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Be Stress Free!

stress

With school coming to an end and all your final projects, papers, presentations, and exams just around the corner, it is easy to become overwhelmed with the amount of work you need to get done. You are excited about the small amount of time left until summer, but at the same time you’re nervous because it feels like there is not enough time to get everything done. Panic sets in and stress begins to creep into your life. You feel tense, and your sleeping patterns may be way off.

Do not let stress take hold of your life these last few weeks of school. Instead, defeat the stress and have a smoother ending to your school year. How? Don’t worry. We’ve got your back with some easy tips for you to follow to be stress-less:

1) Dance it out

There is nothing like getting up out of your seat, turning up your favorite tunes, and shaking off the stress by dancing. Just stand up, and take a few moments to let it all out. Not only is it fun, but it also helps you relieve some of the tension that has built up in your muscles and it helps clear your mind. And if you are by yourself, you can dance as goofy as you want! If you’re with friends, turn it into a dance party!

 

2) Go for a walk

Summer is getting closer, and that means more sunny days are ahead. Go take a walk in the sunshine and warm weather. Don’t rush, but relax and take your time. Look at your surroundings, breathe in the clean air, listen to the sounds, and just pay attention to the little things and enjoy them. Don’t get so busy that you don’t notice the beauty in the little things in life.

3) Talk about it

Time to call your BFF or go to someone you trust and VENT. Sometimes that is all we need to see clearly through the cluttered mess that our lives turn into. Talk to someone and share what is stressing you out. Sometimes talking through things with someone helps you realize something you didn’t see before, and you get an outside perspective from someone else. Sometimes, all you need are words of encouragement and someone who can tell you, “You can do this!” So, don’t just sit there. Turn to someone and get your stress off your chest.

4) Breathe

Take a few deep breaths in and out. When you are stressed, your breathing pattern actually changes as part of a “fight or flight” mode. Controlling your breathing helps you relieve some of the stress you have built up. Why do you think breathing is such a key component in yoga?

5) Go to bed earlier

You are not doing yourself or anyone else any favors by staying up late into the night. Not only does less sleep have the potential to increase stress, it also lowers your performance level. High stress and bad performance is not a good combination. If it can wait another day, it can wait another day. Getting a good nights sleep will help your stress and help you be more efficient during your day as well.

6) Focus on what you can control

Sometimes we put so much on ourselves and some of those things are just out of our control. Make notes of the things you do have control over and write them down in a “to-do” list. Do not carry more than you need to.

7) Reminiscence about good times/laugh

Sometimes, when I have been working on homework and projects for a long time, I’ll take a break and go through my Facebook pictures. I’ll look through some old memories and good times with friends and family, and it brings a smile to my face. It helps to ease my mind and settle my thoughts. You can also watch some funny videos. Make sure to leave room for laughter in your day. It’s a good reminder that all is well and life is good.

8) Ask for a hug

I don’t know about you, but I love hugs. Friends will ask me how I am doing and I will sometimes respond with, “I just need a hug.” There is no better feeling than a tight hug from a close friend to help squeeze out some of the stress and remind me that I am loved and cared about.

9) Look for opportunities in life’s challenges

When we are presented with a challenge, like a paper or test, we tend to look at the negative side. “This paper is so long!” or “This test is going to be so hard!” We focus so much on the negative that we fail to see the positive in the work that we are doing. Why not make a list of the opportunities and good things you get out of the assignments you have?

10) Smile

Why smile? Because at the end of the day, everything will be okay and you will get through this. You have done it before and you can do it again. So, smile and remember you can do this and you are close to the finish line. Finish strong and stress-less.

Studying 101

Do you sometimes have a hard time studying for big tests, and getting big projects done on time? Is it hard for you to concentrate and study for long periods of time? The truth is, everyone is different, and you need to learn how YOU study the best if you want to start doing better in school. Here are several tips that will help you figure out the best way for you to study:

