Tag Archives: wellness

How to start life planning

What is Life Planning?  

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash 

To me, life planning is using a planner to organize all aspects of your life, from academic to social to fitness and more! Anything can be tracked in a planner. I got my first life planner my freshman year of high school and have been life planning every day since. As someone who is always busy, and joins way too many extracurriculars, I have found life planning to be a way to calm the chaos in my life and keep track of everything.  

Different Types of Planners

There are many different types of planners to choose from. My favorite planner brand is Erin Condren. Her stationary company is based here in Austin, Texas, and her store is located at The Domain. I love Erin Condren planners for their beautiful covers and their simple, yet colorful layouts on the inside. The planners are also customizable, so you can change colors, add your name, initials, pictures or whatever you’d like! A basic Erin Condren planner goes for about $60, but every year on Black Friday they have a flash sale where all planners are 50% off! Another popular brand is The Happy Planner. Their planners are similar to Erin Condren but are easier to find, as they can be ordered online or bought at Walmart. But really any planner can work for life planning as long as it fits your needs!

There are many things to think about before purchasing your life planner, especially since it’s something you’ll be writing in for an entire year. Spiral or no spiral? As a leftie, a spiral can get really annoying sometimes. How do you want your planner’s layout to be — Daily? Weekly? Monthly? These are all things to consider. My favorite layout is a weekly vertical layout, where each day of the week is divided into 3 sections. I like to think of the sections as morning, afternoon and night.  

Pens, Stickers, Accessories and More!

I like to use planning as a creative outlet by using a variety of different pen colors, handwriting styles, stickers, highlighting and doodles. What I like most about using a physical planner instead of a digital one, is that paper gives you the freedom to write and design whatever you want all over it. My favorite pens for planning are the Paper Mate Flair felt tip pens. These work well with my Erin Condren planner because the paper is thick, like an index card, so I get consistent lines when I use them. For thinner paper, I would recommend ink pens. I like Paper Mate InkJoy pens because of their vibrant colors.

When planning, having different-colored pens is important so you can color code. At the start of each semester, I match each of my classes to a color, and write down all things pertaining to that class in its assigned color. Not only does color coding make your planner look pretty, but it’s proven to make you recall things faster as well.

According to Kwik Learning, “When we color code things we need to remember, it makes it easier for our brain to associate with it. Our brain reads and interprets colors faster than text. Multiple studies have shown that our brain will recognize a shade of color to an assigned task faster than text alone. This means we have a better chance of remembering an appointment if we color code that information.”  

Besides color coding, I like using stickers to add an extra flair to fun events in my planner, or make important events look more eye-catching. For example, I’ll add a little cake sticker to birthdays in my planner or add a sticker that says “important” on a test date. Even though I am in love with Erin Condren’s brand, I think The Happy Planner actually has better stickers, and they are cheaper too. I like to buy The Happy Planner sticker packs that contain over a thousand stickers. My favorite pack is the Essential Planning pack, which includes stickers like “remember to water your plants!” stickers, birthday stickers, bill reminder stickers and habit tracking stickers.  

Lastly, I would say a planning essential is to have some sort of bookmark to keep track of what week you are on. Nothing is more annoying than flipping through your planner trying to find what page you were last on. Personally, I like bookmarks that attach to the spiral in your planner so they don’t fall out.  

So, Why Should I Plan?

Photo by STIL on Unsplash 

I like to think of planning as something more than just keeping track of things you have to do. It’s relaxing, rewarding, calming — it’s what I believe has gotten me to where I am today. When you have everything you need to do written down, you can avoid that feeling of; “Am I missing something?” I like to use my planner as sort of a guide. I can see what I have coming up for however many weeks I am able to plan ahead. 

My favorite time to plan is at night or right before I go to bed. At night, I tend to scramble in my head and worry about all the things I have to do the next day, and the next day, and the day after that, and next week, and next month, and next year and… it gets to be a lot. Especially when I am trying to fall asleep. Planning at night gives me a way to dump all of those due dates and to-do lists out of my head, and when I’m done, I feel so at peace, totally free of that feeling that I am going to forget something.  

With midterms coming up and as the semester starts to get busier, planning can be a tool for you to stay on top of your work and manage your stress!  

My Method of Planning

Photo by Marten Bjork on Unsplash  

Step 1: The first thing I do when planning each week is put down my base schedule. What I mean by this is putting down your weekly schedule of things that are consistent and are not going to change, like my class schedule. 

