CollegeHealthWellness

After a long day of classes, work, socializing, and just dealing with life in general (especially in college), finding the perfect way to unwind can be harder than it seems. Most people turn to Netflix and munch on a big bag of chips, however that type of vegetation can actually be more detrimental to your mental and physical health than you think and cause you more stress in the long run. Here are eight healthier ways to relax.

Go For a Walk

Get away from your home/dorm room and find a patch of nature. Find a bench or a tree to lean on and just breathe in the nature around you. Learning to engage your senses in a natural environment can relax your body and mind. Do not spend this time on your phone – disconnect from your busy life for a while, at least ten minutes, and clear your mind from your daily responsibilities and instead focus on your breathing and senses.

Take a Nap

While this might be more of a mid-day way to unwind, naps can really help turn around your stressed or unhappy mood. It can help rejuvenate the body and clear the mind. Take a maximum twenty minute catnap (nothing more than 30 minutes!) or else you’ll fall into deep sleep and feel groggy.

Journal

Some people find it relaxing to write down their day. Whether you’re writing down what made your day difficult or triumphant, it’s been found that journaling is a positive way to deconstruct your day. Lisa Kaplin, PsyD, is a life coach and she suggests journaling as a method of stress management. It can be multiple pages of pouring out your soul, or just a line or two about your day. However, if it becomes more of a task than a reliever to maintain a journal, skip it; it could just create more stress to keep doing it if it’s not something you have your heart in.

Make a To-Do List (Or Any List)

Some people find that a helpful way to destress is to prepare themselves for the next day or the rest of the week. If time management is difficult for you take a few minutes to write down what homework or tasks you need to finish this week, errands you need to run, groceries you need to get, etc. Writing your must-dos down forces you to get organized, but also it allows you to put a pause on the present and whatever is stressing you out right now. Having everything written down is a physical way to download information you’re trying to remember inside your head onto paper. You can even make a list of what is stressing you out, and that will create a real space to figure why something is stressing you out, and how you can fix it.

Do Some Breathing Exercises

As silly as this might sound initially, sitting or lying down and focusing on your breathing can really help clear your mind and help you think more clearly. Taking deep breaths slows down the heart rate and calms the body. Focus on breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth, your stomach rising and falling, and concentrate on your body and how it feels, ignoring outside distractions.

Stretch your Body

Stretching, or even doing some light yoga, before bed relaxes the body and can clear the mind of an overly stressful day. Regardless of your level of yoga or flexibility, stretching can help with relieving stress throughout the body. Many people carry stress in their shoulders and backs, causing them to develop sloped shoulders and poor posture. Fitness Magazine and Shape both have some good stretches to help with these problems.

Have a Cup of Tea

It’s been found that having a hot drink can make you friendlier, according to The Guardian. An experiment done by the University of Colorado Boulder found that the participants who held a warm drink rather than a cold one tended to have a warmer personality and reacted better when introduced to someone. Along with this, the process of preparing a warm drink, and then holding and drinking it can help relax your mind and help you feel more comfortable and relaxed.

Talk to a Friend

Regardless if you’re more of an extrovert or introvert, talking to a friend or someone you’re comfortable with can help you unwind. Going out to get a cup of coffee, fruit smoothie, or even staying in and just chatting on your couch can be one of the best ways to help you stop worrying about your day and let go of whatever is bothering you. You could talk to them to work through your stresses, or just use that time with them to focus on anything else going on in your life and put a pause on your stresses. If you need a distraction from your own stress it can also be nice to refocus your attention and ask them how they are doing.

The Daily Mind has a list of 100 ways to relax and unwind at the end of a long day. The best thing is to find what works for you. While one person might find that hitting up the gym is her best way to unwind,  that might not really be your style, and that’s okay! You might find that rereading a favorite book is your best way to calm down. Another person’s might be meditation. Find whatever works for you and relax for the rest of the evening.

Image: Jay Mantri

CollegeWellness

Students have begun their second semester, preparing themselves for the ever-impending workload that each semester brings. Sometimes students tend to overthink their abilities and schedules, and overwork themselves to their breaking point. Stress relievers vary by person – one person might enjoy taking a nap, playing video games, or working out, while another person likes going for a walk, or just spending a night with friends and away from homework. One less commonly known stress reliever is relaxing with puppies, and some colleges are beginning to offer a day during the semester (usually towards the end when all the work piles up) where they bring puppies to campus to help destress their students. To encourage and help this movement, Uber is teaming up with local animal shelters in certain cities to bring you puppies!

You heard that right. #UberPUPPIES. For $20-30, puppies are brought to your door for 15 minutes so you can play with them. Along with this convenient set up, if you end up falling in love with the puppy on the spot, the drivers bring adoption sheets so you can adopt the pet right then and there (check with your college’s policy on pets before you make that final decision though). #UberPUPPIES is now available in several cities, including Atlanta, Baltimore, Philadelphia, D.C., Cleveland, Dallas, and Indianapolis. However, according to News for Shoppers, if you are too far outside of the specific zone, then they unfortunately won’t deliver you puppies.

