Coffee: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

By: Doa Jamal, Francis College of Engineering Well-being Leader

Sometimes it feels like life or death: must drink coffee or die. Coffee is the number one drink for college students and many have an unhealthy addiction. Throughout the years there has been much research done on coffee and there have been mixed findings. Coffee has been found to have many benefits as well as several drawbacks. 

A moderate coffee intake—about 2–5 cups per day has several benefits (1):

1. Coffee contains caffeine which is a stimulant. Caffeine increases energy levels by blocking the receptors of a neurotransmitter which therefore increases levels of other neurotransmitters in the brain that regulate energy levels. 

2. Some research suggests that regular coffee consumption could be associated with a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

3. Some studies have found that drinking coffee could be associated with a lower risk of depression and a lower risk of death by suicide.

4. There is research that suggests that coffee could support liver health and protect against liver disease (2).

Coffee can, however, be harmful to specific populations. In addition, a high intake of coffee is harmful to everyone:

1. The biggest danger of coffee is becoming addicted to it. Having a coffee addiction makes it really difficult to rely on the body’s natural energy source. Often people replace healthy good meals with coffee because it is more convenient. The body becomes dependent on coffee for energy and the person gets withdrawal symptoms if they do not get their daily caffeine. This reduces the person’s quality of life.

2. Coffee can be harmful to pregnant women and their babies. One study suggested that preconception caffeine consumption could be a risk to pregnancy, with pre-pregnancy consumption of >400 mg of caffeine/day increasing the risk of spontaneous abortion by 11%. Additionally, caffeine can cause developmental damage to the fetus.

3. Coffee and caffeine can be dangerous for those with mental illnesses. For other mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, caffeine may increase psychotic symptoms (3). Also, too much caffeine can induce anxiety in people with panic or anxiety disorders (1) 

4. Caffeine increases catecholamines, cortisol, and insulin which elicits stress hormones. 

5. The acidity of coffee is associated with digestive discomfort, indigestion, heartburn, GERD, and dysbiosis.

6. Lastly, increased urinary excretion of essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium has been observed in coffee drinkers. Electrolyte imbalance can lead to serious systemic complications and health issues (4). 

In conclusion, although coffee has a negative reputation, it also has many benefits which are not widely known. These benefits only exist if coffee is consumed in moderation, and a high intake of coffee is still harmful. However, even a moderate amount of coffee can be detrimental for some and it is always best to discuss with a doctor if you think coffee is affecting you in any way. Coffee should not feel like life or death, it should be a pleasant treat that occasionally gives you a temporary burst of energy. Everyone, especially college students, should be aware of their coffee consumption and the effects of coffee on their bodies and well-being.


1.  Is coffee good or bad for your health? (2021, April 9). News.

2.   Link, M. R. S. (2022, January 11). 9 Unique Benefits of Coffee. Healthline.

3.  Temple, J. L., Bernard, C., Lipshultz, S. E., Czachor, J. D., Westphal, J. A., & Mestre, M. A. (2017). The Safety of Ingested Caffeine: A Comprehensive Review. Frontiers in psychiatry, 8, 80.

4. 10 Reasons To Quit Coffee (Plus Healthy Alternatives) | HUNGRY FOR CHANGE. (n.d.). Hungry for Change.

Explore the World

By: Ashley Asuncion, Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences Well-being Leader

The Fall semester is close to the end! This is the time of the year to make all efforts we can as students to ensure we pass the semester to secure our future studies. Now, students start to think about their next steps in their academic journey. Perhaps I can give you a suggestion! Try exploring but think big- exploring the world. Studying abroad may be just the thing for you!

Studying abroad is an amazing opportunity to enhance one’s college experience. It is startling how different travels as a student are compared to an average adult on the international scale. As a student, you will be provided support systems and frameworks revolving around critically engaging yourself in the host country/community. Therefore, taking the leap to become a well-rounded World Class citizen is an opportunity studying abroad can provide.

