Wellness Wednesday: Healthy Relationships & Boundaries

‘Tis the season to be chatting about healthy relationships! If you’re familiar with our work in HPW you know that we talk about how relationships come in many forms and might look different for everyone. Something that you feel is a red flag in a relationship may only be a “yellow” flag for someone else. It’s important to really consider your own values and what you’re looking for in a relationship. Before you’re able to really establish good needs and boundaries with others you need to know yourself. A good relationship with ourselves is the most valuable relationship we can have; while a little bit of self-care can go a long way. 

A key to sustaining healthy relationships with others is by setting boundaries and keeping open lines of communication. The earlier both of these can be established the better. These boundaries may be physical or emotional. If we’re talking about physical boundaries with others then it’s important to bring up consent as well. Consent is absolutely essential in all physical activity involving more than one person. If you’re speaking with a friend and observe your friend’s mood shift from good to bad you might ask if they want a hand to hold or a hug. This same principle applies to nearly all situations you come across. Whether it’s platonic, sexual, or anything in between, communication and consent still apply. 

Never make assumptions about what a person needs at any given moment. Having poor boundaries gives room for others to make assumptions about another’s thoughts, feelings, and needs. As with any kind of relationship – it’s a system of give and takes. Take what you need and give what you can. But we need to be careful not to let others take too much from us or us to give too much to them. By defining good boundaries, you will set the expectations for what kind of behavior you will accept from others and what kind of behavior you want. Emotional boundaries refer to the ability to separate one’s feelings from the feelings of another. The best example I have for this is letting one person’s feelings dictate your own. If you think your boundaries are being crossed then it’s important to examine your own feelings toward that person. Do you seem irritated or resentful around them? Emotionally drained? Maybe it’s the other way around. This can lead to losing parts of yourself to them – or them to you. What might have been a small disagreement has suddenly turned into something much bigger because it’s possible that emotional boundaries may not have been set and/or adhered to. Co-workers, friends, or romantic partners – this applies to all of them.

Communicating our expectations in a relationship beforehand leaves far less room for interpretation and misunderstanding. It’s never too late to inform others of your boundaries, and it’s never too late to adjust your boundaries. Maybe you feel that you have more to give now that classwork seems lighter, or maybe it’s the opposite – and you have less to give because you’re buried in classwork. Either way, your boundaries should be expressed and must be respected. Make a commitment to put yourself first. We preach, “Take Care of Yourself” all day long and hopefully it’s easy to see why! If you find yourself struggling with your emotional health we have professional staff in the office who would be happy to give you advice, be a listening ear, or connect you with other on-campus or off-campus resources. Email us at “hpw@depaul.edu” or call by phone at (773) 325-7129. Check out our social media pages on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram @healthydepaul. Blue Demons, don’t forget to Take Care of Yourself, Take Care of Others, and Take Care, DePaul!



Wellness Wednesday Guide: Sleep

You’ve heard us say it before – but we’ll say it again… sleep is super important and is a crucial support for a healthy body and mind! Let’s be real here for a second. I totally understand that it’s not always the easiest to get seven to nine hours of sleep per night, but that’s the number that the experts at the National Sleep Foundation recommend. (Yeah, alright so we know a lot about the topic of sleep and its importance, but there’s no way we could know more than the experts over there, that’s for sure! If you don’t want to take our word for it at least take theirs.) Sleep is often overlooked during times where we have a lot on our plate. Think midterms, finals, big papers, etc. Maybe this is a good opportunity to take a look at some of our previous articles on scheduling, planning, and effective time management so you can knock those assignments out of the park, or check our article on naps. Just an idea! Studies have shown that we need sleep in order to effectively retain all the knowledge we cram in our brains last minute. However, I’m sure you already know this! You’ve heard it time and time again, yet for some reason, we still overlook sleep and disregard it more often than we would like to admit. If you’re reading this at 3 AM and have been staring at a textbook or PDF’s for the last 7 hours take this as a sign to get some much-needed rest. If you’re still not convinced, let me try and throw some compelling points your way. If you join(ed) us for our Wellness Wednesday workshop you might recall: 

  • Proper sleep plays a huge role in supporting physical health (such as supporting the immune system and lowering the risk of certain diseases).
  • Proper sleep helps support positive mental health.
  • Proper sleep helps improve cognitive functioning, like memory retrieval and learning. (There’s that whole memory retrieval thing that I was telling you about!) 

