What is Peer 2 Peer Anyway???

The first weeks in college are, simply put, overwhelming. Adjusting to classes, meeting new expectations, making new friends, living constantly in the presence of other people, are major changes in a social environment. There are no exceptions when first-years in their initial month on campus are trying to figure out how best to “do Bowdoin.” There is no simple answer, and that’s why people come up with different answers and strategies. That’s what makes everyone’s four years (or so) at Bowdoin so unique.

And one question all first-years must answer is what they want their relationship to be with alcohol. Bowdoin prides itself on bringing together a diverse group of students from different backgrounds and unique experiences, and this diversity certainly holds true with experiences related to alcohol. Some first-years come to Bowdoin self-identifying as “well experienced drinkers,” and others have yet to lay their hands on a finely brewed Natty Light. Whether students at Bowdoin drink or abstain from it, what unifies the Bowdoin experience is making an explicit choice about the relationship you want to have with alcohol.

Why do we have to make a choice about alcohol? Because all social groups on campus, in one way or another, interact with its presence.

Making these choices can be hard, especially when adjusting to a new environment that is college. That’s what prompted Peer Health to launch the Peer 2 Peer program.

Starting Tuesday, Peer Health members will meet with all 495 members of the First-Year class to facilitate conversations about the role of alcohol in the social scene. These conversations are meant to be reflective, in that they are an opportunity for first-years to take a step back, reflect on the interplay of alcohol and social dynamics in their first month at Bowdoin, give first-years an opportunity to set goals for themselves, and ask questions.

Whether you are student who drinks or doesn’t, you can get something out these conversations. Peer Health is here to talk about what you want out of your Bowdoin experience and help you find ways to make the experience you want a healthy and happy one.

Questions about Peer 2 Peer? Email a Peer Health member, or Whitney Hogan, Coordinator of Health Education, at whogan@bowdoin.edu

Wellness Wednesday: To B or not to B?

To Plan B or not to Plan B

Are you someone with functioning ovaries and a uterus? Do you think you ever might come in contact with sperm?

If so, stay tuned for Peer Health’s next Free Plan B Day, which will happen in the next coming weeks (before Fall Break) in the Polar Bear Huddle of Buck Fitness Center.

Just because something is free, doesn’t necessarily mean you should grab it without knowing exactly what you’re putting in your pocket.

Plan B or Levonorgestrel is an emergency contraceptive pill designed to be taken within 2 days of unprotected sex. The Levonorgestrel prevents fertilization by inhibition of ovulation in order to prevent unintended pregnancy. Side effects can include nausea/vomiting, abdominal pain, tiredness, dizziness, changes in menstrual periods, breast tenderness, diarrhea, and headaches.

Debunking some myths: If you or someone you know is hesitant to use Plan B, keep in mind that what you hear isn’t necessarily what is true. So here are some cold, hard facts.

–       Even after sex you can still take steps to prevent unintended pregnancy.

–       Plan B does NOT cause infertility.

–       Plan B is NOT the same as an abortion. 

–       Plan B does NOT protect against diseases.

–       Plan B does NOT protect you until your next period.

–       Using Plan B more than once is not harmful

Debunking the biggest myth of them all, just because you miss a Peer Health “Free Plan B” Day, doesn’t mean you no longer have access to it at Bowdoin. Plan B is available for free at the Health Center, or if you’re nervous, ask a Peer Health friend and we’ll B there to help you out.

Wellness Wednesday: Get Outside!

Before we don our puffy jackets, angrily slam our windows shut, and start our incessant whining about the weather we knew was coming, let’s take a second to look our the windows right now. What do we see? That’s right… sun. Fall is the most spectacular season in Maine and while this good weather and sunshine may not last long, they hold the key to outdoor adventures and your ticket to a happy and serene state of mind.

How do you take advantage of this spectacular season?

Apple picking at Rocky Ridge Orchard and Bakery is possibly one of the Maine-iest and yummiest activities this time of year. Just 15 minutes down the road in Bowdoin, Maine, you can pick as many apples as your heart desires, and if you’re in the mood for something a little more filling, walk inside and fill up before hibernation.

Morse Mountain in Phippsburg, is a 30 minute drive, but so rewarding as you ascend a mountain that overlooks the Atlantic on a short mile hike to a sparkling beach. Even though the area is owned by Bates, it’s actually still pretty breathtaking.

Acadia National Park is the only National Park in the Northeast and home to Cadillac Mountain, one of the first spots to see the sunrise each day. The two hour drive is well-worth the scenery and most definitely worth the hike.

