Category Archives: Wellness & Fitness

A Summer of Reinvention

There’s something unique about the happiness one feels in the summertime–it’s unobstructed and unconstrained. Don’t get me wrong, summer does have its downsides as well, like the all-consuming worry of missing out or the deep sadness one can feel after experiencing what you think as “once in a lifetime joy.” But in order to really take advantage of summer’s offerings, I think it’s important to make a list of goals you can reasonably accomplish to make this summer one of reinvention. Here’s a few ideas to guide you:

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1. Be on your phone less – Limiting your social media usage by deleting certain apps or eliminating those apps’ screen time completely will dramatically help make this summer more carefree and fulfilling. Not having social media apps on your phone will increase your productivity because they are not easily accessible, therefore they won’t be able to distract you. Social media can take a heavy toll on one’s mental health, especially since people tend to only post the most glamorous parts of their life, so deleting these apps may help improve your mental state. If you’re interested in learning more about social media’s effect on mental health, check out this article.

2. Read more – Summer offers you so much free time and if you decide to stop using social media as much, you will have more time in between shifts, summer classes, hanging out with friends, etc. to really sit down and read. Finding the type of books that speak to you can be really exciting and offer you a whole world of enlightenment and connection with others that you may not have had.

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3. Take some classes – Sometimes, taking classes in the summer can contribute to your fear of missing out on summer fun with friends if you happen to get bogged down by schoolwork. But if you put in the work and are resilient, you will end up feeling grateful and proud of yourself for completing classes in the summer. 

4. Focus on you – I think that overall the most important thing to do this summer is to focus on yourself. Think of the mindset you wish to be in and figure out how to get there. Don’t chase after things this summer unless they are for your personal improvement. Listen to your body, pay attention to what you want to do or be and focus on that. 

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5. Get a fun, chill summer job – One thing you don’t want to do in a summer of reinvention is say “no” too much. A way to make sure you don’t have to say this is if you have the resources to say “yes.” Filling your schedule with a job and classes this summer may not sound appealing, but it would make your free time even more rewarding and enjoyable, especially if you have the means to spend your money on fun activities. Plus, your job could give you awesome work friends!

6. Learn a language – Whether you are in the process of learning a new language or have finished UT’s course requirements for your language credits, summer is a good time to keep practicing it so your new language skills don’t become rusty. With more and more vaccines being distributed, it’s possible more study abroad programs will open up in the fall, so learning a language will be extremely helpful if you plan on studying abroad!

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7. Keep a journal – I firmly believe that writing in a journal, logging your days, experiences and thoughts is a very important habit to keep up with. In general, it is very good for you, think of it as a form of self care. For me, writing helps relieve my feelings and makes me feel less chaotic as I am writing down all of my thoughts and complicated feelings onto a piece of paper, something external. Also, one day you may want to share experiences and stories with others and it would be nice to have a fresh account of it written down in your journal that you could refer back to. BookPeople has some very cute journals if you look hard enough.

8. Do things alone – It’s fun eating at a restaurant alone, dancing in your room alone, going to a park all by yourself. Don’t let your friends’ availability schedules hold you back, if you really want to go somewhere but your friend can’t come, I encourage you to go by yourself. I think doing stuff alone every now and then really helps you learn how to be more comfortable with yourself. 

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9. Pick up a new hobby – Summertime is your chance to pick up that hobby or skill you’ve always wanted to try. You could start making things out of clay, or get really into crocheting, running, climbing, painting, latte art, really anything that speaks to you. It will help occupy your newfound free time and limit your time spent decomposing in your bed watching TikToks (which is definitely fine to do sometimes).  

10. Try to go to new places – Making a summer bucket list with your closest friends will help cure summer boredom that often comes with having so much free time. In this bucket list you can make goals as big as traveling to a different state with your friends, to things as little as going to the pool everyday. Go to places you guys have never been before, maybe try finding a good crying spot where you guys can go when your summer fun turns to summer sadness. Explore the city in ways you never have before, there’s endless possibilities and exploring will help make your summer full of adventures.

Featured Image courtesy of Kara Fields

Guide to Dream Journaling: A Look Inside your Dreams

On average, a person has about 3 to 8 dreams each night. If a person sleeps each night and lives to be 80, that’s about 146,000 dreams in a lifetime. Considering this, it would be unjust to ignore such a huge chunk of our existence. Dreams are one of the only true breaks that we get to escape our daily continuous lives and enter into a realm where anything is possible. Why would we want to ignore this? Dream journaling allows us to delve into these nightly visions, and explore our thoughts, emotions and experiences while in this world for just a little longer.