Photo by Morgan Severson

Step 2: Once I’ve done that, I have a basic outline for my week, and I start to add in due dates, events and stickers.

Photo by Morgan Severson

Step 3: I like to write a little overview of my week on the left side to-do list, listing things by priority of what I need to get done first. If there is something going on for the entire week, I like to write it above the dates at the top of the page, making the words span across the page. 

 Photo by Morgan Severson

Step 4: From there, I use the empty spaces to get an idea of when I am free throughout the week. The empty spaces leave me room to plan things that come up on short notice, so I will write them in the day before or day of, like a trip to the gym!

Photo by Morgan Severson

VOILA! You are all done planning and ready to conquer your week ahead!

Featured Image by Alyssa Lindblom

10 Tips for a Smooth Transition from Online to In-person

We’ve all spent the last year glued to our screens, whether it’s trying to decipher what our professor is saying or scrolling through Tik Tok. In the midst of all the Zoom meetings, Discord chats, and Slack messages we have forgotten how to thrive in an in-person learning setting. So, here are ten tips on how to thrive during the transition from online to in-person learning, interaction, and life.

1. You need to calm down

After more than a year of spending time stuck at home with Tiktok being our only form of social interaction, it can be tempting to just say yes to every social invitation that comes our way. But, no matter what you do you cannot make up for the dumpster fire that was 2020, and acknowledging that is important. The pandemic has changed every aspect of our lives and that includes social interaction. It’s okay to want to stay in on a Friday night and binge-watch “Grey’s Anatomy,” you don’t need to force yourself to go out in the fear that you will regret it if there is another Lockdown. Understanding that we cannot make all our decisions based on the fear that the past will repeat itself will only benefit us in our post-pandemic life. 

2. Develop a routine

A big part of the anxiety that accompanies our transition back to in-person classes is ambiguity. Being able to have routines— even for the smallest parts of our lives— can help immensely. Whether it’s having a three-step morning routine that involves making your bed, putting on clothes, and making yourself look presentable for class, or an elaborate make-up routine, having one part of the day remain constant will help structure the rest of your day.

3. Get an alarm clock

It can be tempting to use your phone as an alarm but it’s also the reason you’re late every day. Not only is the alarm on your phone designed so that the snooze button is more prominent than the off one, but it also enables you to scroll through social media first thing in the morning. Having an actual alarm clock not only prevents you from mindlessly scrolling through your Instagram feed, but it also means you’re going to hit snooze a lot less. If you’re like me and are paranoid about not waking up on time, keeping the clock at the farthest end of the room will ensure that you wake up. 

4. Engage with your classes

Zoom university has made it easy to not engage with material during class and going back in-person seems especially daunting when you can’t whip out your phone and scroll through social media when your professor goes on a long and boring tangent. However, identifying aspects of each class that you enjoy, whether it’s the friends you have made in that class or your genuine interest in the subject, will make you dread it a lot less.

5. Treat yourself

Whether it’s getting Boba with friends, watching a movie, or gorging on a pint of ice-cream(I am definitely not speaking from personal experience), find a way to reward yourself at the end of the week. The treat doesn’t need to be expensive— it could even be dancing to Taylor Swift music in your room. These treats act as a reminder for what a great job you’re doing and also motivate you to get through the week.

6. Stay safe

We are still in the midst of a pandemic and following COVID guidelines are crucial for keeping yourself and your fellow Longhorns safe. Make sure you download the Protect Texas app and fill out your symptom survey daily as well as get tested weekly. Wearing a mask in classes may seem strange, but it’s the only thing stopping us from going back online.

7. Plan, plan and then plan some more

Now that we are in-person, having a daily planner is essential. Not only does planning your day the night before gives you peace of mind, but it also means you won’t accidentally forget a class or a meeting. Having a monthly planner as well will help you keep track of your assignment due dates. Google Calendar and Outlook are great online planners, but nothing beats pen and paper. 

8. Catch some ZZZs

Lack of sleep is overhyped in college. Just because Brad from your Econ class hasn’t slept since Tuesday and is feeling great doesn’t mean you should follow in his footsteps. Lack of sleep catches up on you when you least expect it and it makes you more prone to illness. With the endless stream of assignments, it can seem hard to get seven hours of sleep but remember those hours of sleep will prevent you from the embarrassment of being woken up by your professor in your eight a.m. class. 

