Duke Student Wellness

What You Can Do

Wellness Tree

Your wellness is key to reaching your personal goals. When you’re feeling the pressures of life, it can be hard to break some of the negative habits that may be hurting you. You can’t always avoid getting sick, but you can focus on taking care of your wellness to minimize your chance of illness.

We can show you how, helping you make ongoing choices that boost your immune system, keep you mentally alert, give you more energy, and keep you functioning at your personal best. 

Whether it’s Koru, nutrition, emotional care, or another wellness need, we invite you to check out our resources on your own, or ask our friendly staff for advice, tips and guidance. Together, we can help you feel, perform and live better.

Emotional Wellness

This page is offered to help you anticipate some of the difficulties, give you some guidance on handling those difficulties and point you to some helpful resources. College is an exciting time of life, one filled with many profound transitions in preparation for an exciting and fulfilling future. One thing is likely true for all first year students: beginning college provides countless opportunities for growth, newly emerging challenges, and an accumulation of rich interpersonal experiences. Homesickness, academic challenges, difficulty fitting in, managing expectations, and many other issues can take their toll. Sometimes, the challenges of adjusting to college can be stressful and require new life strategies. 

College is an exciting time of life, one filled with many profound transitions in preparation for an exciting and fulfilling future.  One thing is likely true for all first year students: beginning college provides countless opportunities for growth, newly emerging challenges, and an accumulation of rich interpersonal experiences. Sometimes, the challenges of adjusting to college can be stressful and require new life strategies. 

This page is offered to help you anticipate some of the difficulties and point you to some helpful resources.  Often, having a sense of what you’re going through is helps reduce the negative impact it can have on your life. Try to be mindful of the changes that will likely greet you, and develop some ideas about how to respond as you move through the first several weeks of life here at Duke University.
--Increased personal freedom and responsibility. 
--Different Kinds of Academic Strategies Needed for Success
--Greater Levels of Difficulty of Academic Demands
--Greater complexity of time-management responsibilities
--New friendships at college that differ from high school friendships
--Much more (or much less) racial and cultural diversity than what you experienced in your home community—or similar diversity but less socializing among people of different races.
--A greater range of values and morals in college than in your home community.
--Being surrounded by many peers who are also high achieving.
--Changing relationships with family members and friends from home
--Maintaining a long-distance romantic relationship while beginning a new life that may not involve your partner from home. 
Keep this in mind: Struggling is not a sign of weakness or failure.  In fact, struggling is usually the first phase of developing a new strength or strategy for success and wisdom. Below are some helpful hints in moving through the adjustment to college life.
1. Reach out to others. Start conversations and trust the process of forming new friendships.
2. Stay healthy and educated about how to maximize all aspects of your health.
--Student Health
--Duke Wellness
--Recreation Centers on Campus
3. Become aware of the many activities and organizations that you can join.
--University Student Activities & Events
--Greek Life on Campus
4. Adjust your expectations if things are not working out as you planned. Perhaps, what you planned wasn’t going to offer as much as what is actually happening!
5. Make use of the services and resources to keep you on track academically. Avoid the common mistake of avoiding help just to prove you don’t need help.  At this phase in your life, not using available resources is likely to prove a much more costly than simply needing assistance from time to time.  
6. Connect with the team of support in your residence halls.  
7. Get support from a counselor with expertise in college student development. That’s where we, here at CAPS, come in.   Whether your struggle is something you’ve been facing since before you came to Duke or something that has emerged as you’ve been adjusting to college life, meeting with a counselor is an effective way of getting through the challenging time and continuing toward a successful and fulfilling career at Duke and after you graduate.



It seems silly, perhaps, to think of trying to find your emotional sides. In fact, it'€™s probably not lost but only hidden. But because, often, there is such a tendency to avoid or suppress anything that might bring about some emotional vulnerability, we think it'€™s important to inform students about how that might impact your lives and your campus.



When everyone seems to be so focused on being successful and confident, it's hard not to follow that current. But then...where do you tend to put your emotions?

and what happens when they are pushed so far below the surface that even you don't know where they are anymore?

