Author: Julia Aldrich

Mindful Meditation: A Cheap and Effective Stress Reliever

Mind over Matter

Part of being a college student is constantly dealing with an influx of stress. Unfortunately, this influx is rarely paired with helpful coping mechanisms for overcoming it. I’ve yet to have a professor hold an instructional yoga class before an upcoming exam. In most situations, we’re forced to find our own methods for stress relief.  When you’re already experiencing stress and anxiety, finding a solution in the moment to overcome it is a challenge. However, I recommend one mechanism currently showing great promise: Achieving mindfulness.

Mind over matter. We’re often confronted with this mantra when our will power is in question. When we’re studying for a chemistry exam but expecting to fail, mind over matter. When we’re tempted to stray from our diet, mind OVER matter. When you have a cold on race day after foolishly signing up for a second year of cross country despite knowing you struggle with running… mind. over. matter.

What does mind over matter really mean? To break it down, matter is the situation you are confronted with; the cross country race, the exam. The mind is yourself, or your thoughts and feelings. Ashumans, we’re constantly thinking and assessing everything happening in the spectrum of our existence. Mind over matter is the notion that if we can get a grasp on our minds, then we can overcome the matter in front of us. If I will myself torun and finish the cross country race, then I can.

mindful meditation

The Research BehindMindful Meditation

Mindfulness is a growing interest in the field of psychology. Where tactics like psychoanalysis and cognitive behavioral therapy once reigned, mindfulness now conquers. In psychology, mindful meditation is a practice intended to combat the negative effects associated with disorders such as depression, anxiety, and post traumatic stress disorder. Hopelessness, stress, and neurotic feelings are some of the many negative effects it can help reduce.  In contrast, cognition, awareness, and attention can increase when one practices mindful meditation. 

Mindful meditation is a means to achieving mindfulness. Physiologist are sewing meditation into the foreground for treating psychological disorders such as depression and anxiety. A meta-analysis conducted by Eberth & Sedlmeier in 2012 compiled 39 previous studies on mindful meditation and analysed the results. The individual studies focused on how mindful meditation affects a person’s well-being, including their ability to concentrate on their thoughts. In this analysis, mindful meditation referred to the Buddhist practices Vipassana and Zen/Chan. The results of the analysis showed that both mindful meditation, and even general meditation, led to positive increases in attention,mood and well being, and a reduction in anxiety.

mindful meditation

Effective Ways to Meditate

To employ the practices featured in the meta-analysis for achieving mindfulness, one must work towards self-awareness and focus the mind on present experiences.  Concentrate on becoming open, curious, and accepting.  Luckily, you can practice mindful meditation anywhere you find comfortable.  You can chose to meditate in your dorm room, in the park, or in a quiet space on campus. This means mindful meditation accessible to everyone.

There is no limitation to how you can meditate; we’re all very different.  You can meditate in bed, while sitting down on a park bench, or even through exercise. Personally, I enjoy meditating while on a long run since I’m naturally fidgety. However, I acknowledge that most people tend to despise running. How you successfully practice mindful meditation will depend on your personality. Simply by setting aside time to focus on your thoughts and reflect, you too can achieve mindfulness.

Are you new to meditation? There are quite a few online resources for those who haven’t meditated before. UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center provides a variety of free exercises that provide instructions via audio guides. Additionally, Youtube  has a great selection of meditation guides that are tailored to a variety of specific needs such as anxiety relief and help with sleeplessness.

mindful meditation

Why You Should Try Meditation

Stress from school is never pleasant. It also limits our ability to concentrate and work efficiently. Students who feel stressed or overworked may even turn to destructive behaviors such as binge drinking or illegal drugs, both of which are harmful to the mind and body. Mindful meditation provides easy access to stress relief in a safe and effective way. It’s also free!  The next time assignments feel like they’re a bit too out of hand, take time to relax and focus your thoughts. Try practicing mindful meditation to gain control over your situation. You’ll quickly discover the benefits are endless!

How to Survive Your First Career Fair

Most of us are attending school in order to better ourselves in the face of the daunting “real world.” We put in hard hours at the library, bust our butts beefing up our resumes, and try our best to broaden our skill sets in the hopes of one day landing our dream job. Of course, as you progress in your days at school you’ll inevitably run into a particularly daunting event: the career fair. Here, both you and hundreds of other students try to impress businesses in the hopes of getting a job. If you’ve never been to a career fair, here are some useful tips:

career fair

1. Dress to Impress

At a career fair, you have the chance to meet employers and recruiters face to face. Therefore, it’s important to dress the part. Most women tend to wear dress pants or a skirt, a blouse, and nice shoes. Men often wear a suit or a dress shirt and tie. However, this doesn’t mean you have to be boring- wear what you feel good in. Additionally, make sure to properly groom yourself. You want to stand out, but I can guarantee that bad breath and dirty hair is not the way to do it.

