Understanding Health Insurance Part 2: Acronyms

We know that selecting a health insurance policy is confusing. That’s why we pulled together this 3-part Understanding Health Insurance blog post series.

The vocabulary (which was discussed in part one) is enough to make you want to pull your hair out. But on top of all the confusing terms, Health Insurance companies insist on using what feels like an endless number of acronyms. We have selected the most commonly used insurance acronyms below to provide you with the knowledge to make the best decision related to the policy you need.

  • HMO – Health Maintenance Organization
    • Generally recommended for those who do not have preexisting conditions. An HMO is an organization that requires the policyholder to select a primary care physician (PCP) and then only receive treatment and care from physicians and specialists within that established provider network.
    • In this type of plan, policyholders are limited to only visiting physicians or specialists recommended by the PCP. Visiting a healthcare provider not recommended by the PCP can result in paying all out-of-pocket expenses.
  • EPO – Exclusive Provider Organization
    • Very similar to an HMO, however there is more flexibility as a PCP does not need to be designated with this type of plan. Policyholders have a network of physicians and specialists to choose from and do not have to wait for a referral from a PCP.
    • Similar to the HMO, going outside the network will result in paying higher out-of-pocket costs.
  • PPO – Preferred Provider Organization
    • Almost exactly the same as the EPO. The major difference being that PPOs cover visits to out-of-network providers at a higher rate. While EPOs do not cover visits to out-of-network providers at all.
    • PPOs are often recommended for individuals who require regular visits to physicians or specialists outside of your plan’s network.
  • POS – Point of Service Plans
    • Similar to an HMO, a PCP must be appointed to receive treatment and referrals to other physicians and specialists within their provider network. The difference in a POS plan is that a PCP can refer patients to out-of-network healthcare providers and while the out-of-pocket expense may be higher, a POS will cover some of the expense.

Stay with us, these next three get a little confusing. All of the below accounts/arrangements work in tandem with a traditional health plan or high deductible health plan. All are tax deductible for the policy holder, employer or both – if being used for medical expenses.

  • HSA – Health Savings Account
    • This is an account used solely to save money that is used for future medical expenses. Part of your monthly premium contributes to the HSA but you, your family, or your employer can also contribute to the account. You must have a high deductible health plan to sign up for an HSA. These funds never expire – even if you change jobs, health plans, or retire.
    • If money is pulled out of this account for non-medical expenses, the amount must be included in the policy holder’s gross income on their tax return and may be subject to a tax penalty of 20%.
  • HRA – Health Reimbursement Arrangements
    • Unlike the HSA, a HRA is maintained by an employer on the policy holder’s behalf. This is a savings account used exclusively to generate funds to reimburse medical expenses. The employer contributes money into the fund and after paying a medical expense, policy holders submit documentation of the payment for reimbursement.
    • The employer determines a set budget for monthly reimbursements.
  • FSA – Flexible-Spending Account
    • FSA accounts are managed by the policy holder and they make regular contributions via paycheck deductions (which cannot exceed $2,850/year)
    • FSA funds typically cover a wider range of medical expenses and medications.
    • The funds in this account are typically a “use it or lose it,” meaning account holders must make use of the funds while it is active. Recent amendments have allowed employers to opt into allowing policy holders to roll over up to $500 of unused funds into the next year’s plan. If selecting this plan, pay close attention to the terms and conditions to see if your employer opted into this option.

The Student Health Insurance at Ohio State has a PPO coverage model. This means that students on the plan have access to a wide range of in-network providers and facilities in Franklin County while also having a large national network outside of the area available for coverage. One of the many benefits to attending Ohio State is access to a world renown medical center within walking distance to our campus.

As we head into a new year, make a wellness goal around staying up to date on preventative healthcare appointments. Check your plan and schedule your next doctor’s appointment for 2023!