Don’t have access to a car?

Simpson’s Point is an easier way to see some ocean and it’s only a hop, skip, and a jump away from campus, 3 miles South down Maine Street. An easy bikeride away, fork left at Simpson’s Point Road and continue until you hit a boat ramp. We can’t promise it’ll be warm, but it sure is refreshing.

Brunswick Farmer’s Market is a great place to grab a piece of fruit or a piece of homemade blueberry crumble. Right on the green in downtown Brunswick, the market is open from 8 am until 2 pm on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Brunswick Town Commons is the Narnia to Bowdoin’s Campus set just behind Farley fields. Enter into the miles of town-owned trails for a run, a bike ride, or just to sit on the banks of the numerous ponds through the entrance that begins right alongside the soccer field, parallel to Harpswell Road.

Soak it in polar bears!


Wellness Wednesday: Chocolate Milk

Looking for an excuse to drink chocolate milk every single day? We are.
And, conveniently enough we can—in fact we should, especially after a long workout, according to the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. In 2006 the journal published a study comparing the contents and effects of Gatorade to the nutrients found in a simple box of chocolate milk.
Researchers found that chocolate milk contains the ideal 3 to 1 ratio of carbs to proteins, which is found to enhance glycogen replenishment into the muscles after a workout. Chocolate milk also contains whey protein, which gets essential amino acids into the blood stream right after consumption, to build and repair muscle. Finally, it’s a good source of the protein “Casein,” which sustains these amino acids and their circulation through the blood stream to reduce the risk of muscle breakdown.
In one study nine male cyclists biked until exhaustion, rested, then biked again. They repeated the exercise again—this time each given one of three different recovery drinks. The three cyclists who drank chocolate milk were able to bike significantly longer than those who drank standard sports drinks, and longer than their own original tests.
If this wasn’t enough to convert you however, the cost comparison might. While one bottle of Gatorade will run you from $1-$1.50, one box of Horizon chocolate milk (with a straw!) costs only 44 cents per serving, a difference that could save you $20 a month!
So next time you pop your cup under the Gatorade fountain in Thorne, switch it up and try the experts’ favorite chocolatey drink. Your muscles may thank you.

Written by Maeve O’Leary ’14

Wellness Wednesday: Introversion

What does it mean to be an introvert?  There are various ways of defining introversion, but according to some, they are the people who listen rather than speak.  They choose to read instead of partying.  They like to work independently over collaborating with teams or groups of people.  But this doesn’t mean that introverts are antisocial or shy at all – they are just social in a different way.  For example, introverts may prefer to spend time with a handful of friends at a dinner party rather than at a loud crowded college house party.

In modern Western culture, we find a pervasive extrovert ideal in which a magnetic personality is very much cherished, though oftentimes leaving introverts undervalued.  Between the emphasis on effective communication and collaboration, whether for job interviews or class projects, we see the extrovert ideal on Bowdoin’s campus too.  And in Susan Cain’s work Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, she argues that though extroversion should be valued, it can be a challenge for introverts to succeed in a world that just can’t stop talking.  Especially at Bowdoin, a small liberal arts college where there is little personal space and sometimes an overwhelming close and constant proximity to hundreds of people our age, finding the time to be alone is hard.

Nobody is a pure introvert or extrovert; in fact, some of your friends may fall in the middle, often called ambiverts.  For the most part, however, we identify with one or the other.  Knowing where you fall on the spectrum can be helpful to understanding what makes you happy and healthy.  It can help you figure out what types of career paths you might be interested in or how to make the most of your weekend free time.  Take a personality test to find out more – you can find hundreds online, but here are some links:

Introversion/Extroversion Quiz

Big Five Test: http://www.outofservice.com/bigfive/

Myers-Briggs Test: https://www.humanesources.com/capp/login.php?url=bowdoin

Now that you have a better sense of where you are on the spectrum, what’s next?  Well, for all the introverts at Bowdoin, remember that solitude matters.  Though you may feel the need to be gregarious and be an effective team player, it is also important to give yourself quality alone time.  It is okay to spend a weekend night engaged in conversation with two close friends and a burger from the food truck.  College isn’t just about loud music and crowded living spaces.  For all the extroverts at Bowdoin, look around you because a third to a half of the world’s population is an introvert, meaning it is quite likely that some of your closest friends are introverts.  Just something to keep in mind as you think about how you want your semester or year to look.