In cities like Philadelphia, all proceeds go to the PSPCA (Philadelphia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), and when Uber brings the puppies, a PSPCA rep will be on-site to help with the adoption process if that’s on your mind. Uber’s website has a listing of where Uber Puppies exists, how it works, and a step-by-step on how the adoption process would go.

In the past, Uber has paired up with local shelters around colleges and brought puppies to campus. This happened on campuses such as Stanford, UC Davis, Santa Clara University. And during the Super Bowl, along with the Puppy Bowl, Uber pairs up with local shelters in 10 lucky cities to bring them puppies and cuddles. Much of these efforts are to help clear out shelters in these heavily populated areas, but also to help stressed out people – both on college campuses and in offices – find a new method of relaxing and de-stressing. So instead of reaching for that third or fourth cup of coffee or choosing to pull an all-nighter, check into your local area and see if you are within an #UberPUPPIES zone.

Universities across the country are starting to bring dogs on campus for puppy therapy, realizing the connection between destressing and playing with animals. A librarian at Emory University recalled to USA Today that they saw a student smile for the first time after enjoying time with the puppies. Some colleges are even allowing pet-friendly dorms where students can bring their dogs and cats from home. Harvard Medical School and Yale Law School both have resident therapy dogs that can be checked out from the library like a book.

A few years ago, Indiana University started “Rent-a-Puppy” day, where, for $5, students could book some time with a puppy from an animal shelter, and could adopt them also if parting was too difficult. Colleges are beginning to understand that sometimes the best stress relievers for some students aren’t to go workout and sweat their problems out, or to lay down on their therapist’s couch – but instead bury their face in the ball of fluff and love.

Image: Flickr

CollegeEducation

Okay, that’s only sort of true. Obviously it matters. Apart from your graduate school applications, some say a GPA’s significance is limited to the three years following graduation, and others argue that it has no fundamental value post-education at all. But before taking sides, I have a slightly different perspective.

While currently working in HR for a global cable & wiring manufacturing company, I find myself on the other end of the scavenger job hunt – I’m now the interviewer. I sift through résumés, interview and screen candidates, and aim to ultimately select the best person with the most appropriate set of skills. During my interviews, I take notes on KSAO’s: knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics that were reflected on their resume. Those “other characteristics” are the real kicker. They can be a variety of details, such as their potential fit to our company culture, for example.

The truth is, whenever I review someone’s résumé, the last thing I look at is their GPA.

I ask myself questions like, “Does this résumé look like they just threw words together and sent them with 50 other applications?,” “Did they make any stupid grammar/spelling mistakes?,” and “What did they do that makes them more valuable than someone else?” It’s never about the number next to their college degree. Sure, putting your 3.0+ is helpful, but quite frankly, unless you can show evidence that you’re capable of getting the job done, it’s only a fun fact. It’s everything else about that application that either gives them the boot or scores an interview.

Granted, your GPA clearly matters when applying to graduate school – but even then, once you’re in, your grade is not nearly as important as the content you truly learn. The phrase “easy A” exists for a reason, and that is exactly what I encourage students to beware of. It looks great on paper, but means nothing. Ultimately, you’ve lost the battle. It sounds like common sense, yet people don’t invest time in their skills that make them employable: critically analyzing situations, strategizing, networking, and communicating, to name a few.

“But I’m still in school and not working! How am I supposed to make myself employable?!” Good question! There’s a plethora of opportunities around you to help build your skills without having to register for a class. The best way? Figure out what you like doing – something that won’t burn you out because it’s a source of joy – and go for it. If you’re a social person, make friends with as many people as you can! Network like crazy. You never know who you’ll meet, who they’ll know, or how and when they may be helpful.

Yes – I’m literally telling you it’s a skill to make a bunch of friends. And if you’re feeling super ballsy, take that class with that professor that everyone avoids because they’re rumored to grade “unfairly.” Challenge yourself to make them like you and help you – prove to him or her that you’re different from everyone else. The ability to understand a really difficult person is much more useful in life than memorizing that one formula that one time in that class a semester ago. You’ll build the confidence to influence people, and the capability to change a person’s mind, attitude, and behavior is priceless.

Needless to say, going out of your comfort zone is uncomfortable and awkward, but I promise you’ll thank me for it!

Don’t stress yourself out over your grades – go do amazing things in real life and have fun doing them!

Image: Flickr

Education

With the start of the second semester of my freshman year, I felt more confident than I did going into my first. However, I didn’t expect the seemingly never-ending workload to start only a few weeks in. This past week has been an extremely stressful week for me where I seem to literally not have a minute of free time. Here is a list of ways that I deal with my stress to make life a little easier when it just seems like the world won’t give you a break!

Surround yourself with positive people

Having people to motivate you and keep you focus and grounded is seriously important. A smile or a “you can do it!” can really make a difference! If you’re really stressed, try to spend time with people who are going to help you get things accomplished, rather than people who are going to load their own problems on you and not consider yours.

