Author: Julia Aldrich

How to Stay Sane During Finals

Finals week is coming faster than we could say “OMG, I need to get on top of things.” Even the most seasoned finals veteran struggles with managing time and energy while trying to get things done as effectively as possible. Unfortunately, finals are difficult and very stressful. There really isn’t an easy way out. However, there are some great tactics for relieving stress and staying sane during finals week. After almost 8 finals weeks, here’s what I’ve learned:

stay sane during finals

Be Healthy

It’s so easy to neglect our health while we’re cramming for exams and putting together assignments. Unfortunately, if our health is bad, it’s likely our performance is also going to be bad. Make sure to eat healthy meals with foods high in vitamins and minerals and low in processed ingredients. Not only will it keep your body running smoothly, but it’ll also help you feel more awake and focused. Some foods thought to boost energy include beans, citrus, and leafy greens. Additionally, make sure to fit in some cardio a few days each week. Exercise helps to increase endorphins, making you feel more positive and focused. On top of everything, hydration is key. Drinking adequate amounts of water not only helps the body function, but it also helps to regulate attention and energy.

stay sane during finals

Have Fun

College students often have the tendency to feel if they are doing something enjoyable, then they’re doing something wrong. This mindset is not only detrimental to mental health, but it can also negatively affect your work. Overworking yourself causes fatigue and lack of concentration, which can actually lead to lower grades. Therefore, one of the most important ways to stay sane during finals is to have fun. This doesn’t mean a wild night out with the pals, but taking an hour to get dinner with friends or to see a show can make a huge difference!

stay sane during finals

Change up the Space

Another great way to stay sane during finals is to make sure that you’re not in the same space for too long. Even if you have the best seat at the library, staying in the same spot for too long can make things even more boring than they already are. By changing up your environment ever so often, you’re also shifting the way your mind absorbs information because of changes in light, posture, etc.

stay sane during finals

Meditate

Mindful meditation is an excellent way to help deal with stress, increase attention, and boost cognition. If you’re beginning to feel stressed out, take some time alone to sit, or even walk, and relax your mind. Concentrate on your situation and sort out everything you need to do. Identify why you need to do it, and then how you’re going to do it. Remind yourself although finals are challenging, you’re capable of performing at your best and that studying will ultimately be rewarding. Finals aren’t fun, but attending college is a privilege.

stay sane during finals

Stay Organized

If you’re anything like me, you find it extremely difficult to stay organized. During stressful times, my lack of organization causes me even more stress in addition to what I’m already enduring. Before finals begin, it’s a great idea to get your life together. If you’re inclined to use your computer, start a spreadsheet with all of the assignments you need to finish and all of the exams you need to study for. Make columns for dates,  study intensity, and goals. If you prefer being able to physically write things down, use a planner. Winging finals is always a bad idea.

Finals are going to be stressful. However, it’s always important to put your mental and physical health first. Keep a good head on your shoulders. Take care of yourself. Make efforts to stay organized and confident, then the rest will come along smoothly. Good luck getting ready for finals, everyone!

Boosting Your Blog With Instagram

What is a blog without readers? Increasing traffic to a blog’s website is a daily challenge all writers must face. Although it might seem nonsensical to use a photo app to acquire new blog viewers, Instagram is a huge network of potential viewers! As of 2016, Instagram boasts approximately 600 million followers. In addition to a large audience pool, it has several perfect features for marketing your site.  By using the right tools and strategies, an Instagram account can boost your readership exponentially. Here are a few tactics to help you succeed:

instagram

1) Add the site link to your Instagram Bio

Thankfully, Instagram is a beautiful app. With the swipe and tap of your fingers, you can maneuver your way across the platform and easily access photos. To prevent spam, Instagram doesn’t allow you to add a hyperlink in the caption of your photos. However, Instagram allows you to add a hyperlink to your website inside of your bio, which appears at the top of your page. Upon clicking the link, Instagram redirects a user to your blog without even exiting the app. This increases viewership of your blog prevents upsetting users by forcing them to abandon the app. Whenever you publish a new blog post, add a relevant photo on Instagram and include in the caption “link in bio” so users know where to look.

Instagram - dog

2) Post often and post smart to attract followers

The more Instagram followers who see your photo, the more people are exposed to your blog link. Use Instagram to your benefit by posting often and posting strategically. Use popular hashtags like #instagood, #love, #photooftheday, and other high traffic tags that offer maximum visibility. Hashtags might seem silly, but they’re one of the best tools for increasing followers and likes on your pictures. Additionally, studies show that posting at certain times helps increase likes, such as 5pm when Instagrammers are most active. Finally, avoid posting photos that could be mistaken for spam. 

Instagram - Wooden Bridge

3) Reach out to other Instagrammers

Are you wondering how someone gains followers? Keeping to yourself isn’t the answer. Follow, like, and comment. Performing these three actions on other people’s post will increase your following. Develop the habit of regularly reaching out to other users for consistent personal gains. Business blogger Neil Patel found that for every 100 “likes” he gave other followers, he gained about 6.7 followers and 21.7 more likes. In addition to liking posts, taking the time to comment on photos further increases your follower count. Users see that you’re interested and feel compelled to return the favor.

Instagram - Meal

4) Use Instagram Business

Instagram has a really cool feature that enables you to turn your account into a “Business Profile”. A business account gives users access to analytical tools showing which posts performed the best. These statistics are important for determining which posting tactics proved to have the highest levels of performance, including reach and impressions. Also, this type of profile comes with a “contact” button positioned in the Bio area,  encouraging other users to easily contact you. If you’re wanting to take things a step further, you can also produce ads which promote your post.

Instagram, a social platform dominated by pictures might not seem like the best place drive new blog viewership. However, knowing how to utilize the program to your advantage will open the door to success. With an estimated 600 million users, Instagram is a treasure chest waiting for you to discover its potential.

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!