Has the word "emotional" come to mean something negative for students?

Do you try to make sure that you don't "get emotional?"

If so, you may want to consider the implications of this. Emotions don't go away simply because they are not expressed. Quite often, problems with depression, anxiety, and substance abuse often have their origin in unexpressed emotions. 

  • Identify somebody you trust and be yourself.
  • Emotions don't define who you are; they allow you to connect with others you care about.

                                                                                     Keep in mind that
                                                                    sadness, confusion, fear, and anger
                                                                                   are as legitimate as
                                                            excitement, joy, confidence, and satisfaction.

There are certainly times when it may be wise to not let your struggles show openly. Are there times that it is just as wise to reach out and share what you're going through?

  • Give yourself the support that you may need.
  • Give your friends the opportunity to be kind and show that they care.

© 2007.  Gary D. Glass, PhD. 
LifeShops Outreach Tools. (Used by Permission)

Medicines most commonly prescribed to deal with emotional pain are called antidepressants, though they are used to treat many kinds of anxiety problems as well as depression. The idea of taking a medicine to help restore emotional balance is one that typically raises many questions for students. A few questions in particular come up frequently, so we've put together these answers as a starting point.

Questions About Medications
Anti-depressants: Biological Treatment for Psychological Symptoms


If you're suffering from psychological distress like anxiety or depression, it's possible that a medication might help you feel and function better. At CAPS, the medicines most commonly prescribed to deal with emotional pain are called antidepressants, even though they are used to treat many kinds of anxiety problems as well as depression. The idea of taking a medicine to help restore emotional balance is one that typically raises many questions for students. A few questions in particular come up frequently, so we've put together these answers as a starting point. To further explore this topic, we encourage you to talk to one of the counselors or doctors at CAPS.

1. Why would taking a pill help the way I feel?

Anxiety, sadness, and even depression are normal feelings that all of us have experienced for brief periods at one time or another. Usually we have an idea of what led to these feelings and what we can do to feel better. However, prolonged, more intensely down or anxious feelings are different from everyday sadness or anxiety, and medication can help with these symptoms. Often caused by changes in chemicals in the brain, these more tenacious problems sometimes make no "sense" to you. Even when you can identify a starting cause, the depression may get in the way of clear thinking and interfere with your ability to figure out coping strategies.

It may feel like nothing you try to do helps, or you may notice changes in yourself that you can't understand, such as problems with sleep or appetite, low energy, or frightening thoughts. It's also not normal for bad days to outnumber good ones for weeks or months on end.

Because depression and anxiety disorders are sometimes caused by biological changes in our body, a biological treatment, such as a pill, can be helpful. In some cases a biological treatment is absolutely necessary. Antidepressant medicines correct the chemical changes that lead some people to feel depressed or anxious.

2.  Why can't I do it on my own?

If you could just "snap out of it," you probably would have by now. Often students try hard to "get over" their unpleasant feelings before coming to CAPS. Medication is not the only treatment option: some kinds of depression and anxiety get better with counseling. Sometimes, however, the level of pain is high enough, or interferes enough with your ability to function in your daily life, that medications are especially needed. Just as people with high blood pressure can't simply "will" their blood pressure to go down to normal and have to take a pill to help it, people with certain kinds of emotional suffering need a pill to get back to normal.

That's not to say there aren't things you can do to make a big difference. Just as people with high blood pressure can make lifestyle and diet changes that help bring their blood pressure into normal range, so can people with depression or anxiety. A pill won't solve all of your problems, but it will help diminish the symptoms which interfere with your ability to work on them.

3. How do these medicines work?

The answer to this question is not entirely clear. The brain is a very complex organ and we are just beginning to understand how it malfunctions in anxiety states and depression. Having said that, it is clear that these medicines do work, and work very well.