Make a list and check things off as you go

Of course making a list of everything you have to get done can be overwhelming and may seem more stressful at the time, but doing this will allow you to check things off as you go which will help give you that deep breath of relief! It will also help you stay focused and keep an eye on what you need to get done.

Stay organized

Keeping an agenda or planner of time that you have to get things done can really help you out. It will allow you to successfully manage your time and give you ease of mind knowing you have a time and place for everything.

Don’t underestimate the power of a hot shower or nap

A hot shower or a hot bath (with a bath bomb of course) can help you unwind, relax, and take a breather from your hectic day. It’s just as important to relax as it is to get things done. A half hour nap can really make a difference when resting your mind and allowing yourself to take a step back.

Make sure to take a break

As stated above, it’s just as important to relax as it is to get work done. Take a break for coffee or a smoothie and that pizza you’ve been craving, check your social media accounts, or have a much needed phone call with your mom or best friend. These small things can really make a difference.

Image: Unsplash

Skills

Let’s be honest, how many times have we claimed forgiveness on someone but still hold small, bitter grudges? “Forgive and forget” – a phrase coined many years ago that means to, well, forgive and forget whatever dishonorable thing a particular person has said or done to you in order to continue the relationship you’ve always had. It’s no secret it almost always seems as if forgiveness were “mission impossible.” If this happens to be your case, my piece of advice is: don’t forgive a person for them, forgive them for you. Holding grudges has many negative effects. By offering forgiveness you can do yourself a huge favor.

There is a great amount of power that comes with forgiveness. Although it is an undeniably tough thing to actually do, it can also be incredibly cathartic. I have found that there are three stages to forgiveness:

  1. The initial feeling of vulnerability: betrayal/loss/pain, the splurge of reactive emotions: passive aggressive or aggressive attitudes that derive from anger and/or denial, etc.
  2. Acceptance of the situation which can terminate or pause the relationship as you begin to assess the facts and multiple objective points of views.
  3. And finally, permanently moving on with or without that person in your life with forgiveness or tightly held grudges.

Keep in mind that forgiveness does not mean that the person needs to continue to be in your life. It is possible to forgive a person but respectfully reestablish the bounds of the relationship by talking out what the expectations were, what has been failed to be done, and how to improve it or help the person understand that in order for you to forgive them, the relationship must come to an end. “Isn’t that not forgiveness?” I think to myself. But forgiveness comes in many forms. It comes through love, through helplessness, and through peace.

Peace of mind is something that comes with forgiveness. If you have truly forgiven the person, you will feel a sense of serenity and wholeness. And it is perfectly acceptable if this is a process that may take you time – a week, a month, or even a year. According to experts, forgiveness can bring you lower blood pressure, increase spirituality, a positive mindset, altruistic behaviors, increase your immune system, and relieve stress. Overall, it is a big plus for your physical and psychological self. Take the time you need to harmonize yourself with reality and let go. This all begins with acceptance of the truth of the situation and essentially, the world. Life requires we climb impossible mountains, cross never ending misty rivers, and survive the most catastrophic storms. As corny as this may sound, you must remember that the universe will only give you what it knows you can handle.

People make mistakes – you and I both included – and sometimes we simply need to let go of the things in the past, the things that we cannot control. Holding these grudges are only doing us harm and the only way to feel at peace and grow from the experiences we encounter is to accept the sitution and move on. Although difficult, forgiveness is possible. I encourage you to at least try and to at least take the first few steps of courage in your journey of forgiveness, because you don’t know just how far even that can take you.

Image: Gratisography

Culture

The end of the semester is almost here, and with that comes final exams. As a college freshman myself, I am especially nervous for the upcoming week-long cycle that seems to be everyone’s doom. But with all the hectic lists of things to do while preparing ourselves, I have to remind myself that it is equally as important to take the time to relax and wind-down.

Plan out this upcoming week to see how you can spend the time you have. Make sure you have time to study before your exams but also time to sit back and watch a movie with some friends while drinking hot chocolate. Giving your brain a rest will only help yourself to remember all the facts you need to know. Here is a list of a few movies to warm your heart with childhood memories and allow you to take a break from the stressful world.

1. The Little Mermaid: One of my personal favorites that is sure to help you take a trip down memory lane!

2. Home Alone: To get into the holiday spirit, be sure to put on this classic movie.

3. The Lion King: This one is sure to put a smile on your face and remind you how much fun just being a kid can be!

4. 13 Going on 30: We all need a classic chick-flick to help us relax and unwind!

Putting aside these fun movies, make sure to take a breath with all of your studying. It is just as important to take a break from the books as it is to study away! Best of luck, and may the odds be ever in your favor!

Image: Camille Styles

EducationSkills

The stress levels are high and the amount of time to study for tests and get the last assignments of the semester finished are extremely low. Many of you are probably pulling all-nighters and downing cup after cup of coffee just to stay awake. It’s going to feel like a long last couple of weeks before we’re officially finished with this semester, but once we get through our last days of classes, we can take our finals and go home.

