With exam season on the way and the end-of-semester paper crunch coming, students will be turning to caffeine to help them make it through the long days (and nights) of work. It’s important to know that caffeine cannot replace sleep, and that your brain works best when you have time to sleep before taking an exam. So plan ahead, prioritize, and get some sleep! Your GPA will thank you. Also, learn more about caffeine by checking out the cool info-graphic below. Click to enlarge. Happy Studying!
It’s astounding, time is fleeting: last day of classes is Wednesday and final exams begin Friday! I would like, if I may, to take you on a strange journey, to the intersection of easy and helpful in the Venn diagram of finals study tips. Follow some of these simple steps and make your finals experience your personal happy place.
First, clear your head. Start from a space of calm. With calm.com. You heard right. Calm.com : a place to relax on the internet. A sweet, 2-minute, guided meditation experience. Since everyone has two minutes, when you start losing your intense focus, scoot on over for a 2-minute refocus. You can choose music/not and whether you want your meditation guided/not.
Now you’re calm, clear-headed, ready to study. Next step: Simplynoise.com. Simplynoise is free as free can be and will pipe “white noise” (actually comes in brown, pink, and white) into your headphones. White noise is amazing tool to block out background distractors and allows your brain to fully latch onto your work. It can turn 30 minutes sessions into 3-hour marathons, painlessly.
Maybe you’re all set, calmed, white-noised, but you’re having trouble finding your study groove. In that case, maybe the Pomodoro Technique is for you. It’s a time-management system that breaks your time into 25-minute intervals (called pomodoros) with breaks in between. The steps are simple and five in number:
- decide on the task to be done
- set the pomodoro (timer) to 25 minutes (there are chrome apps for this!)
- work on the task until the timer rings; record with an x
- take a short break (3-5 minutes)
- every four “pomodoros” take a longer break (15–30 minutes)*
If you still feel like the internet is still pulling you into its distracting depths, it might be time to go all out and unplug, with freedom. Freedom only does the one, simple thing, and that is: disconnect you from the internet. You chose the amount of time, any amount of time up to eight hours, press FREEDOM!, and presto: no internet for you. This program is ideal for that phase after you’ve finished all of your internet research and now are just marathon writing/revising/flash-carding. A little disclaimer: Freedom is the only hot tip in this blog post that costs money, $10, to be exact.
As the semester continues it is so easy to get overwhelmed with mounting responsibilities: classwork, homework, tests, group work, projects, student organizations, jobs, friends, family, relationships, and the list goes on and on. In hustle and bustle of busy college life it seems impossible to take time to relax, even though stress management is an important skill to develop for your personal wellness. Isn’t important skill development what being a college student is all about? Below is a list the stress experts at CWS put together for managing stress.
See if you can add a few to your daily routine!
- Thou Shalt Organize Thyself.
Take better control of the way you’re spending your time and energy so you can handle stress more effectively. Need help? Check out some time management strategies on our website.
- Thou Shalt Control Thy Environment by controlling who and what is surrounding you.
Do you have study buddies or are your friends always encouraging you to go out when you have work to do? Pay attention to how your friends influence your habits. In this way, you can either get rid of stress or get support for yourself.
- Thou Shalt Love Thyself by giving yourself positive feedback.
Remember, you are a unique individual who is doing the best you can.
- Thou Shalt Reward Thyself by planning leisure activities into your life.
It really helps to have something to look forward to. Check out our Healthy Heels weekend blog post every Thursday for ways to relax on the weekend!
- Thou Shalt Exercise Thy Body since your health and productivity depend upon your body’s ability to bring oxygen and food to its cells.
Therefore, exercise your heart and lungs regularly, a minimum of three days per week for 15-30 minutes. This includes such activities as walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, aerobics, and more!
- Thou Shalt Relax Thyself by taking your mind off your stress and concentrating on breathing and positive thoughts.