At UMass Lowell, we have a study abroad office dedicated to support and facilitate the study abroad application process and travel preparations. UML’s study abroad office has a website which describes where to start the exploration of this unique academic choice, in a “Getting Started” page. The pages entail forms to connect with a study abroad advisor, questions to consider when thinking of studying abroad, forms that would be considered like financial aid, approval forms and travel documents. The sooner a student starts their search of the right study abroad program it will facilitate more options and a pleasant experience. Between making decisions, fulfilling paperwork, receiving documents, purchasing flights, paying fees, preparing for travel, approving classes and funds, obtaining student information from host, etc.; it can take weeks to complete all the necessary ins and outs of study abroad

Needless to say, there is plenty to look forward to when making the choice to see a different part of the world. I, myself am studying abroad to the Dominican Republic in Santiago De Los Caballeros from CIEE Liberal Arts Spring Semester Program. It has been quite a process to go through but I’m glad to begin my journey in the islands for Spring 2023. The excitement to being able to enjoy in a different culture instead of focusing just on hardcore academics with responsibilities socially, financially, etc.; is my main focus. I am lucky to have UML support through each step as I create an experience to live for.   

It has been an honor to be one of your Well-being Leaders for the Fall Semester. I will see you when I return!

Things to Know About Burnout

by: Casey Tiernan, Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences Well-being Leader

Are you feeling detached? Fatigued? Having difficulty concentrating? These could be signs you are experiencing a burnout. Burnout is when one’s health becomes completely exhausted through overwork, lack of adequate social support, taking on more than one can handle, and poor self-care.

There are physical, emotional, and behavioral symptoms of burnout. All of these symptoms of burnout are important to notice early on. Physical symptoms include feeling tired and drained most of the time, lowered immunity, frequent illnesses, frequent headaches or muscle pain, and change in appetite or sleep habits. Emotional symptoms include a sense of failure or self-doubt, feeling helpless, detached from the world, no motivation, and having a negative outlook. Behavioral symptoms include withdrawing from responsibilities, isolating yourself, procrastinating, substance and alcohol use, and skipping work.

Burnout reduces productivity and drains all your energy, which can leave you feeling helpless, hopeless, and cynical. The negative effects of burnout impact daily home, work, and social life. It can lead to anxiety, headaches, lack of sleep, and a change in your outlook on life. Studies have also linked burnout to an increased likelihood of Type II diabetes, male infertility, sleep disorders and musculoskeletal disorders among those with extreme physical, emotional, and mental fatigue.

There are ways you can avoid or help burnout. It is important to take breaks throughout your day to give your brain time to rest and replenish. Another thing to help is to seek support. This could be a coworker, friend, loved one, or someone from Counseling Services, to help you cope. I find when I am feeling burnout, I like to take a day to work on self-care and disconnect from all school work and focus on myself. This allows me to refresh and take a break from feeling overwhelmed. Other tips to avoid burnout include disconnecting from technology before bed, getting some exercise, mindfulness, and trying a relaxing activity such as reading.

Remember: If you are feeling this way, take a step back and focus on you!

Remember: If you are feeling this way, take a step back and focus on you!

Wogue: A Sit-Down Conversation with Neyder Fernandez, The Person

by: Fahad Alden, College of Fine Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences Well-being Leader

For the month of November, I wanted to highlight the work of someone whom I deeply admire. As a member of the Student Government Association (SGA), I have seen Neyder as a thoughtful, creative, and genuinely innovative leader. But due to his humble nature, that is not always showcased, so I wanted to use the platform to showcase lessons we can all learn from Neyder. Neyder is not only the president of SGA, but also an innovator, determined, and, most importantly, fun. I genuinely believe we all can learn a thing or two from this successful young man. 

Fahad: As president, one of your main priorities has been mental health and social inclusion. Why is that so important to you? 

Neyder: I think the pandemic highlighted the importance of mental health. People were so disconnected from each other, and we lost our personal touch. Often, we overlook the value of social inclusion as key to improving mental health. 

Fahad: Neyder, in your profile interview, you shared that the label, most likely to succeed, was pushed on you growing up. Do you feel like that label, at times, makes you feel like you have to live up to it, and does it make it, at times, more challenging to say no?

Neyder: As a first generation immigrant, you have to often achieve success through education and hard work. I have always found that to be truly rewarding and I really do believe in the value of lifting yourself  up through bootstrap. Sometimes as a leader, the nature of the job is that you have a great deal of students that heavily rely on you, and that is what motivates you to do better. The burden can be heavy sometimes, and you must learn to say no. I love to say yes, and when you reach this position as president, you need to say that you cannot help someone when you are not at your 100 percent best self. 

Fahad: Your executive board is one of the most diverse in Umass Lowell’s history. Many people of color may feel confined or have imposter syndrome to step into leadership positions. What advice would you give them? 