But getting through these tough times are easier said than done. This is why I’m here to help you rock finals week. The better you do on your exams, the better you’ll feel about dedicating so much of your time to study.

Here are some of the things that I like to do to prepare for Finals week:

  • Take naps – a well-rested brain is a higher performing one. While all-nighters can be beneficial to you, you can’t focus on much of anything if you didn’t get much sleep. It’s also harder to retain the information you learned.
  • Stay focused – I know you don’t need anyone to tell you this, but I know how easy it is to get distracted. One minute you’re practicing math problems and the next you’re on Facebook. If you find yourself losing focus, maybe try new methods of studying or if you’ve been studying for one test for hours, maybe try studying for another one. You don’t have to spend hours doing this but make sure you do spend a few hours focused. Remove all of the distractions if necessary or study in a quiet place like the library.
  • Form study groups – Sometimes it helps having other people in your class around when you’re studying so if you need help you don’t have to go too far to get it.
  • Listen to classical music – There are a lot of studies that say that classical music helps you retain more information and others that say it doesn’t really help with anything, but I personally listen to classical music when I’m studying to a.) Block out distracting noise and b.) To help lower my stress levels. If you’ve never listened to classical music while studying, please give it a try. I recommend making a classical music station on Pandora.

Also, here are some things to do before you take your finals:

  • Eat a balanced breakfast – This is a tip for the day of your exams. If you can, try to have a nice, big meal for breakfast. It’s not good to start your day off with an empty stomach, especially before an exam.
  • Use the bathroom – I know this might seem like common sense, but some people just want to get their finals over and done with that they forget to go to the bathroom, even if they don’t think they have to go at the moment.
  • Got a cold? – Bring cough drops and tissues. You never know when you might need them.
  • Wear comfortable clothes – No need to get dressed up to take a test. Break out the sweats and the comfy shirts with the long sleeves. Don’t bother brushing your hair or really doing anything to fix your appearance. It’s final week! You have a right to be as casual as you want to be.
  • Believe in yourself – You’re only going to do as good as you think you’re going to do so think good thoughts and try your best to stay positive.
  • It’s only a test – I don’t like not getting good grades on my finals, but I always remind myself that it’s just an exam and it’s not a reflection of my intelligence.

Finals week is really stressful and it can seem like it’ll never end, but it will. Just remember to treat yourself well during this time. Eat three (healthy) meals. Get a good amount of sleep. And stay positive. Study as much as you can and just do the best that you can.  Soon this will all be behind us and next semester will be a clean slate.

Good luck everyone! Rock those finals!

Image: Ryan McGilchrist

EducationSkills

Finals are among us. For those in college, this means papers, projects, and a lot of cramming. For those in high school, this also means papers, projects, and a lot of cramming… There’s just so much to do! Homework, extra credit, paper outlines, group projects. Besides that, part time jobs, internships, after school activities. And before all of those, sleeping and eating! There’s a lot that seems to be happening right now, but there are some ways to deal with all the havoc that is December!

Prioritize.

Always do what you need to do first. Which one comes first: the big thesis paper or that extra credit project? Watering your plants or giving yourself a shower? Going to a club meeting or studying for an exam for that really tough teacher? Always do what is important, and don’t bother with the small stuff during this time crunch. The little things can be slipped in, but devoting large chunks of time to a 10 page paper is an efficient way of getting ideas out, onto a document, and out of the way. The little things you can do as mini breaks in between. Get up to stretch and do a 10 minute yoga pose for exercise, but do this between paragraph four and five of your essay. Moderate and prioritize.

Eat and sleep.

My university’s labs are open 24 hours during finals. In the early 3­-5am hours, students can be seen sleeping at their desk with the screen doing a five hour export. Other students can be seen with three empty cups of coffee next to their sewing machines with half finished shirts and dresses. But whether you’re in art school, business school, or high school, you need to get your sleep and your nutrients! You and a friend can do food­runs. Someone runs out to get dinner for both of you, then you trade and do the same for lunch. Do this for fabric material, photo paper, paint, ink, printer paper. One person can do that half-hour-run to Staples and the other person can do that half-hour run to the cafeteria. Roommates, workshop partners, lab buddies, you name it. It is the time to keep your body functioning during a time when there isn’t enough time.

Know your limits.

Alright. You didn’t sleep in the last 24 hours, and the night before, you only slept
three hours. Your hands are shaking from too much caffeine, and for some reason the words on the
screen are starting to move on their own. You have a dull headache that has turned into nauseousness and your neck is cramped. You haven’t seen daylight in two days. It’s time to stop. Yeah, that presentation is important and people are counting on you. Sure, that exam is 50% of your grade. But what’s the point if you’re going to pass out in front of your professor or wake up to the exam sheet stuck to your cheek? Sometimes enough is enough and there’s only so much you can do. That’s when you take a breather, take a walk, take a shower, take a break.

Dealing with everything is crazy. You and everyone around you are in high gear. Once
you figure out all you need to do, you’ll do them. Keep yourself going with enough sleep and
food. Sometimes, you have to just put everything down. Take it easy and good luck!

