is a growing problem in the health care community and is a serious threat to community health (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2013). The demand for a quick fix for infections has led to a consumer driven prescribing (Bartlett, Gilbert, & Spellberg, 2013). Health care providers are giving in to patient’s desires rather than prescribing using the available evidence and necessity of the antibiotic. Two million people a year develop antibiotic resistant infections and 23,000 die as a result of the resistant infection (CDC, 2013). Everyone needs to have an awareness of how to prevent antibiotic resistance and the seriousness of the problem. There are several ways everyone can contribute to getting smart about antibiotics.

Bartlett, J. G., Gilbert, D. N., & Spellberg, B. (2013). Seven ways to preserve the miracle of antibiotics. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 56(10), 1445-1450.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2013). Antibiotic resistance threats in the United States, 2013. Retrieved from

Christine Heady MSN, RN, FNP-BC is currently working on a PhD in Health Studies at TWU with a focus on higher education. She received her Master of Science in Nursing from Abilene Christian University in 2001. Christine currently works for Texas Tech University Health Science Center in Colorado City, Texas as a nurse practitioner and primary health care provider for the Wallace and Ware Unit.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Spotlight - Interview with Justin Gerstenberger, Coordinator of Academic Advising

Justin Gerstenberger

We had the opportunity to sit down virtually with  Justin Gerstenberger at the TWU Pioneer Center for Student Excellence. Justin graciously took time out of his busy schedule to answer a few of our questions so we could get to know him a little better as well as talk about some of the services the Center offers.

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background? 

I recently assumed the role of Coordinator of Academic Advising at TWU after advising for 8 years at TCU, UNT Health Science Center and UT-Arlington. I’m in the process of completing my Doctorate Degree at TCU in Educational Leadership focused on Higher Education. I did my masters at UNT in Education focusing on Higher Education and my Bachelor’s at UT-Arlington in Interdisciplinary Studies.

What do you do as Coordinator for Academic Advising?  

As the Coordinator of Advising I work with the advisors on professional development and working to help create a common advising experience for students and advisors on our campuses.

Can you tell us more about academic coaching?  

Academic Coaching is a program that is available to assist students with test taking, note taking, and study skills as well as help student learn about the different types of learning styles and the resources available to on campus to help them be successful. Sessions are typically about a half hour to an hour and students can meet with their coach up to 6 times a semester.

What types of services does the Center offer for online students?  

Our academic coaching services are offered to students online. Students can indicate that they are an online student and through the use of technology in the Center we can do academic coaching sessions via skype to allow online students the same experiences as on campus students in regards to academic coaching.

As many of our students know, we like to have fun in Health Studies. We have held themed orientations complete with alter egos such as Mo Solo, Hoda Fett, and Dee Dee Wan Kenobi from our Star Wars orientation. We also had a Mission Impossible orientation with passports and top secret missions. Sometimes we even make up code names for each other.  Who would your alter ego be or what would your code name be?  

I would have to say that my code name would be Sterling, which also happens to be my coffee name. I’m a big fan of the show Archer, which is where the name comes from. But, I would be all about a Star Wars themed orientation or alter ego!

What is your favorite quote and why? 

“I know you think you understand what you thought I said but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant” – Alan Greenspan. This quote sticks out to in our age of technology where we communicate online. It is easy for words and meanings to be misinterpreted through our technology so it is important to be cognizant of the things we say and send online because we never know if the person on the other end is going to interpret it the way that we said it.

Thanks, Justin! We are glad we got a chance to chat with you! 
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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Guest Post: Family Caregivers Month November 2014 by Laura Valentino

Every November, we recognize some important heroes in our country.  These heroes are family caregivers. Right now, two out of every five adults in America provide care for a loved one (Caregiver Action Network, 2013). This is an increase of 11% since 2010 (Caregiver Action Network, 2013). Millions of Americans provide unpaid care for a loved one, with a savings of $450 billion a year. This is more than either Wal-Mart sales or Medicaid spending (Caregiver Action Network, 2013).

Facts about family caregivers:

  • Family caregivers provide care to loved ones of all ages. Sometimes, caregivers are part of the so-called “sandwich generation” that take care of both a sick or aged parent and a child.

  • Although the majority of caregivers are female, the number of male caregivers is increasing.

  • One million Americans are caring for wounded veteran loved ones suffering from traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder and other wounds and illnesses.

  • It’s serious work! It’s exhausting and time-consuming and caregivers often neglect their own health and interests for the sake of caregiving.  

(Caregiver Action Network, 2013)

What can you do to celebrate family caregivers?

  • If you know a family caregiver, offer to provide respite care, even if only for an hour. Everybody needs a break now and then.

  • Listen to them! Let them communication both the joys and frustrations that family caregiving brings.

  • Thank a family caregiver for their service to their loved one and to the community.

  • Consider joining or starting a volunteer effort to support and/or honor caregivers.

Why should health educators be concerned about caregiver health?

  • The number of family caregivers will continue to increase as people live longer and require more care and the desire to live at home.

  • There is simply not enough capacity for care to be provided by non-family caregivers. There are not enough long-term care facilities nor trained employees for these facilities (Hoban, 2013).

  • Depression and anxiety among family caregivers is a growing concern (Family Caregiver Alliance, 2014).

  • Respite care is under-utilized.

  • Health disparities in caregiver health are under-studied.

It is time to start honoring and supporting our family caregivers! 


Caregiver Action Network. (2013). Family caregivers: Now more than ever. Retrieved from

Family Caregiver Alliance. (2014). Depression and caregiving. Retrieved from

Hoban, S. (2013). LTC outlook: Too many seniors not enough caregivers. Retried from


Laura Valentino is a second year doctoral student. She is the 2014-2015
recipient of the Janice C. Williams Health Education Teaching Fellowship. She currently
teaches HS 4121, Internship Preparation. She is the President-Elect of TSOPHE and
actively involved in APHA, SOPHE, and ASA as well as Pioneer Power Speakers
(Toastmasters International). She is always looking for research collaboration
opportunities. Feel free to email her at