sleep

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%!

Thanks, College.

Common real-world skills we learned at college, in or out of the classroom.

  1. Parallel parking: If you’re from the city this might not apply to you, or if you don’t have a car. For those of us from the suburbs or country with a car on campus, we learned to parallel park soon after arriving to college.  This skill comes in handy often when travelling home, to the city, or on vacation.  It also widens your parking possibilities in any situation.
  2. Tolerance for extreme temperatures: As the weather gets colder, we adapt to walking across campus in the cold, with the wind blowing through our layers of jackets and long-johns. We learn in our first semesters to bundle up and forget about being cute.
  3. Independence: Whether you were looking forward to this or not, you become more independent in college. You have to if you go to college more than about an hour away from home.  You (hopefully) learn how to do your laundry, budget your money, clean your room without being prompted, and study and do homework on your own free will.
  4. Time management: Sometimes, it takes people their whole college careers to get this down, but everyone learns throughout their college life how important time management is. Some people know the importance of it and still choose to manage their time badly.  You have to balance classes, studying, work, friends, sleep, eating, and mental health.  Usually this “balance” involves giving up one or more of these things, which one depends on your priorities.
  5. Multi-tasking: You may have been good at this before college, but you’ll be a master by the time you graduate. Multitasking can look like many things: eating while you work, study, or walk to class, taking homework to work, or considering meeting with a study group to be hanging out with friends.

 

We learn a lot in college that may have nothing to do with our degrees, but these skills or pieces of knowledge are just as important as the information we learn in class.  What are some skills you’ve learned in college that have become useful in real life?  What are you most thankful for?

Why Do Younger People Require More Sleep?

As we age, you may have noticed your ability to run on less and less sleep. Back in elementary school, we used to relish in nap time and those early bedtimes (sometimes in summer the sun would still be just setting when I was sent to bed…I just stayed up reading for a good hour). Now, anyone who goes to bed before midnight is considered lucky and if you fall asleep before 11, it’s just assumed you pulled an all-nighter or something previously. We love to stay up late and do our thing, but we also complain about being tired. Fortunately for us, we don’t need as much sleep as our younger selves did.

In a study by Elizabeth Klerman of Brigham and Women’s Hospital & Harvard Medical School in 2008, it was found younger people get on average 9 hours of sleep while adults get 7.5—all participants were in bed in the dark for 16 hours.  Thus, Klerman and her colleagues concluded that older people simply need less sleep. Older people (which she clarifies as 60 and above) take longer to fall asleep. Klerman also found that the younger people in the study, however, slept more than they normally would allow for themselves. Therefore, she concluded younger people aren’t sleeping as much as they should.

But these sleeping patterns aren’t as controllable as we think. Staying up all night or falling asleep in class is not just because of pressures put on the body to stay awake. Younger people have a different clock than adults—scientifically known as the circadian rhythm. Studies have found that around the teenage years, this “clock” of our day-to-day activities changes so one falls asleep later at night and wants to wake up later too. It is believed this change in rhythm is caused by the brain’s later release of melatonin, a hormone linked to the body’s sleep schedule, thus making it difficult to fall asleep earlier. Tack this biological change onto all the schoolwork that piles up over the years, the start of all-nighters to get everything done and perhaps taking on jobs and internships, too, it’s no wonder we always feel so sleep deprived!

Another study lead by Derk-Jan Dirjk, professor of sleep and psychology at the University of Surrey in 2009, revealed that part of healthy aging is the requirement for less sleep. They found that the 20-30 group slept 7.23 hours, 40-55ers slept 6.83 hours and the 66-83 group slept 6.51 hours during a night with 8 hours in bed (though they said this isn’t necessarily “normal”). The study did, however, show researchers that older people being tired during the day is abnormal and can be a sign of a sleep disorder. The nature and conditions of sleep are still mostly at large and it is still indefinite how much sleep a person truly needs. These studies have brought a lot of new information to light so far.