Image: TMAB2003

CultureEducation

Dear Writer’s Block,

Welcome back, my friend. I haven’t seen you in quite a while. How have you been?

As you know, the first round of papers and projects have come (and for some, has gone). There is nothing more satisfying in the world than finishing that last sentence, adding that last period, doing that one last save and export as PDF. But sometimes, those finishing touch moments don’t come, all thanks to you.

What do you mean, you ask? Well, Writer’s Block, you’re well aware of your talent for showing up during this time of the semester. Especially for people who have Capstone or Thesis papers to write, you’ve made yourself comfortable, haven’t you? Visiting in the middle of the night just as I’ve gathered my textbooks and novels and highlighters and post­its. You’ve come just as I set down my cold coffee and popped open my glowing laptop.

Ah, yes, the Writers Block. There are things that happen when one feels a Writer’s Block come around. Every moment in the shower, on the bus, on the train, is devoted to trying to resolve a problem.

How do I start this paper?

What should my proposal be about?

This proposal isn’t working!

Is this due next Tuesday? Monday? Friday?

Aaaaaaaaaaah!

Buzzfeed quiz.

I have no idea what I want to write about.

What am I gonna do?

I guess I should do an outline.

Maybe I’ll do the outline later.

I’m just going to go browse Forever21.com now…

This idea isn’t that great, but I can’t think of anything else.

I’m 2 pages short.

I’m a paragraph short.

I’m literally a sentence short of hitting the minimum page requirement.

I’m just going to go internet shopping because I don’t know what else to do.

Help.

It’s about time that finals comes upon us, the rush of assignments before Thanksgiving and the dump of exams after it. Writer’s Block… why?

Sincerely,
Stressed College Student

P.S. I’m going to figure out what to do with you, Writer’s Block. Just you wait…

Image: Rennett Stowe

EducationHealth

Stress: it’s a way of life for most students. The ever-present nudging of worry against an unsteady conscience, the realization that there’s always something that hasn’t been accomplished or adequately prepared for.

Stress is not a pleasant state of being, yet it’s one of the most common in the world – everyone has felt that twisting in their gut at some point in their lives. Yet the world continues to function despite the pressure constantly bearing down on everyone. Sometimes, however, it can feel like a lot to cope with, but with practice and a few simple strategies, it’s much easier to handle.

First and foremost, throw procrastination in the trash – as soon as you’re rid of that rushed feeling you get when it’s midnight and OH MY GOD that paper is due in SIX HOURS, you’ll be a lot calmer.

Another strategy is to have something that you know will calm you down. It can be anything from working out to endlessly Googling acapella groups (that would be me). Of course there are the old favorites – get enough sleep or enjoy a snack.

If you keep these tips in mind, stress will slip away, and you’ll find yourself calmer, and happier.

How do you de-stress?

Image: Silvestri Matteo

HealthSkills

It’s 3 a.m. on a Saturday and we’re pulling an all-nighter and studying for our test on Tuesday and preparing for that big event and planning our next organization meeting and fixing our resume for Monday’s interview and… we’re forgetting to take a breath because we’re on our fourth cup of coffee in the last two hours. Sound familiar? It’s a lot to handle during adolescence and adulthood, when life is already throwing so many new changes and obstacles our way.

It’s a mad rush to pad our resumes, make the cut for dean’s list, or secure the best job, and while ambition is so important in these years, rest is, too. Not the kind of rest that involves lying on the couch in front of the TV, one hand in a chip bag and one hand surfing Facebook on our phone. I’m talking about the kind of rest that allows us to rejuvenate and care for ourselves.

In college, I only gave myself the potato chip kind of rest, on the very rare occasions that I actually even “rested.” I worked my butt off and tried, to no end, to be perfect and the best at a lot of things that looked amazing on my resume but didn’t even make me that happy. In fact, they brought me anxiety. Not stress; stress is normal and can be healthy. Anxiety is not, and neither is perfection. I was lost, and I refused to slow down to ask myself where this lost feeling was coming from, and if it was even real.

That strategy didn’t work. Halfway through my senior year, I became burnt out and depressed to the point that I wanted to throw everything away and hide under the covers for the entire semester. Coming from a school known for its overcommitted students, I was not the only person I knew who felt this way. I was tired of trying to please everyone but myself. I finally began asking myself what was up, which led me down a life-changing path where I made the changes that now allow me to enjoy the things I commit myself to.

You see, ignoring feelings of intense pressure or anxiety, and pushing ourselves to unrealistic limits can lead us to burn out. In order to avoid it, we can do a few things:

1. We must stop and listen.

This means that, when we feel an emotion we don’t like, we don’t push it away and run from it. No amount of ignoring will keep us from feeling what we feel. When we learn to respect our emotions and ask what is causing them, we can really get somewhere. It is this kind of questioning that slowly brings us closer to ourselves and allows us to make important discoveries and necessary changes in our priorities and relationships.