Interested in reading more?  Check out these links for more thoughts:




Wellness Wednesday: Laughter

It seems that almost every day, someone is trying to come up with the next ‘big thing’ that will for sure keep us healthy! While yes, getting sleep, exercising, staying hydrated and eating healthy are all important, studies have shown that something a bit more unexpected has also been found to help- laughter.

A good laugh has been found to improve blood flow, lower levels of stress hormone and even boost your immune system. When we laugh, we trigger the release of endorphins, which help to ease pain and promote a feeling of euphoria. Not only that, but a good laugh has the ability to relieve tension in the body “leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.”

Did you know that there is such thing as “Laughter Yoga?” Yes. That’s correct. In the 1990’s, Dr. Madan Kataria, a physician from Mumbai, India, started the first Laughter Club, which has expanded to over 6000 laughter clubs in over 60 countries. This form of yoga combines laughter with yogic breathing (pranayama) in order to provide the psychological and physiological benefits that come from laughing. Laughter yoga has been used in cancer facilities, prisons, aged care facilities, and has even been found to make a large impact on those with mental and physical disabilities.

Barb Fisher, a certified laughter-yoga leader, says that while laughter yoga shouldn’t replace traditional forms of exercise, it has been proven to help tone muscles. You know that sore feeling you get in your abs when you have been laughing uncontrollably? You really are strengthening your core! Apparently, 20 seconds of a good, hard belly laugh is equivalent to 2 minutes on the rowing machine.

Sadly enough, Fisher also says, that “Kids laugh about 400 times a day, and adults only about 15.” So, resort to your childlike self and don’t take everything so seriously! Laugh at yourself; don’t be afraid to be embarrassed. Try and look for humor in unfortunate situations. Surround yourself with funny people, posters, or objects that you keep at your work place. Most importantly, keep everything in perspective.

Here are some types of laughter that Dr. Madan Katari suggests to try out:

1. Hearty Laughter: Laughter by raising both arms in the sky with the head tilted a little backwards

2. Greeting Laughter: Joining both the hands and shaking hands with at least four or five people in the group

3. Appreciation Laughter: Join your pointing finger with the thumb to make a small circle while making gestures as if you are appreciating your group members and laughing simultaneously.

4. Milkshake Laughter: Hold and mix two imaginary glasses of milk or coffee and pour the milk from one glass into the other by chanting “Aeee…,” and then pour it back into the first glass by chanting “Aeee…” Then, everyone laughs while making a gesture as if they are drinking milk.





Written by Kerry Townsend ’13.

Fall 2012 Flu Shot Clinic: Round I

Flu season is around the corner – stop by the Health Center (3rd floor of the Buck Center) to get your free flu shot!

Thursday, September 20th – 10am to 12pm

Friday, September 21st – 1pm to 5pm

There will be more dates to come.  Stay tuned!

Welcome Back

Welcome back Bowdoin students!  Are you ready for a fresh new year?  Each year brings its own set of challenges whether you are a senior and beginning the search for what to do post-graduation or a freshman just transitioning in.  Juniors have been scattered around the world and sophomore friends are now scattered around the fringes of campus.  Like all change, transitioning is difficult.  But Peer Health is here to help.  Talk to us – we’re here to listen and connect you to resources.  We’re your resource.

Find out who you can talk to: PeerHealthFall12List

Wellness Wednesday: Sitting

Now that it’s summer, a good portion of current Bowdoin students, as well as alumni, are probably scattered around the country and the globe for that matter.  Some are probably enjoying their first college summer, others traveling, and a good portion sitting at desks in cubicles staring at a computer.

If you’re one of the gazillion people sitting a lot this summer, these articles from the Miami Herald and the US News and World Report might be of note to you!  Basically, there’s been increasing evidence that “prolonged periods of inactivity – best described as sitting a lot – is unhealthy.”  Several studies claim that sitting for 6+ hours a day can lead to higher death rates.  Of course, it might not be possible to stand all day, but it is important to move and stretch just about every 30 minutes throughout your day.  Here are some tips:

  • On your lunch break, take a walk outside.  The fresh air and sun is a nice change from a computer screen.
  • When you need to chat with a coworker, go to their desk!  While it might be helpful to call or email when you’re swamped with work, your body will appreciate the walk even if it’s right next door.
  • Get up and stretch.  Your back will love these stretches!
  • Try the bathroom downstairs (or upstairs) instead of the closest one.  And take the stairs to it!

Hope you are staying polar bear healthy this break.