exercise

Affordable Self-Care Products for College Students

College is a time filled with transitions, challenges, and personal growth. It’s easy to get caught up in the fast-paced nature of your surroundings and forget to take care of yourself.

Knowing how to practice self-care is one of the easiest ways to prevent burnout, minimize stress, and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

What is self-care?

Self-care has been defined as, “a multi-dimensional, multi-faceted process of purposeful engagement in strategies that promote healthy functioning and enhance well-being.”

Proper self-care is crucial for our physical, emotional and mental well-being. You must make yourself a priority and take the time to address your needs. Start by focusing on yourself and paying attention to what your body is telling you.

Maintaining your happiness and inner peace isn’t one-size-fits-all, but it’s a lot easier when you have the right items in your self-care toolkit. Everyone has different needs, and you may need to try different products, brands, and techniques to see what works best for your specific needs. 

We’ve rounded up a few of the best self-care products that’ll help you feel renewed in hard times, so no matter what your preferred method, you can keep up with your favorite feel-good routine.

Sleep

Before pulling an all-nighter, there are a few things you should know about sleep. Sleep is arguably the most important aspect of living a healthy, happy life. It impacts your psychological health, metabolism, cardiovascular health, and immune system. 

Insufficient sleep or inconsistent sleep patterns can lead to decreased grades, attention and memory, so a late-night study session may have the opposite intended effect. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours of sleep per night for adults. 

  • Eye Sleep Mask – Eye masks are great for relaxing your eyes and giving you a consistent amount of darkness each night. They can also be used to relieve insomnia, migraines, dry eyes, and more. Looking for more options? Check out Amazon’s list of best-selling sleep masks. 
  • Weighted Blanket – When you’re stressed, you may benefit from a weighted blanket and its effect of weighted therapy. This type of therapy is known for increasing levels of serotonin and melatonin while you sleep, which means it can help insomnia, falling asleep, and staying asleep throughout the night.
  • Sleepytime Tea –  A relaxing herbal blend of chamomile, spearmint and other soothing herbs. This tea also includes valerian root, which is a trusted natural sleep aid.

Relaxing Pillow Spray – Spritz onto pillows just before bedtime. This natural, aroma-therapeutic blend of lavender, chamomile and vetivert, calms both mind and body – helping to reduce anxiety and improve your sleep quality.

Health and Wellness

Your body needs to be properly fueled to function. This means listening to your body by drinking water and making healthy eating choices. The types of foods you eat crucially impact the bacteria that live in your stomach, which makes a significant impact on your health, well-being, and feelings of vitality. 

  • Reusable Water Bottle – Studies show that even mild dehydration can impair energy level, mood, memory and brain performance. It is recommended that you drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day. Carrying a reusable water bottle will help you stay hydrated throughout the day. Want to take your water bottle to the next level? Check out this Larq self-cleaning water bottle that neutralizes up to 99.99% of harmful bacteria and viruses using UV-C light. 
  • Reusable Lunch Containers – Not eating enough during the day can lead to fatigue, low energy levels, and headaches. When you make the effort to prepare your meal ahead of time, you are investing in yourself as your food is full of nutrients that allow your body to function at its best.
  • Protein Bars – Protein bars can be a convenient way to add carbs, protein, vitamins, and minerals to your diet. Many protein bars are a good source of micro-nutrients, such as calcium, B vitamins, potassium, and iron. They can also provide a boost of energy to fuel your body for a workout, or aid muscle repair after exercise. 

Vitamins – Vitamins and minerals are considered essential nutrients because they perform hundreds of roles in the body. They help strengthen bones, heal wounds, and boost your immune system. You can choose vitamins that focus on specific needs, like stress, beauty, or sleep.

Exercise

Being a student often means adopting a sedentary lifestyle because you’re constantly sitting in class, typing behind a laptop, or reading a textbook. You need to take care of your body if you want it to run efficiently. There’s a strong connection between your body and your mind; when caring for your body, you’ll think and feel better too. 

  • Yoga Mat – Regular yoga practice creates mental clarity and calmness, increases body awareness, relieves chronic stress, relaxes the mind, and sharpens concentration. 
  • Fitness Tracker – Smart fitness products can help you stay motivated and improve your health by tracking your activity, exercise, food, weight and sleep all in one place. 
  • Foam Roller – With the right equipment, foam rolling is a deep-tissue massage you can give yourself at home every single day. A cylinder of firm foam pushes up against sore muscles to loosen targeted areas, prevent injuries, and make you feel good both before and after working out.
  • Hot or Cold Compression Wrap – You can treat everything from pulled muscles to inflammation with ice packs or heating pads. Treating pain with hot and cold helps to increase blood flow, relax muscles, and relieve inflamed joints.

