HealthSkills

Everyone’s goal seems to be to stay in shape nowadays. Of course, talking the talk is so much easier than walking the walk, so here’s a little help for getting on the right track.

  1. Find a Workout Buddy – Everything is easier with a friend, after all! Having someone there to support you on that last mile, or doing that last set where you literally feel like your limbs are going to fall off, can make a world of a difference. A little moral support can go a long way! If you want to go even further, join a sports team or fitness club. With so many people backing you up, working out will be downright easy.
  2. Start Slow and Make it a Habit – As the saying goes, nobody just goes out and runs a marathon. Don’t expect to show up one day and be able to lift the heaviest weight, or run ten miles. Start simple, and when the improvements start showing, up the ante. As long as you stick with it, you’ll be seeing results in no time.
  3. Get out of the Gym – Who needs treadmills when you have the whole world out there? A workout doesn’t necessarily mean slogging away in the gym. A hike, a trail run, yoga in the neighborhood park; all those count as well. The great outdoors is your fitness oyster, so don’t be afraid to step out of the gym.
  4. Manage Your Time Effectively – In this day and age, there’s always something pressing to spend time on, whether its homework, a job, or the season finale of your favorite show (and then it ended in a cliffhanger, so of course you have to start the next season on Netflix, and this season looks so good and…) However, just as there is time for Netflix, there is time for exercise (and studying should fit in there somewhere, too). Block your days out so you have a specific time where you can set everything aside and just go for a run. Chances are, you’ll feel much better having done it (and your show will be waiting for you when you get back).
  5. Give Yourself Days Off – Results don’t happen in a day, but injury and bad attitude can. If you’re sick or sore or just feeling like the world is crushing you, take the day off. Carrying the weight of the world can be just as much of a workout as carrying dumbbells. When those days hit, don’t force yourself through a miserable workout. Go for a walk instead, and give yourself a break if you need one.
EducationSkills

Many of us can’t wait to be out the doors and in our dorm room, but when the time actually comes, it can be difficult to finally say goodbye. Whether it’s to your friends, family, or even your co-workers who you never thought you’d miss, goodbyes aren’t easy. Here are some tips to make giving that final hug a little easier:

1. Make Plans

As summer comes to an end, your days will start to get numbered. Make time for the people you care about. Have a group of you and your co-workers go out to eat after work or have a beach day with all of your closest friends from high school. Do the things you love with the people you love. Don’t put off spending time with people you care about because saying goodbye is just around the corner.

2. Pictures

Don’t forget to take lots of pictures while you’re out spending your final moments with your favorite people! Putting pictures in your dorm will make coping with goodbye so much easier. They’ll make your dorm feel homier and help remind you that your friends and family will be waiting for you when you go home during breaks.

3. Social Media

Social media helps so much with saying your final goodbyes. Whether it’s just a #throwbackthursday post of Instagram with your besties or a Skype call with your brother, social media will remind you that even though you may not be able to physically be with your friends and family, they’re still there to talk and listen.

An important thing to remember is to not spend all of your time trying to keep in touch with your friends and family. While you’re at school, make sure you focus on your studies and have time to add new people to your life. Don’t worry, your friends and family will always be there for you, and they’re always just a phone call or text message away. The time you spend apart will make the time you spend together so much more special, and you and your friends will have a lifetime’s worth of stories to share come winter break!

Image: Civilon, Flickr

EducationSkills

With the holiday break so close, studying for finals may not be the most exciting thing on your to-do list. However, exam week is critical and because of its importance, it can cause major stress. For us during finals week – as much as procrastination tried to distract us – starting to study early was super helpful. That way, when our finals test date crept up, we didn’t need to cram all night and we had a little more confidence. As painful as finals week is, you have the power to take control. There are many little useful tricks to help you study – hopefully one of these works for you!