career fair

2. Prepare an Elevator Pitch

Again, career fairs are your chance to personally meet with potential employers. This being said, you should have an idea of what to say about yourself. Before you go, look over your resume, accomplishments, and aspirations to come up with a quick few lines to tell recruiters. Introductions are much easier with prepared lines and employers will appreciate a candidate who is both prepared and knows what they’re good at.

career fair

3. Ready Your Resume

When attending a career fair, be sure to print out plenty of resumes. Although some might recommend printing your resume on premium paper, doing so can be expensive and difficult. Further, employers might not pay attention to the type of paper that you use because most resumes are submitted online. Regardless, review your resume to ensure it is grammatically correct and well formatted. Contact your school’s career advisor or check out some tips online!

career fair

4. Do Your Research

Many career fairs host hundreds of companies, making you likely to find at least one that suits you. However, it’s difficult to understand a company from looking at the sign on their table. Avoid this confusion by doing your research. Look up the listed companies attending the career fair and find out what they’re looking for. Employers notice when you’re educated about their company.

5. Confidence is Key

The final tip that I can give you is to be confident!  Following the above steps will prepare you for surviving a career fair. You’ll show employers you’re the most unique, qualified person in the room. Acting confident more strongly conveys this message and helps leave memorable impression. Together, someone will likely think of you when it’s time to hire a new employee.

Career fairs don’t have to be stressful. Come prepared, do your research, dress the part, and be confident. Everything is going to be okay!

How to be Environmentally Friendly for the Holidays

environmentally friendly Christmas

The holidays are a time for cheer, happiness and everything bright! We’re always on the search for gifts for our friends and relatives while surrounded by decorations and lights. For many of us, it becomes easy to lose focus on things like school, work and even our finances. Gifting isn’t always cheap! One important thing that often gets overlooked during this joyful time of year by many is something that affects us all equally: the environment! Unfortunately, the holidays, with the lights and the gifts, is particularly non environmentally friendly. This year, however, if we all pitch in and pay a little extra attention, we can make some positive efforts towards preserving the Earth we all inhabit and love. Here are some tips on how to be environmentally friendly this holiday season:

Be Christmas Light Savvy

What are the holidays without Christmas lights? Boring? Dull? Anyways, as pretty as the twinkling bulbs all over your home are, they do tend to waste a lot of energy when not tended to. With the entire United States population of holiday lights combined, that’s a terrible amount of both air pollution from the carbon dioxide released when generating electricity and light pollution. There are several ways in which this could be reduced. One way is by adding a timer to your lights, causing them to shut off at a certain time. Another way would be to purchase energy efficient lights, including those of LED lights, which are much more energy efficient compared to incandescent lights. Christmas lights are necessary, but don’t have to be destructive.

Wrap Gifts Better

I’ll be the first to admit that I’d be upset if someone handed me a sweater without any wrapping. Year after year, we receive and wrap gifts in beautiful paper that we quickly rip off and throw away. The amount of waste from this process is exorbitant and it’s far from environmentally friendly. Compared to any other time of the year, there is a significantly higher amount of trash thrown away during the holidays.  It is estimated that there is enough wrapping paper used every year to cover 5,787 NFL football fields. I’m no running back, but I could tell that that’s terrifying. My suggestion is to find new ways to wrap your gifts. This can include old newspapers, paper shopping bags (Trader Joes?!) and old magazines. Paint them or add glitter for some extra pizzazz and you’ve got a gift whose wrapper kept on giving!

Shop Smarter

If I counted the miles I drove trying to find the perfect gift the in past few years, I’d have enough to circumnavigate the globe. Multiply my own inability to reasonably shop by everyone else in the same situation and that’s a lot of driving. Fortunately, the internet does exist. But for those that like to shop in actual stores, be strategic. Make lists ahead of time including a gift idea for everyone. Also make sure to add a backup idea if you can’t find what you need. Also, find people who also need to shop and carpool. By shopping in groups or pairs, not only are you being environmentally conscious by saving on gas, but you also have a group to give you advice when shopping. It’s a win-win.

I hope you can have a very merry environmentally friendly holidays using these simple and easy suggestions! Have some other tips? Drop them in the comments below!

Why December Shouldn’t Be Stressful

December student

It’s that time of year again where things begin to get hectic. If you’re a college student, December means assignments and finals are creeping up on us and exhaustion is setting in. The end of the semester is officially coming to a close. As we begin to feel stressed out and anxious, we also tend to forget about the amazing things that surround us. If you’re going through a tough time, and I’m sure many of us are, then please hear me out.