Take A Break

When studying or writing an essay, take regular breaks to refresh your brain and improve your focus. When we take a break, we’re not shirking responsibility; we’re taking care of ourselves so we’ll have the stamina to be our best.

Chronic stress can lead to decreased creativity, memory problems, and other issues, so a break in the stress cycle can lead to sharper thinking and increased creativity. Engage your senses in a relaxing activity. Eat your favorite snack, light a candle, take a warm shower/bath with your favorite bath products, or wrap yourself in a soft, cozy blanket. 

  • Essential Oil Diffuser – You can choose from a number of scents such as lavender and mint. Using a diffuser has a myriad of benefits – it can relieve stress, increase memory, boost energy levels, improve healing capabilities, alleviate headaches, and act as a sleep aid. 
  • eReader – Reading is an independent activity that can inspire, educate, and inform. Research conducted by the University of Sussex showed that reading decreases stress levels by 68%. It also helps reduce your heart rate and release muscle tension. 
  • Face Mask – Masks can help hydrate skin, remove excess oils and help improve the appearance of pores. Face masks can also be quite therapeutic – when infused with aromatic essential oils like mint and rosemary, a face mask can lift your spirit by stimulating your senses. 
  • Bath Bombs – A soak in the tub can boost your mind, help you wind down after a long day or soothe sore muscles. Bath bombs clean, deodorize, and repair skin, and strengthen blood vessels. The rejuvenating enzymes will leave you with healthier, younger looking skin.
  • Mental Health Apps – What’s one thing that tends to be with us no matter where we are? Our phones! Tap into some of these health apps that can provide you with tools for managing anxiety, stress, and even conflict.

Express Yourself

Self-care is more than physical health. It’s improving emotional and mental health as well. Encouraging ongoing mental wellness and experiencing creative and stimulating mental activities will provide you with the ability to discover, process, and evaluate your feelings more effectively. 

  • Journal – Journaling has many benefits for your mental and emotional wellness; it can boost your mood, increase self-awareness, and help clear your mind. Writing reduces stress as it helps individuals process their thoughts and emotions. It can help you think critically and review a situation in a different light.
  • Guided Self-Care Journal – Use a journal with guided prompts to promote self kindness, meditation, stress relief and gratitude. Practicing gratitude shifts your mindset from one of scarcity to one of abundance. Instead of feeling worried about what you’re lacking, you can turn your attention to appreciation for the things you already have.
  • Coloring Book – The act of coloring requires repetition and attention to detail, so you are able to focus on the activity, rather than your worries. This generates mindfulness and quietness, which allows your mind to get some rest after a long, stressful day. 
  • Sketchbook – Art is often used as a medium for therapy as it can help to reduce stress and act as a channel for expressing your feelings and emotions. If you have difficulty putting words to your feelings, art can help you understand them.

Meditate

Spiritual self-care doesn’t have to involve religion. It can involve anything that helps you develop a deeper sense of meaning, understanding, or connection with the universe. Whether you enjoy meditation, attending a religious service, or praying – spiritual self-care is important.

Meditation helps reduce negative energy in your life; this includes stress, anxiety, negative thoughts and worries. Research shows that meditation can help with anxiety and depression, chronic pain, heart disease and high blood pressure.

To get started, all you need is a few minutes each day. Find a quiet space and practice your breathing. Staying focused on your breath removes distractions, worries, and restlessness from the mind.

  • Meditation Pillow – A meditation pillow is designed to improve your spinal alignment, give you proper height, and provide a more comfortable and deeper meditation. This pillow will also relieve pressure from your back, ankles, and knees. 
  • Chakra Crystals – If you’re interested in aligning your chakras, try using chakra crystals. The gems interact with your body’s energy and chakras, and have the ability to improve your physical and emotional state. You can place them on different parts of your body or around your room. 
  • Himalayan Salt Lamp – True Himalayan salt lamps are made from salt harvested from the Khewra Salt Mine in Pakistan. Salt lamps provide health benefits because they are “natural ionizers,” meaning they change the electrical charge of the air. They can help to clean the air in your home, soothe allergies, boost your mood and help you sleep. 
  • Acupressure Mat – From Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupressure is a technique used to release blocked qi, or energy, throughout the body. Once these blockages are removed, pain may be reduced or completely alleviated. These mats can help find relief with back pain, tight or stiff muscles, stress and tension, and insomnia. 

Life can be hard sometimes, especially during college – but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it. 