If you’re anything like me then you’ll find yourself saying something along the lines of this. “Yeah yeah. Okay, I get that sleep is important. But so is endless scrolling on TikTok and Instagram in bed.” Or,  “what if I miss an important text?” Alright, maybe TikTok isn’t THAT important but I’ll still keep my phone by my bedside just in case. Big no! The key to proper sleep starts well before we even close our eyes. Since we’re in 2021 and it still needs to be said – it’s best to keep devices off and stored away from our bed. Think of bed as a place where we sleep and not a place where we should be scrolling social media. This might be upsetting for some (like myself, honestly), but I don’t make the rules – I’m just the messenger. Think about it though, if we condition ourselves to think of our bed as a place where we scroll social media or watch YouTube then it would make perfect sense that we might resort to that if we can’t sleep. Something as simple as a phone in bed has the potential to destroy any good sleep habits we’ve made! An effective sleep routine can do wonders and help us get the sound sleep our bodies deserve. Here’s an example of what works for me. 

  • First, I’ll set a reminder for a wind-down time at night and an alarm to wake up in the morning. Remember, I’m aiming for 7-9 hours! Eventually, my body will know this schedule and I won’t need any kind of alarms. 
  • I make sure to avoid all caffeine past 5 PM. I’m a coffee addict but I’ll switch to tea at night. I’ve found this helps tremendously.
  • I’ll try my best to avoid screens ~30 minutes before bedtime. (The blue light stimulates the brain and keeps me wired. No thanks. Though, I must confess… I’m not perfect at this.)
    • Putting down technology gives me a good chance to read that book I’ve started but never finished. The best part? No blue light from books! And a side note: E-Ink has no blue light. E-reader fans rejoice!
  • Lastly, Before I slide under the blanket I’ll put my phone to charge on my desk across the room.
    • 1. No distractions or temptation to indulge in endless scrolling on TikTok or Instagram. 
    • 2. When the alarm goes off in the morning I’ll have to get up and out of bed. Thus, reducing the chance of me slithering back under the covers. 

If for some reason I just can’t fall asleep after 20 minutes I’ll hop out of bed and do a little more reading under a light that’s a warmer color. The more orange the light output the better it will be on your eyes at night. It’s never good to lay in bed awake for more than 20 minutes, according to the experts.

If you’re looking for a little more help in improving your snooze we run a great program called Refresh Sleep. It’s a 7-week online program filled with a whole bunch of tips and tools for better sleep. Best of all, it’s free! 

If you have any other questions about sleep feel free to reach out to us in the Office of Health Promotion and Wellness! We’ll always have an answer to your questions (or point you in the right direction to find an answer). Never hesitate to contact us if you need anything. 

Office of Health Promotion and Wellness

Phone: (773) 325 – 7129

Email: hpw@depaul.edu

Social Media: Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook: @healthydepaul

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Take Care of Yourself, Take Care of Others, Take Care, DePaul!

Wellness Wednesday: What Does Consent Look Like on Zoom?

Consent is essential. It always has been and always will be. In the digital age, consent is arguably more important than it ever has been. Digital consent and digital privacy go hand in hand. Sharing media is even easier now than it was pre-smartphones and the internet. With the click of a button, our data is essentially immortalized on the internet forever. Internet privacy is a cause that many are passionate about, and understandably so. The law is always evolving and digital privacy is a new frontier. Everyone has their own level of understanding of how the internet works, and also possess their own reasonable expectation of privacy on the internet, so it’s important to be mindful and respectful of that wherever and whenever possible. With so many things going digital these days we are seeing that the only option for collaboration may be to host an online event, meeting, appointment, etc, instead of an in-person get-together. The stakes are raised even higher when encounters like confidential appointments are held over digital conferencing platforms such as Skype or Zoom. So how do we respect another person’s privacy? Well, there are many ways and consent is a big part of that process!

It’s always best, and ensures that all attendees are on the same page, to ask for consent before recording a meeting or an online encounter. In the event that the encounter must be recorded then you should send out an initial disclaimer to the attendees before the event making them aware of your plans to record just as you would do if you were in-person. For example, let’s understand that some people may be okay with a photographer or videographer documenting an in-person gathering with various faces showing while others may not. Luckily, in-person there is an ability to speak up and also the ability to leave if you are feeling uncomfortable. For the most part, this is true in the digital space as well. In an online encounter, starting with an initial disclaimer that the event will be recorded reduces the chance of any confusion later on. Better yet, ask for consent before recording, especially if the meeting or event is one that does not necessarily need to be recorded in the first place. By sending out an initial disclaimer this gives the option for prospective attendees to skip the live event entirely and possibly have the opportunity to access the recorded event later on! By asking for consent to record at the beginning of the event you are also bringing it to the attention of the attendees one more time and giving them the opportunity to share any apprehensions, hide their video, mute their microphone, or opt-out altogether and leave the event. 