So should you be worried that you don’t get nearly as much sleep as your little brother? Not at all! While there are many mysteries surrounding sleep, various studies have shown it’s only natural to get less when you’re older (though they aren’t necessarily taking the late night cramming sessions into account). But, just because you don’t need as much sleep as you did back in the day, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your best to be well rested. A sleep deficit will not only impact where you fall on the cranky scale, but it will start to impact those grades. Just because your body can function on less sleep, doesn’t mean you should experiment with your sleep schedule and try to run on less and less nightly z’s. Your social and academic lives aren’t the only things at risk. The National Institutes of Health cited young adults, ages 12 to 25, to be of “high risk in sleepiness” which can cause them to face injuries or even death from a lapse in attention or quick response—like falling asleep at the wheel.

Ultimately, whether you are an older person who can sleep in late or only sleeps 6 hours every night, the most important thing to keep in mind is staying healthy. The better you sleep and take care of yourself the less dangers you and others will face and the happier the world can be. The Beatles said all you need is love, but I think sleep is just as important.

Sweet dreams, friends!

-ToonyToon

I’m reading Humanities Through the Arts

Make Your Sleep More Productive

It’s been a while since I’ve had a real “bedtime”, but the further along I go in college, the more I think I need to set one. It becomes difficult to get a goodnight’s sleep when you’re on the go, doing assignments, and running at full speed as most us college co-eds often do! So how can you prioritize and make sure you are getting the right amount of Z’s and at the right time?

It seems all too often that I’m wide awake at night, scurrying to get a paper done or finishing a quick project. By the time I’m done studying and putting things away and ready for the next day, the clock has long since struck 12 and the wee hours of the morning are upon me. So how do I get in that mess? How do I let the hours slip away? By going to sleep so late and not paying attention to time my sleeping hasn’t been as productive. I wake up tired, go to bed full of energy, and wake up to what feels like a never ending cycle of “nap desire”—the constant desire to take a nap wherever I’m standing!

I’m working to change this cycle and have been changing things up to make my sleeping habits better, and hopefully add a few hours to my sleep chart! I have done a few things that actually made an instant difference!

Do you remember when you were little and your mom or dad would say, “Jimmy make sure you get your stuff ready the night before! Lay out your books, pick out your outfit!” Well it looks like mom may have been right! By getting organized and preparing for the day to come—especially on Sunday right before the school week starts—you will save countless minutes in the morning! You know what that means, extra snooze time!

There are numerous benefits to getting organized pre-slumber—besides just extra sleep time in the morning. Deep down it makes us all happy to hit the button one more time. Who doesn’t love 10 more minutes of uninterrupted sleep?! But other major perks include a smoother sleep transition. By getting ready the night before you are reliving unconscious stress that builds when you have a lot on your mind. It’s never fun to climb into bed and have to worry about everything going on tomorrow. You don’t want to try and figure out what books you’ll need, or if you finished something you were supposed to do! Sleep is supposed to be stress free. By taking a few minutes to lay everything out, you are freeing up that space to just relax and enjoy the act of sleeping.

Now as helpful as organization can be, another good habit to get used to just checking the time. If you know you’ve been hitting the hay a little on the late side, make it a point to get to bed a little earlier. Try moving up your “bedtime” by 5 minutes each night. Before you know it you will be getting in bed a half hour earlier, and then an hour the next week. It makes a huge difference when you get to unwind and just lay down knowing you have all night to rest.

A few more tips to try if you’re really in the sleeping mood, are eating habits. Let your stomach settle and try not to eat an hour or so before you go to sleep. Stick to water and make sure you aren’t crazy and running around. Get your body ready to unwind and slow your roll. Try to calm your activities and get into a sleep routine. Don’t use your phone in bed. When you set your alarm, set it for real! Say goodnight, and actually mean it! Once your lights are off, keep your phone light off too! You start to stir your mind again and then you have to get back in “sleep mode”. It might seem like you’ll miss out on something, but I’ve found that texts are more exciting to wake up to rather than hazily attempting to read them in the dark!