9. Find your style

Now that pajamas are no longer the informal uniform of college students across the world, finding something to wear in the morning can seem foreign. But remember it’s also the perfect opportunity to play around with new styles and try out outfits that are cute from the shoulders down— now that you’re no longer a box on a screen.

10. You are not alone

Remember that you’re not the only one navigating this “new normal” and, yes, you will make mistakes but remember so will everyone else. We are all in this together (cue cheesy High School Musical music) and going back to in-person classes means we are moving forward away from the catastrophe that was the pandemic.

Featured image by Serena Rodriguez

How to stay healthy during quarantine

Freshman 15? Try quarantine 30. 

Being stuck inside a dorm or apartment all day not only is the perfect excuse to stay away from the gym, but also keeps the sun’s serotonin-inducing rays out of reach. 

We are now coming up on the one year anniversary of the lockdown that shook up our social lives, mental health, and physical wellbeing, and while some people have taken the opportunity to glow up, others have certainly let the somber mood get them down.

It’s not always easy to cook a healthy meal or get up and start moving when the world seems to be spiralling out of control, but with vaccines on the horizon and the winter months taking the seasonal depression away, it’s time to let the sunshine back in and get that serotonin pumping.

There are two important sides to health — the mental and the physical. So if you’re struggling to make it through this pandemic in one stable piece, here’s some tips to stay healthy during quarantine.

Mental Health

Humans are not creatures of isolation. We don’t enjoy staying put for too long, or being locked away in the fairytale-esque tower until our knight in shining armor (the vaccine) comes to save us. It wears on our mental health and creates the perfect environment for depression, anxiety, and other mental problems to seep in.

One of the best ways to combat this is to actively fight against the isolation tendencies COVID-19 has created. And no, Karen, this doesn’t mean breaking CDC guidelines. Zoom, while problematic for professors who can’t figure out what a ‘breakout room’ is, is actually a great way to interact with your friends no matter where you are. Think Discord or Facetime, but magnified into one program that has monopolized the videochat market during this pandemic.

Photo by Surface on Unsplash

With the power of Zoom people can play video games, like Among Us, follow Bob Ross painting tutorials, or have a group meet-up all from the convenience of a comfy couch. Plus, when you get tired of human interaction just pretend your internet is bad— no more waiting for your friend to get done talking so she can give you a ride home, or waiting till that boring movie finishes before you bolt.

On top of the lack of human interaction, the lack of sunshine can also get to us. Sunshine is one of those natural endorphin-releasers that allows for another source of serotonin besides turning an assignment in due at midnight at 11:59 p.m. Going out, whether it be to the store, to classes, or to visit a friend, allows for some outdoor time in the sunlight. Without it, we are less inclined to get those endorphins released. Reduced sunlight already is linked to the cause of Fall and Winter Seasonal Affective Disorder (better known as seasonal depression) so by combining that with the deprivation of human interaction, it may exponentially harm people’s mental health.

One of the best ways to combat this is to go outside and take a walk. It gives you time away from Netflix or schoolwork (and let’s face it, who doesn’t want an excuse to avoid that), and allows your body to absorb that outside energy we’ve all been losing since the pandemic started.

Photo by Church of the King on Unsplash

If it seems a little daunting to do that, another option is to sit by an open window and sip on  some coffee or tea, look outside and let the sun’s rays travel  through the window. Maybe even sit at a table outside for a bit while you procrastinate whatever work you actually have to do. 

Because the great outdoors, no matter how much millennials and Gen Z deny it, are really not that bad. In fact, it’s pretty relaxing around this time of year when the bugs have all receded back to wherever they go. It’s peaceful — which is just what we all need in a time that has tested the amount of stress we can handle before reaching a breaking point. 

Physical Health

Over the course of the pandemic, social media has run rampant with “COVID-19 glow-ups.”  People have used the extra time to their advantage to get that summer body snatched. But when mental health dwindles, so does physical. And while we don’t see quite as much energy around the “glow-down” of being too depressed to get out of bed, let alone go for a run, it is still something our society is struggling with right now.

Mental health is one of the most important aspects to physical health, so if you’re struggling, I’d suggest getting your mind right and then coming back to this. But if you’re ready to put in the work, I promise it’s more fun and rewarding in the end.

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

Physical activity is known to be a  mood booster. Exercise releases endorphins just like the sun’s rays, and can be a healthy way to destress. Instead of trying to think of exercise as some daunting chore to check off each day, find something you enjoy doing and make it a part of your daily routine. Your muscles don’t have to be immovable from soreness, and you don’t have to be drowning in your own sweat, for it to be an effective workout.