Antidepressants adjust the brain's balance of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and norepinephrine. When these and other neurotransmitters get out of balance your brain doesn't function normally; the neurons become less responsive and less adaptive. This translates into symptoms such as changes in sleep, changes in your ability to concentrate on schoolwork, excessive worrying, panic attacks, changes in eating patterns, loss of interest and motivation, loss of pleasure in one's usual activities, feelings of hopelessness, thoughts about death, and even loss of interest in sex.

Once the medicines have corrected the imbalance of neurotransmitters, gradually over days to weeks the brain resumes its normal functioning. The neurons start responding normally and the depressive symptoms resolve. After a period of time on the medicines, usually six to twelve months, the brain regains its ability to maintain its healthy balance without the help of medication.

4. What are the side effects?

All medicines have the potential to cause side effects, but, fortunately, modern antidepressants don't cause major side effects in most people. Some people feel a little queasy the first couple days as they get used to the medicine. Some people feel the medicine wakes them up like a cup of coffee and can interfere with sleep if they take it late in the day while others feel it makes them a little sleepy so they take it at bedtime. Other possible but not too common side effects include vivid dreams, headaches, and increased sweating. Most of the newer antidepressants don't cause any significant change in weight.

Occasionally, an anti-depressant can make a person feel restless, agitated or anxious. Very rarely, these feelings might trigger thoughts about harming oneself. It is very important that you call your doctor immediately if you experience these side-effects.

The most common side effect of some anti-depressants is a sexual side effect. It usually manifests as delayed orgasm in both men and women. Some women develop anorgasmia, the inability to have an orgasm, which can be very frustrating. In contrast, some male students find that mildly delayed orgasm improves their sexual function. Your doctor can suggest solutions for this particular problem, or discuss changing or stopping the medicine if you are troubled by sexual side effects.

All of the side-effects that can occur with anti-depressants go away once you stop the medicine. There are no known long-term problems caused by these medicines.

5. Are these medicines addictive?

No. Because these medicines don't make you feel high and because their onset of action is over many days, they don't produce any psychological craving to take the drug. They also don't produce any physiological dependency. You can stop taking the drugs at any time. It's important to understand, though, that your risk of lapsing back into depression or anxiety is much greater if you don't stay on the medicines for several months.

Some students have physical discomfort if they stop some of these medicines too suddenly. You might feel dizzy, have minor visual changes, nausea, or fIu-like symptoms. These symptoms can usually be avoided by tapering the medicine slowly. If they do develop they are usually mild and fairly short-lived. If you have trouble with these symptoms talk with your doctor about a remedy.

6. If I start one of these medicines do I have to take if for the rest of my life?

No, but taking the medicine for several months will reduce your risk of relapsing back into a depressed or anxious state. Anti-depressants take several weeks to start working, and once they've returned your brain chemistry to normal, it takes several months before your brain is able to maintain the restored balance on its own. The research shows that the longer a person stays on the medicine the less likely he or she is to redevelop depression. Current recommendations are to continue the medicine for six to twelve months after your symptoms are gone. Most people feel that if the medicine has been helpful and there are no troubling side-effects, then it's not a problem to continue taking it for this length of time. Obviously, if the medicine is not particularly helpful or you have side effects you don't like, the medicine can be stopped at any time.

The bottom line is that if an antidepressant works for you, you'll increase your chance of staying well if you stick with the medicine for six months or more.

7. How do I know if it's working? What will I notice?

Most antidepressant medications take two to four weeks to begin having their effects, although some people notice improved energy sooner. You can expect to feel less moody, and less tearful. Your concentration and memory should return to normal. You may also notice you're "back to your old self," enjoying the things you used to enjoy, and less preoccupied with negative thoughts. That does not m'ean you will feel happy all the time. These are not "happy pills" - they simply seek to return you to normal functioning, where you can feel the full range of human emotions rather than mainly sadness or anxiety.

Once you've started a medication, it's very important to meet regularly with your doctor to monitor your progress. As you start to feel better it may be hard to remember just how badly you felt, and an outside opinion may be especially helpful.

