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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%!

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

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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

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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! 

Simple Ways to Live a Healthier Life!

We all want to be healthier but not all of us want to make big sacrifices to reach this goal. I may be able to help you out. Read these simple ways to live a healthier life!

1. Switch to Whole Grains.

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Everyone loves carbs, but a lot of the ones many of us eat everyday are not great for you. Instead of white bread, go for whole wheat or multigrain bread. Instead of white rice, go for brown rice, quinoa, or wild rice. Whole grains have much more nutritional value and have tons of health benefits including heart health, reduced risk of cardiovascular and heart diseases, and slower digestion (which is good for lessening blood sugar spikes!) It’s actually quite easy to just substitute whole grains where you would normally eat refined grains without a massive change in your meals.

2. Go Carb-Free for One Meal a Day.

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This is typically easiest to do at breakfast. Go for things low in fat and high in protein, such as fat free yogurt or eggs. If you’re worried about the cholesterol in eggs, use one regular egg and the rest egg whites. You’ll still get the protein benefits with less of the cholesterol that comes with the yolk. For the yogurt option, you can go for a fat-free yogurt or low calorie Greek yogurt and then add fresh fruit and some chia seeds. Chia seeds are a super food with lots of protein, Omega-3s, and soluble fiber. They don’t really have a flavor so you can add them to lots of things for added nutrients! You can also incorporate the yogurt option into a smoothie with frozen fruit.

3.Eat More Soluble Fibers.

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Soluble fiber is better for you than insoluble fiber because it dissolves into the water in your body to create a viscous liquid/gel that prevents some of the fat and sugar in your food from absorbing, which can help reduce cholesterol or maintain healthy levels of cholesterol. It also helps to prevent your risk of diabetes. You can find soluble fiber in foods such as apples, oat bran, chia seeds, beans, barley, and sweet potatoes.

 4. Incorporate Regular Exercise into Your Routine.

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Take advantage of the gyms you have on campus. Try to go 3-4 times a week and find a fitness routine that you like and can manage. Do a mixture of cardio and weight training. Maybe get on the elliptical for a half hour and then head over to the free weights and resistance bands. If the gym isn’t your thing, try doing outdoor activities like jogging, hiking, biking, etc. You can even find guided workouts on YouTube if you’d rather exercise in your room! Just find something that works for you and stick with it. Eventually you’ll see results and you’ll be able to work up to more intense workouts. Go at your own pace, be safe, and don’t do more than you can handle. You’ll get to where you want to be eventually, so take it slow and build from there!

Healthy Broccoli and Pasta Casserole Recipe!

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This is a recipe for a delicious casserole that can be made in a surprisingly healthy way.  Now that we are heading into the colder months, you might be craving some heavier comfort food and this will definitely satisfy that!  This is also a proven crowd pleaser even amongst the pickiest of eaters and while it is vegetarian friendly, meat eaters will love it too!

The trick to making this casserole more health conscious is to pick your ingredients wisely.  I usually go for low-carb pasta (whole wheat would work as well) and Smart Balance instead of butter.  This really cuts down on the calories!  A great low carb pasta is made by Dreamfields and can be found in many grocery stores.  For the broccoli I find that using frozen broccoli florets work best with this dish.

So here we go…

Ingredients

1 box low-carb pasta

1 package frozen broccoli

1 tub of Smart Balance (you won’t use all of it!)

1 package/tube of grated Parmesan cheese (again, you won’t use all of it!)

Directions

  1. Put water in a pot and bring to a boil.  Toss in pasta and cook for 8-10 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350.
  3. Put several chunks of Smart Balance and the frozen broccoli in a frying pan over medium to high heat and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Once done, drain your pasta and put it into an oven-safe casserole dish/bowl.  Then put several more (as much as you like) chunks of Smart Balance onto the pasta and stir.  Pour in your broccoli and stir until evenly distributed.
  5. Sprinkle on about ½ – ¾ cup of grated cheese and stir again.
  6. Put it into the oven for 10-15 minutes, until the top looks a bit crispy.
  7. Take out and serve.

Getting Sick Without Mommy

Taking care of yourself is one of the many things you’ll need to worry about when you leave for college. Making sure you have all the necessary tips for prevention during the cold and flu season as well as habits for optimal health can keep you looking and feeling wonderful throughout the school year.

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How to prevent illness:

  • Wash your hands regularly- This is common knowledge as the first way to prevent the spread of germs.
  • Keep your hands out of your mouth, nose and eyes- germs are easily spread through contact with
  • Tissues, Tissues, Tissues- use them to open doors in the bathroom to keep hands clean as well as wiping your mouth (as opposed to using your hand, gross!) and catching a sneeze.
  • Have Vitamin C handy- Luckily, you can get your daily dose of Vitamin C through orange juice, oranges, and lozenges. Halls makes tasty Vitamin C drops that not only boosts the immune system but also sooths sore throats.
  • Hand Sanitizer- some areas at your college will have stations with free standing hand sanitizer machines. If you are unable to get to a bathroom to wash your hand, the next best thing is your own personal hand sanitizer. It will kill most of the germs on contact.

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If you unfortunately come down with the common cold, fever, or the dreaded flu, there are certain steps that you can take to get better quickly.

  • Drink plenty of fluids- liquids will help replace some of the fluids lost due to a fever or other ailment.
  • Sleep and rest as much as possible- the body needs time to recuperate and while you sleep, your body works to heal itself.
  • Take over the counter pain relievers- this can include Tylenol or Advil. It’s helpful for reducing fever, pain and body aches.
  • Eat and drink healthy- you can help your body recover by boosting the immune system to fight the infection. Tea, especially green tea, with organic local honey (for nutritional benefits) will sooth your throat and help heal the body.

It’s important to note that not all infections can be treated in this manner. Only illnesses that are bacterial need antibiotics prescribed for your doctor. Unfortunately for viral infections, you will need time for your body to fight them naturally.