Category Archives: Wellness & Fitness

Mid-semester Madness: A Personal Reflection

Tired and overwhelmed — the two perfect words to describe how I’ve been feeling lately. 

There’s a certain sensation that buzzes around in the October air that looms around for quite a while, almost pulling and tugging at you as you try to live out your day: Midterm season.

It seems like just yesterday you were opening your syllabus for the first (and hopefully not last) time. Then, all of the sudden, we’re mid-semester. While it’s nice to be able to say that you’re halfway through your semester, it’s also scary to think about how much more there is to come. 

Midterm exams, projects, deadlines, registration and literally everything else makes the never-ending to-do list even longer.

While I’m now in my junior year of college, it somehow feels like the hardest one I have experienced thus far. Having spent my first semester completely in-person pre-COVID and my second fall semester completely online, it seems like this weird hybrid semester has been so much worse.

Whether it’s because of the difficulty of my classes as an upperclassman or just having to get used to actually attending my classes in person and not from the comfort of my bed, this semester has been a different beast altogether.

To be frank, I started this semester with such high expectations considering the fact that I registered for five classes, became involved in three organizations, added a second major and even got a job. While I was somehow able to juggle all of that only a few months ago in my spring semester, this became a struggle this school year. 

I’m not too sure if maybe it’s just me feeling this way or if others can relate at all but it hasn’t been very fun. 

On the other hand, there could be much worse things happening. While I’m struggling this semester, there’s still a tomorrow. 

While my professors and peers may not be too thrilled about my performance this semester, there is still in fact more ahead of this. 

Everyone has a hard time at some point in their college career and it just so happens that this is my struggle semester. So, it’s absolutely okay if this is your struggle semester, too. 

We will all get through this weird, difficult period together.

Featured image by Lucero Lopez

A Plant Mom’s Guide to Taking Care of Succulents

Owning succulents has seen a growth in popularity among young adults in the past few years. Not only are succulents fairly easy to take care of, but they are also an inexpensive way to liven up any space. It’s also been proven that owning succulents comes with many benefits, such as air purification, increased focus and improved quality of sleep, according to Cal Farms, a succulent shop and blog. 

“Succulent plants brighten up the mood because of the beauty brought about by their fresh earthy colors and striking shapes,” Cal Farms said.  “These certainly never fail to provide accents to the bland paint finish of any room, but there’s more to it than just being an aesthetic addition to any place.”
 

I currently own eight succulents and over the years I’ve figured out what works best for keeping them alive and healthy. Here are four dos and don’ts for taking care of succulents.  

Do: Use rain or distilled water to water your plants

The best type of water to use for succulents is rain or distilled water. This is because they’re free of any chemical treatments or added minerals that would be in tap water. I use distilled bottled water to water my succulents because it’s convenient. Since I use distilled water for my succulents, I make sure that the soil they’re planted in is fertilized. Distilled water lacks the natural minerals that would be in rainwater.

Don’t: Use tap water

Beware of tap water! I have lost a few succulents to tap water before I knew it was harmful for them. Tap water is treated with chemicals and minerals that makes it safe for human consumption, but this is not the case for succulents. Chlorine, fluoride, calcium and magnesium, are just some of the minerals that are found in tap water that can harm succulents. These chemicals and minerals can change the pH of the soil and damage the absorption capabilities of the plant’s roots. Repeated use of tap water on your succulents can lead to them being malnourished due to root damage. 

Do: Water your succulent’s soil

When watering your succulents, make sure to directly water the soil and avoid getting water on the plant. The roots are the only part of the plant that can absorb the water and so getting water on a succulent’s leaves is unnecessary and can actually be harmful.. If the water were to sit on a leaf for too long, it could cause the leaf to get soggy and rot.  

Don’t: Forget to rotate your plant!    

It’s important for succulents to get enough sunlight. I keep my succulents in my windowsill, so they can get direct sunlight every day. However, remembering to rotate your plants is equally as important. This prevents one side of your succulent from getting more sun than the other side. It also makes your plant grow straight. Not rotating your succulents will cause them to grow leaning toward the window or the direction they are getting the most sunlight.  

Do: Put your succulent in a pot with drainage  

Photo by LUM3N on Unsplash

It’s essential that your succulents are in a pot with drainage. This means that the pot has a hole at the bottom and is normally sitting on a dish or inside another pot to collect the excess water that drains from the hole. Succulents, unlike other plants, are made to go long periods without being watered. They store water they need in their stems and leaves. Once they are done absorbing water, the excess can drain from the pot. Without drainage, the soil will remain moist, and the succulent’s roots will rot.  

Don’t: Water your plants too often  

Succulents do NOT need to be watered daily. In fact, succulents can go weeks without being watered. This is what makes them so low-maintenance and convenient! I water my succulents every four to five weeks, but this can be different for every succulent. A good way to tell if it is time to water your plant, is if the soil is COMPLETELY dry.