8. Can I drink alcohol with it?

Alcohol can interact with medicines in unpredictable ways, and different people react differently. If you drink alcohol while on antidepressants, you might get drunk much faster than without the medicine or the alcohol might interfere with the medicine's ability to help your symptoms. Driving after drinking is especially dangerous. Because these medicines need to be taken consistently-every day-to work, you can't stop the medicine for a day in anticipation of going out and having a drink.

Certain medicines may have more dangerous interactions with alcohol, so be sure to ask your doctor about the specific medicine you may be taking.

Keep in mind that alcohol is also a depressant, meaning it can make you feel worse whether or not you're taking a medication.

9. Will it change my personality?

If you are having trouble with depression or anxiety and you take an anti¬depressant, after a period of time you will feel "normal" again. Students often report feeling like their old selves again. If you have been depressed for a very long time, then perhaps this change could make you feel like your personality changed. Most students find they think more clearly and are better able to get their work done once their anxiety and depressive symptoms are successfully treated.

10. How much does it cost? Is it covered by insurance?

Most of these medicines are fairly expensive, costing from $70 to $100 per month. They are virtually always covered by insurance. The Duke Blue Cross plan pays 80% of medication costs, reducing the out of pocket expense to $14 to $20 per month. Other insurance plans may have insurance cards that allow you to get your medicine with just a small co-payment.


Depression and anxiety cause miserable symptoms, as uncomfortable as any physical pain. Although medicine is not always the answer to this kind of psychic pain,often it can be extraordinarily helpful. If you are struggling with anxiety or depression, you owe it to your self to talk to a professional about the option of medication. If it's appropriate for you and works for you, you will be amazed at the relief treatment can bring to your life.

@ 2000, by Holly Rogers, M.D. and Doris Iarovici, M.D.

Another academic year is coming to an end, which means that many of you see cramming and all-nighters in your future. Although this might seem like the best or only approach, there are others techniques that can yield better results. Don’t wear stress like a badge of courage to demonstrate how hard you are working. It’s time to shift the culture and think about an approach that enhances brain function through better wellness practices.

When we feel stressed out, we experience a “fight or flight” toward a perceived threat. For finals, the threat may be the possibility of failure or negative social comparison if you don’t do as well as your peers. When this occurs, the stress hormone cortisol is released into the blood and it can limit your ability to concentrate, decrease your capacity to remember information, suppress your immune system, and may literally kill brain cells. So, how can you keep your stress/cortisol levels down?

  • Set achievable goals. Dividing out the tasks you want to accomplish into small, achievable goals gives you the opportunity to experience small successes along the way. Success is associated with a release of endorphins into the blood, which are called “feel good hormones”.
  • Set a schedule. Placing your goals on a schedule will keep you anchored in the present so that you can let go of worrying about what you have to do next. Your schedule should contain study breaks so you can eat, exercise, and sleep. Planning these breaks with friends also can be an efficient way to keep you connected to needed support.
  • Practice mindful meditation. This strategy, practiced for only 15-20 minutes per day will calm and focus your mind, as well as temper strong feelings of anxiety that can be overwhelming.
    --Read more about meditation at https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/use-your-mind-change-your-brain/201305/is-your-brain-meditation.
    --Practice by going to https://itunes.apple.com/us/itunes-u/caps-self-help-materials/id482648690?mt=10.
  • Take breaks. Memory is highly influenced by recency and primacy effect, which means that you remember what you study first and last. If you have study periods longer than an hour or two, you are more likely to forget what you studied in the middle. A good rule to follow is that for every 45 minutes of studying you should take a 15-minute break to clear your mind and relax.
  • Eat antioxidant-rich foods. Stress produces cortisol, which promotes the release of free radicals that can kill brain cells. Eating foods rich in antioxidants like fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, and dark chocolate can help combat free radicals.
    --For more ideas visit http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/multimedia/antioxidants/sls-20076428.
  • Exercise. Physical activity is one of the best ways to decrease cortisol levels. A simple 20-minute walk can also help get the blood flowing back into your brain after sitting still for extended periods. Inadequate blood flow to the brain can contribute to memory loss. 
  • Sleep. Short-term memory is converted to long-term memory as you sleep. The more REM cycles you experience in a sleep event the better the transfer. Your brain actually clears out toxins while you sleep - Lack of sleep raises cortisol levels and can impede your ability to perform routine tasks. As stress increases in your daily life it becomes even more important to get at least 6 hours of sleep per night; 8 is better, but at least 6.
  • Breathe deep. Deep inhales through diaphragmatic breathing helps to slow down the central nervous system and provides necessary oxygen that fuels your body. These slow, intentional inhales calm the nerves and relaxes muscles.
    --Try this 1-minute breathing exercise that you can use anywhere https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9Q8D6n-3qw.
  • Be social. Spending time with people you love produces oxytocin. This chemical, dubbed the “hug hormone”, reduces anxiety and promotes relaxation.

