• Prioritize Your Mental Health During Quarantine

    by Margot Banen

    An electric piano against a wall where a tapestry hangs and a hanging plant.

    Throughout my life, I’ve always struggled with anxiety. Anxiety can be hard to cope with on even the best days, but during quarantine, many people have seen declines in their mental health. Even as some quarantine protocols begin to lift, feelings of isolation can linger. In order to help cope with the struggles of quarantine, I’ve talked to my friends, family, and my therapist to create a small list of suggestions that may help people who are struggling.

    Going Outside

    In many cases, just being outside has helped a lot of people. Even though it’s often cold where I live, I try to take at least a quick 10-minute walk. It consistently helps to improve my mood and clear my mind. Being in the sun, even just briefly, will drastically change my mindset about the day.

    Working Out

    If going outside maybe isn’t the best option for you right now, or it’s just not possible, working out is the next best thing. Not everyone likes to work out, which is totally fair. When everyone first went into lockdown, many people gained “the quarantine 15” -- I know I did. And that’s perfectly ok! This was a very stressful and strange time for everyone, there is no shame in weight gain.

    Working out doesn’t mean you have to get insanely sweaty or overexert yourself. Nowadays, you can work out from the comfort of your room. A workout can be as simple as 10 minutes of abs or light cardio, like high knees, burpees, or butt kickers. My personal favorite is yoga, which I can do easily with a guide from a YouTube video.

    Working out can boost your energy and help with reducing stress, anxiety, and depression by increasing your self-esteem and cognitive functions. If you work out for at least 16-18 minutes, you’ll release endorphins which help to put you in a better mood.

    Listen to Music

    If you just don’t have the time or energy to work out, you can always use the universal language of music. There is not a person in this world who doesn’t listen to music. What’s so amazing about music is how quickly it can change your mood. When I’m feeling especially anxious, I put on songs to sing along to. This not only helps draw my focus away from my anxiety or the panic attack I may be having, but it also helps to regulate my breathing in an easy and fun way.

    Music can also provide an outlet for people. It can help someone feel less alone in their emotions or use it as a release from them. You can even write your own music or lyrics to help to help organize, catalog, and dissect your emotions. It’s a really healthy and creative way to get in touch with yourself.

    And So Much More

    There are so many ways to combat the stresses of quarantine and create an environment for yourself that is healthy and fun. Some people love to read, others like to call up friends and talk for hours, and others like to bake. Whatever it may be, always know that with everything going on there is always someone you can talk to if you’re struggling, whether that be a friend, a family member or a therapist. Remember that you are never alone.

    Do you have a compelling story or student success tips you’d like to see published on the Pearson Students blog?  If you are a college student and interested in writing for us - click here to pitch your idea and get started!   

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  • College Students Can Try Yoga to Relieve Stress and Anxiety

    by Aathira Balu

    A woman sitting at the top of stairs, back to the camera, legs crossed and arms overhead in a yoga pose.

    Stress and anxiety are something everyone has to deal with at some point, whether it be social matters, academics, change, or just everyday life. Stress tends to run especially high with students balancing class, work, clubs, friends, family, and more. Finding a way to cope and minimize stress is imperative for a healthy life. I have found the best way for me to cope is through the practice of yoga.

    Why Start Yoga?

    Yoga is a practice of both the physical and mental minds and is a great way to integrate a healthful approach to your day-to-day routines. Yoga not only has great health benefits, but can also help reduce stress and anxiety. The practice of yoga can even help reduce the risk of chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure and heart disease. It also helps with increasing one’s flexibility, strength, and breathing capacity. Even though yoga is considered very safe, if you have any ongoing health conditions (such as arthritis, balancing issues, etc.), make sure to consult a doctor before beginning.

    Here are some things to keep in mind when getting started!

