When Bryce Stopher arrived at Goshen College as a first-year in the fall of 2016, he had unknowingly brought with him an infection, which had taken root in his arm.Stopher, now a senior, said he didn’t really notice the infection at first. His arm had become sore and warm — he thought maybe he had hurt it while moving in. He brushed it off and tried not to worry about it.
At least, until he passed out in his dorm room.
When he came to, it became clear he needed to get to the hospital. But instead of asking for a ride or for someone to accompany him to the hospital, Stopher crossed Main Street by himself.
“That was probably not a good idea,” he said.
According to Stopher, after he arrived at the ER, he was quickly operated on. Staff at the Goshen Hospital removed his infection, set his arm in a sling and sent him home to his new dorm room in only a few hours.
While Stopher had quite the adventurous (and painful) first few weeks of classes, the ideal college experience does not involve a trip to the emergency room.
In order to help Goshen College students stay happy and healthy, the Record sat down with Keith Graber Miller, professor of Bible and religion, and Dr. Barb Meyer, physician at Goshen Family Physicians, to talk about what it means to be a healthy college student.
Graber Miller and Meyer have paired up in the past to present students with informative presentations.
Wellness in bodies
First and foremost, Meyer encourages Goshen College students to take advantage of the free flu shots on campus. On Thursday afternoon, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., free flu shots will be available in Java Junction.
According to Meyer, influenza has already hit Elkhart County this year and is expected to be “severe.”
Meyer advises students who have symptoms of exhaustion, fever and body aches to schedule an appointment as soon as possible with Goshen Family Physicians to get tested for the flu. And, in the meantime, drink plenty of fluids and sleep.
Meyer said that many students often choose to forego sleep when they’re sick because they don’t want to fall behind on classwork. This, Meyer said, is a bad idea.
“Sleeping will pay off in spades,” she said. “You will get a shorter course [of sickness] and much more useful productive time afterward if you take it seriously.”
While Goshen Family Physicians offers testing for the flu, Meyer noted that the family practice also offers testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Like the flu, Meyer said that students should schedule an appointment to get tested as soon as they have STI symptoms.
“We would certainly rather treat someone early with a sexually transmitted infection than have them wait because they’re embarrassed and have potential problems,” Meyer said.
She also suggested getting tested for STIs after beginning a new relationship.
Aside from preventing and receiving treatments from viruses and infections, Meyer suggested students exercise and eat healthy.
She believes that exercise is the most beneficial habit someone could have. Meyer said that exercise can positively impact sleep, stress, cardiovascular health, mood and diabetes prevention. She suggested exercising for 20-30 minutes a week and doing something you actually find enjoyable.
She said even the smallest amount of exercise is better than none.
As for healthy eating, Meyer recommends a Mediterranean diet — fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and low protein. She also mentioned a plant-based diet as being a healthy lifestyle. But she also acknowledges that a good diet is one that is healthy, easy to maintain and promotes a positive mindset.
“Focusing on healthy eating and exercise tend to help people maintain reasonable weights without harming themselves,” she said.
Wellness in relationships
In Graber Miller’s perspective, interdependence (to depend on others) is one important aspect in order to lead a healthy life — “We’re not supposed to do this whole journey alone,” he said.
It’s with the help of relationships that we are able to find a “holistic life,” he said.
But how does one form healthy relationships? Graber Miller believes it begins with oneself. Meyer agrees.
In fact, Meyer said that she would love to see students develop a deep affection for themselves.
While people are often barraged with expectations, or “shoulds,” as she called them, Meyer hopes that students choose not to look at self love as a “should,” but instead as an opportunity to nurture themselves.
“And, usually, if people are caring for their own bodies…in ways that are healthy for them, they’re also caring for others around them,” said Graber Miller.
When students discover how to care for themselves in the most loving ways, they can often identify when their peers are indulging in problematic behaviors, he said.
Graber Miller said he believes in relational accountability — the idea that, when in relationships, romantic or platonic, humans are responsible for helping the ones they love avoid problematic behaviors, such as substance abuse or entering a damaging relationship.
This might look like telling a friend that their partner seems to be negatively impactful or that they might have a substance abuse problem, he said.
He noted that this can lead to tension in relationships, despite well-meaning concern.
“That’s the risk you take in the relationship,” he said.
Graber Miller noted that for most college students, the closest relationships they possess are other students and “that’s what gives [students] a moral obligation, I think, to speak as kindly and graciously and compassionately as [they] can about what’s problematic or harmful.”
But that doesn’t mean students should feel as if they have the responsibility of fixing the problems of friends.
Graber Miller said the best way to support friends is to assist them in finding helpful resources.
“You can’t bear everybody else’s stuff,” he said.
Goshen Student Women’s Association (GSWA) will be hosting Healthy Bodies Week during Oct. 21-25. The annual week-long event will feature de-stress events, period product drives, toxic masculinity talks and more.