Tag Archives: relax

An Ode to Lazy Days

It took me a long time to appreciate the beauty of the lazy day. Simply lying back, watching Netflix, taking a nice warm bath, spending time in nature, just doing what makes you happy without wondering whether or not you’re being productive enough.

Days like those used to give me immense amounts of guilt. I’d wonder if I did enough beforehand to truly warrant not doing anything “productive” for a whole day. It felt like my work was all-consuming and somehow more important than my happiness and peace of mind. Days felt very frenzied and I felt as if I was on the road to academic burnout because I was constantly guilting myself out of spending time away from school work.

Soon, I began to recognize a problem. I was no longer doing work in school with the intent to learn. School was simply a place where I did assignments, and I began to hate the environment because it felt toxic. Now, it’s important to remember that only some of this can be attributed to my mindset. There are so many things about the school system and college admission systems that force a certain unhealthy hyper-competitiveness amongst their students and are simply inherently toxic, but that’s a different conversation for a different day. 

I started recognizing that something about me had to change if I intended on preserving my mental health. The first step, I decided, was to stop basing my personal worth on the grades I received. That was certainly easier said than done, but once I began opening myself up and realizing that there are so many other facets to me apart from my grades, I stopped falling into that toxic, hyperproductive mindset and started trying to spend my free time doing things I love, rather than worry about whether I’m working enough.

This even changed my outlook toward learning and school. When I was constantly thinking about my academic performance, I held lots of ill will toward school because I felt it was the reason I could never relax. Altering my mindset and attempting to distance myself from a reliance on academic validation and allowing myself to kick back once in a while really made me see school as a place to explore new subjects and learn new things.

Naturally, this process is far from linear. Just last month I got a score on a biology test that I didn’t love, and I fell right back into the pattern of guilting myself out of relaxing and forcing myself to constantly study. It’s also much easier said than done, but hopefully my journey can help someone out there embrace those lazy days a little bit more and worry about school a little less.

Featured image courtesy of Canva

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

Get high – on music!

We’ve all been there, driving through the night, windows rolled down, feeling the air combing our hair and listening to some jam-worthy songs. Or maybe just laying down in our bed, facing up and staring at the ceiling with our headphones, slowly melting into the bed along with music that makes us feel so relaxed, yet so vibrant – wink wink.

I’ve consulted with some of my friends who also like to enjoy music, and with some of their recommendations, I’ve put together a playlist with some songs that will just rip through your skin and make you feel high – on music! Some of them are from legendary bands such as Pink Floyd or more well-known artists like Harry Styles or Tame Impala. Others, this might be the first time you’ve heard of them, but luckily, will not be the last.

So, get your closest pair of headphones, or set of keys and let yourself fall into a world where effervescent music is the only thing that exists.

Image courtesy of unsplash.com

Using essential oils to promote wellness

First published in print.

From as early as 2000 B.C. to modern day, essential oils have been used for their natural healing properties. 

Photo by Olivia Beene

These fragrant oils have been used to serve culinary, therapeutic, and medicinal purposes. Today, their healing properties are most often used in the practice of Aromatherapy. During this practice, plant and fruit fragrance oils are inhaled for therapeutic use. 

Essential oils stimulate the limbic system in your brain, an area that controls sense of smell, emotions, and even other physical aspects such as breathing, heart rate and blood pressure. In the practice of Aromatherapy,  essential oils can promote relaxation, improve mood behaviors, and even relieve physical signs of stress on the body. 

Individuals who rely on essential oils for their therapeutic and medical purposes have studied the benefits of each oil and different ways to purpose them throughout daily practices. 

Oils and Their Uses

  1. Lavender

Lavender is one of the most popular essential oils on the market, and is most commonly seen in soaps, candles and various other bath products. One of the primary uses of lavender is to aid in deeper sleep. 

According to a 2005 study, participants who placed lavender essential oil on the center of their wrists engaged in deeper and longer sleep patterns. Lavender has also helped individuals diagnosed with insomnia.

2. Sandalwood

Although not as well known as lavender, sandalwood is another oil that is commonly used to calm and soothe. Research shows sandalwood can help mitigate individual cases of anxiety. 

A 2006 pilot study by Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice concluded that sandalwood oil relieved more stress and anxiety from participants that other complementary oils. 

3. Bergamot

The essential oil bergamot is another oil that can be used as a mood enhancer. 

A 2011 study measured the use of bergamot and its effect on the participants emotionally and physically. The participants rubbed bergamot oil on their abdominal area and results showed a decrease in  pulse rate, and systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Participants also described their moods as “more calm” and “more relaxed.”

4. Chamomile

Chamomile is a plant most commonly used in herbal teas, but research shows that there are benefits of the essential oil as well.

A 2009 study conducted by University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine founded that participants who placed chamomile essential oil on various points of their body showed reduced signs of anxiety and depression than people who used the placebo oil. 

How to Use Oils

There are many different ways you can feel the benefits of essential oils.

  1. Essential Oil Diffuser
Courtesy of Unsplash

 One of the most common ways to use oils is by an essential oil diffuser. An oil diffuser will mist out a combination of water and oil over an extended amount of time. Diffusers also add humidity to the air making your environment more calming and comfortable. 

2. Shower Steaming

Another way to diffuse oils is in your bathroom. When taking a shower, place a few drops of essential oil by the shower drain. As shower heats up, the oils will begin to steam with the hot water, making your shower a luxury experience.

3 .Adding Oils to your Skin

Many people’s preferred use of oils is to apply them directly to the skin. The important thing to remember when using this practice is to dilute your oils with a secondary unscented oil such as caster oil or sweet almond oil. Some key places to rub the oil are wrists, temples, behind the ears and the bottom of your feet. 

Courtesy of Unsplash

Essential oils have helped individuals re-center, relax and rehabilitate. However, essential oils do not work for every person and cannot replace modern medicine or doctor visits. Mental wellness is a unique journey for each individual and it is important to practice what feels right for you.