Neyder: Many people of color and minorities often feel like they cannot be in positions of power, which drove me to choose an executive board filled with confident people and experienced, not only merit and position, but experiences. Some come from towns outside of Massachusetts, and even for me I come with the commuter experience. So it is not diversity based racial or gender diversity, but there is a diversity of experience. Being the first in anything can be challenging for anyone wanting to get involved, but that is when seeking mentors can help you. We are all getting the same education at the end of the day, and I believe we all can get those positions regardless of where we come from. I was a sophomore not thinking about the presidency. I threw myself into the race;I had no executive experience, and regardless of where you come from, you may need to challenge the system at times. 

Fahad: Something that I found admirable is that you give opportunities to many SGA members, for example you suggested me and fellow SGA members as recommendations for ACT events. Do you believe it is important for leaders to pass bantons?  

Neyder:Through the nature of the position, a spotlight is on me great deal of the time. I am often asked to events and I truly want to empower new students and want them to feel they can be at leadership positions in the future. When you take that approach, you are cultivating new leaders and opening gates for them, allowing them to feel they are making an impact. You allow yourself to be in the position for me or in the future for a senior level position. You allow them to feel hey I may be only a senator but I can make a difference.

Fahad: You have shared in past interviews that you have worked at Jack M. Wilson’s internship as social media manager. As someone who now has a very focused and analytical job, how is it when you have, in the past or currently, stepped into creative endeavors? 

Neyder:So, I am always looking for ways to challenge myself and diversify my skill set. Especially since I am in student government and help oversee the social media strategy. It helped me understand the social aspect and how to manage PR strategy. I am nonconventional; I do not run things in a typical manner. 

Fahad: Would you consider yourself creative?  

Neyder: I would say I am creative, but not to the extent of Picasso. I am pretty abstract in my thinking. I have a form of thought where I take a piece of every piece of information I have. I take things from different social science and learn from everything, even in my major. Which helped solidify my thinking. Also, my career path is nonconventional, I jumped from working the business side and private sector, and I have worked great in the non-profit sector. I want to make myself a better leader and, most importantly, a better mentor. 

Fahad: Anyone who knows you is always on the run, from being a master plan committee member to just being full-time; what are your favorite things to do for self-care? 

Neyder: I think my strong social network is something I rely on heavily to destress. Whether that is hanging out with them or going out to eat, or just making dinner for them, my favorite thing to cook is Italian and Mexican food, and I like contemporary Americans like everyone like Mac and Cheese. I use that as an outlet. But I think that is an outlet; I use them because they are different fields, and we are not in work mode when we are with each other; since there are various fields, we do not always have to take the business. Even small things playing video games help you detach from the environment. 

Fahad: You always share your love for music on your social media. What is your current top three music you find yourself listening to unwind? 

Neyder: I do not have the top three songs.  The reason being I have varied interests in music and artists. I do tend to listen to a lot of Hispanic artists and American artists and Techno. There is, you know, the traditional bad bunny, Drake, and a couple of different artists, as my music taste tends to vary depending on my emotions and how I feel.

Time Management (The Pomodoro Technique)

by: Yashvi Patel, Kennedy College of Sciences Well-being Leader

I recently learned about this technique from my aunt, and it has helped me get through various tasks without feeling mentally drained. It is known as the Pomodoro Technique. There are six steps involved in this process. First, you decide on a task you need to do. Then, you set a timer for 25 minutes. Then, you work on that specific task until the timer goes off. This block of focused work time is referred to as one Pomodoro. A fun fact is that the technique is named after the Italian word for tomato as the timer that was used by the founder was shaped as a tomato. After that, you get to take a short, 5-minute break. After you repeat this four times, you can take a longer 15–30-minute break. It will allow you to stay focused without being mentally exhausted.

I do not believe in having an hourly time schedule, personally. For me, an hourly time schedule creates unwarranted stress as I am rushing to complete items in a set amount of time. I practiced this during my freshman year of college where I was asked to put a time schedule into effect. I noticed that tasks accumulated, and I was overcome by a feeling of failure if I didn’t finish something on the agenda. This hourly time schedule adversely affected my productivity as I would rush to complete things, that in the end, would be carried over to the next day, which already had projects and tasks lined up.

Instead, I like to break down a complex project into smaller tasks that are actionable. It allows me to see the progress that I’m making instead of overwhelming myself by looking at the big picture. I go into a mental funk when I look at a big task and typically don’t know where to start. For example, I wanted a research project for my thesis. Immediately, I thought of the end goal and how I need to write a thesis paper and have a presentation where I would defend my thesis, which was overwhelming.