As stated in our previous post, Ohio State students are required to hold some kind of health insurance. If you are an international student, you are required to sign up for insurance through the Student Health Insurance policy. If you are a domestic student enrolled in a degree program and enrolled in at least six (6) credit hours for undergraduates, at least four (4) credit hours for graduate and professional students and at least three (3) credit hours for post-candidacy doctoral students are automatically enrolled in this insurance plan. Domestic students have the option to withdraw from the Student Health Insurance plan if they have coverage elsewhere. For more information on Student Health Insurance visit the Student Health Insurance website and read their FAQs page for answers to common questions.


Health Insurance Literacy: Student Health Insurance (osu.edu)

Understanding Health Insurance (medicalbillingandcoding.org)

HSA vs. FSA vs. HRA – Healthcare Account Comparison (healthequity.com)


-Jordan Helcbergier, Wellness Coordinator

Navigating Nutrition Labels

Do you ever go to the grocery store and get completely overwhelmed by the information on a nutrition label? How are you supposed to eat healthy if you don’t even know what you are looking at? Or you skip reading them altogether?

Not to fear, we have a quick guide below for navigating those nutrition labels, including what to look for and what to avoid.

According to the Mayo Clinic, you want to look at 4 main points: serving size, how many calories in one serving, % (percent) daily value, and the ingredients list.

Starting with the serving size. Products and food items that you may think are only one serving (like a ramen noodle packets, a bottle of juice, pints of ice cream, etc), may sneakily have more servings than you think. For example, one pint of Ben and Jerry’s has 3 servings. Check out the serving size at the top of the nutrition label to see how many are in food items and try to stick to one serving.

Now that you know how many servings is in the food item, you can check the total number of calories. The Mayo Clinic goes on to state that 40 calories is low, 100 calories is moderate, and 400 or more per serving size is high. Remember based on the serving amount, the total calories may need to be multiplied based on how much you consume.

Check with your doctor or a dietitian for more specific information on how many calories you should be consuming daily based on your age, sex, height, weight, overall health and physical activity level.

Next, look closely at the % (percent) daily value. This is the percentage of daily value each nutrient has in the serving of food. These are typically based off a 2,000 calorie per day diet. The % daily value shows how much that particular food and nutrient contributes to a total daily diet. And helps you to determine if a serving is high or low in a specific nutrient. General guidelines for % daily value if a nutrient has 5% or less per serving, this is considered low. If a nutrient has 20% or more per serving, this is considered high.

General rule, try to choose foods that are higher in % daily value of fiber, vitamin D, calcium, iron, and potassium. And lower in saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars.

Lastly, review the ingredients list. Ingredients are listed by volume, meaning the higher up on the ingredients list the more of that item there is in your food. Try to avoid foods that have sugar listed as the first ingredient, this includes sugar going by other names such as high-fructose corn syrup, dehydrated cane juice, and more.

Bonus tips: watch out for ‘added sugars.’ The  ‘total sugars’ lists the total number of sugars in the food product, both naturally occurring and those added during processing. If you are watching your sugar intake, watch out for the added sugars we see in a lot of products. Check the allergens list. Under the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004, companies are required to list a ‘contains’ statement near the ingredients list and advisory statements for addressing potential cross-contamination associated with the 8 major food allergens – milk, fish, tree nuts, peanuts, shellfish, wheat, eggs, and soybeans. If you are someone that struggles with food allergies, pay close attention to these statements.

For more support in your nutrition needs, check out some of the free and low cost support services on our campus, such as the Student Wellness Center’s Nutrition Coaching, Student Life Dining Service’s Nutrition and Wellness team and Wilce Student Health Center’s Nutrition Therapy services.

-Jordan Helcbergier, Wellness Coordinator


How To Read Nutrition Labels (mayoclinic.org)

How to Understand and Use the Nutrition Facts Label | FDA

Understanding Food Labels | The Nutrition Source | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Understanding Health Insurance Part 1: Vocabulary

Navigating the healthcare system in the United States is challenging to say the least. Part of this is due to the confusing health insurance system in our country. What is a deductible? How much is my co-pay? What does out-of-pocket maximum mean? To make sure you are making the correct choice when selecting a health insurance plan, it is crucial to learn how health insurance works and what to look for when purchasing coverage.