Do: Remove dead leaves from your plant  

Once your succulent starts to grow, the older leaves at the bottom of the succulent tend to get dry and shrivel up. This is normal for succulents to do as they grow; they allow the upper, newest leaves to grow up and receive sunlight, and rid themselves of the lowest, older leaves that are not getting any sunlight. It’s okay to pull off dead succulent leaves if you gently pull on them and they come off with ease. Never tug on a leaf or try to pull it off when it’s not ready, as this can cause damage to the succulent. 

 Don’t: Forget to admire your plants!   

Photo by Morgan Severson

Life gets busy and it gets easy to overlook small moments that bring us joy. My favorite part about owning succulents is watching them grow. Every day my succulents are growing, reaching up and out towards the sun, changing colors, and most days I don’t even notice. But sometimes I look up, and I notice a new leaf or a longer stem and, in that moment, I feel pride. I feel proud of them for growing and proud of myself for taking care of them. Allow yourself to watch your plants and admire them for all their growth and beauty.  

Photo by Morgan Severson

P.S. One of my succulents has two little baby succulents growing at the bottom of it. I think they are so cute so… I thought I’d share! <3  

Featured image by Alyssa Lindblom

How to start couponing as a college student

As a college student, I know how important it is to save money and stay on budget. One way I’ve been able to save money is by couponing for necessities like toothpaste, toilet paper and shampoo. If you want to learn how to save money, then here’s some advice on how to start couponing. 

Places to coupon 

My go-to places to coupon at are Dollar General, Walgreens and Family Dollar. All these places have big coupon communities on social media, so it’s easy to find deals each week posted online. 

They’re beginner-friendly couponing stores because they have digital coupons on their websites and apps. All you need to do is click each coupon on the app and enter your phone number at the store, then you’ll see your price start dropping. 

Digital coupons

When you think of couponing you probably think of that one show about extreme couponers and their giant folders full of paper coupons. Cutting out paper coupons and finding them around the city is definitely a big time-waster and not college student-friendly. 

Instead, I want to welcome you to the world of digital couponing. To start digital couponing, all you need to do is go to the store’s app or website, create an account and start clicking coupons. When you get to the store that allows digital coupons, like the ones I mentioned, all you need to do is punch in your phone number when told and your coupons will be added. 

How to find deals

When you open the app or website you will probably be overwhelmed by the amount of coupons available. Some stores may limit the amount of coupons you can have saved onto your account, so you want to make sure each coupon you clip matters. 

The reason I recommend starting with the three stores I named is because of their large couponing community. Join Facebook groups, follow TikTok couponers or follow Instagram couponers to learn about deals everybody else is doing for that week. 

In these social media communities, people will usually post the exact items they bought and post pictures of what coupons you need to save in order to get the price they did. This is probably the biggest advice I can give, so go follow some couponers on TikTok!

Best days to coupon

There is really no set day to coupon, you can go to the store whenever you have freetime. However, certain days do have better coupons than others. 

Dollar General has a $5 off when you spend $25 coupon that is only eligible on Saturdays. Lots of people stack this coupon with other coupons to get everything cheaper. Make sure you check if any stores carry coupons available for only certain days and that are stackable. 

Items you can coupon 

Popular couponing items are mainly household items and toiletry. Toothpaste, toilet paper, laundry detergent and air fresheners are the popular items you can get couponing. You use most of these items on a daily basis so it’s a good idea to stock up on them with coupons. 

Couponing may seem intimidating at first, but once you start doing it you learn quickly. This is a great way for college students to really save on things used on a regular basis, so go online and start couponing!

Feature image by Morgan Scruggs

feeling sophomore slumped? you’re not alone

I threw up the day I had to leave campus and return home at the end of my freshmen year. I didn’t want to leave my college bubble and had actually avoided going home that entire year. I left freshman year feeling accomplished both academically and socially. Once I returned to Austin for year two, I figured this feeling of excitement and community would return. I’d be ready to work harder, make more connections and more memories. 

The minute I returned to campus something felt off. I felt drained before the year even began, but blamed it on the nerves of beginning a new school year in person. Weeks of classes went by yet something still felt wrong. I wasn’t motivated, deadlines passed without submission, talks of the wonderful internships I could soon apply for filled me with dread, I withdrew from friends, and walks to my beloved turtle pond didn’t excite me as they used to. I started longing to go back home. Even the tower, which was once a landmark representing success and anticipation to me, became just another building. I didn’t know why I felt this way until I came across the phenomenon known as “the sophomore slump.”

Though it has many components, and everyone feels it differently, the sophomore slump is a period of disconnection from college life for second-year students. The excitement of independence and “firsts” from freshman year has worn off and you’re left feeling dejected. Students find it hard to maintain their college enthusiasm and live up to the academic and social successes of year one. They may feel emotionally detached from their college towns, pressured to declare a major and make big career decisions, or confused on what they want out of the ‘college experience’ overall. 