    On-line vs. In-Person

    There are many different types of yoga courses and classes that you can attend either online or in person and both have their benefits. For example, online practices can be low cost or free, plus they can be available on-demand for whatever fits into your schedule. In-person classes offer more personalized interaction with the teacher and may lead you through a more structured work out.

    Whether you select online, in-person, or a combination of both types of classes, plan out your week and find times that you know will be best for you to take a break and relax with some yoga. As a beginner, try and aim for 30-45 minutes as a full practice. As you get more advanced, 30 minutes can eventually become 90 minutes.

    Equipment

    Along with creating your own practice schedule, there are certain equipment/materials that people use when practicing, including things like yoga mats, blocks, straps, yoga wheels, etc. If you are a beginner, you can use what you have around your house such as the carpet instead of a mat, pillows to substitute as blocks, and a belt or long strap of some kind to serve as a yoga strap.

    When creating your own yoga workout, practice moves and positions that are most comfortable for you. Explore more simple starting poses to help you become more comfortable with the positioning, like child’s pose, bridge pose, plank pose, tree pose, etc. Modify them depending on your comfort, skill level, and/or any health conditions you may have.

    Benefits of Yoga

    The world of yoga is an amazing one that includes meditation, vibration, and devotion and is something that everyone should try out. Just as with learning any new skill, beginning a yoga practice requires a lot of patience. Start slow and be willing to learn and try new things; it takes time to become comfortable with this way of life. Good luck on all of your yoga journeys and always remember to stay calm and work hard.  

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  • Transitioning to a Plant-Based Diet

    by Logan Collins

    A collection of a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables.

    When becoming independent and going off to college you are faced with a lot of choices, especially ones involving nutrition. Nutritional choices include things like calorie intake and the type of foods and nutrients you are putting into your body. These decisions can have a big impact on things like the amount of energy we have or our mood. Recently I made the decision to transition to a plant-based diet. Here’s my experience with changing my diet and effects it has had on my everyday life. 

    Uncovering the Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet

    Last semester, I took a class called Plant-Based Living. By the middle of the semester, the class had fully convinced me to transition my diet to plant based. The key motivator that made me want to make this change was how plant-based diets can help improve mental health disorders and stress.

    During my studies, I learned that the majority animal products contain arachidonic acid, which can cause general inflammation in the brain. There is a direct link to inflammation in the brain and chemical imbalances of neurotransmitters causing depression and anxiety.

    Plants and vegetables contain antioxidants and phytochemicals which can repair damage and decrease inflammation in brain cells, while also restoring balance to neurotransmitters. Phytochemicals are known as a natural antidepressant that increases levels of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. 

    Making the Change

    After all the research I had done I decided to change my diet to see if I noticed a difference. The transition to vegetarian hasn’t been very hard since there are a lot of plants you can get protein from to replace meat. For example, I have been eating more tofu, chickpeas, and seitan. Plus, the protein you get from plants is better for you than the protein made by animals. After just a month of eating a vegetarian diet I felt improvement in my energy level and my overall mood. 

    Examining the Results

    Going vegetarian has helped push me outside of my comfort zone in terms of cooking and meal prep. Using social apps like TikTok has been a great resource for me to find quick and easy vegetarian recipes to try. One of my new favorite dishes is “ratatouille.” This is made completely from vegetables like eggplant, peppers, tomato, and squash. If you’ve seen the movie by the same name, the reaction the food critic has when tasting the dish is spot-on!

    Overall, my plant-based diet has had an overwhelmingly positive impact on my physical and mental health. They aren’t wrong when they say “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” so make sure you’re eating plenty of fruits and vegetables! 

     

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  • Set Goals to Create Daily Motivation

    by Jesus Hernandez

    Shadow of a person, excercise objects spread out on the concrete floor

    If you are lacking daily motivation, writing down your goals can be a game changer as this will be a constant reminder of what you are striving for. The three main goals I believe everyone must have written down and be constantly focused on are your career, health, and leisure goals. These three types of goals have worked well for me because they help me feel balanced in life and help me stay self-motivated every day. 