This is part 1 of a 3-part blog post. Read below to learn more about key terminology you will want to know when selecting your health insurance policy.

Words to know and look for:

  • Insurance Policy – a contract between an individual and an insurance company detailing everything that is covered by a health insurance plan, including the terms and conditions. Most insurance policies operate on a yearly contract.
  • Policy Holder – the individual(s) covered by the health insurance policy.
  • Dependent – a person who is eligible for coverage under a policyholder’s health insurance plan. A dependent may be a spouse, domestic partner, or child.
  • Premium – the amount you pay per month or per year to the insurance company for healthcare coverage.
  • Deductible – the amount you pay out-of-pocket during a policy year for some benefits before coverage starts. Once you hit a specific dollar amount out of pocket in that year, your insurance will start to pay its share.
  • Co-pay – the amount you pay at the time of service. Example: paying $30 every time you visit your doctor or paying $50 each time you see a specialist for care. The actual dollar amount differs per plan but most often this cost is standardized by the plan you select.
  • Out-of-Pocket Maximum – the maximum amount of money you pay in deductibles and co-pays in a year before the insurance company starts paying for all covered expenses.
  • In-Network – healthcare services and providers that are covered under your insurance plan. In-network providers are often the cheapest option for you as the policyholder.
  • Out-of-Network – healthcare services and providers not covered by your insurance plan. Using services outside of your network often result in higher costs to you as the policyholder.
  • Pre-Existing Condition – any chronic disease, disability, or other condition you have at the time of application. Any treatments related to pre-existing conditions often result in higher premiums.
  • Waiting Period – when accepting a new job that offers insurance to employees, often (but not always) employer-sponsored insurance plans require the new employee to wait a certain amount of time before qualifying to enroll in their health insurance plan. This waiting period varies but usually lasts 90 days.
  • Enrollment Period/Open Enrollment – this is the time window when you can apply for health insurance or modify your existing policy.
  • Qualifying Life Event – outside of the enrollment period, a policyholder can modify their plan if they experience a qualifying life event. This includes – marriage, divorce, birth of a child, changes to individual/household income, or relocating out of state.

Health insurance provides you with peace of mind when taking care of your health. By signing up for the appropriate health insurance plan, you are making sure that you will not be stuck with paying for expensive medical costs out of pocket.

Individuals can obtain health coverage through two options: individual coverage or group coverage. Individual coverage is purchasing coverage directly from the insurance company. While group coverage is often provided through eligible employment or student status when an organization negotiates with the insurance company for coverage for a large amount of individuals.

Ohio State students are required to hold some kind of health insurance. If you are an international student, you are required to sign up for insurance through the Student Health Insurance policy. If you are a domestic student enrolled in a degree program and enrolled in at least six (6) credit hours for undergraduates, at least four (4) credit hours for graduate and professional students and at least three (3) credit hours for post-candidacy doctoral students, you are automatically enrolled in this insurance plan. Domestic students have the option to withdraw from the Student Health Insurance plan if they have coverage elsewhere. For more information on Student Health Insurance visit the Student Health Insurance website and read their FAQs page for answers to common questions.


Health Insurance Literacy: Student Health Insurance (osu.edu)

Understanding Health Insurance (medicalbillingandcoding.org)

-Jordan Helcbergier, Wellness Coordinator

Understanding Health Insurance Part 3: How to Select the Best Plan

Welcome to the final post in our 3-part, “Understanding Health Insurance” blog series. We have covered vocabulary and acronyms in parts 1 and 2, and now we are going to tell you how to select the best plan for you!

Finding a good health plan is about balance. How much you are paying per month compared to how much healthcare you think you and your family will need throughout the year. Before selecting a plan, some self-reflection may help.