These strategies won’t take all the stress out of finals but will help make you more efficient and effective, and keep you healthy for finals and a great launch into summer break.

Maintaining a committed relationship while attending graduate or professional school can be complex and challenging. The reality is, your relationship is simultaneously a source of support and a source of demanding responsibilities. The tension between these two dimensions can pose some significant threats to a thriving relationship. To minimize these threats and actually grow closer during demanding times, it’s important to keep some main goals in mind.

There is a challenging complexity to being in a committed relationship while attending Graduate School or a Professional School (such as Law School or Medical School). At the most basic level, the challenge emerges from the reality that your relationship is, simultaneously a Source of Support and a Source of Demanding Responsibilities.

The tension between these two dimensions can pose some significant threats to the thriving and surviving of your relationship. To minimize these threats and actually grow closer during the demanding time that graduate and professionals schools are part of your lives, it’s important to keep some main goals in mind.
Engage in Open and Honest Communication and Planning

To minimize problems and to enhance your relationship, communicate before and during challenging times.  Communication, however, is not simply a matter of exchanging information (although that is an important part of a respectful relationship). Communication about one's feelings is also important. Letting your partner know the emotions you have about a situation, even one you may have agreed to accept, can be just as important as letting each other know what time you'll be home. In addition, communicating your sensitivity to your partner's thoughts and feelings, is also important. Otherwise, invisible resentment can start to accumulate and not get expressed until the situation does not seem to match the emotions at the time.  

Sometimes, simply communicating verbally isn't enough, especially given the busy life of being in graduate or professional school. Keeping a calender or some other tool to help plan together, as much as possible, can help alleviate the strain that results when you made need to change some plans. This also helps acknowledge the disappointment, not to mention keep track of how often disappointments are happening.  
Set Boundaries

Learn to recognize the appropriate times to set boundaries between your self and your program of study.  Without such boundaries, any program can present enough demands to usurp all of your time, doing so in a way that appears absolutely necessary.  Also, it is important to recognize the boundaries needed between yourself and your partner.  As with any relationship, having each of you involved in other dimensions of your lives (including friends, hobbies, work or school) keeps the relationship from becoming too enmeshed, putting so much pressure on the relationship to maintain each person’s sense of worth and competence.

Remember to Negotiate

Acknowledge and plan for the unique demands of being in graduate level training.  Because your partner will often need to compromise times he/she expected you to invest in your relationship, it is best to be aware of the situations that may require negotiation.
--Irregular hours of school
--Abrupt and/or intense academic demands and sudden changes in priorities
--Un-anticipated work activities for professors
--Unscheduled social activity with school peers needing to maintain a cohesive bond to support each other.

This is a lot to expect from a partner or spouse without offering something to balance things out.  When asking for your partner to make a sacrifice, offer when, specifically, you will be able to give something to the partner and your relationship to balance out the scales of compromise.

Know When To Re-Negotiate and Re-Assess

When unable to keep promises made in recent compromises, it becomes critical to collaboratively re-assess the boundaries that had been put in place.  It also becomes critical to review the needs of the partner and the needs of the relationship when you feel you must re-negotiate something you had already agreed to do.