Second year journalism student Ileana Fernandez agreed that there’s a “slump in the air”.

“My school work has been piling on and it seems I can never catch a break,” Fernandez said. “A two-day weekend is barely enough time to catch my breath. Balancing my job and academics while still attempting to have somewhat of a social life drains me. To be honest I’m just trying to make it through the week, every week, again and again.”

Especially after the pandemic hindered the normalcy of freshman year for the class of 2024, many students came into sophomore year without social groups or familiarity with the campus. Fernandez and sophomore Daja Dansby both stayed home last year. While many classes are still online this semester, Dansby said zoom learning can make school feel non-existent. 

“When you learn online it’s so easy to pretend like school doesn’t exist. Like the black boxes on zoom aren’t real people, and like you aren’t really working towards anything,” she said.

“I didn’t know the sophomore slump was a thing until recently,” Dansby added. “I think the fact that we all lost a year to COVID has a lot to do with our collective lack of motivation. This stage in our lives is just a difficult one. We’re away from our friends and family for the first time, we’re messing up and learning lessons, losing friends and making more; we’re experiencing everything that comes with entering young adulthood. Pair that with living during a pandemic alongside the pressure of still needing to strive and succeed. It’s a lot, I’m not surprised we’re all going through it.”

There’s no vaccine for this illness ailing the sophomore class. This phenomenon of collective unmotivation is felt so widely by a myriad of students that it was given its own name. It’s important to remember that the sophomore slump is, indeed, collective. It’s not new and it’s felt by students everywhere. College combined with figuring out who you are as a person, and what you want in life is overwhelming; burnout is inevitable at one point or another. Learning how to cope can be difficult. There’s always hobbies to relieve yourself like podcasts, painting, journaling or exercising, but counseling is also a viable resource. Appointments can be booked at the CMHC to get whatever you need off your chest.  This is a battle not fought alone.

“To anyone feeling the same way, please know that there’s nothing wrong with you,” Dansby said. “You aren’t behind, you aren’t dumb. College is just hard. It’s okay to mess up and get stuck in slumps, it happens to everyone. You’re learning, which is what we’re all here for. You’ll get where you need to be eventually. Be gentle with yourself.”

Featured Image by Tara Phipps

The Five Best Texercise Classes

If you haven’t taken a Texercise class at UT yet, you’re seriously missing out. From dancing in disco lights to meditating, each class offers its own version of fun and reward. After taking multiple classes over the last two weeks, I can assure you that you’ll have a blast in any class you take. Even though it was tough to narrow it down, I managed to create a list of my top five class recommendations.

The first class I took was Yoga (Vinyasa) and Meditation. Yoga classes are a great way to wake up your body in the morning or wind down after a long day. I took this class after a stressful midterm, and I seriously needed it. The class focused on slow connected movements, with time at the beginning and end dedicated to self-reflection. Fun fact: shavasana is my favorite yoga pose, and if you take this class, you’ll see why.

I’ve never taken a cycling class before, but the one I took through Texercise will certainly not be my last. This may come as a shock, but if you’ve ever seen a cycling class depicted in a movie or TV show, it’s exactly the same. The energy, the loud music, the lighting: luckily, I managed to stay on the bike, unlike Amy Schumer in I Feel Pretty, but the energy, loud music and lighting was all a parallel.

I also took my first Pilates class this week. I highly recommend this class to anyone looking to feel sore for a full week. Pilates is core-intensive, which is definitely an area of my body where I have room to grow. It was one of the most challenging classes, but the instructor was fantastic, and the class as a whole was a lot of fun.

Mind Body Fusion was another one of my favorites. I didn’t do my research, so I went in expecting a relaxing yoga or meditation class — I’m glad I was wrong. This class combined the fluidity of yoga and the intensity of crossfit, so I left feeling both energized and wicked sore. I also absolutely adored the instructor, as her coaching allowed me to easily follow her movements and stay engaged throughout class.

Finally, I’ve been itching to take a Zumba class forever, so I was super excited to take one this week. If you have any passion for dance, then Zumba is the perfect class for you. Zumba classes typically focus on cardiovascular fitness with intense dancing to Latin music. I find that the best way to relieve stress is to dance it out, which is why this is my favorite form of exercise. Plus, it’s basically a way to trick yourself into working out — I mean, how can dancing be anything other than fun?

Breaking up the last two weeks with these classes has been like a breath of fresh air. Exercise is so important to our mental and physical health, but it can be hard to find the discipline to work out on your own. I’ve found that it’s a lot easier to convince myself to show up to a 6:30 a.m. cycling class than just the gym. These classes are super enjoyable, and I encourage everyone to try them!

Featured image by Morgan Scruggs