While it can be hard to know what healthcare expenses to anticipate throughout the year, and therefore what plan to select, you can get a general idea of costs based on previous years. Do you go to the doctor regularly? Do you have a pre-existing condition? Do you anticipate expanding your family this year? All good questions to ask yourself when picking a plan. Answers to these questions, and others, can help you decide between plans that have lower monthly premiums and higher out of pocket costs or higher monthly premiums and lower out of pocket costs. Again, it is all about trying to find the right balance and saving you the most money.

When choosing a health insurance plan start by reading through the summary of benefits. Whether you are signing up for insurance through an employer, the government, or through school, a summary of benefits should be available for you to compare your options. The summary of benefits will explain the costs associated with each plan and what it covers.

Some items to look for when comparing options:

  • Monthly Premiums – How much is this going to cost you per month?
    • Higher premiums might be better if:
      • You see a primary physician or specialist frequently.
      • You frequently need emergency care.
      • You take expensive or brand-name medications on a regular basis.
      • You have a planned surgery coming up.
      • You have been diagnosed with a chronic condition such as diabetes.
    • Lower premiums might be a better option if:
      • You can’t afford the higher monthly premiums.
      • You’re in good health and rarely see a doctor outside of your yearly visit.
    • Out-of-Pocket Costs – Compare costs such as copays, deductibles, prescription coverage etc. to get a better idea of what healthcare is going to cost you in addition to the monthly premium.
    • Type of Insurance Plan – Refer back to our acronyms cheat sheet. What do your options look like?
    • Provider Network – Do you already have an established network of preferred doctors? If so, check to see if your new plan covers these practitioners. If not, you may need to look at a different plan or start looking for new in-network practitioners.
    • Benefits – What all is included in the plan? Some options may have better coverage and might include things like physical therapy, fertility treatments or mental health care, emergency coverage, etc. What services do you anticipate needing? This might help to narrow down which plan is right for you.

There are lots of things to consider when signing up for a health insurance plan, including health status, dependent status, and budget. What type of coverage you need is going to change throughout your life. Do your research so that you are prepared ahead of enrollment periods to make the best selection for what you need in the moment.

Ohio State students are required to hold some kind of health insurance. If you are an international student, you are required to sign up for insurance through the Student Health Insurance policy. If you are a domestic student enrolled in a degree program and enrolled in at least six (6) credit hours for undergraduates, at least four (4) credit hours for graduate and professional students and at least three (3) credit hours for post-candidacy doctoral students are automatically enrolled in this insurance plan. Domestic students have the option to withdraw from the Student Health Insurance plan if they have coverage elsewhere. For more information on Student Health Insurance visit the Student Health Insurance website and read their FAQs page for answers to common questions.


Health Insurance Literacy: Student Health Insurance (osu.edu)

Understanding Health Insurance (medicalbillingandcoding.org)

How to Choose Health Insurance: Your Step-by-Step Guide – NerdWallet

-Jordan Helcbergier, Wellness Coordinator

A New Take on the New Year

As the pressure builds to create new habits this time of year, it can be overwhelming to make goals that align with what you truly desire. Diet culture, social media, and even friends and family can push us in the direction of weight loss and dieting. This can encourage quick fixes and fad diets that – let’s be honest – don’t work. Making realistic goals using Intuitive Eating can help you form a healthy relationship with food, your mind, and your body.What is Intuitive Eating?

