stress

Link Love: Clean Eating Tips and Resources

clean-eating-someecard2Happy Friday, readers! I hope everyone has had a fabulous week – I know I did. :) On Wednesday, I finished a 30-day clean eating program called the Whole 30 (see website here for more details), which requires you to eliminate dairy, sugar/sweeteners, grains, legumes and many processed foods from your diet to improve your overall health. Although I don’t often write about nutrition and dieting, I have wanted to kick a lot of bad food habits out of my life for a long time.

Last month, I embarked on the Whole 30 program, and over the next 30 days, I improved my eczema and asthma, increased my energy levels by a lot and even lost 10 pounds, thanks to eating right and avoiding some of the nasty chemicals found in a lot of addictive junk food.

I shared parts of my journey on Instagram, where I received a lot of positive feedback. During this time, I have also received a lot of questions from friends about eating clean and where I found a lot of my recipes. I am not an expert by any means, but I have learned a lot and am thankful for all of the great resources I found online. This week, I would like to share those with you!

What are some of your favorite clean eating websites? What tips or recipes do you have for any of these programs? Have you ever tried the Whole 30 program?

Link Love Wednesday: And So It Begins!

cat-office-internet-comic-640Happy Wednesday, everyone! Today marks the first day of May, and in honor of the new month, I am rolling out a brand new feature on this blog: Link Love Wednesdays! It’s the middle of the week – couldn’t you use a little pick-me-up? Every Wednesday, I will post links to articles/lists/blogs/etc. that piqued my interest that week, and share them with each of you. Have you read anything great this week?

Enjoy the links!

What Senior Year of College Really Feels Like

I’m reaching the end of my second-to-last semester as an undergrad, and it seems that almost everyone I know (myself included) is going through a major quarter-life crisis. This year has brought with it a mix of emotions for many of us that are unlike anything we’ve experienced before, as we urgently question what we want to do when we graduate and struggle with the idea of what it means to grow up.

Often in high school, senior year ultimately boils down to a prom dress, a few questionable hairstyles, a last-minute SAT exam, the wait to hear back from college admissions, and the hope that your one guy “friend” will decide he’s crazy about you and, in a gesture as grand as any high schooler can imagine, send you carnations on Valentine’s Day. (Later on, of course, you forget the exact breakdown of your SAT scores, discover that your high school crush was interested in men the entire time, and recognize that prom was never a defining moment in your life as pop culture would claim it to be.) Although it feels incredibly important and all-consuming at the time, senior year of high school eventually fades into a distant memory that you’ll later claim to have hated all along.

College, meanwhile, becomes an exciting time of self-discovery and opportunity. You meet the friends who make you feel infinite, join organizations, and attempt to figure out what you’re good at and how to develop yourself professionally. You still fall for the types of guys your parents warned you about when you were in high school, only now they own suits and are a little harder to identify at first glance.

Senior year is a new ballpark, because while college itself is a glamorous night downtown with your best friends, senior year is a mess of emotions and scribbled-out schedules and lunch plans canceled in favor of finishing that last paper. Senior year is that moment when you realize that you might be too old to wear heart-shaped sunglasses or your Holly Golightly tiara in public, but you still store them in your closet with the quiet hope that maybe you can put them on one day when no one is looking. It’s the time when you stop accepting the advances of guys who only text you after 10 p.m. because – dammit – you’re an intelligent, complex individual who deserves to be taken to a nice restaurant or museum once in a while. Your most used topics of conversation with friends, family, acquaintances and the guy in the checkout counter at Publix? 1. Post-graduate plans (or lack thereof); 2. Where to buy business casual clothing; 3. “I AM SO STRESSED OUT RIGHT NOW.” In fact, your stress is both a source of pride and a source of grief for you.

I firmly believe that senior year of college comes with all of this craziness because it is a time of transition in our lives. We are uncertain of what the future holds, so we start to look backward with a mix of nostalgia and regret as we attempt to decipher the past four years of our lives. Perhaps four years from now we will look back at college in the same superficial snapshots with which we look back at our high school years today. Perhaps we’ll wake up one day and things will suddenly make sense, or maybe we’ll simply need to do a little more self discovery to figure out what it is we were meant to do.

From one college student to the next: I hope you are surviving your senior year and cherishing every memorable moment it has to offer.