  • Get organized. Keep all your syllabuses from each class, and write down all your papers, tests, and projects in a calendar. This will help you know ahead of time when things are going to be do, instead of waiting until the last minute when your teacher finally mentions it in class. You’ll be able to begin working and studying well in advance.
  • Plan out projects. See how long each step will take you, so you have enough time to complete the whole thing. Sometimes if you don’t plan things out ahead of time, they’ll end up taking you a lot longer than you expected and you may run out of time.
  • Determine what time of day you are most alert. If you’re a morning person, wake up a little earlier to do homework and study. If you’re a night owl, do it at night.
  • Figure out what distracts you the most. If you find yourself going on Facebook every time you write a paper, it might be a good idea to turn off the internet; or if you need the internet, don’t go on Facebook even “just for a minute.” If people distract you, make sure you study alone. Avoid whatever distracts you so you can get more done.
  • If you study in a group, make sure to study with people who are serious about the test or project. Sometimes people get distracted and start talking too much, or showing each other things on the internet. You’ll never get anything done if your group doesn’t focus. Don’t be afraid to speak up and say “Sorry, but I really need to work on this.”
  • Prioritize if you have multiple tests and projects. Determine which ones are a bigger percent of your grade, which ones will probably take you the longest, and which subjects you’re not as good at. Get those done first.
  • Listen to music if it helps. Some people get too distracted by music, but for some people, music makes studying not so boring and it keeps them awake. Try it out and see if it helps you.
  • Don’t do all your studying or work for your project in one night, space it out. If you cram, you won’t learn or remember as much. If you try to bust out a big paper or project in one evening, you won’t do such a good job. Give yourself time to work on it for shorter periods of time for several days.
  • Take breaks. If you are studying or working on something for a really long time, take breaks. You don’t have to sit there and work for several hours straight. You’ll get burnt out, and eventually you’ll stop retaining information. It’s okay to take a quick 10-15 minute break to check Facebook, talk to a friend, and just relax. You’ll feel recharged and be able to focus again even with just a short break.
  • Eat snacks. Sometimes you just need more energy to keep you going and focused. Eat something healthy, though… like fruits and veggies, crackers, yogurt, or a granola bar.
  • Study in the right place. People study better in different places. Some people prefer to sit in a coffee shop with a friend while they work, some people feel more motivated in the library where it’s quiet, others like staying in their room at home. See what works for you.
  • Make sure you understand the information and you aren’t just memorizing it. There’s no sense in learning about something if you don’t actually understand it. Memorizing definitions and answers to questions won’t do you any good. Besides, what if it’s worded differently on the test? If you aren’t getting something, ask your teacher or someone in your class, or look it up in your book or online.
  • Have someone quiz you. If you want to make sure you’re ready for the test, you’ll have to study in a way that you won’t be able to see all the answers. So have a friend or parent ask you some questions and see how you do, before you’re really getting tested on it.
  • Make flashcards. Flashcards are a great tool for studying. Writing down information on the cards will help you remember a lot, and you can use them to quiz yourself.
  • Make sure you get plenty of sleep the night before your test. Pulling all-nighters will never do you any good. You don’t want to be sleepy and groggy while you’re taking a big test… you need to be awake, alert, and focused. Make sure you eat a good, healthy meal beforehand, too.

Whether you’re in middle school, high school, or college, you need to do well in school! And you need to learn how you study the best so you can succeed and get good grades. Hopefully some of these tips are helpful for you!

Finding the Right College for You

It’s about that time of year… those of you who are juniors or seniors this year, or who took a little break after high school, are probably beginning your college search. With thousands of colleges all over the U.S., all of which offer different majors, programs, and activities, are located in big cities, small towns, and rural areas, and have anywhere between 200 and 20,000 students… how on earth are you supposed to pick just ONE? How do you know what’s right for you? If you’re stressing out and don’t know where to begin, here are some tips for you:

  1. Curriculum: The whole purpose of going to college is to get a degree that you’ll use to get a job, so obviously the thing you need to consider first is what majors the college offers. If you already know what kind of career you want, make sure they have a major that will get you there. But even if you think you know what you want to do, keep in mind that most students change their major at least once, so it’s a good idea to have a couple back up plans. If you have no idea what you want to do, don’t worry… just think about the general direction you want to go in, like if you like the sciences or the social sciences, and make sure that they have some of those majors. Also, make sure they have good facilities for what you want to do. If you want to be an athletic trainer, make sure they have a good gym with lots of equipment, and a good athletic program.
  2. Location: Figure out if you want to stay close to home or go somewhere completely new. Also, take into consideration what kind of climate you want to live in for the next couple years. If you’ve always lived somewhere where it rains a lot, maybe you want to go to college somewhere warm, or vice versa.
  3. Size: Do you want to go to a small school where you’ll know just about everyone, or a big state school where you’ll see new faces everyday? Do you want campus to be small and be able to get everywhere in less than 5 minutes, or do you not mind if it takes you a little while to walk from place to place?
  4. Sports and activities: If you want to play sports in college, obviously you need to make sure they offer the sport you want to play. If you’re into music, make sure they have a band, choir, orchestra, etc. If you like sports but you don’t take them too seriously, see what kind of intramural sports they have. Also check out their clubs and other organizations and see if there’s some you might be interested in.
  5. Cost: Make sure you look at colleges that are within your price range. But also keep in mind that about 85% of college students get at least some kind of financial aid, so don’t be discouraged if you fall in love with a school that’s a little outside your budget.
  6. Financial aid: Again, about 85% of college students get at least some financial aid. Make sure you fill out your FAFSA to see if you qualify for government grants and loans. Also, see what kinds of scholarships different schools offer. Many of them off academic, athletic, and music scholarships.
  7. Religious affiliation: If you’re religious, do you want to go to a school where everyone shares your beliefs? Do you want to take religion classes and go to chapel? There are plenty of colleges out there for every religion and denomination.
  8. Visit the campus: This is going to be your home for the next few years, so make sure you love the campus and the town it’s in. Do you want to live in a big city, in the middle of a busy downtown area, or in a smaller town? What is there to do nearby? Could you see yourself living there and enjoying it? Do you like the look of campus, the academic buildings, and the dorms? You need a college that could feel like home to you, somewhere you feel comfortable.
  9. Talk to students and alumni: When you visit campus, talk to some students. They can tell you what they love about it and/or what they hate about it.
  10. Campus atmosphere: What is campus life like? Ask about what kinds of events they have throughout the year, like dances and holiday events. Are there some good study spots? Are there any fun things to do when you need a break from studying?
  11. Housing options: Check out what their on-campus housing looks like. Some colleges have old, run down dorms with small rooms and cruddy restrooms, and some have big, spacious rooms that look brand new. If this place is going to be your new home, you need to love it.
  12. Class size: Some schools have classes in big lecture halls with 300 students and one professor, while others limit there class sizes to about 20-30. If you want to develop relationships with your professors and make sure you get one-on-one attention, take their class sizes into consideration.