Create a plan.
Before you dive in to your mounds of paperwork, old tests, and study guides, create a clear guideline for the most important topics you’ll need to know for each test. This way, when you spend hours studying, you will be studying the material that will be most useful. Also, set aside hours of your day for studying for each class/test instead of just studying when you feel like it. When you have a clear plan, you’re more likely to follow it.

Take 5-10 minute breaks.
For every 55-60 minutes that you study, take a 5-10 minute study break. Whether you are transitioning between topics or just need to clear your head for a bit, do something completely different to take your mind off of what you spent the last hour reading and practicing. Don’t be fooled, break time is not wasted time.

Designate a study area for a certain period of time, then change it up.
Spend the morning studying history at the library, and then move to a cafe to study English in the afternoon. When you’re back in your dorm or at home that evening, round out your day by practicing math equations at your desk. If you sit in one place all day long, you’ll start to get distracted and bored. Everything will feel like it is blending together. Switch up your environment for a change of scenery and for the walking breaks.

Start studying early.
As hard as it is to avoid procrastination, starting to study early is the best thing you can do for yourself. Since it is no surprise as to when finals are in the year, you can plan out your study days accordingly. Try to give yourself at least one month to study before finals week. During your first week of studying, you won’t necessarily need to buckle down and study as hard as you will in the third and fourth week. Use the first couple of weeks to review all of the material, start from the beginning, and refresh your memory.

Find a focus point.
Designate something to be your source of comfort. For instance, a favorite family photo, your childhood teddy bear, a soft tennis ball to squeeze, or a funny comic strip. Then, when you get anxious or nervous before your test, pull out your little object to bring some laughter, happiness, and focus back into your mind.

Walk/Jog/Dance.
Get those endorphins going! Cardio is good for your memory and health, and a quick dance break might be just what you need to remember a tricky equation or definition.

Laugh. A lot.
Just as you need your cardio break, you also need to laugh! Laughing relives tension and stress, so don’t be shy. Laugh away. Watch a hilarious video your friend sent you, listen to your favorite comedian, or crack a couple of silly jokes with friends.

Talk to your professor.
If you start studying early, you can create a list of questions you may have to ask your teacher. Swing by his or her office hours and discuss anything you might find confusing. Also, be sure to ask in class or during office hours what exactly will be on the test. Your teacher might not be willing to share that information, but it never hurts to ask. When you start early and arrive prepared, you will be more confident come test day.

Memory aids.
Maybe writing equations or definitions down on flash cards will help you remember them. Maybe acting out a Shakespeare scene will help you better understand the themes and major plot points. Turning the capitals of countries you need to memorize into a song or poem will definitely spark a reminder during the test. Do what works for you and be creative!

Study with friends/classmates.
But only if it makes sense for you. You want to study with people who are motivated to learn the material and who have been paying attention in class. Everyone should equally contribute to the conversation or that time spent with a group is just not worth it. If you find a good group to work with, divide up the material between your peers and have everyone come to the study sessions with their sections filled-in with useful information. When the group can help each other and maximize time and be efficient, it is a win-win for everyone involved.

Avoid the dreaded all-nighter.
It might sound tempting to stay up all night before the test to cram that last bit of information. However, if you stay up all night, you’ll be exhausted for your exam the next morning. What you study last-minute the night before will have little impact on your overall knowledge of the content, so it’s better to get eight hours of sleep so you feel refreshed, quick, and comfortable.

Enjoy healthy snacks.
Want to munch on something while you study? Snack on carrots, apples and peanut butter, popcorn, and almonds. Avoid sugary sodas, energy drinks, and too much caffeine, as that will just give you a sugar crash that you did not need.

Breathe.
When you feel your heart starting to race when you’re studying from the anxiety about test day, put everything down and just breathe. You’ve taken tests before, you’ve done the work all quarter/semester, and you’ve read the material. Breathe deeply for a count of 10 seconds, think about positive outcomes only, take a break if you need it, and then get back to work with a more relaxed attitude.

Good luck with your finals! You got this!