Badger Halloween Safety 101

2014HalloweenSafety

It’s that time of year again. The days get shorter, the nights get longer, the atmosphere gets spookier, and excitement buzzes in the air. It’s Madison preparing for Halloween weekend, Freakfest, and all of the festivities they bring.

With hordes of new people flocking in to celebrate, throngs of masks crowding the streets, and all kinds of disorienting craziness, it’s even more important to keep safety in mind. Check out our list of healthy Halloween tips, and remember that they’re always relevant, not just on October 31!

Freaky and functional: Costumes are fun, but maybe less so when you end up trekking around Madison at night, freezing in clothes that aren’t warm and comfortable. Keep the elements in mind when you’re designing your costume. Bigfoot or Chewbacca sound like pretty good costume ideas right about now!

Plan your path: It’s smart to have a general idea of your evening plans before setting out. Though you don’t need to have a full itinerary, remembering your destination(s) is an easy way to keep your group from wandering down an unknown path and ending up somewhere dangerous.

Remember the magic number: In case you do end up somewhere spooky and unfamiliar, it’s helpful to have the number of a cab company saved in your phone and some spare cash in your wallet. Be sure to charge your phone completely before going out, too, so you’re not stranded without a way to contact help.

Don’t get lost in the corn maze: Familiar surroundings can feel totally foreign and confusing when they’re filled with unusual crowds of costumed, unknown faces. Keep tabs on your location and look for familiar landmarks. Google Maps always comes in handy for this one!

Stick with your wolf pack: You’ve probably heard this one a thousand times, but during Halloween weekend, it’s more important than ever. There’s power in numbers. Stay with your crew to keep safe.

Nix the disappearing act: And if you leave your group, be sure to tell someone where you’re going, even if it’s just to the bathroom. And always bring someone with you!

Beware of mysterious potions: If you’re out at the bars or a party, be sure not to accept drinks from people you don’t know. And likewise, if you set your drink down, keep an eye on it.

Flu Shot Clinic/Walk-In Info

It’s flu season! If you haven’t heard by now, UHS is offering free flu shots to UW students at our walk-in clinic. All you need is your student ID!

When: Now through  Nov. 14, 9 am – 4:30 pm

Where: UHS, 333 East Campus Mall, 6th floor, Green Clinic (just follow the badger paws)

Who: Any registered UW-Madison student with an ID! If you’re really not a needle person, we also offer a nasal spray vaccine for $5.

If you have any of these conditions, however, you should consult with a doctor before getting the shot:

  • Severe allergy to chicken eggs.
  • Had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination in the past.
  • Developed Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) within six weeks of getting an influenza vaccine in the past.

How: Just walk right up! It’s helpful to wear a short sleeved shirt or a shirt with loose sleeves that can easily be rolled above the elbow.

Why: The flu is easily spread, especially considering how often you’re around other people on a campus this size. Also since the virus changes each year, it’s important to keep up to date on your immunization so that you’re effectively protected.

Not convinced? Check out our flu page to learn more about the virus and protecting yourself against it! Stay healthy this flu season, Badgers!

Relaxing and Meditation 101

Breathe in. Breathe out. Relax your muscles. Find your happy place. Let go of your stress. Focus on breathing.

Those are the sounds of meditation—a practice that produces deep relaxation and eases stress. Even if you only have time to do it for a few minutes, meditation can improve your emotional health and general wellbeing if you train yourself to do it well.

Benefits of meditation

  • Allows you to gain new perspectives
  • Helps manage stress and relieve anxiety
  • Increases self-awareness
  • Helps you focus on the present

What you need:

  • Focused attention
  • Relaxed breathing
  • Quiet setting
  • Comfortable position

Types of meditation

A meditation session should last anywhere from 10-20 minutes and usually involves slow, repetitive and consistent breathing. Some popular types of meditation include:

  • Guided: visualizing a relaxing place, incorporating as many senses as possible. Usually let by an instructor
  • Mantra: repeating a calming word or phrase to ward off distracting thoughts
  • Mindfulness: focuses on increasing your conscious awareness of the present moment
  • Yoga: gentle exercise and stretching combined with controlled breathing to promote a flexible body and calm mind.

These are great techniques to practice if you need a study break, are feeling overwhelmed, or even right before bed, to help you re-center and unwind.

Don’t have time for an intense meditation session?

Integrate meditation into your everyday routine

  • Practice breathing deeply
  • Repeat a mantra
  • Walk and meditate
    • Slow down your pace and focus on the movement of your legs. This type of concentration will help you free your mind, and goes hand in hand with “mindfulness” meditation, or heightened awareness of your physical surroundings.
  • Read and reflect
    • Try reading a poem and quietly reflect on its meaning.

With the stress of every day college life, just remember that it’s OK to take a step back, unwind and R-E-L-A-X. Try out some of these strategies and see what works for you!

Take a meditation class with UHS!

Through meditation classes at UHS, you’ll be introduced to the general principles and benefits of meditation. You’ll also practice of some of the different types of meditation including: breathing-focused, mantra-focused, loving kindness, humming, third eye, and chakra.

Wednesdays | Noon – 1 pm (Union South)
Open to students, faculty, and staff
No cost, no registration required
See TITU for room information

Flu shots and flu season—Let’s set some things straight

Every year, we get a lot of questions from students about the flu and the flu vaccine.  That’s why we’ve compiled our most commonly asked questions into one blog post to help Badgers smash the flu this season.

What is the flu vaccine?

The seasonal flu vaccine is a small dose of the dead influenza virus, usually given by needle in the arm. It’s meant to cause your body to develop flu-fighting antibodies, arming you with a defense against the real deal.

Wait, so will it actually give me the flu?

Nope! This is where many nasty myths come from. The injected flu vaccines only contain the dead virus. Meaning it can’t infect you.

What about the flu mist?

The flu mist does use a live virus (it’s the only form of the vaccine that does), but it’s been engineered specifically to remove the part of the virus that makes people sick. Meaning, again, flu immunizations will not give you the flu.

So, why is this myth so popular?

Many people mistake the side effects from the shot for actual illness. In the past, side effects felt like mild flu symptoms, but now the only side effect you’ll experience may be a sore arm. The flu shot season also coincides with cold and allergy seasons, so recently vaccinated people coming down with a mild respiratory bug might confuse it with the “side effects” of their flu shot, though they’re totally unrelated!

If I got a shot last year do I really need another one this year?

Yep. Though most vaccines protect us for a longer time than one season, the flu vaccine doesn’t. This is because different strains of the flu virus dominate each season, so researchers have to develop a different strain of the flu vaccine each year. Bottom line? Last year’s flu shot won’t protect you this year.

Can antibiotics cure my flu?

No way! This is another common misconception. Antibiotics are designed to fight and kill bacterial illnesses and infections. But the flu isn’t caused by bacteria; it’s caused by a virus. Aka antibiotics won’t do anything to help you out.

Does influenza include the “stomach flu”?

The influenza virus we’re talking about here is the respiratory illness that causes fever, chills, body aches, the works. Gastrointestinal viruses called the “stomach flu” cause vomiting and/or an upset stomach and diarrhea, If you find yourself experiencing these kinds of symptoms without a fever (or any other seasonal flu symptoms), chances are you have the commonly dubbed “stomach flu,” unrelated to the seasonal virus that flu shots combat.

Ready to get your free flu shot? Registered UW-Madison students can walk in to 333 East Campus Mall, 6th Floor Green Clinic, between 9am and 4:30pm weekdays through November 14.  Hate shots? We also have the FluMist nasal spray available for $5. 

Find more information about flu shots on the UHS website.