Something I picked up during the Pandemic is TheFitnessMarshall’s dance videos. To me, they are super fun and allow me to get out a lot of pent up energy. Beyond that, I definitely learned some new moves for when it’s safe to go to the clubs again.

Everyone needs to find that workout that doesn’t feel like a workout. Not only could finding it during quarantine be an entertaining journey, but once you find it you’ll have something to add to your daily activities besides your phone and school. Physical activity will offer another outlet and escape for the insanity of what we’re living in right now.

And nobody’s glow-up needs to be some intense weight loss or muscle gain. Nobody needs to be the most positive person in the world. A real mental and physical glow up can just be feeling better about the activities your body can do, maybe lifting a box that was too heavy before, or running a minute longer than you used to be able to. It can be smiling a little more every day, laughing with friends a little longer. It’s the little victories that encourage us, and make for moments of happiness in the wake of this pandemic, that will truly get us through it.

Skin Care by Hyram’s Drugstore Favorites

TikTok skinfluencer, Hyram Yarbro, has taken the world of skincare by storm. From his hilarious skin care reaction videos to his sustainable product recommendations, he has quickly risen to popularity.

Since his beginning in March of 2020, he has cultivated a community of over 6 million followers and has earned over 200 million likes. Although his recent success has been on TikTok, he is no stranger to skincare. 

Photo taken from @skincarebyhyram on Instagram. Hyram is holding a 1 million subscriber plaque from YouTube in May of 2020. He now has over 3 million subscribers.

Hyram began sharing his passion for skincare in November of 2015 with the start of his YouTube channel, Skin Care by Hyram. While he is not a dermatologist or an esthetician, his years of personal experience and individual research have made him a trustworthy source for information that is sympathetic to the struggles of having bad skin. His videos are educational, entertaining and eco-conscious.

Although Hyram offers skin care tips to people of all ages, a large majority of his audience are young people. Because of this, he produces a lot of content recommending affordable and accessible products for high school and college students alike.

If you are looking to dive into the world of skin care, here are some of Hyram’s most recommended drugstore favorites. 

  1. Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Cleansing Gel – $12

This cleanser is a great pick for people with very dry skin. The second ingredient in this face wash is Glycerin, a great cleansing agent that helps the skin retain moisture and prevents skin irritation.

  1. Simple Micellar Facial Gel Wash – $13

Hyram recommends this cleanser to a multitude of people, because it tends to work for people with any type of skin. It provides a gentle cleanse and it is fragrance free.

  1. CeraVe Renewing Salicylic Acid Face Cleanser – $12

This cleanser helps people with acne-prone skin with salicylic acid as a main ingredient . Hyram also loves that this cleanser has niacinamide, as it is one of his favorite skin care ingredients of all time. Niacinamide is known to help reduce the appearance of pores, fade acne scars and even overall skin tone. 

  1. CeraVe Moisturizing Cream – $16

This moisturizer is one of the cleanest and affordable on the drug store market. It is great for hydrating dry and sensitive skin. Some key ingredients are glycerin and sodium hyaluronate which helps the skin absorb moisture. 

  1. CeraVe Hydrating Sunscreen SPF 30 – $14

Sunscreen is an absolute necessity for maintaining healthy and youthful-looking skin. Hyram recommends this sunscreen because not only is it safe for your skin, but it doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals that pollute the coral reefs or marine life. Hyram lives in Hawaii so protecting the beaches and sun damaged skin are two priorities of his. 

These are just a few affordable and accessible Skin Care by Hyram recommended and approved products. To see if your current skin care routine is “Hyram approved,” or for more product recommendations and application tips visit his YouTube channel or TikTok, at Skin Care by Hyram.

What To Do About Holiday Blues

Ah, Christmas; the most wonderful (chaotic) time of the year. We blast carols the whole month of December as the days grow shorter, consumerism skyrockets, and the pressure of social gatherings thickens. On top of that, for students, finals loom over the horizon. Term papers, group projects, and that honors thesis are all due in less than a week. By the time Christmas rolls around, most of us haven’t even caught our breath in time to appreciate the holiday. 

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. This time of year can also pain us for a variety of other reasons. Perhaps we just lost someone dear to us, or we struggle with a mental illness. Some of us may be international students separated from our families for the holidays, or we might be dealing with a tough financial situation. Whatever the case may be, although we’re dreaming of white Christmas, we may be experiencing a blue one. 

So, what do we do?