Intuitive Eating is an approach to health and eating that focuses on listening to your body’s needs and making choices to honor what it is telling you. It teaches you to understand physical cues like hunger and satisfaction and grants you freedom to let your body be your guide. The 10 principles of Intuitive Eating include:

  1. Reject the Diet Mentality
  2. Honor Your Hunger
  3. Make Peace with Food
  4. Challenge the Food Police
  5. Discover the Satisfaction Factor
  6. Feel Your Fullness
  7. Cope with Your Emotions with Kindness
  8. Respect Your Body
  9. Movement – Feel the Difference
  10. Honor Your Health – Gentle Nutrition

5 Non-Diet New Year’s Resolutions Using Intuitive Eating

  1. Find Joyful Movement Instead of Strict Exercise – Focus less on the hours spent at the gym and experiment with movements that you feed good and enjoy doing. Try a yoga class or join a local kickball team with a friend.
  2. Clean Your Social Media Feed – Unfollow or mute accounts that trigger comparison feelings or make you feel bad about yourself. Follow people who empower and inspire you and encourage your same values.
  3. Buy Clothes That Fit – The thought of buying bigger clothes can be scary but wearing clothes that are too tight or uncomfortable can make body image worse. Donate clothes that don’t fit your here-and-now body and stop overanalyzing sizes. Remember, the clothes are supposed to fit you, not the other way around.
  4. Develop Other Coping Mechanisms – Emotions are normal and part of what makes us human. Food and exercise are common outlets people turn to cope with emotions, but they can be taken to extremes. Create a list of alternative activities you can do when you feel triggered by an emotion, like calling a friend, going for a walk, or painting.
  5. Shift the Language – Stop labeling food as ‘bad’ or ‘good.’ Morality has no place in food, and this practice will just increase feelings of shame and guilt. The next time you notice yourself labeling food as ‘unhealthy’ or ‘guilt-free,’ try reframing your thoughts using neutral terms like colorful, satisfying, or fueling.

Adopting Intuitive Eating can give you a sense of peace and freedom. Food is meant to be eaten; our bodies are meant to be fueled. Reframing the way you approach your health and wellness goals can positively impact your likelihood of making long term changes.

To learn more about Intuitive Eating, schedule a free nutrition coaching appointment or participate in the Intuitive Eating Workshop Series.

-Janele Bayless, Wellness Coordinator


What Are the 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating (And How They Can Help You)

10 Principles of Intuitive Eating


How to Vocalize Your Healthcare Needs and Ask that Question!

Going to the doctor can be intimidating. There is a real power dynamic between patient and healthcare provider that no one really talks about. This can cause a large barrier when trying to advocate for your healthcare needs and can get in the way of preventative care.

A relationship with a healthcare provider should be one built on trust, respect, and shared decision making. Below are some strategies for feeling more empowered and comfortable during your next doctor’s appointment.

Start by finding a healthcare provider you trust. Whether you are looking for a dentist, general practitioner, or a mental health counselor; you need to find someone who best fits your personal needs. Building a relationship on trust and respect is important, if you do not feel like you are getting that from your healthcare provider, it might be time to switch.

Remind yourself that answering your questions is part of a provider’s job description. You are not burdening or being annoying by asking questions. Follow-up questions lets your provider know that you need further clarification to make the most informed decision as it relates to your healthcare needs. Remember no question is too embarrassing or personal, your doctor has probably seen and heard it all.

If just the thought of asking personal questions during a doctor’s appointment brings about sweaty hands and a stressed mind, try rehearsing or writing down questions to bring to the appointment ahead of time. By writing down any questions or notes ahead of time, you will feel more prepared to bring up concerns during the appointment. This will help you to organize thoughts and it will be a little reminder of what you wanted to bring up in case your nerves get the best of you.

If you are feeling rushed, uncomfortable, or worried, vocalize that to your doctor. There are options to make you feel more comfortable during the visit, including bringing a friend or family member or requesting to have a nurse or other healthcare practitioner present during the appointment. And if you feel like you need more time, ask the doctor to schedule a follow up visit.

To prepare for your next doctor’s visit, write down and bring with you:

  • A full list of your medications and dosages, as well as any other supplements you are taking and how often.
  • A list of symptoms you would like to address during the appointment.
  • If you are discussing pain, bring notes on the pain rating, how often, and any descriptive language to help the doctor understand what the pain feels like.
  • Are there any factors that may be affecting your symptoms (change in appetite, new life stressors, etc..)
  • Any questions you would like to have addressed during the appointment.