2. We must be ok with what we are feeling.

We have to stop judging ourselves. One of the greatest contributors to adolescent and young adult stress and confusion is the need to be perfect. The thing that can be so difficult to realize is that when we fail, when we’re angry, when we react poorly, and when we screw up, we’re being humans, and we need to try to be ok with that. Otherwise, we will be unable to let go of our fear of failure, preventing us from genuinely, passionately devoting ourselves to what we love.

3. We need to take naps.

Why do they only happen in pre-K? We all need them. A short 15 minute power nap can really do wonders for our bodies, which sometimes need a chance to unwind, regroup, and chill. And getting seven to eight hours of sleep each night, if we can swing it, is key.

4. We need to discover what it is that we love, and make time to do it.

This can be a process, so don’t freak out if you don’t have a clue what it is. Taking a few minutes, even just once a week, to try out something new or deepen an existing hobby is a good first step. It may be trial and error, but soon we realize we can actually make time for these little moments.

5. We need to learn to say “no.”

I know that this one is tougher than it sounds. We’re taught to work and work and work, more than anyone else in the office, even if it means 10 hour days with no lunch break or accepting yet another position as president of yet another campus club. When we spread ourselves thin, we don’t allow ourselves to give our best to any one thing, and that isn’t fair to ourselves. Saying “no” when we aren’t able to take on a commitment is not bad, insulting or mean. It is responsible and smart.

Burnout is so very common among young adults, and it’s important to recognize when it may be happening to us. It can be scary and foreign to admit to it and attempt to change things, but addressing it can bring us a sense of peace, along with the energy and motivation to be our very best.

Do you have any tips for staying motivated and avoiding burnout? Let us know below or tweet to us!

Image: Mike Hoff

EducationSkills

Midterms are right around the corner already and juggling studying with regular coursework can be difficult. Here are some tricks to balancing and preparing to help you do your best when these scary exams roll your way.

1. Don’t Procrastinate

If you have work assigned to you, take care of it as soon as you possibly can. Waiting may seem like a good idea at the time, but if you wait too long you’ll have more work added on, and before you know it you’ll have a huge pile of work to get done. By doing assignments at the earliest possible date you prevent the opportunity for excess stress to be created.

2. Think Ahead

If you know that an exam is coming up, don’t wait until the last minute to make a study guide or notecards. Instead, create your study materials as soon as you know what is going to be on the exam so when it does come to study time, all you have to focus on is that!

3. Know Your Study Techniques

While some people do well with written out study guides and notecards, others do well by repeating information aloud. Experiment with different study techniques in order to find the one that works best for you so you can have an easier time when the cramming comes around.

4. Ask a Friend

Don’t hesitate to ask a friend for help! Even having a partner-in-crime to go to the library with can motivate you to take the time to study and focus. If you see someone else studying hard, you’ll be more likely to do so yourself. Also, having someone to quiz you or explain different topics and concepts can ease the studying process and take a huge weight off your chest.

5. Plan Your Time

If you want to take time to rest or if you know you have a class that will take up a lot of time, plan it out. Planning out your day and managing your time is one of the most important things when it comes to preparing for midterm exams. If you don’t stay organized and scheduled, it can be difficult to juggle everything that gets thrown at you along with your daily routine.

At the end of the day, don’t forget to take breaks and keep from stressing yourself out. Getting the proper amount of sleep and relaxation is just as important in order to do well on these exams.

How do you prepare for midterms? Good luck!

Image: Jack Amick

Health

You think you’re healthy, but have you ever wondered what it’s like to have a stress-free morning? Many times, we don’t realize that being healthy goes further than being physically healthy; it has to do with being mentally healthy, as well. There are many do’s and don’ts: do exercise, do eat plenty of fresh greens, don’t go near processed foods, don’t munch on late those night snacks, and do check out that yoga center that’s just around the corner! Although these are all great things, we must not neglect to underscore the importance of maintaining a stress-free morning routine.  Consider these few tips to help keep your morning game on!

Avoid Technology First Thing

How to not check those morning streams of Instagram posts, flips of late night Snapchats, or the urge to text X friend about X morning thought?  However, resisting technology and avoiding grabbing your phone or touching that computer for the first hour of waking up will allow you to hold the peace of mind to focus on just yourself. It also decreases your reliance on technology and you will be able to concentrate on other important things. Morning texts, e-mails, appointment alerts, and social media feeds spark the first dose of mental stress. It’s best to simply stay away from white noise, artificial bright lights, and overall technology in order to focus on yourself for that first hour.

Drink Water

There is nothing more revitalizing that chugging a glass of water at the break of dawn. Studies have shown that water cleanses your blood from toxins, which in turn, makes your skin glow and renews your cells by increasing the rate at which new muscle and blood cells are produced. Also, nutrient absorption is boosted by purifying your colon. It also helps balance the lymph system and fluids in your body. But the best part? It spikes your metabolism by 24% which means that this is great for weight loss! Who knew that simply gulping down water could do such wonders to your body? Try a cold glass of water, or warm water with lemon.