While you’re searching for colleges, http://www.collegeboard.org is a great tool. They have a college search engine that will narrow down your results using several filters like:

  • Type of school (2-year, 4-year, public/private, school size, religious, single sex or coed)
  • Location (by city or state, and rural, suburban, or urban)
  • Housing availability (dorms, apartments, houses)
  • Majors available, study abroad programs, internships, distance learning availability
  • Sports and activities
  • Financial aid available, tuition costs

As you can see, College Board is be a HUGE help in narrowing down your options!

Going to college will be one of the best experiences of your life. It’s supposed to be fun! Make sure they have the perfect major and programs for you, but also make sure you love the campus, the people, and the town you’ll be living in!

Drinking Age

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                                                                                                                                    Alcohol is addictive. It is mind altering. It is dangerous, especially when abused. At what age does it become appropriate to allow people to make the choice to use it or not?

Multiple states including Wisconsin, Florida, Vermont, Missouri, and now Oregon have considered lowing the state legal age for alcohol consumption from 21 to 18. Some experts believe the change could reduce binge drinking. Others believe it could put our youth at more risk for abuse than ever.

In Oregon, some university presidents have signed on to a federal initiative urging legislators to reduce the drinking age. The change is driven largely by alcohol abuse in the university system. Universities have tried to educate students about responsible party hosting, the psychological, physical, and emotional risks of underage drinking, and about academic, physical, and legal consequences of making poor choices regarding alcohol use and abuse. Numbers of alcohol related issues have not changed much for all that effort.

Research shows that more than 40% of college students report at least one symptom of alcohol abuse. One study indicated that more than 500,000 students at 4-year universities suffer injuries each year related to drinking. Disturbingly, about 1,700 die from such incidents. BIG PROBLEM!

An Associated Press analysis found that 157 people aged 18-23 drank themselves to death between 1999 and 2005. These numbers are thought to be caused mostly by binge drinking at parties. Social pressure and the desire to be an adult drive the trend. Do you think lowering the age, making it more okay to consume alcohol in whatever setting the user chooses would help?

The drinking age was not always set at 21. It was raised to that age more than 20 years ago to eliminate young adult alcohol abuse. To evaluate the effectiveness of the law, some claim we should just consider whether people under 21 are drinking more or less than they were 20 years ago. Clearly, teens are still drinking. Others believe the evaluation of the law should be in looking at deaths and dangers related to abuse of the substance. It is notable that alcohol related fatalities have been reduced since raising the drinking age to 21.

Some compare the current age restriction to prohibition, in that it forces drinking to be “underground” where it cannot be regulated or controlled. The supporters of the measure argue that if drinking was legal for all college students, they would not have to hide and they could feel safe calling 9-1-1 in the event of an emergency. Others argue that legalizing alcohol for all teens would cause more students to experiment, while some abstain with the current system.

When interviewed through a Gallup poll, 77 percent of Americans recently said that they would oppose lowering the drinking age.

Do you think lowering the drinking age would reduce dangerous binge drinking, alcohol related car crashes, alcohol abuse, or alcohol related death or would it allow more teens to experiment with the very addictive and altering drug causing more trouble?

By guest blogger: Beth W.