Let’s review. Your health is a priority. Take an active role by vocalizing your concerns and needs during your next appointment by preparing ahead of time. If you need a new practitioner do some research and make the switch. There is no better time than the present to schedule an appointment with your doctor to ask that question you have been putting off for ages.


As a student at The Ohio State University, you have access to a wide variety of healthcare providers and resources through the Wexner Medical Center, the Wilce Student Health Center, and Counseling and Consultation Service including their Community Provider Database. If you need to find a new doctor or schedule a visit with your current provider, take a few minutes after reading this post to get it done!

Other Resources:

Resources | Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (ahrq.gov)


How to Prepare for a Doctor’s Appointment | National Institute on Aging (nih.gov)


-Jordan Helcbergier (she/her), Wellness Coordinator

Find What Moves You: Browse Fitness Classes on the Student Life Activity Calendar 

If you are anything like me, you may need the motivation that comes along with working out in a group setting. If this is the case, a workout class or group fitness event could be right for you. Working out with friends and fellow students can help you kickstart your fitness routine and get your body moving.  

Fortunately, the new and improved Student Life Activity Calendar has you covered, displaying numerous fitness and training classes on campus that are designed to make working out work for you. Getting active is a key component to enhancing your body, mind and overall well-being; all of which is important in leading a healthy lifestyle.  

The calendar serves as a virtual hub that includes endless options for completing a workout and reaching your fitness goals in ways other than hitting the treadmill or weight machines. Being energized, happy and well is just a click away via the Student Life Events website.  

The calendar provides students with an easy browsing experience to view upcoming events and provides you with the option to filter events by the audience, category or even keyword. You can search through categories such as Health and Wellness, Sports, Personal Development and Workshops/Training that will generate numerous options for working out and getting your life in motion.  

Fitness classes posted on the calendar include: 

  • Circuit Training 
  • Barre classes 
  • Dance cardio 
  • Barbell cardio  
  • Full-body challenges  
  • Weight Training 
  • Group Fitness 
  • Yoga 
  • Cycle Classes 
  • Hip-Hop Dance  
  • And more! 

The Student Life Activity Calendar includes more than just fitness classes as well. It has all kinds of events, activities and opportunities that may interest you. Utilizing the calendar can help you connect with students, staff and faculty, all while broadening your campus network.

Find what gets you moving. Access the calendar and view upcoming events at:  https://studentlife.osu.edu/events.aspx 



 – Natalie Hall, Office of Student Life, Communications Writing Intern  


Breaking out of a “slump”: 10 small actions you can take to help you get through a tough day 

Whether you call it a “slump” or “funk”, we all experience off days sometimes when we’re feeling down, find it hard to focus, or need some extra support. Remember that it’s okay to feel this way and try not to be too hard on yourself.  

There are a variety of small actions you can take to help you get through a slump while still caring for yourself. However, if you need to take the whole day to rest, doing nothing is also okay. You know yourself and what you need best.  

Sometimes getting started is the hardest part, and it can be challenging to find the motivation to do something. If a task feels too hard, take things one step at a time, or move towards the action until you have the energy to complete it. This can even be as simple as moving to the room you need to be in, even if you can’t bring yourself to start the task yet.  

Check out these small steps to help you get through the day: 

Practice grace, compassion, and gratitude for yourself 

While it’s easier said than done, try not to criticize or be hard on yourself. Gently remind yourself of what you are grateful for, what you are proud of, and what you are looking forward to. Remind yourself that everyone has good days and bad days, and that’s okay. 

Take a shower or bath 

Try to imagine yourself washing away all the stress you’ve been experiencing. 

Drink water 

Make sure you continue to hydrate throughout the day and don’t forget to drink water. Keep a reusable bottle or glass with you. If you find it helpful, you can always set a reminder on your phone for actions like eating, drinking water, and taking medication(s). 