Attention and Support

Your partner may be having a hard time dealing with the many compromises made for the sake of your program demands.  Acknowledge this out loud.  Show an intentional and genuine interest in the emotions and activities of your partner’s life.  Set time aside, with no material related to your program in sight, and ask about your partner’s day.


Affection in the context of a rushed pace or a momentary endearment can often feel like a token rather than a genuine investment back into a relationship that is running low on emotional fuel.  If you have not enjoyed affection with your partner, “plan” some spontaneous affection.  Almost by its very essence, affection requires some degree of spontaneity.  However, the demands of graduate or professional study can leave you waiting  much longer than you realize for "a good time" and it may require some planning on your part to be emotionally available, with enough energy, to express how you feel through affection. 

Help with Domestic Needs and Personal Projects 

There is often an imbalance in chores and household duties because the graduate student has such irregular demands.  Rather than maintain the imbalance indefinitely, plan specific times when you can offer to assume the duties you often have to rely on your partner to assume.

Recognize and Talk Through Fear and Insecurity

Question automatic assumptions that you do not have enough time to fulfill your relationship needs. Sometimes, fear and insecurity about being in a competitive program is disguised as an overly conscientious work ethic. Question any perceived or assumed prohibition of vulnerabilities. Fears can emerge that having a relationship with its own needs may threaten your success. There may be a prevailing attitude in your program to re-enforce these fears. Work together with your partner to face the fears. The very person that may sometimes seem to threaten your success will likely provide you with the re-assurance that you need to succeed.

Graduate school and professional schools are challenging and rewarding experiences, contributing to your professional and your personal development.   The same is true of your committed relationships. If you need support and want to attend to your relationships needs with professional guidance, feel free to call us at 660-1000. CAPS offers assessment, individual or couples counseling, and relationship enhancement workshops. We want you to succeed, in all the domains of your life.

When dealing with conflict, avoidance is not the answer. Many people think of conflict as a bad thing that is best ignored.  However, if we don’t attend to issues that cause conflict, those issues can infect and spread throughout our relationships and even into other areas of our lives. So, the first thing to realize about conflict is that we are better off if we confront it and contain it before it spreads.

At some point in our lives we all experience loss, and with it a time of grief and mourning. Whether through the death of a loved one, divorce or relationship breakup, loss of physical mobility due to illness, loss of a sense of home due to geographic relocation, losses are a part of life. Understanding these emotions is important to moving on.

At some point in our lives most of us will experience a loss.  Loss may occur through the death of a loved one, a divorce or relationship break, a loss of physical mobility due to illness, or a loss of a sense of “home” due to geographic relocation.  Losses are a part of life.  It is hard to go through life without loss and many of us might say that our lives have deepened because of the experience of loss.  But whether we experience a deepening or not, most of us will experience a time of grief or mourning.
What might occur during a time of grief?

All of us grow up and live in the context of a community.  Our communities, families, and cultures often play a great part in how we learn to express grief.  Grief is often experienced as a host of many different emotions; sadness, anger, or happiness surrounding remembered times.  In addition, there may be complicated feelings of guilt or remorse surrounding times of conflict. Sleep and appetite may also be disrupted during times of grief or mourning.  Many people may experience a numb feeling in the initial days and weeks of loss, with strong feelings emerging weeks or months following the loss. What is important to know and remember is that there is no right or wrong way to grieve. While there are common elements in the grief process, we all experience grief differently. In addition to these reactions previously listed, below are some additional reactions that may occur during a time of grief.
Emotional Reactions
--Depressed mood
--Panic and anxiety
--Fear of death
--Tearfulness, crying
Physical Reactions
--Exaggerated startle response
--Increased physical illness
Behavioral Reactions
--Withdrawal from others
--Increased irritation with others
--Difficulty with focus or concentration
--Increased attachment to friends and/or family
--Increased use of alcohol or other substances
--Loss of pleasure in once pleasurable activities

What is important to know and remember is that there is no right or wrong way to grieve. While there are common elements in the grief process, we all experience grief differently. Some people describe grief like waves that wash over them at unexpected times; others have noted that it feels like they are going around in circles, re-experiencing emotions that they thought they were finished with. What may be helpful to keep in mind is that the waves will come and then they will subside. And while it might feel like you are walking in circles, you are actually going somewhere. Perhaps the picture of a spiral staircase will be helpful in this process.