Give these tips a try and see if you are a happier sleeper, or if you can at lest get a few extra hours of Z time in!

-Ring Queen

I’m reading Learning About Dance: Dance as an Art Form and Entertainment

If You Want To Be, It Is Possible to Become A Morning Person

Back in my elementary school days, being a morning person came easily. I remember waking up at 6 or 7 am in order to hang out with my older siblings. But with each new grade, getting up early became more and more of a nightmare. By the time I was in high school and had to be ready by 7 am every day, I thought I would never be energized again.

In college, we have the luxury of making our own schedules. Though I still tend to go for the early side so I’m not stuck in class until 9 pm, many students opt to start classes in the afternoon and not finish until it’s dark outside. While it might be nice to sleep in, we need to prepare ourselves for the inevitable real world where we’ll need to be at work in the early hours of the day.

Have no fear! You can be a morning person without having to sacrifice sleep or going to bed when your grandparents do. Many of you may feel like you’re a night owl: at night, you’re most productive and motivated. Maybe for you all-nighters are a norm. While it’s great you’re getting your work done, wasting an entire day and having to spend your nights working will not only mess up your social life, but will get you in a bad groove for the 9-5 job you’ll likely have one day. So, it’s time to embrace the daylight.

Tip #1: Wake Up at the Same Time Every Day
It may sound simple enough, but waking up at the same time each morning, including the weekend, can be a tough habit to get into. Setting your alarm for 8 am every day and actually getting up when it sounds will take getting used to. At first, your body will protest. Your fingers will inch toward the snooze button and your eyes will immediately shut themselves again. But the more you force yourself to get up at the alarm, the easier it will be. Better yet, the more regularly you get up at this time, the easier it will be for you to fall asleep at the same reasonable hour every night. You can even make this step easier by gradually changing your rise time, pushing it forward 15 minutes every few days until you reach the desired wake up call.

Tip #2: Lights On
You know those days when you’re laying in bed after a long night, and the afternoon sun just won’t stop glaring through the windows, effectively keeping you from sleep? Well, now you can no longer curse the sun—or your regular bedroom light—because it is key in becoming a morning person. Light helps control our sleep schedules: we (hopefully) feel more tired when it’s dark, and the light starts to make us alert and awake. By either leaving your blinds open when you sleep, or putting a light on right away, this will effectively help keep you awake so you can begin your day.

Tip #3: No Late Night Coffee or Food Binges
Though as college students facing high stress especially during exams, a midnight snack shouldn’t turn into a 3-course meal—and if you want to wake up early, you probably shouldn’t be eating at midnight anyway. Eating large meals late at night will only keep you up longer, as will any Red Bulls or coffee runs. Save coffee for the morning and large meals for during the day and dinner time. This tip will also help you avoid the freshman-but-let’s-be-realistic-anyone-can-gain-weight-in-college 15.

Tip #4: Make Yourself Work To Turn Off the Alarm
By putting your alarm in another room (only do this if it is super loud) or on a desk on the opposite side of the bedroom, you will have no choice but to get out of bed to turn it off. Just like that, you’re a little more energized, a little more awake, and have no choice but to start the day. If you share a room with a roommate, this will further encourage you to get up right away to turn off the persistent ringing—unless you hate your roommate, in which case, you’re on your own.

Tip #5: Think Soothing
When it gets close to bedtime, you need to go into super relaxed mode. No more stressing and thinking about all the to-do’s of tomorrow. No getting caught up in a super lengthy movie that makes you more awake. No exercise that gives you an adrenaline and temperature boost. Instead, it’s all about the calm serene of peaceful sleep. Get a sound machine to lull your eyes closed. Meditate or try some relaxing yoga to ease the mind and relax the body. Take a soothing bath. Do whatever you need to so your eyes are drooping and your mind is quiet.

The road could be long and hard, but don’t give up on your ventures to become a morning person. It is doable and will lead to long, happy days of productivity and fun. Good luck and sweet dreaming!

-ToonyToon

I’m reading Understanding Nursing Research: Building an Evidence-Based Practice