Eat a meal 

Either prepare something for yourself or order food. It doesn’t have to be a complicated dish, but try to eat a full meal. Some examples of quick meals you can prepare that don’t involve much effort include pasta, rice and beans, peanut butter sandwiches, and frozen meals.  

Engage in a grounding or mindfulness activity to bring yourself back into the present moment 

There are lots of different grounding and mindfulness activities you can do. For example… 

  • Wash your hands and focus solely on the task. Feel the warm water and soap on your hands. Count to twenty if it helps you focus. 
  • Use the 5-4-3-2-1 exercise. 
  • Hold something hot or cold in your hands. Focus on the temperature and sensation on your skin. 
  • Go for a walk if you are able to. Pay attention to your surroundings and notice everything around you, including how your body feels. 
  • Describe your surroundings. You can write down your descriptions or just list them in your head. 
  • Listen to music and really focus on the lyrics, beat, or melody. 
  • Close your eyes and envision your favorite place or favorite person. Picture them in your mind. Try to make the image as detailed as possible. For example, if your favorite place is the beach, imagine how the sand feels between your toes, how the ocean sounds as it washes ashore, and how it smells. Try to remember the feeling of the sun on your skin. Envision all the colors, sights, sounds, and sensations. 
  • Get in touch with your body in the present moment. How does it feel to sit in your chair? How do your clothes feel on your skin? How do your feet feel planted on the floor? 
  • Take several long, deep breaths. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. 

Do a “brain dump” 

Write down everything that is on your mind. This can be a list of tasks you need to do, things you are worried about, and anything else that crosses your mind. If you have a thought, write it down. Getting these thoughts out and down on paper can help you process them. If you end up creating a to-do list, try not to put pressure on yourself to get the items done. Just focus on getting them down on paper. 

Spend time with a loved one 

If you can’t be with them physically, call them and talk with them. Reach out to your support system. 

Move your body in a way that feels good for you 

Some examples of movement include yoga, stretching, dancing, walking, running, hiking, swimming, lifting weights, and more. Pick something that feels best for you and focus on how it makes you feel rather than forcing yourself to exercise out of obligation.  

Spend time outside in nature 

In addition to the many benefits of being in the natural sunlight including boosting your mood and improving your sleep, being outdoors can help you to feel more connected to nature and the world around you. If you can’t make it outside, open your curtains or blinds to let the natural light in.  


Have you ever heard the phrase, “laughter is the best medicine?” Laughter can improve your mood, relieve stress, and help your entire body feel more relaxed. The next time you’re feeling out of it, try putting on your favorite comedy or text that one friend who you know can always make you laugh. 

If you find yourself consistently feeling down or depressed, support and resources are available. You do not have to navigate a difficult time alone. Counseling and Consultation Service (CCS) offers free individual and group therapy for all Ohio State students, as well as workshops and referrals to community providers. The Student Wellness Center also offers free individual and group wellness coaching. If you are not sure what resource will be the best fit, check out this list of mental health support resources. No concern is ever too small.  


-Lucy Hennon, Graduate Student Assistant 

8 Tips for Sleep Hygiene  

Getting an adequate amount of sleep is an important part of your physical wellness and overall wellbeing. In general, most adults need at least 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Check out these 9 quick tips to establish healthy routines and habits for a better night’s sleep: 