The most important part of self-care is being kind to yourself. Don’t punish yourself for forgetting to go on a run or being too busy to sit down with a book! It’s more important that these changes are sustainable and nourishing, rather than feeling like a chore. 

Self-care encourages you to maintain a healthy relationship with yourself so that you can transmit the good feelings to others. You cannot give to others what you don’t have yourself. When you pay attention to your well-being, you’re not considering your needs alone. You’re reinvigorating yourself so that you can be the best version of yourself for the people around you. 

The more you can work self-care time into your schedule, the better you’ll be able to grow, enjoy your life, and thrive. So start today and keep it up – it won’t be long before you begin to feel the difference!  

Be sure to connect with us @ecampusdotcom on Twitter, Instagram, & Facebook for more resources, tips, and some great giveaways! And when it’s time for textbooks, eCampus.com has you covered for all your course material needs at savings up to 90%!

Why College Students Need Yoga

Why College Students Need Yoga

Why do college students need yoga? When anyone thinks of yoga, they immediately picture people doing headstands and breathing. Some people might think what really can you learn from it? Since I was eight years old, my mother had brought me to her yoga sessions and I have been hooked since then. Yoga is not only about learning to control your breathing or becoming more flexible (although those two things will improve), it can improve balance, decrease stress and reduce risks of heart disease. Here are the reasons college students need yoga.

Yoga Reduces Stress

Why College Students Need Yoga

One of the big reasons I think college students should do yoga is the stress management. Students are constantly stressed from all the homework, the student loan debts, to being overworked at jobs. Yoga provides an outlet to dealing with that stress instead of turning to vices like smoking or drinking. It lets your body and mind relax, clear your head and help you find solutions to problems.

Student Performance

Why College Students Need Yoga

There have been several studies showing that yoga can allow people to become a better student by enhancing focus and concentration skills. It is a way to improve self-awareness and breathing control. Just like how yoga can help you handle stress, it can help how the overall performance as a student.

Improve Your Attitude

Why College Students Need Yoga

One thing that I never fully believed when I was younger was how yoga can change your overall attitude and personality. In its own way, yoga can change the way your brain thinks. Not only can it reduce anxiety but change how the brain responds to emotions like fear and depression. Letting yoga change your attitude can change how your mindset on how you see everything else.

Yoga can be useful for all the reasons  above but one of the biggest reasons I do yoga is purely the feeling of happiness I get after a session. So if you’re struggling with concentration, depression, anxiety, poor grades, etc. during college, give yoga a try. Whether you’re taking yoga through a class at the gym or at home on a laptop, let yoga change you physically and emotionally. What do you have to lose?

8 Reasons to Run Outside

For many, running is one of the greatest pleasures in life. As children we learned to run by chasing our friends, playing sports, or running after pets. We ran because we could and because we wanted to, not simply because we needed to stay in shape. For some people this is still true, but for others reasons may be different. Whatever the reason you have for running, it is a great one. Running is one of the simplest forms of exercise, yet is also one of the best for you. Besides the obvious health effects that you can get from running, there are many other lucrative reasons why people should run, and run more! My personal preference is running outside.  Here are 8 reasons to run outside:

1. Change of Scenery

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If you, like me, aren’t a fan of running laps around a track, running outside may be your best option. Running outdoors gives you the chance to see things that you have never seen and take in views. It can make running much more enjoyable when you are able to run through nice and interesting areas, thus making what may initially be viewed as pure exercise a little more fun. Running outside also brings the added benefit of exposure to sunlight, which when managed correctly (wear appropriate sun protection) can bring lots of added health benefits such as increased Vitamin D!

2. Save Money

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Besides saving you trips to the doctor by improving your health and decreasing the risk of disease, running can help to save you valuable cash. Gym memberships can be very expensive, whereas running outside is a very inexpensive thing to do. Running only requires a pair of shoes which you would have needed to go the gym anyways!

3. Do it Anywhere

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One of the great advantages of running is that it can be done anywhere. All you need is land, which unless you live on a boat is all around you! Sometimes you don’t have the time to commit to driving to and from the gym along with the allotted time for your exercise. Running can easily be done in very small intervals, allowing for the maximization of your time. The ability to get up and go also is a bonus for people who may not have the motivation to get up and get to the gym. Simply having to put on clothes and shoes is much easier to do!

4. Improve your Brain and Body

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Studies have shown that regular exercise can boost the circulation and flow of nutrients and oxygen to the brain.  People who get out and run tend to have lower levels of stress, and thus have decreased risk of diabetes, heart attack, and other ailments. Running also lowers high blood pressure, making runners healthier overall than those who do not run. Cardiovascular disease is much lower in people who exercise regularly

5. Sleep Better

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For those who may have trouble sleeping, running can be a great cure. Running helps to reduce stress and anxiety, thus making falling asleep easier. Your body heat is also raised during a run, and when it drops down to normal post-run, this can make you tired which makes it easier to sleep. Many runners enjoy running at night or before they go to sleep, as an obvious effect of running is tiredness post-run.