Maybe we should practice some self care; take a small break from all the commotion, a quick pause from the endless rush of life. But this time around, a cup of tea and a hot bath don’t seem like they’re going to cut it.

Kathryn Redd, an associate director at the University of Texas at Austin’s Counseling and Mental Health Center (CMHC), has a different perspective on self care. She debunks the generalization of self care as a cure-all and offers an alternate perspective.

“There’s times when going to the gym and eating enough fruits and vegetables is not going to help if I get the flu; it’s not going to help if I break a bone,” Redd said. “I think the same is true for mental health. Putting in place a practice to keep ourselves mentally well is fantastic. And then there are times when that’s not enough or it’s not the right thing in that moment. So like taking a bath is not going to cure depression.”

If self care is just a supplementary practice, then what should we do if our situation becomes more severe? Redd suggests visiting a therapist or a psychiatrist, but the solution isn’t the same for everyone. Sometimes, it’s enough to simply be mindful of what changes we may need to make in our lives. 

“Not everyone needs to see a therapist… it’s not the cure for everything,” Redd said. “Reflect on yourself and your life experience and recognize when you need to switch routes.”

Maybe we need to have an honest conversation with ourselves before we gear up for the holidays. The pressure to plaster on a smile can make it difficult to face the truth of our situation; we want to put on a happy face for the benefit of those around us. The expectation that Christmas has to be a happy time, however, is extremely toxic.

“The holidays can be really hard for people because I think there’s this pressure to be happy and jolly and jovial but that’s not always the reality,” Redd said.

It’s important to accept other emotions that may arise during the holidays, whether they be grief, sadness, frustration, anger, etc. By giving ourselves permission to feel these emotions, rather than suppressing them, we have the opportunity to find closure, experience catharsis, or simply gain self acceptance. After all, there’s nothing wrong with feeling these emotions.

“It’s not the emotions that are bad, in themselves they are neutral, it’s what we do with those emotions,” Redd explains. 

So what if we channel these emotions in a more constructive way?

“I tend to think one of the things that embodies the Christmas spirit is giving, like sharing time with others and giving of yourself,” Redd said. “One of the things we know that is actually also beneficial for mental health is volunteering. You don’t have to feel it- Maybe the goal isn’t to get into the holiday spirit; maybe the goal is to use yourself in a way that benefits others.”

Zoe Sugg, one of my favorite YouTubers, encompasses this giving spirit through her annual VlogMas series. Unlike previous years, on December 1st, Zoe did not put out a video to kickstart her daily vlogs in December leading up to Christmas Day. On December 2nd, she decided to record a precursor to her Vlogmas series explaining why.

“Recently I’ve just not been feeling great mental health wise, and what’s annoying is that I didn’t really want to say that,” Sugg explained.

As a YouTuber who so passionately represents holiday cheer as an integrated part of her brand, Sugg felt ashamed of her struggle during the holidays.

“Everyone knows how much I love Christmas; I can’t start a Vlogmas crying into the abyss,” she said.

However, instead of shoving these emotions under the rug, she took the opportunity to advocate for mental health and express some truths that are consistent with Redd’s advice.

“It’s far more common than you think; 1 in 4 people have mental health issues. Vlogmas isn’t always going to be twinkly lights and smiley, happy faces. It might be, sometimes… but this is my real life and I didn’t start Vlogmas yesterday because I just had a really awful day. I needed that day to do nothing and cry a bit,” Sugg said.

As Redd suggested, what helped Sugg feel better is to give some of her time for others.

“I know how much Vlogmas means to a lot of people, and I know for the people that are having a crappy day, whatever I upload is what makes you feel better. I think filming will make me feel better… sometimes filming makes me feel better.”

For some people, the theme of giving is an effective way to navigate the holiday blues. But the solution is different for everyone.

“What helps me cut through the chaos is to say what’s important about this time? For me it’s important to spend time with my family and it’s important to have experiences together,” Redd said. “What is the theme for you of the holiday season? What’s the word or the theme that you can really rally around? That’s what you hold on to; just let all the other stuff fade away.”

If you are feeling stressed this holiday season, here are a few resources:

UT Counseling & Mental Health Center: https://cmhc.utexas.edu/

24/7 Crisis Hotline (UT Students Only): 512-471-2255

Navigating the Holidays and Mental Health (our article & guide): http://www.burntx.com/2019/12/06/navigating-the-holidays-and-mental-health/

Image by Annie Spratt from Pixabay