Take Time to Breathe

First off, I’d like to point out that stress, like anything, is only okay in moderation. Secondly, stress isn’t something to be proud of. Staying up all night, piling on extra assignments last minute and working until misery isn’t acceptable. We live in a world where overworking ourselves is praiseworthy. The more work, the better. Right? Wrong. It’s appreciable that you’re working hard, but it’s important to know that our society’s definition of hard work isn’t actually normal. As a student, you shouldn’t feel inadequate if you’re not pushing yourself over the edge.

Luckily, these busy and haphazardly spent days rushing between class, the library and back home for food and sleep intersect with the most wonderful time of year: the holidays! As you continue to prepare for the end of the semester (remember, don’t push yourself too hard), make sure to take in some of the joy and cheer that will be accumulating on every corner. Although it’s already December and most of the leaves have changed and perhaps fallen, the beauty of the transition from fall to winter doesn’t cease to be amazing.

Explore the Outdoors

Take some time this year to go outside and not just a five minute walk to a new building. Regardless of the cold, sweaters and gloves were invented for a reason. You should go outdoors! Research suggests that spending extra hours in the outdoors can lead to health benefits. For example, the sun is a great source of vitamin D. but remember sunscreen! Additionally, nature and the outdoors is thought to lead to an elevated mood and decreased stress levels. If your school is in nowhere land, take this opportunity to find the area with the post picturesque sunset; if you’re studying in a city, explore the city parks! Make sure to take photos. Oftentimes cold weather leads to the loveliest photos. 

Make Time for Family and Friends

You should take time to appreciate family and friends in December. With having just did this at Thanksgiving and the subsequent holidays coming shortly after, we can become even more stressed. However, the holidays aren’t meant to be stressful. Sure, cooking, cleaning, and having to embarrassingly describe to your relatives that you ‘just don’t quite know yet’ what you’re doing with your live isn’t quite fun, but the moments around that deserve to be cherished. So go ahead and plan a Friendsgiving, wear your matching pajamas with your siblings and escape your older relatives with your cousins. It’s worth it!

Enjoy Being a Student

Lastly, these last few years of college are really the only moments left before we’re catapulted into the real world. Embrace your youth as you experience these times while still being a student. Don’t let classes and assignments get in the way of feeling that holiday cheer that comes every year at this time. Drink lots of hot chocolate, take in the crisp fall air and over wear your favorite sweater. Regardless of how stressful we’re feeling, I can guarantee that these tough times will feel way better.

I hope that these suggestions help you have a successful and enjoyable December and end of fall semester. Have any other tips that have helped you? Leave them in the comment section below!

How to Help Your Homesick Blues

For all of those homesick puppies missing back home a little too much recently, I feel you. Whether you be missing your mom, your sister, your grandparents, home cooked meals, or  even (especially) your cat, don’t lose faith. We’ve all been there. Unfortunately, many of us are too far away from our hometowns to make it back there regularly. At about this time in the semester, we’ve already been away for over a month- way too long! Luckily, I’ve put together a few ways to make the remainder of time between now and your next visit a little more bearable.

1. Call call call!

homesick

Call your friends, call your mom, call your dog. Keeping in contact is a great way to bring a little bit of home to you. Even better? Use FaceTime or Skype and make the person on the other line show you the things you’ve been missing the most. The only drawback of this is that sometimes it could increase feelings of homesickness by reminding you of what you’re missing. Luckily, the feeling you get after a great phone conversation with mom telling you all of the family drama makes up for all of it

2. Pictures!

homesick

If you don’t already have a ton of photos with you, print some! Being able to see a physical image of good times with the people you miss can help clear up feelings of homesickness. Not only does it remind you of a happy memory, but having photos helps to bring home wherever you go. Another option is to have your family and friends text you photos from home! I recently got a photo of my kitty that brightened my day!

3. Keep busy!

homesick
You can’t dwell on home if you’re too busy to! That project that you know is coming up? Start it. How about your messy room with two-week-old laundry? Clean it. Want to learn to play an instrument? Start doing it! In college, you always have something to do. Therefore, there shouldn’t be any time to feel bored and sad about home. Keeping busy also just helps boost productivity, so that when you actually do make it home, you won’t have to worry about all of the things you didn’t get done.

4. Hang with your friends!

homesick

Arguably the best thing about college is how proximal your college friends are! My freshman year, I could just walk two feet down the hall to see my friends. Now, I’m living with some of my best friends in an apartment! Good friends always make themselves available to lend an ear. Chances are, they might also be homesick. That way you guys could make some snacks, binge watch rom-coms, and have a cry. It’s sometimes difficult to remain sad about not being home when you’re with your friends.

5. Go home!

homesick

If you have the time and a way to get back, just go home! Sometimes the time between the beginning of school and Thanksgiving becomes unbearable. Arrange a ride, eat some of your fav home foods, hug your cats, hug your mom, remember how annoying home is. After a day or two you’ll probably be begging to get back to school!

I hope these suggestions help you cure your homesick blues this semester! Have some more tips? Drop us a comment below.