Meditate and/or Exercise

Every person is different, and there are different ways for each person to meditate. Meditation can consist of doing yoga, sitting in silence, showering with essential oils, or even take a quick trip outside to be with nature. Walking outside, watching the sunrise, and even going for a run on the dawning beach is a great way to clear your mind. Also, meditation is for a great way to begin the day in a peaceful surrounding and to encase your mind with positive thoughts.

Exercising first thing in the morning is also a great way to start your day. Whether you exercise inside or outside, increasing your heart rate does wonders for your body. Working out first thing in the morning is a smart way to get your daily sweat out of the way. If the weather is good, get your fitness on outside. Studies show that you will be a happier person if you are outside. In the University of Essex, they have studies that have shown that “green exercise” or exercising outdoors can improve your self-esteem and mood. I would say this is an excellent way to start your day!

Avoid Rushing

Rushing is an integral part of American culture. America is constantly running to get to work, school attendance, an appointment, an event, a meeting, a flight etc. The point is, we never want to be late, yet we are always on the verge of it. This is perhaps one of the most stress-inflicting things that the body can go through. You can avoid this by picking out your next-day’s clothes the night before, making a to-do list in the evening so you won’t forget anything in the morning, and the most effective one, I think: wake up extra early. This will give you the peace of mind that there is no way you can be late since you’ll be able to avoid rush hour or any other incidents that may impede on timeliness.

Shower with Cold Water

Turns out, there are more health benefits to cold water than just drinking it! Showering with ice cold water is incredibly beneficial for your body, as painful as that may sound. It increases your metabolism fifteen fold! After exercise, cold showers also help your body recover by reducing soreness. Heart rate increases when exposed to a surge of chilled water which in turn, causes faster blood flow which will up your energy big time and help you avoid hypertension and the hardening of arteries. There was a study at Virginia Commonwealth University showing how cold water stimulates the main source of noradrenaline, or a chemical that may be used to decrease depression. All in all, starting off your day with a cold shower is a stress reducer and yes, I will repeat, very healthy.

Any of these tips will be great to implement into your current routine. It feels great to start your day off on the right food! How do you maintain a healthy morning routine?

Image: Unsplash

EducationHealth

The semester is well underway and I’m sure, aside from getting involved in a gazillion clubs, juggling a job or an internship, and trying to have some kind of a social life, everyone is swamped with loads of homework. As I’m typing, many people are probably rushing to finish up their calculus problems or putting the final touches on a paper that is due in a few days. Whatever the case may be, there just never seems to be enough time in the day to get everything done.

Pulling all-nighters and working well after midnight aren’t unusual scenarios. We fall asleep on our textbooks only to wake up in the morning ready to fall back into the same routine. College is extremely hard and the moments when you get to kick back and relax are extremely rare. Even then, the days when you do get a chance to take a break from schoolwork (i.e. the weekend) are usually not as laid-back as you would like them to be because there is always an exam to study for, a paper to write, or an assignment to complete.

They say coffee is a college student’s best friend, but spending the day (or even the night) working on homework isn’t the way to go about college because overworking yourself can cause your brain to melt into a pile of mush. Maybe that isn’t what really happens but, without the occasional break from schoolwork, you’ll eventually stress yourself out, and being stressed has many negative effects on your mind and body.

Whenever you’re at that point where you just want to rip your hair out, step away from your computer, put down the book you’re reading, and set aside that calculator. Your work will be there once you take a 10-15 break (or however long you think you need). It’s not going to get up and walk away, so use some of your time to rest your brain and stretch those legs because I’m sure you spend hours on end plastered to a chair (or your bed) whenever you do homework. If you can’t figure out to do with your free time, here is a list of things to do to help you unwind.

  1. Get a snack: Studying and homework is almost impossible to do on an empty stomach, so get something to munch on and something to drink so you’re not depriving your body of the nutrients you need. For better brain power, try eating healthy snacks. And no, potato chips are not an essential part of the food pyramid.
  2. Stretching/exercising: I have a friend who does lunges whenever she needs a break from doing her homework. You don’t have to do lunges, but stretching might be a good thing to do to keep your body from cramping up after hours of sitting. If you really want to get that heart pounding, try doing some jumping jacks.
  3. Read a book: And I don’t mean a textbook. Pick up a book that isn’t for school and read one or two chapters to get your mind off of your homework and allow yourself to slip into another world.
  4. Listen to music: Turn on your favorite band or singer and rock out to your favorite songs. You can sing along or dance or do whatever it takes for you to destress.
  5. Go for a walk: You don’t have to go too far, but you can walk around your residence hall or apartment complex a few times just to get some fresh air and get out of the confines of the four walls of your room so you don’t go stir crazy.
  6. Play a game: Games are a great way to keep your mind busy. More importantly, you get to have fun!
  7. Straighten up your room: I’m not sure about you, but my side of the room always seems to get out of hand whenever I’m studying or doing homework. I can’t do anything until my side of the room is in order and everything that was out of place is back into place.
  8. Check your email: When we’re busy with class and school work, sometimes we forget to check our inboxes to see if we received any important emails. Use your free time to make sure we’re not missing out on anything.
  9. Talk to people: Start up a conversation with your roommate, text a friend, or call a family member. It doesn’t matter who you talk to, but it’s important to get your mind off of your homework for a bit and what better way to do that than to converse with people about things that have nothing to do with homework.
  10. Set your alarm and take a nap: Of course I had to save the best for last. If you find yourself not wanting to do anything on this list, it might be time for a nap. After 30-45 minutes of resting your eyes, you should feel refreshed and ready to finish your homework.