Self-Care Suggestions

Many communities or cultures create rituals to facilitate the grief process when someone dies. These often involve the honoring of the deceased while also providing a source of support for those who are grieving the loss of the loved family/community member. Rituals can be a very important part of a healing process. Some losses, such as loss of one’s home through geographic location, may not have culturally established ways of honoring the importance of this loss through supportive rituals. It may be helpful to consider the creation of new rituals to mark the importance of the yearned for place. It is important to keep in mind that mourning is a process and takes time; time is something we often feel we do not have enough of as we move through our demanding days. Thus, you may find that you will need to be especially vigilant about checking in with yourself around how you are feeling. You may find the following self-care activities helpful as you go through a difficult time of loss.

  • Stay in touch with close friends and family. Let them know how you are doing in your day-to-day life. Let them know it is ok to talk about the loss with you.
  • Be mindful of the fact that you may not be at 100% for a while. Be patient with yourself. You may not be able to perform at the level you are used to, but know that this is not permanent, and you will recapture this in time. Get plenty of rest and be mindful of the need to eat, even if your appetite is minimal.
  • Some people find it helpful to read about the grief process; some keep a journal of their thoughts and feelings. Some people find artwork helpful. If you find it difficult to talk to others about your experience, it may be helpful to turn to these avenues of expression.
  • Consider the possible benefits of a spiritual practice. Some people find prayer helpful; others may find a time in the day to meditate or visit a local garden. Some people find it helpful to seek spiritual guidance through a member of the clergy or a spiritual advisor.
  • Consider the creation of healing rituals at times that may be especially difficult. Some people find the first anniversary of their loss as an especially difficult time. As this anniversary approaches you may find it helpful to speak to someone about the loss. As you consider the supportive resources available to you with family and friends, you might also consider the following community resources:
    • Counseling and Psychological Resources (CAPS), 660-1000. CAPS’ staff are available to meet with students to provide support and education around the grief process.
    • Duke Chapel’s Religious Life Staff, 684-2572. Protestant, Catholic, Non-Denominational, Jewish, and Muslim faiths are represented among religious life staff.
    • Duke University Hospital Bereavement Services, 668-0923. Offering a variety of grief support groups.

Readings on Grief and Loss

Colgrove, M., Bloomfield, H. & McWilliams, P.  How to survive the loss of a love.  New York:  Bantam. 1976
Kushner, H.S. When bad things happen to good people.  Schocken Books, 1981.
Tatelbaum, J.   The courage to grieve:  Creative living, recovery and growth through grief.  Harper Books, 1980.
Viorst, Judith.  Necessary Losses.  New York:  Fawcett Gold Medal.  1986
Woslfert, Alan.  The Journey through grief.  Ft. Collins, CO:  Companion Press.  1997

By Libby Webb, M.S.W., LCSW

Your Map for Living
What guides you? What are your personal priorities that influence the decisions you make in your day-to-day life?  

Your personal priorities doesn'€™t refer to your task list. It doesn't refer to the things you have to do, necessarily, such as study for an exam, work on a paper, or complete that task for the extra-curricular organization you lead. Your personal priorities are the larger truths that help you define any task as important to begin with.

In other words, what are the things in life that you value enough that you want these values to guide your living?

What we tend to see is that if you have a clearer sense of what your values area €”your personal priorities €”that clarity helps you live with a higher level of self-esteem, with a greater sense of fulfillment, and for the times that life becomes more challenging, a greater source of resilience.

There are a number of ways to organize your personal values system and an almost infinite number of ways to define the different values. Regardless of how you might do that, it's important to consider three general steps in using values or personal priorities to guide your life: 

First, it is important to identify what matters to you and what are the terms or categories of this so you can have some language to explore your values. In other words, what would go on the list of your values, and how would you prioritize them?