Once the digital event is underway there are still other ways to stay mindful and be respectful of others’ expectations of privacy. If one would prefer to leave their webcam off, we need to realize that they may be in an environment that they do not feel comfortable sharing with others. It could be as simple as a dirty bedroom, or maybe they’re on a busy bus or train. Just because they choose not to show their face does not mean they aren’t paying attention. The same applies to a microphone – it’s possible that there are loud machines nearby or noise that would detract from the event or meeting if heard by the rest of the attendees, so they chose to mute it. By not having an in-person event, and making it digital, you are giving individuals the opportunity to attend that otherwise may not have had the ability to attend.  

As with anything, there will be those that abuse their privilege of privacy and autonomy. There may also be situations where attendees will be required to keep their microphones and webcams on, for instance when taking a standardized test. In most cases, the average online event is not a confidential one and the thoughts and recommendations mentioned above apply to the average low-to-medium-stakes digital encounter and these rules are not absolute. On the flip side, facilitators appreciate and enjoy seeing the faces and hearing the voices of the attendees too. It makes it easier to engage with the audience and it makes it feel less like talking to a wall or an empty room. So keep that in mind as well! When in doubt, aim to treat everyone with the respect they deserve and be mindful that the current situation is not a typical one and many of us are learning as we go. Remember to take care of yourself, take care of others, and take care, DePaul! 

Wellness Wednesday – Looking Back At 30 Years of the Americans with Disabilities Act


Signed into law on July 26, 1990, by President George H.W. Bush, the American with Disabilities Act became landmark legislation that broke down barriers for those living with disabilities in the United States. The ADA National Network writes, “The ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public.” On this 30th Anniversary we are reminded, and celebrate, this civil rights law that was put into place to ensure that individuals with disabilities have the same opportunities as those without. The CDC found that the U.S. population has nearly 62 million individuals who identify as having a disability which “impacts major life abilities”. That’s roughly 1 out of every 4 people. Chances are very high that you know somebody with a disability, or maybe you identify as having a disability yourself. The more we learn about individuals living with disabilities the better we will be at meeting their needs. It comes from a place of empathy and understanding – realizing that accessibility might not have a major effect on oneself at this very moment while being mindful of the disparity that is ever-present and working to be inclusive whenever and wherever we can. 

Amazing progress has been made in the last 30 years since the passing of the ADA, with additions and refinements to the act that came in 2008, as well. But it’s important to see that the Americans with Disabilities Act is not just about those with disabilities, it’s for society as a whole. An article written by a Special Education Professor at the University of Florida states, “… the promise of ADA cannot be fulfilled unless those without disabilities act on its “clear, strong, consistent and enforceable standards.” There are still countless places like hotels, restaurants, shops, and classrooms that are lacking in accessibility. Private homes are often far from accessible, though do not fall within the enforcement of the ADA. Employment numbers reported by the U.S. Department of Labor shows unemployment rates twice as high for someone identifying as having a disability versus someone who does not identify as having a disability. Studies show that minorities with a disability have greater health disparities than those with a disability who do not identify as a minority. With 30 years under our belt, we are better able to look at the progress we’ve made and keep moving forward in a way that is constructive and will benefit every member of society – those with disabilities and those without. Though, this should not take away from the fact that there is still work to be done. Fairness is not making every step the same height. Fairness is scrapping the steps and constructing a ramp instead.

DePaul is committed to providing equal access and reasonable accommodations to all students and faculty and strives to ensure that everyone has the same opportunities at the university. The Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD) has services available to those with diverse physical, learning, medical, mental health, and sensory disabilities; and is the go-to on-campus resource for those looking to support our diverse learning community of both students and faculty. DePaul offers scholarship opportunities to those with disabilities and provides resources in locating and securing both full-time and part-time employment for a population that is typically marginalized. DePaul’s Office of Health Promotion and Wellness acknowledges the health challenges and disparities faced by those who have a disability and want to remind our DePaul community that our resources are always available. 

Take Care, DePaul!








Jones GC, Sinclair LB. (2008). Multiple health disparities among minority adults with mobility limitations: An application of the ICF framework and codes. Disability and Rehabilitation. 30(12‐13):901‐15.