Dreaming counts, along with meditation, progressive relaxation, exercise, listening to relaxing music, communicating with friends and loved ones, etc. Want to try something new? Check out our iTunes Relaxation Audio Files!
- Thou Shalt Rest Thyself as regularly as possible.
Sleep 7-8 hours a night. Take study breaks. There is only so much your mind can absorb at one time. It needs time to process and integrate information. A general rule of thumb: take a ten minute break every hour. Rest your eyes as well as your mind.
- Thou Shalt be Aware of Thyself.
Be aware of physical signs such as insomnia, headaches, anxiety, upset stomach, lack of concentration, colds/flu, excessive tiredness, etc. Listen to your body and give it the rest and care that it is asking for.
- Thou Shalt Feed Thyself / Thou Shalt Not Poison Thy Body.
Eat a balanced diet. Avoid high calorie foods that are high in fats and sugar. Don’t depend on drugs and/or alcohol. Caffeine will keep you awake, but it also makes it harder for some to concentrate. Be careful about drinking coffee in the afternoon it can lead to trouble sleeping. Remember, a twenty minute walk has been proven to be a better tranquilizer than some prescription drugs.
- Enjoy Thyself.
It has been shown that happier people tend to live longer, have less physical problems, and are more productive. Look for the humor in life when things don’t make sense. Remember, you are very special and deserve only the best treatment from yourself.
When you trying out some of the commandments for size, the following resources might be helpful!
- Campus Health
- Academic Stress Help
- Regular and Walk-in Counseling Appointments
- Support Groups
- Grief, Identity, Stress, Relationships, Living with Chronic Diseases
- Campus Rec
- Yoga/Pilates classes
- Fitness Orientation
- Sessions with Personal Trainer
- UNC Career Services
- Decide on a Major
- Build your resume
- Explore careers
- Financial Services
- International Student Services
- Learning Center
- Study groups
- Academic Counselors
- Improve Reading
- ADHD/LD Services
- Writing Center
Anyone read “The Shallows” recently? Freshmen, you know what I’m talking about.
Just to catch the rest of you up, it’s an intriguing book by Nicholas Carr on the effects of the internet on the way we absorb information.
Information. Sounds like a good thing, right?
But if you, like me, get that sinking sensation when thinking about how much information is at your fingertips (classes, Wikipedia, books, magazines, blogs, friends, family, endless emails – and don’t even get me started on social networking!), it might be time for some spring cleaning. Of the mind, that is.
The internet gives us unprecedented access to an almost limitless amount of information, and most of us don’t know where we, as students, would be without it. But with new ways to obtain information, it helps to have new ways to synthesize the pieces. I present to you: a visual diagramming technique known as mind-mapping.
What is mind-mapping?
- Mind-mapping is a type of diagram used to visually outline ideas, goals, or concepts
- Usually, mind-maps are clustered around a central idea or theme (a “node”), where all other components of the mind-map branching out from that center, see example above
How do I mind-map?
- Start with a core concept that you want to explore (“New Year’s Resolutions 2013”, “Photosynthesis – What is the Deal”, “Time Management and Me”, “My Group Project for That Class – Fall 2012”, etc.)
- Start branching out with the smaller components that you see your larger concept being broken down into (say, within “New Year’s Resolutions 2013” you could have two branches titled “Fitness” and “Study Abroad”)
- Keep branching until you’ve reached the smallest sensible units (i.e., until your ideas cannot be branched any further)
- Voila! You have a complete picture of the concept that you’re working with. Revisit and revise as needed.
Sometimes it makes sense to learn about visual diagramming…well…visually. This is a helpful how-to video for the mind-map beginner.
Why should I mind-map?
Mind-mapping can be a good way to:
- Take notes during class
- Get a sense of large projects
- Visualize the way concepts are connected
- Brain-storming – unleash that hail-storm of creativity
- Map out essays
- Draw out your ultimate knowledge base, figure out where your gaps are
- Set goals for yourself and make a detailed plan for getting there
- Look cool! I.e., it looks good printed out, aesthetics boost happiness, also gives you a sense of direction and fulfillment about your work. That’s about as touchy-feely as it comes, but it sounds like it would feel good, doesn’t it?