The Freshman 15: Mid-Semester Motivation Tips

Can anyone believe it’s almost March? As so many of us find ourselves inundated with midterms, essays and appointments, we sometimes forget how to cope with our hectic workloads and instead allow the chaos to overcome us. While some of us may become complacent and decide we just don’t care how we score on that psych exam, others feel completely overwhelmed and buried by all of our stressors.

For February’s Freshman 15, I will discuss just a few ways to tackle that mid-semester slump and remain motivated throughout the year. Feel free to add your own in the comments section below!

The Freshman 15: Mid-Semester Motivation Tips

1. Stop telling yourself (and everyone else!) how stressed you are.
First of all, stress isn’t always a bad thing – in fact, it gives us that “fight or flight” response that allows us to act in emergency situations! A little bit of stress is good because it helps us perform to the best of our abilities. Second of all, although too much stress can be harmful, chances are that when you complain about it, you’re only making it worse. The more that you tell your friends (who most likely have a lot on their plates as well!) that you’re “stressed out,” the more that you hear those words in your own mind and the more stressed out you become.

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2. Reassess what you want.
During the fall semester of my freshman year, life wasn’t easy. Not only was I constantly sick, but I was in the middle of muddling through my general education requirements, many of which were not of interest to me. In fact, although I had a soft spot for my speech class, I had trouble feeling enthusiastic about any of the classes I was taking, in part because I didn’t have an end goal (a major) in mind. Once I finally chose a major to stick with, I found myself much more excited to go to classes and learn about the subjects I wanted to learn. Moral of the story? Choose a major that you’re going to be happy with. If your gen ed requirements are completed and you still dread going to classes, perhaps it is time to choose a new major.

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3. Cut something out of your schedule.
Grades should come first. If you find yourself so over-extended on extracurricular activities that you’ve worn yourself thin, it’s time to cut back and prioritize what activity is the most important to you. So many of us don’t know when to say “no” because we’re so excited about the myriad of opportunities we have in college, but it is better to do a few things well than to do many things halfheartedly.

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4. Discover a new hobby.
When I think of people with a lot of stress in their lives, Harry Potter always comes to mind. After all, his only surviving relatives despise him, he is constantly in detention, his Potions professor is out to get him (or so he thinks) and every year he has to save the world from the wrath of Voldemort. Harry’s friends provide some solace in his life, but when he hits the Quidditch pitch on his Firebolt broomstick, Harry is at peace (except, of course, when someone tries to bewitch his broomstick or send Dementors after him during a game). The point is – we all need a break, whether we find it in a game of Quidditch or a DIY project. If you don’t already have something that calms you down, find something. Too many hobbies will make you a little eccentric, but one great one will help you ease your mind when you have time to take a break.

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5. Change your scenery.
Sometimes when you’re in one place for too long, you become a little stir crazy. That’s why it’s important to change it up every so often! I tend to study in my room, but if it’s a beautiful sunny day outside, I might bring my textbooks out to the garden at school just for something different. Whether you relocate to Starbucks, the library or a hilltop, you will surely feel invigorated by your new surroundings.

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6. Give thanks.
You may be thinking that this has nothing to do with motivation, but ever since I started this gratitude challenge back in mid-January, I have felt infinitely happier and more inspired than ever. By writing down five things you are thankful for each night before you go to bed, you are challenging yourself to find the good in a sometimes bad day, and you begin to put your own problems into perspective. Try it!

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7. Surround yourself with positive people.
It’s hard to be optimistic when everyone you encounter is constantly whining about how difficult everything is. Find friends who know how to look at the glass half full – you can always learn from those people, and their happiness is usually contagious. Life is too short to be grumpy.

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8. Ditch the social media.
Studies reveal that using Facebook while studying tends to result in lower grades. You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to know that liking your friends’ statuses and browsing pictures from last weekend’s party will not help you get an A in English class. With exams around the corner, you’ll need to know that Romeo and Juliet were star-crossed lovers, but you do not need to know that Robbie and Julia are now in an open relationship. Besides, your mind will be a lot clearer if you spend a little less time on Facebook.

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9. Find a role model.
Having a mentor is an amazing thing when it feels like the walls are closing in on you. If you’ve met an older student that you aspire to be like, ask yourself what that person has done to become so successful. Better yet, ask him or her about it in person! People love to talk about their successes, and if you meet someone that you look up to, then when you feel like you’re about to give up on something, you can always ask yourself, “Would ____ do that?” Role models give us that extra boost of inspiration when we need it.