  1. Do your best to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day – even on the weekends. This doesn’t mean that you can’t ever stay up late or sleep in but try to be as consistent as possible.
  2. Maintain the same routine – in the same order – each night before you go to sleep.
    • Example Nightly Routine: Step 1: brush teeth, Step 2: do your skincare routine, Step 3: engage in a mindfulness, meditation, or relaxation practice, Step 4: go to bed 
  3. Try to make time in your schedule every day to get out in the sunlight and move your body if you are able to. Natural light and physical activity are both very important for your sleep cycle.
  4. Take inventory of your drinking habits. Decreasing the amount of alcohol you drink – or cutting out alcohol completely – can improve sleep.
  5. Avoid nicotine. Nicotine is a stimulant, and research demonstrates that nicotine intake has a negative impact on sleep quality.
  6. Be mindful of your caffeine intake, including when and how much caffeine you are consuming throughout the day. It can be especially helpful to avoid caffeine in the afternoons and evenings. Did you know it can take up to ten hours before caffeine is completely out of your bloodstream?
  7. Limit exposure to bright lights, electronics, and screen time leading up to your bedtime. It is recommended that you turn off electronics for the day about 30-60 minutes before going to sleep at night.
  8. To the extent that you are able, keep your room dark, quiet, and cool to help with sleep.

Finally, if your goal is to change your sleeping habits, take it slow and implement the changes one-step-at-a-time rather than trying to completely shift your sleep schedule all at once. You’ve got this! 

For additional strategies, check out these Sleep Resources from the College of Nursing for relaxation techniques like guided meditations and tips to beat insomnia. If you have concerns relating to your sleep habits and health, the Wilce Student Health Center, Student Life Student Health Services and Wexner Medical Center are resources on campus available to students. For specific sleep-related health concerns, The Sleep Disorders Center at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center can offer consultations and treatment. 


-Lucy Hennon, Graduate Student Assistant 

If Loving Your Body Feels Too Unattainable, You’re Not Alone  

When Body Neutrality May Make More Sense than Body Positivity 

In her TedTalk titled, “Our Bodies are Not an Image,” Mary Jelkovsky makes the following powerful statement: “Our bodies are not an image. They’re an experience.” The phrase “body image” is frequently used to describe how one feels about and perceives their body; however, even this phrase falls victim to perhaps one of the biggest barriers to body acceptance: the idea that our bodies are an image, a visual, an aesthetic. 

We’ve been made to think that our bodies should look a certain way, weight a certain amount, and be shaped just right, but in doing so we lose sight of the true purpose of our bodies: to move us through life and allow us to experience joy, excitement, love, and hope.  

Our bodies are not an image. They are not visual or an aesthetic. They are functional. 

Body positivity has taken social media by storm over the past few years, with influencers, activists and even brands pushing the message that you should love your body. For some, this message is empowering, uplifting, and inspiring. For others, it feels too out of reach. To go from self-hate to self-love is no easy or quick journey, and many people feel that they fall somewhere in the middle.  

 If this sounds familiar, let me introduce you to the idea of body neutrality. It’s a philosophy that emphasizes that it is absolutely okay to simply accept your body, without feeling that it is beautiful or feeling love and positivity towards it. As the name suggests, body neutrality is simply feeling neutral towards your body. You don’t hate your body, but you’re also not in love with it the way body positive influencers seem to be. You might see your body similarly to Mary Jelkovsky, in that you focus on what your body does for you over what it looks like.  

Body neutrality, importantly, leaves space for individuals who may find it especially difficult to fully love their bodies: for instance, transgender individuals may struggle with “loving” a body that doesn’t match their gender expression. Individuals who struggle with body dysmorphia may struggle because their perception of what their body looks like is frequently changing. There is room for everyone in body neutrality since it is far more accessible. 

Some examples of what body neutrality in everyday life looks like include: 

  • Exercising as a form of joyful movement (because it makes you feel good), instead of exercising as a form of punishment 
  • Eating intuitively because your body needs to be nourished in order to function in the way you want it to be 
  • Choosing to wear clothes that you are comfortable in; you may not feel “confident,” but you feel comfortable 
  • Practicing mindfulness and listening to your body when it tells you it needs sleep, rest, movement, or nourishment 

 All in all, body neutrality is a form of body acceptance that recognizes how body positivity and self-love may be unrealistic goals for some. Body neutrality may be an ending point, or just a stop along the way of your body acceptance journey. The point is that it’s YOUR journey, and body acceptance is not one-size-fits-all. 

-Graduate and Professional Student, Student Wellness Center