6. Enjoy Others Company

reasons to run 6

One great advantage of running is that it can easily be done with a buddy. Running with friends is an easier way to get motivated to get up and go and can also improve your relationships. Exercising with someone else puts you both in a place where you may be healthier and have less stress. Less stress leads to an overall happier mood.  Running can also promote unity as setting running goals together or accomplishing benchmarks as a team can be a great feeling that can be shared.

7. Increase Stamina

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Running is also great because it allows you to increase your stamina. This will allow you to go further in subsequent runs and also will improve other aspects of your life. Other workouts at the gym or other places will be more bearable and you will be able to do more in your day without getting as tired. Although boosting your endurance and stamina can be difficult at first, the advantages of doing so are well worth the effort!

8. Give Yourself Time To Think

reasons to run 8

Although it may not be the first thing that pops to mind when you think of the advantages of running, the ability to think and be alone with ones thoughts is one of the greatest advantages that running outdoors has. Personally, I love being able to go on a long run as it gives me the chance to disconnect from the world and just be alone with my thoughts. Running past beautiful scenery and through interesting areas, you can easily forget all issues and think about what you want.

I hope that all of these reasons to run outside will inspire you to get there this summer and run!

Comment below with other great reasons you love to run outside! 

Fit and Flirty

We all know the importance of staying in shape, but sometimes keeping up with your workout schedule can be difficult when classes are in full swing. What’s a busy college student to do when hitting the gym isn’t an option? Read on for dorm friendly workouts to keep you ahead of the game.

1. Burpees

FF7-Burpees (1)

Burpees are the Monday of exercises: everyone hates them. Literally everyone. But this doesn’t negate the fact that they are extremely effective as well as convenient because they can be done in a very small space such as a dorm room. Try different variations to suit your fitness level. Add a pushup in the middle of the burpee and a jump at the end!

2. Pushups

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According to webmd.com, the push-up is considered by many fitness experts to be the “perfect exercise” because many muscles between your shoulders to your toes are engaged. Since the push-up is a resistance exercise, you are also building bone strength as well as muscle strength.

3. Squats and Lunges

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Squats and lunges are arguably the only two exercises you need to build lower body strength. As long as you’ve got the proper form, these two exercises will become your best friend.

4. Jumping Rope and Jumping Jacks

FF4-jumping rope

Running is fantastic but when you don’t have the space, a more convenient cardio session can be completed with jumping rope. If you don’t have enough space for jumping rope, try jumping jacks. Mix up your jumping jacks a little by adding a squat to each one!

5. Crunches and Toe Crunches

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Crunches reign as the universal default ab exercise and for good reason: they’re easy, effective, and don’t require a gym membership! To target your lower abs, try adding in toe touches to your workout!

How do you stay in shape in a small living space? Let us know in the comments below!

10 Ways to Fight Summer Boredom

We all know that when it comes summer and everything is winding down, it can be pretty easy to slip into the feeling of not wanting to do anything.  However, once you’ve arrived at that point, it doesn’t take long until not doing anything morphs into being bored.  While it is perfectly acceptable to feel that you have deserved a break after duking it out with the school year, don’t let too much of a “good” thing bore you down!  Try some of these ideas to still maintain the freedom of a vacation, but also keep your summer exiting and memorable.

1. Travel

Planning a fun road trip with some high school friends, or perhaps college friends who live nearby, is a great option and relatively inexpensive if you split the gas cost amongst four or five people.  Another alterative could be driving to visit other friends a few cities away, which then provides you with a place to stay overnight without having to pay hotel/motel fees.  Or, if you’ve decided to save up for a travel splurge, going abroad or flying domestically – either to tour or visit friends – is very rewarding and calls for a great way to spend some of your vacation.

2. Get a Job

While working isn’t always the ideal way to spend a summer, the money racked in can more than make up for it.  A summer job doesn’t necessarily have to be related to retail or food service.  There are a lot of opportunities to make good money but also enjoy what you’re doing (but that’s not to say that some retail and food service jobs will never meet that criteria!).  Working at a day camp or water park is a good option if you like working with kids.  You can serve either as a counselor or a lifeguard, be able to relax in the sun all day, but still earn your keep.  Babysitting is another viable option if you have the qualifications and the ability to reach out to your community as a trusted sitter.