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10. Practice relaxation methods.
For many people, yoga and pilates are two phenomenal ways to burn calories and calm down from the day-to-day hustle and bustle. For others, they aren’t enough. Find something that helps you slow down when things become too much to handle. Learn how to meditate and breathe properly. These are just a few healthy ways to keep yourself grounded.

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11. Set new goals.
Feeling complacent? Do something about it! Challenge yourself with a new goal to reach. Apply for a study abroad program, learn a new skill, or join an organization that sounds appealing to you. Find ways to keep your college experiences fresh and exciting.

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12. Remind yourself of your positive attributes.
If you feel completely stuck and unable to accomplish what you need to accomplish, this handy trick will help get you out of your rut. In this exercise, you’ll need to list 100 things that you love about yourself. Think you can do it? In early February, I tried this out and was proud of some of the attributes I came up with. You’ll have to think outside the box a bit on this one, but once completed, this exercise really does boost your self esteem/self efficacy and help you regain motivation.

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13. Up the ante on organizational skills.
Sometimes, you just need to be a little more disciplined than usual to get the job done. Perhaps you’ll need to keep a more detailed agenda than usual, or maintain a more organized study space. Click here for tips on managing your time and organizing your life!

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14. Seek help when you need it.
Go to office hours. Meet with tutors and academic advisers. Make an appointment with the counseling center. Do what you need to do to stay on your game; don’t worry about what others are going to think. You should be your biggest priority.

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15. Be sure to address any deeper issues.
Sometimes we aren’t held back by a lack of motivation; rather, we have been affected by something farther beyond our control. Know the difference, and take care of yourself and the issue at hand.

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What topics would you like to see in the future?!

The Freshman 15: Time Management Tips

As we make our way through the spring semester, we find ourselves in a bit of a rut. We’re not quite done with classes — there’s still another full month of papers, projects, exams and other obligations — but we’re past our early-semester stage of perfect grades and attendance. We might still be doing well in our classes, but not as well as we did in January, when we started putting our resolutions into practice. It has gotten harder and harder to drag ourselves out of bed in the morning and stumble over to our early classes, and we have more and more difficulty choosing our academics over our social lives.

Therefore, this month’s Freshman 15 is all about getting back into the swing of things after Spring Break! We may have gotten a bit lazy in the last few weeks, so let’s get back into motion with some time management tips.

The Freshman 15: Time Management Tips

1. Office supplies are your new best friends.
I’m not just saying this because of my weird fascination with spiral notebooks and post-its. In general, it is important to keep track of your dates as thoroughly as possible so that you never overbook yourself. In my case, that means keeping my zebra datebook in my backback, updating the calendar on my phone regularly, and recording important dates on the colorful dry-erase calendar in my room. If you aren’t as crazy as I am, I suggest at minimum a day planner with calendars and a page for each week, so that you can schedule your days more accurately. Office Max has a few examples.

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2. Maintain a weekly checklist.
This is something I started doing last summer that has worked miracles for me. At the end of each week, I create a checklist of every school task, appointment and club meeting that I have coming up the following week. Then, as I complete those tasks, I check them off. Having this list is a great way to not lose track of certain assignments or obligations.

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3. Maintain a daily checklist.
This may be a bit of an overkill, but if you write down a list each day of what you wish to accomplish, it will help keep you on pace. In the mornings, I create a list on my dry-erase board next to my desk, and then as I complete each task, I erase it. That way, the less writing there is on my board, the more productive I have been. Again, having so many lists may seem a bit extreme, but for the busiest of us, it can be a lifesaver. This gives you multiple reminders so that you can’t make any excuses.

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4. Learn to multitask.
Sometimes, there just aren’t enough hours in the day. While we certainly have a lot more free time when we’re doing things efficiently, we still have to realize that the clock is ticking regardless. Because of this, it is important to learn to multitask whenever possible. Take advantage of the time as best as you can. If you have to read for tomorrow’s class but you also have to go to the gym, for example, bring your book and rest it in front of you as you work on the elliptical. If you need to clean your room but you really want to catch up on last night’s episode of Bones, do both. If you know you are going to be sitting around in a waiting room for a while, take study materials with you and prepare for next week’s exam. Find ways to kill two birds with one stone (but not literally, because killing isn’t a nice thing to do).