Why are dreams important?

Dreams have various important purposes. They help us process emotions, convey our deepest desires, integrate memories and help us tackle potential dangers. They also serve an importance to our mental, emotional and physical well-being.

Why is dream journaling important?

A dream journal can be a precious source of insight and creativity. Constant recalling and journaling of our dreams prevents them from simply being forgotten and lost in the depths or our minds. Writing them down actively forces us to confront our feelings associated with them. Personally, dream journaling has made me more aware of my inner life and my needs that have been suppressed into my subconscious. I can then engage with this information in my daily life and form a deeper connection and understanding of myself. 

Starting a dream journal

Starting a dream journal doesn’t have a set amount of rules or limits that you have to follow. It’s more about being open and experimenting with your thoughts. Here are a few guidelines that you can follow:

  1. Remind yourself to remember your dreams. There have most likely been countless nights where you believe that you didn’t dream at all but that is simply not true. You just were unable to recall them. Simply reminding yourself to remember your dreams is a perfect way to help in recalling your dreams. For example, right before you fall asleep, tell yourself, “I am going to remember tonight’s dreams.” This is effective because it increases your motivation and will to dream. 
  2. Journal right when you wake up. It’s important to journal as soon as possible so all the details of your dreams are at the top of your mind, allowing you to have an easier time recalling them. Keep your journal and a pen right next to your bed so they are easily accessible.
  3. Draw pictures in your journal. Sometimes the imagery of your dreams are the most essential part. Especially if you’re a visual person, drawing out your dreams can give you a better understanding of their meaning and their true value in your waking life.
  4. Experiment with your journaling. No one person has the ultimate guide of how a dream journal should look, as everyone has different methods that personally work best for them. You don’t even need a physical journal to evaluate your dreams. Some people enjoy using their phone or recording audio entries. The most important thing is to have a method that is efficient and fits your own personal style.

Dream interpretation

Dream analysis is specific to each individual and completely depends on what’s specifically going on in your life. Every dream is unique. Two people may have a similar dream, but they can be interpreted completely differently. With that being said, there are a few common dreams that people may experience. Here are five of the most common dreams and possible interpretations:

Dreams about falling. A theme of falling has an overall negative connotation, that things in your life are not going the way you had planned. According to dream experts, if you dream that you are falling it could reflect feelings of rejection or helplessness. If in your dream someone pushes you to your fall, it could mean distrust with others. If you trip and fall by your own mistake, it could point to a lack of self-confidence. 

Dreams about being naked in public. Have you dreamed about yourself being nakey-naked? Well, you most likely have a fear of being vulnerable and dealing with drastic change. You might even be afraid of your imperfections or revealing your true self to others.  

Dreams about flying. Depending on what you are experiencing in your life, flying can have a various number of reasons. They may represent feelings of escaping a bothersome burden, handing you a rush of freedom. It could also have a connotation of feeling like you are above others, showing a feeling of success.

Dreams about being chased. Dreams about being chased are definitely far from being pleasant, in my opinion. If you are having these types of dreams, it is usually rooted to immense stress in your daily life as well as poor sleep. Furthermore, you might actively be avoiding something that you wish to not face — a desire to run and hide from your various emotions. 

Dreams about losing teeth. This dream is an odd one of the bunch, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t common. Like many dreams, it can have multiple meanings. It could indicate that you are worried or self-conscious of your physical appearance. According to experts, any type of dream that deals with the mouth are usually rooted in communication problems. Do you usually speak before you think? 

No matter what you dream about, remember to enjoy it. Dream journaling is a fascinating way to get to know yourself a little better. Have fun and sweet dreams!

Featured Illustration by Serena Rodriguez

Hokas…Are they really all that?

From exercise to fashion statements, tennis shoes (or tenny shoes as we say in Texas) have made themselves known to be useful in more ways than one. However, sometimes we get caught up in the “culture” of it all; instead of buying sneakers that are suitable for us, we buy those with popular brand names. Yet, at what point do we sacrifice comfort and functionality for clout and status? 