3. Do Some Summer Cleaning

If you’re one of those people (like me!) who enjoy cleaning out that cluttered basement or garage, take on one of those projects this summer.  It’s a great way to be on your feet and concentrate on a worthwhile task at the same time.  Once the space is cleared, you can even decorate and make the place more “live-able”—who knows, you might have just created a new summer hangout spot!  Even better, your parents may offer to pay you a small sum for the service.

4. Make Some Money off of Your Clutter

Once you’ve cleaned out that living space, you’re probably going to find a lot of old furniture/toys/clothing that you don’t really need anymore (or didn’t even remember having as a kid!).  Talk it over with your parents and see if a garage sale might not be a bad idea.  Other options for your nicer furnishings are to take them to a consignment store in your area.  These stores will typically accept and display your belongings on the storefront for a specified amount of time (perhaps 60-90 days on average) and cut you part of the profits if they sell.  Many other thrift stores will pay you cash on the spot for your items (usually in the clothing and toys category).  Hop online and type in those keywords and your zip code to find such places near you.

5. Earn Money by Taking Surveys

On those slow days when you’re not sure what to do, and feel like making some extra cash, enroll in a few online survey websites that pay you by check or by PayPal for the redemption of a certain amount of points.  This is fun if you already love sharing your opinion.  However, always check first to make sure the site is legitimate (there are scams out there, after all).  The best way to do this is by searching for reviews online by people who have used the site, and likewise by checking the Better Business Bureau website for accreditation.  Once you find the right survey site, you can take multiple questionnaires that may award you points immediately so that the site knows what kind of surveys to match you up with.  It is also recommended by survey takers that you join multiple panels to yield better results and increase the amount of surveys that you qualify for (you will screen out after the first few questions if your answers don’t match the type of person the survey giver wants).  Despite that, if you put the time and effort into it, you can rack up enough points that can be redeemed for a cash payout, or other type of reward.  Just make sure you understand how each site regulates their points/payout system, and you’re good to go!  You won’t get rich off of this by any means, but you may make some spending money.

6. Take on a Crafting Project

I’m also one of those people who love being creative.  One of my early summer projects this month was making a T-shirt quilt out of some old shirts I found shoved into the back of my dresser.  Seeing as I already had sewing materials, the shirts, and one black throw blanket to sew them onto, it only cost me approximately $15 to complete:  $10 for another black throw to sew as the back of the quilt, and $5 for some quilt batting from the local crafting store.  It’s an excellent way to keep yourself busy and make something useful at the same time!

7. Exercise

Whether it’s joining a local gym for the summer, jogging around the neighborhood, or exercising at home, keeping active is a great way to avoid gaining weight during a summer of being stagnant, and to promote positive energy and self-esteem.  Exercising outside especially helps you to get a safe amount of sun (as long as you monitor how long you’re outside and make sure to wear sunscreen) and release more endorphins.  Make it a group activity when you can as well.  Exercising in a social setting can make the act of exercising in itself more enjoyable and doable.  And in the end, who doesn’t want to come back to school in the fall looking their best?

8. Attend a Seminar or Workshop

If there’s something you’re really interested in but don’t have time to pursue at school, summer is the perfect opportunity to let that interest take hold.  If you like art or writing, for example, take some summer writing workshops or art classes that may be offered at your local library or on a nearby school’s campus.  Explore something you’ve always wanted to try, but just never had the time to.

9. Explore the City

I never knew how many attractions were available in my own hometown until after I had already gone away to college.  When I came home for my first summer, many of my college friends who were also from my hometown (but had attended other high schools), showed me a wide array of places I had never been to.  Keep an eye out for areas of town that have great restaurants, bars, and clubs for that fun Friday night with your friends—but also check for some good theatre, museums, and concerts that you may have never known existed.  Larger city parks (like, for me, Forest Park in St. Louis) usually house more than one of these attractions, so just by traveling to one area you can discover a multitude of fun activities.  But as always, remember to stay in a group if you’re in an unfamiliar part of town.  Be safe—while also being classy!

10. Take Some “You” Time!

While it’s great to have an eventful summer, remember to relax and focus on you.  Some alone time can be a good thing.  Keep a journal, decorate your room, shop around the mall—do something that you enjoy that doesn’t necessarily have to be done with other people all the time.

Your entire summer shouldn’t be limited to these ten things, but the most important concept is making sure that you maintain an active summer but also get that feeling of elation.  After all, you did make it through that school year; perhaps you didn’t get all the grades you wanted, or perhaps you were more stressed out than you would have liked.  But regenerating over the summer can certainly lead to a more positive school year in the fall.  The more relaxed and prepared you are for the upcoming semester, the more successful you will be.