    Breaking it down

    Career goals are goals you hope to achieve in a certain profession such as working for your dream company, becoming a doctor, a professional athlete, or perhaps a musician. These are considered long-term goals; many may get discouraged because it seems like it will be years before the goal is achieved. A great way to stay motivated is to set smaller goals to reach the ultimate goal. An example of a small goal for a student can be getting an A on exam in one of their major courses. Breaking down long-term goals into smaller achievable goals will help you sustain your drive to reach that final career goal. 

    Daily practice

    Setting goals to maintain good health has helped me become more accountable each day because health-related goals usually require daily practice. While you can certainly have long-term health goals, this area is very compatible with setting smaller achievable goals. One small goal that I have set for myself during this pandemic is to get at least 10,000 steps a day. I have my long-term health goals as well, however setting this small goal for myself has kept me self-motivated in times where I might otherwise have been inactive due to the closure of gyms. 

    Get out of your comfort zone

    Leisure goals can be short-term or long-term and vary from person to person depending on their interests. This is a type of goal that can allow you to get out of your comfort zone. Some examples can be traveling to different countries, taking road trips, visiting all the beaches in your area, or trying a new adventure like skydiving. Leisure goals are important for your mental health because it is a time to reward yourself and destress from the demands of school or work.

    Setting career, health, and leisure goals has allowed me to stay self-motivated. I encourage you to take time to think about your goals and write them out. Investing the time to set both short-term and long-term goals will change your mindset and you will constantly want to keep improving to reach those goals. 

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  • 6 tips to stay healthy in college

    by Sydnie Ho

    blog image alt text

    I never really made my health a priority growing up. I played some sports and ate whatever my mom put in front of me. I didn’t think about how important it is to be proactive in staying healthy until I got to college. The dining halls can be full of junk and since I am no longer playing sports like I use to, I stopped being as active. While I never used to step foot in any gym, I have come to actually enjoy going to the gym to stay fit. Exercise, diet, and hydration are all important aspects of health and wellness. Here are six tips to help you stay healthy in college!

    Fill your room with healthy snacks

    Filling your apartment or dorm room with healthy snacks keeps you from snacking on junk. I know we all get the munches sometimes, so if you keep your space filled with healthy snacks, you will be forced to snack on them because you have nothing else! Eventually, you will start getting used to it and eating junk food won’t taste so good. This is an easy way to gradually change your diet and cravings without doing anything crazy.

    Carry a water bottle

    Always carry a water bottle with you! I’m sure you’ve heard it a million times, but drinking water is so important. It can help with weight loss, digestion, your skin, and your overall health. I used to never drink water, but I invested in a Hydroflask and it weirdly gets me excited to drink water. I try to fill up my water bottle at least 3 times a day.

    Identify activities you enjoy

    Figuring out what you like is so important! Being active doesn’t have to mean running 5 miles a day. I personally don’t like running. I found that I love weightlifting and strength workouts. I recommend trying out some classes at your gym like cycling, yoga, Zumba, HIIT, kickboxing, swimming – anything! You will never know if you don’t try.

    Find a gym buddy

    Sometimes it’s hard to stay motivated. Having a gym buddy definitely helps drag you out of bed and keep you motivated. It’s a great way to bond with your friend and stay active together. It is also less scary working out when you aren’t alone!

    Stick to a schedule

    You don’t have to work out 6 times a week, but have a schedule starting at maybe 2-3 days a week and stick to it. After keeping a regular schedule your body will get used to working out so if you skip a day, your body will know you skipped a day and you will get this weird feeling that you should go workout again! I can’t describe the feeling but start working out and see for yourself!

    Just start

    The hardest part of any fitness plan is getting started. For some it’s being lazy, for others it’s the daunting thought of just going to a gym. Getting into a healthy, active lifestyle is so important and you will be glad you started. Just go and try it! See what you like and go for it. Good luck!

     

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