Instead, I stopped the intrusive thoughts of how I could manage that and focused on what I could do to get there. I started by reading articles and papers to get an idea of what research question I wanted to answer. I am taking it one step (or Pomodoro) at a time, which is really helping me see some light at the end of the tunnel and reassure myself that I can do it.

In terms of the connection between smaller chunks of work and the Pomodoro technique, I can cross different tasks off my checklist if I work on a new task every 25 minutes during my “burst of energy.” Sometimes, you spend too much time on one project that you fall behind on the rest of your assignments. I use the technique to start working on another task and come back to the old one the following round of Pomodoro. That way, I can get more tasks done and not mentally exhaust myself over one assignment over a long period of time. The quality of my work is also comprised if I cram everything in one go instead of breaking it down into manageable chunks. For instance, I like to break down my lab reports into the different sections. I do the introduction, hypothesis, procedure on one day or during one Pomodoro. Then, I do the discussion, conclusion, and application another time. For my breaks, I typically would go for a walk, draw, listen to music, or do some stretches. Essentially, you would get up and move. I like having a short interval of break because I tend to get distracted on my phone and fall into a slump. Having a timed break forces me to get back to the task in anticipation for my next break! I hope this technique helps as it tremendously stopped me from falling into the rabbit role of procrastination or overworking myself over one, big task.

Effective Methods to Studying and Maintaining Motivation

by: Haiya Patel, Kennedy College of Sciences Well-being Leader

As a college student, you must have heard the phrase ‘work smarter, not harder’. As a freshman in college, I failed to grasp the message behind the phrase, but sooner or later I  learned the meaning behind it and it helped me further in my academic career.

As a college student, you are engaged in multiple activities on  and off campus, which can challenge your time commitment towards your required academics. Hence, using the limited time that you can contribute towards academics in an effective manner is the key to staying on top of your academics. One of the most mind-blowing concepts I was introduced was the forgetting curve. Psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus demonstrated the concept of forgetting curve – curve that demonstrates the rate at which one forgets the new material introduced. Usually, we learn a new concept or new material in class, and we usually end up forgetting most of the information obtained after few hours. Further, when it’s time to study the materials, we are mostly clueless about the material. Hence why, educational psychologists developed a method to optimize study times. As seen below, there are three peaks in the graph: the first peak – first revision immediately after the class, second peak – second round of revision, third peak – third round of revision. The graph shows the drop after the first revision leads to most of the material being forgotten. Second drop shows that more information is retrieved compared to first drop. Comparatively, the third drop shows that the rate at which you forget the materials is very slow. Hence, revision of the materials constantly at timed intervals leads to better information retrieval, and the repeated revision consumes minimal time, uses the time effectively, and helps to avoid cramming all the material on the day before exams. Moreover, spending long hours in the library the day before your exam can be stressful and cause burnout. Hence, the repeated revision is also effective at managing stress about your exams and prevents burnout.

Another factor that can help is a change in location for a refreshed experience – it can feel constrained to study in the same location, so a change in scenery can help you feel refreshed and able to produce better results. However, some people also prefer to stay in the same location as it can be a ‘comfort’ spot for them to study. If this is the case, schedule times to take a walk away from your study spot to get that same refreshed feeling.

Another thing that can help is journaling. The repeated stress to study for your classes and exams can lead to burnout that furthers into a lack of motivation. One such method that helped me stay motivated when I lacked motivation is to write few minutes in my journal. Usually, the journal entry starts with the main statement of my long-term goal, what I imagine myself doing in the next 10 years. Then, I breakdown the goal into factors such as: what and why I am doing what I am doing, how it is contributing towards my goal. Lastly, I end the journal entry with a message along the lines of ‘I know my future self will appreciate the efforts that I put into my goals today!’. This serves as a reminder for my purpose to study and amplifies my motivation for the study session.

              Overall, college students spend hours and hours in the library trying to ‘cram’ study, but still don’t end with expected grades. However, implementing methods to study effectively in mini study sessions, taking breaks for a change of scenery, and focusing on your larger goals can lead to more beneficial results. Instead of cram studying all the material the day before the exam, try  repeated revision of the materials ranging from immediately after class till the exam, studying in a new spot, or journaling about why you need to study to reach your larger goals!

How To Stay Mentally Healthy on Social Media

by: Medi Woldemichael, Manning School of Business Well-being Leader

Social Media has become an accepted practice in our daily lives. By the time you’ve read this, you’ve likely already used a variety of social media platforms today, and you’ll see even more by the end of the day. That’s not something inherently “good” or “bad”; instead, it’s a new aspect of our social life to be mindful of, especially in relation to mental health. To ensure that social media benefits your health, you must know how you use it. Here are some tips for maintaining mental health while enjoying social media’s benefits:

Know your Purpose.