There are a variety of things you can do to take a break from homework. Just remember not to spend too much time (more than an hour) taking a break. Also, don’t feel bad about taking a break. We all need one so our bodies and brain don’t shut down after hours of staring at the pages of a thick textbook or a computer screen. You might feel like there is not enough time in the day, but you have the power to make time, so try to work taking breaks into your schedule the best you can because you deserve it.

Image: Unsplash

CollegeEducationLearn

I don’t know how many of you out there are working on a senior project, but let me tell you something: it’s hard. It’s really hard. On a scale of “ugh” to “I’m going to drop out of school and move into a forest to be a hermit,” I’m pretty close to the latter. For those of you who are going to wind up doing something like a senior capstone or a thesis (or for those of you who are in it and are suffering like me), here are some things you should keep in mind:

1. It’s never too early.

I so regret not starting my project half a year ago. You’re thinking, how can you plan a project or a paper or something half a year ago if you don’t even know what you’re doing? Well, that’s when you should start thinking about it! Spend your winter vacation or summer vacation reading up on what you’re doing your project on. If you’re a literature major, you can start researching authors, writing snippets, and outlining a draft. If you’re in the arts, you can start looking for influential artists and start messing around with various materials or techniques.

2. Talk to people.

Tell them you’re doing a thesis. Ask for their opinion. Be open to references or new ideas. I’m working on a photo thesis and a large point of it is process, progress, development. If you’re stuck with tunnel vision, your ideas or projects can’t really grow.

3. Try new things.

Another way to being open to ideas is gaining more experience. Go gallery hopping on the weekend with a friend who would appreciate contemporary art. Wander through a new section of the bookstore you never really thought you’d like. Wander around and study the architecture of your neighborhood, and stop by a cafe you’ve probably passed every day but never bothered to go into. If you’re stuck on an idea, a refreshing environment might help.

4. Be honest with yourself.

Is this project too easy? Is it too ambitious? Do I have the skills? Do I have enough information? Do I believe what I’m saying? Will I be willing to work on this for four months straight? Eight months straight? How much do I care about this? These are all important questions that you need to truly consider. Be brutally, objectively honest. You’ll save yourself trouble, embarrassment, and time if you admit to your weaknesses and find your strengths.

5. Don’t give up.

Now this one is important. Don’t be discouraged if things don’t work out the first, second, third, or fourth time (I’ve had to modify my idea that many times… ugh). Sometimes you’re just scratching the surface and you realize that after some trial and error. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes, but do try to learn from them. Keep going at it, you’ll definitely get it. Everyone works at a different pace, so just work at your own.

All of you out there working on your long­term projects, good luck. There is a long road ahead, but it will be rewarding. Have faith, don’t lose hope, and keep that chin up. See you on the flip side!

CollegeCultureInspiration

Anxiety. It’s not a pleasant word. It’s also a word that illustrates the feelings of me and my friends when we realize we’re knee deep in thesis projects, midterms, or final exams. Anxiety is a weird feeling because it’s not like a cold. People can’t necessarily see the worry or panic in you, so they treat you normally. But like depression, it’s still a very uncomfortable, and sometimes dangerous, thing to hold inside for a long time. People go through anxiety often, and in college, I’ve met many people who say that they’re suffering from it.

I was talking to a friend who used to suffer from anxiety and depression. She said that part of the reason was because she didn’t know what she wanted to do with herself and she didn’t know where she was going in life. In high school, she went to counseling, but it didn’t help. She said she got better because she found something she loved, in particular a television show and her passion for graphic design. Being lost is scary, so if that is causing some worry, remember that the best thing is to keep searching (not feverishly, but more considerately) for things that are interesting or passion-­worthy. It’s different for everyone.

Some people feel that anxiety stems from a fear of the future. Anxiety isn’t necessarily fearing the future; it’s fearing the inability to control it. I get anxiety from not being to control the outcomes of my future. I don’t know if I’ll get a perfect A this semester, and that freaks me out. I can control my work ethic, but not my professor’s mind. I tell myself that some things are out of my control, and to not blame myself for everything. If I was late because of a train delay, it’s not my fault. Sure, the professor will be irked I walked in during lecture, but I left my house on-time, I was not trying to be late and, well, sometimes things like that happen.

Anxiety is different for everyone, and the reasons are different for everyone. The ways to deal with it varies, from drinking tea in bed to ­exercising at the gym. In the end, the most important thing is to remember that there is always tomorrow, and to not sweat the small stuff. Ten, twenty, thirty years from now, today will just be a blimp in a timeline filled with great experiences. You can do it.

Image: Unsplash