Health

Read blogs in our health category for information and advice on how to keep a healthy mind and body during college.

5 Ways to Survive the Stress of College

College is the best of times and the worst of times. Close friends, bad food, and memories to last a lifetime. College is also a ton of work whether it is yet another essay, pages of homework, or staying up all night finishing a group assignment that you have not started until that night, the workload is more than enough to cause stress. Here are five easy and helpful tips to see next semester with gratitude instead of attitude.

Organize and Plan

Keeping everything clean and easy to find is a simple way to experience less stress. Buy a binder or folders to keep the classes separate and to have a central location to put all of the papers. It also may be worthwhile to buy a planner or to use the calendar on your phone to remind you of assignments. Find what works best for you and invest in organizing yourself. Same goes with your computer. Create folders on your computer to have a location to save to when you are working on something digital. No more putting everything in your downloads and searching for the date modified instead of the arbitrary title you named it.

Studying can be boring and monotonous at times but try different studying methods to boost your morale. The Pomodoro Technique is the one I use which is to put a timer for 25 minutes and with zero distractions, you start your work. Go at your own pace but make sure you have everything on do not disturb so nothing will tempt you to sway away from work. After the timer goes off, you have five minutes to do what ever you need to do and then set another 25 minutes to work. This allows you to be efficient with the time you are offering yourself and still have some time for cat videos.

For your own mental sanity, set aside time to work and play every day. Have a goal in mind and when that is complete, go reward yourself with doing something you love. Psychologically, a reward system to finishing work provides the great benefits and little residual damage from the labor.

Exercise

Getting the heart pumping can be a great way to relieve stress when college has you down. Going for a run, lifting weights, or dancing for a period of time can help to reset your mind and body to attack the day with relentless optimism. Not to mention it regulates your sleep cycle, metabolism and energy. Would it not be great if you did not have to drink four cups of coffee throughout the day? Exercise may just be the answer you are looking for to obtain more energy for your day.

Meditation

Simply breathing can make a world of difference for your mindset. Meditating every day can provide positive benefits such as an increase in happiness, self-awareness, and concentration. It also decreases stress, anxiety, and aging. “Meditation is mind without agitation,” Narasimhan says. When it comes to stress, we could all use a mind without unnecessary turbulence. Reminding yourself what your purpose is and aligning your values through breathing often can make your motivation unstoppable.

If you do not have time for simple meditation, get credit for it. Most Universities have stress management courses offered in their curriculum. The class is an easy three elective credits and truly does assist you in your college journey. Look for it under the social work category of classes.

GET MORE SLEEP

I know this sounds a little counter-intuitive. Getting less time to do more work? Sleep holds amazing benefits that we have grown to forget. The simple method here is to be more productive, sleep more. When we lack sleep, our quality of work decreases. You may be doing a lot of work but probably not a lot of quality work. There are serious health problems with sleep deprivation such as trouble concentrating, high blood pressure, risk for diabetes, risk of heart disease, weakened immunity, and weight gain. Basically throwing all the benefits of meditation and exercise away because you are not sleeping enough. Take the time needed each night and get a full eight hours (or as close to as you can) of sleep. Tiredness is not a trophy and it is something we should not be striving for.

Do Something Creative

This one is easy. Every person has their form of art be it painting, drawing, playing an instrument, cooking, or underwater basket weaving. Setting time aside every day to mastering your craft is a fun way to relieve stress and increase overall well-being. According to a 2016 study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology, engaging in just one creative activity each day can make you more likely to feel “energetic, enthusiastic, [and] excited.” It goes on to say, “Overall, these findings support the emerging emphasis on everyday creativity as a means of cultivating positive psychological functioning.” There you go, science has now supported the idea of creating art for clear benefits. Get working and create something beautiful.

College is an adventurous odyssey filled with self-discovery and a metric ton of ramen noodles. It is a lot of seemingly unnecessary work and stress but it is all worth it in the end. Hopefully with these simple methods of stress management, college will be more of a positive experience.

Scheduling Appointments: A Guide for Young Adults

For many young adults, college is the first step towards becoming independent. The freedom that comes with living on your own is wonderful! However, there is more to being an adult than buying groceries. College students are notorious for forgetting to plan for health and maintenance concerns previously handled by their parents. Here are five of the most important (and overlooked) appointments that you will need to regularly schedule as an adult.

