meditation

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%!

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!

To Survive or to Thrive: College Edition

Children are unapologetic about what they love; they are passionate and even obsessive. My childhood obsession was with archaeology; I read about the sarcophagi in Egypt thrive - childhood dreamsand the ruins in Pompeii. I dreamt that ancient bones and artifacts were still buried under my feet, just waiting for me to uncover them. Unfortunately, the dreams we have as children often fall away and are replaced with the pessimistic, “adult” mindset deemed necessary for the “real world.”

My dream of becoming an archaeologist was set aside, and I spent my high school trying to live up to an arbitrary definition of success. Adults stress the importance of “success;” they do not explain–and may not even understand– that this term is relative. I was told I needed to get into a good college in order to get a good job, and thus I set aside my “silly” childhood dreams.

By the time I entered college, I was used to the system; I understood that if I wanted to be successful, I had to manage my busy schedule and dedicate myself to my studies. Although I was a hard-working student, I felt like I was losing something; I was slowly forgetting the passion that I once felt for learning. By the time students enter college, they resemble machines; they are programmed to manage their classwork, jobs, and social lives. Time for rest and reflection are rare. We are always busy, and thus we grow distanced from our thoughts and ourselves. Like many of my fellow students, I grew detached from my true passions; I lost sight of what I really wanted.

Many students handle their academic and social stresses by simply going through the motions; attending classes and social events because we think we are “supposed to.” I tried to follow the example set by my peers, but, by sophomore year, I could see it was not working for me. I learned that it was better to let something go than to pretend. Instead of taking a class I was  not interested in simply because it looked impressive, I began taking classes that my childhood self calls out for– the class that reminds me of forgotten dreams.  If you simply pretend and go through the motions during college, it is likely that you will continue this habit after graduation. If you decide not to major in what you love because you are told it won’t make you “successful,” you will grow distanced from yourself. One day, you may forget who you are and what you truly love.

If we drop some of the tasks we feel we are “supposed to” complete, we become closer to ourselves and learn to understand who we are. When we are faced with a stressor, it is the way we respond to it that brings us closer to our true selves. In turn, we learn to love ourselves rather obsess over what is temporary. What is temporary includes both academic and social stresses, as well as our bodies. If we maintain perspective, we see that many of our worries are not worth dwelling on.thrive - college routine

If we want to truly love ourselves and become happy, successful adults, we must practice moderation. In school, we are forced to navigate two extremes. We are told to stay committed and work hard in order to succeed and make money. A nagging voice is often in the back of our minds, telling us we have no time to lose. The other extreme is a voice that tells us we are powerless and inadequate; it tempts us to give up. Our childhood fantasies are looked back at as silly dreams. We must navigate these extremes if we want to nurture our souls and stay grounded. Conflict forces us to either go through the motions or to reflect. We must reflect and force ourselves into consciousness. This creates an intimacy and honesty within ourselves. If we want to find the career that makes us happy, we must both love and learn with our whole hearts. 

thrive - meditation

If we do not practice moderation, we often end up neglecting our mental and physical health. I use the app “Headspace” in order to check in with myself and stay focused on what truly matters. The app is described as “a gym membership for the mind.” Just like you train your body, you can train your mind. The app allows you ten days of free meditation. Using this app, I have slowly been learning how to clear my mind. By taking ten minutes each day to focus on my mental health, I have become more in touch with myself and what I really want. I have cut out activities that I was simply doing because I saw other students participating. I have learned that sometimes, the most productive thing I can do is to spend time alone and to not stretch myself too thin. My favorite meditation sessions focus on self-love. It is so easy to forget to congratulate yourself on what you have done, especially when you always have a new assignment or exam coming up. Being mindful of the present moment has allowed me to put things in perspective. During every meditation, I remind myself of all that I have to be grateful for and all that I have accomplished thus far.

Last weekend, I finally saw the ruins at Pompeii. During this experience, my heart was aching; I kept thinking about my childhood dreams and the love I had for archaeology. I let these dreams go because I believed they were unrealistic;  no one understood why I wanted to be an archeologist. I felt defeated. Through practicing both moderation and meditation, I have learned how to let things go; I have learned to focus on what I love and to disregard what others expect of me. Though I regret that I was defeated so easily by the pressures of adulthood, my experience in Pompeii reminded me that it is often the ideas and subjects you obsess over as a child that are the most true; the dreams we have as children never really die. The clean, “perfect” plan college students feel forced to follow is nothing but an act. If we keep on acting rather than living, we risk never truly understanding ourselves or what we want out of life. We must decide whether we will simply try to survive, or whether we will choose to thrive.