In 2012, Tyler Haney, a track athlete turned designer, established an Instagram athletic wear company. With headquarters now in Austin, Outdoor Voices has become one of the biggest athleisure brands in the country, according to an Inc. Magazine article. And girl do they have it all: leggings, tops and of course, their best-selling  exercise dress; but one of their biggest attention grabbers is their collaboration with Hoka One One, an outdoor activity shoe company. 

When OV, as the technical apparel company is commonly called, started introducing more color options to their shoe collection, the demand spread like wildfire. For me, it wasn’t until I moved to Austin that I had ever even heard of Hoka One One, let alone Outdoor Voices (us rednecks don’t get no fancy athleisure wear out in hillbilly hell). Yet, when I got here, I almost felt dumb for not having the crossover of a lifetime. Everyone I knew went on and on about how comfortable the shoes were and how it felt like their feet were resting on clouds. Blah blah blah. Still, everyone I knew buying Hokas were only buying the OV collab, making me realize they were just buying into this idea of “if I own OV then I’m cool.” 

Photo by Cameron Venti on Unsplash

Therefore, I decided to put that theory to the figurative test and see the benefits and popularity of Hoka One One’s compared to other leading running shoe companies, such as New Balance, Asics and Brooks. Mind you, I’m not a runner at all. In fact, I refuse to run. However, I also refuse to buy into a hype without proper knowledge and research, and I don’t think you should either. 

So, as any rational Generation Z member would do, I took to Twitter and asked my 742 closest followers what their favorite shoes were when it came to physical activity. Can you guess what happened? If you think everyone said Hokas, you’re wrong. In fact, I had a mix of replies. 

Salvador Santos, an educator at Wooldridge Elementary for the Boys and Girls Club of Austin, said he prefers Asics not only as his running shoe but also as everyday attire.

“What makes (Asics) comfortable to me is how supported your foot feels,” Santos said. “My feet feel hugged and it feels hard to lose my footing.”

Photo by Hipkicks on Unsplash

Another response, from close friend and UT student, Rachel Casey, said she preferred running in Brooks instead of her Hokas. The International Relations and Global Studies and Psychology sophomore said even though she runs with people who prefer Hokas, the stability and cushion of Brooks allows her to feel more supported and confident when she runs.

Photo by Michael Cox on Unsplash

On the other hand, Gabriella Sanchez, a government and English senior, said before she fully committed to running in Hokas, she first started out in New Balances. Designed with comfort, Sanchez said she found New Balances to be springy and responsive while also being cushioned and light. With Brooks, Sanchez said she found the shoes to be more secure and durable than the New Balances, but when she was introduced to Hokas, the whole story changed.

“Once I stumbled across Hoka One Ones, I knew I could probably never go back to those other brands,” Sanchez said. “I mostly do distance runs on the road, and the amount of cushion Hokas provided was unbeatable. Fit is also incredibly important to me, and I felt (Hokas) had a roomier toe box compared to the other brands. My legs and knees don’t feel as bothered after a high-impact run as they did with my lower-cushioned Brooks.”

 You may be wondering what this means. Should you go buy a pair of Hoka One Ones right now, or should you check out some other brands? Well, before you spend $100 on a pair of running shoes that don’t give you the support you need, go to your local running store and have  them match your walk, run, gait and form with the right pair of shoes (and they do it for free!!). Because, at the end of the day, if you’re going to commit to a high-paced, cardio inducing workout, you need to make sure you have shoes that are genuinely suited for your needs, not just your social status.

So, don’t worry about what everyone around you is wearing on their feet, because inside those laced up things are still 10 toes, just like you and me. 

Midterm self-care tips

After a turbulent week and a half of snow storms, power outages, and lack of water, this spring semester is off to a rocky start. And with the anniversary of the pandemic approaching, I know many, including myself, who feel overwhelmed at the thought of how much the pandemic has changed our daily lives and the world around us. There’s no doubt this pandemic has taken its toll on us, and sometimes it feels like our sanity is hanging by a thread, but life is too short to not find the joy in the simple things. 

As we move forward, here are some tips for taking care of yourself and managing stress throughout the semester.

  1. Take a deep breath

Pause for a second, take a deep breath, and focus only on your breathing for a few seconds. Whenever it seems like you have a never ending to do list or you feel overwhelmed by whatever is going on in your life, it can help just to sit back, take a deep breath, and clear your head for a moment. 

  1. Get Clean

Clean your room or even take a shower. Reducing physical clutter or cleansing your body will help relieve some of the stress and mental clutter of daily life. A few other ways you can do this are to clean your bed sheets, clear out some photos in your camera roll, put on a facemask, clean out your backpack/purse, or light a candle.