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5. Sacrifice some of your social life.
Sure, you may want to hang out with your friends tonight, but if you have a paper to write, then you need to say no to your friends. It might sound like a simple concept, but people struggle with this concept all the time (myself included). Realize that you have to come first from time to time, and don’t feel guilty about not joining in on dinner plans. There will always be other social gatherings in the future.

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6. Shut down electronics.
I’m no statistician —  in fact, I don’t even play one on TV — but I’d venture to guess that at least 85 percent of U.S. college students have procrastinated at one point or another because of their participation in social media (*cough* Facebook! *cough*) or other Internet activities. The resolution? Turn off your computer. Silence your phone. Get away from all the action (ie: tweets and Facebook status updates) and worry about your homework. I promise you can catch up on the virtual world later. (Editor’s Note: … But please continue reading this blog!)

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7. Prioritize!
Maybe on Thursdays you’re ambitious. You want to tackle as many things as possible at once, so your list for the day is twice as long as that of any other day. Of course, some tasks on the list are more important and time-sensitive than others, so you can mark those tasks in some way to designate their high priority. For example, you will probably want to finish making flash cards for this week’s exam before you take on an ambitious cleaning project.

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8. Don’t overbook yourself.
If you enroll in 18 credits of classes, take part in several organizations, intern during the week and have a job on the side, you are probably biting off more than you can chew. Of course, this may be a bit of an exaggeration, but I know several people who spread themselves thin in college, and it wore them out. Seize the day – take advantage of those clubs and opportunities that interest you most – but don’t fill up your calendar too quickly, either. Make sure you have enough time to do everything you have committed yourself to do, and be able to do it well.

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9. Break things up.
Large assignments can be daunting, so one of the best ways to approach them is to split them into parts. When I have a book to read for my literature class, for example, I count the number of pages in the book in total, then divide that by the number of days I have to read the book itself. That way, I can take on a little bit every day, and not become too overwhelmed by one book. The same goes for projects — do a portion of it daily so that you aren’t saving some heinous assignment until late on Sunday night.

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10. Keep up with the essentials.
If you aren’t eating regular meals or getting enough sleep, you won’t be able to effectively complete your work or meet all of your obligations. Regardless of what is going on around you, you have to make your nutrition and sleep patterns a priority. Otherwise, your body will hate you later and you will be completing your work even less effectively than before.

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11. Be wary of online classes.
Online classes can be a huge gift in the sense that they give you the freedom to work at your own pace (more or less) and allow you to complete your assignments in the comfort of your own home/dorm. However, online classes are easy to forget about because you don’t have a set time to attend, and you don’t have a professor that you meet with face-to-face to discuss your progress or upcoming assignments in the class. Therefore, only choose an online class if you consider yourself a disciplined person or if you are willing to figure out a specific time every day to complete the classwork so that it may feel like a regular class.

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12. Change your location.
Because it feels quite dull to sit in your dorm room all day studying, it becomes easy to find distractions – books, unnecessary cleaning projects, television, etc. – so choosing a new location can be a great way to get a new perspective and forget about looking for other things to do. Bring your books outside on a sunny day, or visit the library, computer lab or a student lounge. Finding a new place to go will make it more difficult to become distracted by your own personal items in your surroundings.

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13. Don’t save your assignments for the morning.
As bad as all-nighters are, half-nighters are even worse. When you stay up late and then resolve to complete your assignment early in the morning (most likely three or four hours later, anyway), you sleep less restfully and you always lose time in the morning. Trust me, you’re never up as early as you plan to be in those situations, and you end up racing the clock when you do finally get started on things. Get a head start on your work early so that you don’t end up in these late night situations — your decision-making is never very good at that point, anyway!

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14. Take a well-deserved break.
Workaholics, when you do get time to relax, please do it wisely. Don’t spend all of your free time in planning mode or else you will go insane. Find a hobby or interest that allows you to rest and do that when you have the chance. You will be much more efficient and lively once you do return to your work if you take breaks when you need to (no more, no less).

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15. Know thyself.
Realize that different tips will work for different types of people, and know that you may be the exception to some of these rules. Maybe you have a better way to manage your time, or maybe these tips don’t work as well for you as you would like them to. These are just a few pieces of advice that will hopefully help you to improve your time management, but there is always something for everybody. Recognize the type of person you are and how your mode of operation affects the way you get things done.

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Questions for readers:

- What is your biggest time management struggle?
- What tips would you offer to those who have trouble with time management?
- What other college topics would you like to see in future Freshman 15 articles?