Second, it is important to explore the way you'€™re actually living your life; how the decisions you make and the patterns of your investments reflect what is most meaningful to you. This is important because a flourishing life is one beyond mere awareness of one's values; a congruent expression of those things that are most important to you plays a big role in how satisfied you are with your life, how resilient you are in facing challenges, and how meaningful your life experiences are.

Finally, it becomes important to assess what changes you may want to make in how you devote your time, energy, and creativity so that your day-to-day living is more in line with what you recognize as your

personal priorities. Sometimes, this leads you to realize that your priorities have changed without you noticing, and that'€™s okay. It simply cycles you back to the first step as you move through your life, continually discovering what matters most to you and how to make that your map for living. 

The Life Values Inventory is one tool that has helped many people go through this process. Click the image to visit the free online tool to learn more.

The word has become so commonly used in our language, it is often difficult to know just how serious a person’s struggle may be.  At times, people distinguish between a "clinical depression" and the everyday term "depressed" which conveys feeling really down. This page is devoted to helping you understand both phenomena so you know best how to get support to those who may face depression, whether it's you or someone you know and care about.

Food & Nutrition

Information for Students with Eating Disorders/Disordered Eating and Body Image Concerns
Duke Student Health and Duke Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) recognize that there is a broad spectrum of eating and body image issues that impact our students' health and emotional wellbeing. This impact can often affect a student's success and progress in their chosen academic program and can put a strain on our community environment. At Duke, we have professionals including Registered Dietitians, Physicians and Therapists who are able to assess and refer students to appropriate services in the community. We strive to provide timely assessment and referral to support students with eating and body image concerns as they engage in the level of care and recovery work that is appropriate for them at their stage of illness.

To schedule an appointment with a medical provider please call: 919-681-9355.  If you would like to schedule an appointment with a dietitian you may contact them directly through email or call 919-681-9355.  Franca.alphin@duke.edu or Toni.apadula@duke.edu.  Concerned about your eating behaviors?  Use our online online screening tool.

For additional information, please call 919-681-9355.

Curious to know if your eating habits are healthy? Take an anonymous self screening on eating behaviors and get instant feedback.

Click here to find out more.

Sexual Health Education

DuWell provides a variety of FREE safer sex supplies to the Duke campus community:

  • Lubricated latex condoms
  • Non-lubricated latex condoms
  • Lubricated polyurethane and polyisoprene (latex-free) condoms
  • Flavored condoms
  • Water-based lubricant
  • Flavored lubricant
  • Latex dams

Supplies are distributed free of charge on campus in the following locations:

Requesting Safer Sex Supplies

Resident Advisors who would like to provide safer sex supplies within their residence halls and student organizations or campus offices that would like to provide safer sex supplies at an educational event they are hosting may also request supplies from DuWell.

Any student who wishes to request safer sex supplies for themselves or their student group, please complete our request form and send it to duwell@studentaffairs.duke.edu. You will receive notification via e-mail once your request has been filled.

Self-Care Spaces


OASIS East & OASIS West:

These two spaces are a calming and soothing place for students to relax, study, talk, learn how to manage stress, enjoy the comfy couches, meditate, gaze at the fish tank, and check out all of the different ways to de-stress.


Oasis East 

  • Location: 109 Bell Tower Residence Hall
  • Hours:
    • Sunday: 4:00pm - 10:00pm
    • Monday: 4:00pm - 9:00pm
    • Tuesday: 5:00pm - 10:00pm
    • Wednesday: 4:30pm - 10:00pm
    • Thursday: 4:00pm - 7:00pm
    • Friday: Closed
    • Saturday: Closed

Oasis West 

  • Location: Duke Student Wellness Center, First Floor
  • Hours: 
    • Sunday: 4:00pm - 10:00pm
    • Monday: 8:30am - 10:00pm
    • Tuesday: 8:30am - 6:00pm
    • Wednesday: 8:30am - 10:00pm
    • Thursday: 8:30am - 10:00pm
    • Friday: 8:30am - 4:30pm
    • Saturday: Closed


Financial Wellness