Knowing why you use social media will help you focus on that goal and spot it when it has been achieved. For example, if you’re using a social network to remain in touch with friends and family who don’t live nearby, then use and appreciate it for that—but if you find yourself perusing your feed, getting lost in hours of random videos, or Instagram stalking celebrities, understanding your purpose might help you remind yourself: this isn’t why I’m here. Knowing your purpose and when you’ve strayed from it helps you get back on track and get the most out of your time on social media.

View Other People’s Posts as Inspiration Rather than a Comparison.

Your daily life may seem doubtful compared to others’ achievements and picture-perfect moments when you see them shared online. But remember that these moments don’t reflect someone’s whole life, and the person is probably dealing with many of the same problems as you. A healthy approach to using social media is to use these postings as motivation to work toward your own goals rather than simply comparing your life to that of their Instagram. It’s also

beneficial to choose who you follow carefully. Consider unfriending or unfollowing someone if their posts frequently frustrate you or make you feel bad about yourself.

Take a social media break.

A break from social media is sometimes needed. You do not have to delete your account entirely and stop using social media. However, taking a break will help you reset your mindset to resume better, more deliberate habits. You may use several practical strategies to step away from social media, such as muting notifications or turning off your phone. Overusing your phone can lead to loneliness and low self-esteem. Putting your phone away from time to time might help mitigate some of these emotions.

Prioritize Self-Care

Prioritize self-care first. It can be especially beneficial to substitute your social media use with other mood-boosting activities that do not require your phone. Try one of these healthier options when you feel the need to check your phone and start scrolling:

– Make plans to meet up with friends in person.

– Go for a walk, hike, or bike ride

– Cook your favorite meal

– Journal for 20 minutes

Social media’s effect on your mental health often depends on how you use it and why. It can have long-lasting effects on our mental health and well-being. Depending on how you utilize it, it can have different outcomes. Trying to set time apart from your phone to enjoy other amenities will help with mental health and other parts of health.

Music Improves Your Well-being

By: Pre’Yelle “Prey” Grinkley, College of Fine Arts, Humanities, & Social Sciences Well-being Leader

Did you know music improves your overall wellbeing?

Research has shown that listening to music can improve your mood, decrease pain and anxiety, and help with emotional expression.

This year has given many of us the opportunity to redeem ourselves after the coronavirus pandemic. From wearing masks to learning remotely through and being isolate from friends or family, the way we interact with one another and how we treat ourselves has changed indefinitely.

During this period of transitioning back to in-person, many of us have been looking for new methods to keep a good standard of health. While some of us may choose the most common forms of psychotherapy, like counseling, there are other types of psychotherapy that can be used as an alternative to or in combination with traditional psychotherapy treatments. These include art therapy and more specifically, music therapy.

Music Therapy is defined as an interactive process that occurs when the therapist integrates music, and all its elements to help individuals in developing, restoring, or supporting health. Even though music is used clinically in music therapy to help patients reach their unique goals, most people resort to using music as a coping mechanism for personal challenges without even realizing the clinical health benefits that come with it.

Personally, I’ve always noticed myself wanting to write, listen to, or play music that communicates or expresses the emotion that I feel that moment. Without knowing the scientific facts of how music affects my brain and body, I have always noticed that I feel happier or healed after listening to music that resonates with me. Music has always been the best medium to help get my message across and it’s the most effective when I am helping people understand how I feel. Throughout my life I learned that music has no language barriers, and it can be used to spread a message internationally because everyone can understand music regardless of the languages they may speak.

Listening, singing, playing an instrument, or making music are all examples of music therapy activities. Interventions in music therapy help with a variety of learning and medical goals, including:

  • Managing Stress
  • Alleviating Pain
  • Expressing Feelings
  • Enhancing Memory
  • Improving Communication

Listening to music is an activity that can stimulate the brain, which has great effects on the brain’s health. Music strengthens areas of the brain that manage memory, emotions, learning, movement, and concentration. Researchers found that listening to and playing music increase the body’s production of the cells that attack invading viruses and boost the immune system’s effectiveness. Music also reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

Whenever you are feeling down, uneasy, or unwell try picking up your instrument, songwriting with friends, or listening to music to relieve that tension. Music develops happiness!