Dentist Appointments

Dental Visits

No one likes going to the dentist, but keeping your teeth healthy needs to be a priority. If you brush your teeth as recommend, a routine cleaning every six months is often enough to keep your teeth in top shape. If you have any lingering concerns, you should speak to your dentist about scheduling additional appointments. Also, remember to change your toothbrush every three to four months.

Oil Change

Oil Changes

If you own a car you will need to have the oil changed on a regular basis. The old rule of thumb was every 3,000 miles, but now most manufacturers recommend referring to your owners manual for guidance. Many dealerships and automotive repair shops offer an oil change package that includes an oil change, tire rotation, and point inspections on the most commonly worn out areas of the car (wipers, tires, battery, etc.). Some shops even offer special discounts to college students.

Dr.'s Appointments

Doctor Visits

If you take any type of prescription medication, it may be necessary to visit the doctor at regular intervals to renew your prescription. The interval at which you visit your doctor is determined by the type of medicine you’re prescribed. Always make sure you have your next appointment scheduled before you run out of medicine. You don’t want to risk going without it for a few days, especially if the medication takes time to build up in your bloodstream.

Hair Appointments

Hair Cuts

This might seem a little more trivial than the other items on the list, but it is still something you need to do. Long lengths of time without a haircut can damage your hair and give you an unprofessional appearance. There are many places that offer student discounts for basic hair cuts. Also, some places allow you to walk in and receive service without an appointment. Therefore, you should be able to take care of this quickly and without spending too much money.

Eye Exam

EyeExams

Its hard to see what the professor is writing when your glasses aren’t strong enough. Wearing glasses or contacts with an outdated prescription can cause more problems than simply a blurry view. Headaches, vertigo, and brow pain are other common side effects. If you need prescription lenses to see, make sure you get your eyes checked about once a year. Your eyesight changes over time and it is important that you have your prescription adjusted.

Independence is a wonderful thing, but you need to make sure you are fully taking care of yourself. Have any more necessary appointments to add to the list? Leave them in the comment section below!

 

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!

Cleaning Guide for Dorm Rooms

Living in a dorm is a wonderful experience. Having meals prepared for you is a luxury every college student misses when they move out of the dorms and into their own apartment. However, just because dorms are meant to be low maintenance living does not mean you can get away with doing nothing. It is important to clean and care for your dorm room so that you don’t lose your security deposit. Having a clean room also keeps you and your roommates healthier and creates a more positive atmosphere. Here is cleaning guide to help you keep your dorm room in top shape!

Supplies

Dorm rooms are typically not very big. You don’t need a whole arsenal of cleaning supplies to get a proper clean. A few staples that are good to have on hand include:

  • Disinfecting wipes
  • All purpose cleaning spray
  • Duster
  • Dish soap
  • Old towels designated for cleaning
  • Air freshener spray (make sure to check with your roommates first to make sure they are okay with the use of air fresheners)

You will also need a vacuum or mop depending on the type of floor in your dorm room. However, most dorms will have these available for check-out at the front desk.

Cleaning

Cleaning is not a very fun or exciting activity, but it is necessary. Taking the time once a month to thoroughly clean everything in your dorm room will keep your place neat and save you time in the long run. A thorough cleaning includes:

  • Dusting all decoration items and knick-knacks
  • Using disinfecting wipes to clean surfaces such as desks, side tables, and cabinets
  • Washing the bedding including sheets and pillow cases
  • Using all purpose spray to clean heavily used or dirty items such as sinks and door handles
  • Vacuuming or mopping the floor depending on the floor type your room has

Other Things to Consider

A once a month clean up is the best way to keep your dorm room in shape. With help from your roommates it can be completed fairly quickly. You should stay proactive between cleanups to keep your room fresh for as long as possible. Wash dishes immediately after you use them. Take out the trash and do laundry as needed to keep piles of dirty objects from building up in your room. Clean up any spills or messes immediately.

With a little work you can keep your dorm room clean and fresh all year long. Have any tips for keeping a dorm room clean? Leave them in the comment section below!

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!