  1. Write it down

Even if you don’t like writing, putting a pencil to paper for a few minutes to do a quick brain dump can instantly help you feel better, more organized, and less stressed. Writing about your emotions or what’s causing you to feel stressed is a great way to release that stress. Or if your brain feels trampled with everything you need to do, start with writing out a list of everything and ranking each task based on how important and urgent they are. If these don’t suit your style, here are a few journal prompts to get you started.

  1. Eat something

Your body needs energy to function, and your brain can’t do its best studying on an empty stomach. Take a snack break, try a new recipe (I recommend finding one on Tik Tok, Pinterest, or YouTube), or treat yourself to some takeout! Do something that will nourish your body. Recreating one of your favorite childhood snacks/meals is also sure to make you feel better (talk about a Ratatouille moment!).

  1. Get your body moving

You don’t have to be a gym rat to appreciate the benefits of getting your body moving. Taking a walk outside or doing a few stretches at home can put the mind and body at ease. Find the type of exercise you enjoy most and set some time aside to do that, whether it be a 15 minute dance party workout at home or an hour long session at the gym. 

  1. Do something that makes you smile

You deserve to be happy, so do something that will bring you joy! Catch up with a friend on zoom or socially distanced, watch your favorite movie, scream along to your favorite song, go out in the sunshine, hug someone, do your makeup, or do a random act of kindness; the possibilities are endless! Even if your day isn’t going too well, it doesn’t have to stay that way, so go do something right now that is sure to brighten up your mood!

Featured Image by Kara Fields

Why Every College Student Needs Notion In Their Life

Let’s face it, staying organized in college is hard. Especially when most classes are online through Zoom or in some cases, completely asynchronous and self-paced. 

As a first-year college student, I was struggling with finding a way to organize my academic and personal life. Then I stumbled upon a productivity app called Notion. Those unfamiliar with this app are probably wondering what exactly is Notion and how exactly it works.

Released in March 2016, only available on web browsers and macOS, Notion works as a fully customizable interface described as an all-in-one workplace. From a daily journal to reading lists, creating a vision board, a budget tracker, or my personal favorite, a school semester planner, the app works for just about anything.

Also, one major bonus is Notion’s Personal Pro plan that is free for students and teachers who sign up with their school email account with no credit card required! Check out this article from Notion Official to learn more about setting up your personal workplace.

Along with free access, Notion’s Personal Pro plan offers users unlimited file uploads such as images, videos, audio, embeds, web bookmarks, and more. As well as unlimited guest collaborators on pages, and access to the version history of any page for up to 30 days. 

If you are new to the app and unsure where to start, I recommend checking out Notion’s templates available for users to duplicate and customize. Some popular templates include class notes, weekly or daily agendas, personal course schedules, meeting notes, and tracking job applications.

When I was first experimenting with Notion, a YouTube channel called Janice Studies was especially helpful in my journey to find out what works best for my needs.

Last year, she posted a video tutorial for a school semester template that included a weekly course schedule, a master schedule with assignments and due dates, as well as course pages with class information and topic lists. It was a lifesaver and I am forever grateful I found her channel before my first semester at UT.

Then, earlier this year, she posted another video tutorial for a new and updated version of the previous template. Similar to the last one, this is currently saving my life this semester.

This template features a master schedule and weekly course schedule. I found this one to be much more detailed with course pages now including lecture notes, learning objectives, and a grade calculator.

Another helpful resource for users new and old is the Notion Made Simple Facebook Group, which has nearly 34,000 members. In this group, users are allowed to share their workspace, templates (most of them are free but some cost money), tips and tricks, as well as ask questions if you are ever struggling or confused about something.

The most recent resource I have found from the Facebook Group is a website with free templates from Pranav – NotionSquared for a reading tracker.

Screenshot by Thalia Menchaca

Working as a digital library, this template allows readers to track their progress for multiple books based on the number of pages read. It also has the option to click on the title and start a new page for taking notes as you read. The website also has templates for goal tracking, efficient to-do lists, and spaced repetition for working or studying.

Though it may sound dramatic, I don’t think I would have survived this year not only without Notion but also these incredibly helpful resources that are free and available to users. Although there are moments when I struggled to customize a template to my liking (and also because I am a perfectionist), it gets easier as you get more accustomed and play around with it.

Featured Image by Lauren Breach