Tools for mind-mapping:
If you wanted to start using software tools, Wikipedia has a pretty comprehensive list of both free and proprietary software that can get you started (here). You could also use Word, Excel, or PowerPoint once you get the hang of how it works. Your humble blogger has an iPad, so I like to use SimpleMind (it’s free for iPad, but less free if you’re want to use it on your computer).
More Information (is there irony here?):
Did you want to read that paper being referenced here? Maybe comment about it in the comments section? Go ahead, it’s right here.
Want to hear an interview with the man who came up with mind-maps? Right here! He’s very convinced that mind-maps are the way the brain is intended to be used (no surprise there), so you know, grain of salt, still worth a watch.
Happy Monday Morning! How did you spend your weekend? Did you participate in any of our Healthy Heels recommendations? If you were out drinking, do you remember how many drinks you had? Do you know what your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was?
Keeping an eye on how many drinks you have can help you manage your budget and help you make sure you are keeping your BAC at manageable levels. Keeping your BAC below certain levels can help you avoid the nastier side of drinking – the hangovers, the missed classes, and days spent recovering when you should be studying – while still allowing you to go out, have fun, and enjoy drinks with friends.
With this approach in mind, here are some online tools and phone apps we’ve found that could be useful to someone who wants to take the first steps towards monitoring their drinking on-the-go. If you know of another good way you keep track of how many drinks you’ve had in a night, feel free to share in the comment section!
For starters, there is a very cool iPhone app called DrinkTracker available in the App Store for $1.99. It uses an algorithm to calculate your real-time BAC as you are drinking, taking into account how quickly your body processes the alcohol based on your weight, height, gender, and how long you have been drinking. It’s also has some cool integration with Google maps to help you find the next bar or get home safely by contacting a local taxi service, or even emailing a friend your location. Click here to check it out.
For Android users, we recommend the free AlcoDroid app. Like DrinkTracker, AlcoDroid uses sex, weight, and type of drink to give you a current BAC estimate. In addition, AlcoDroid plots your BAC over time, giving you an idea of when you’ll be below the legal driving limit or back to zero. It can also track the cost of your drinks and graphically chart your daily, weekly, and monthly alcohol consumption statistics. Click here to learn more about Alcodroid and its many features.
While these apps are great tools for monitoring your drinking, we want to remind everyone that any information provided should be taken with a grain of salt. They can’t take into account other things that affect BAC levels, such as whether you have eaten a balanced meal beforehand, or things that are specific to you, such as genetic factors. It’s very important to stay within your comfort zone. If you normally wouldn’t drive after having 4 beers in 2 hours, don’t change things up just because DrinkTracker says you’re good to go. These apps are meant to keep you informed, not to push your limits.
For more information on drink tracking and other cool apps, check-out this page.
We’ve all heard it a million times – “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” But is that really true? And if it is, why is it so important?
Eating Breakfast Has Many Benefits
While simply eating breakfast isn’t a magic solution to all of your health and nutrition problems, it has been shown to have many great benefits, from improving mental function to reducing your risk of diseases like diabetes and heart disease.
First, research has shown that school children who eat breakfast have better attention and memory than those who skip breakfast. Even though college students are a few years older, eating in the morning before going to class could be the extra boost you need to pay attention and recall those important facts for the final exam.
Second, eating breakfast can help you maintain a healthy weight, which can help prevent problems later in life. Scientists aren’t 100% sure why skipping breakfast has this effect, but there are a few possible explanations. If you don’t eat early in the day you’re usually starving when lunchtime rolls around and more likely to overeat or choose less healthy or balanced options. Also, long periods without food can tell your body that it needs to conserve energy, leading to higher than normal weight gain. Plus, knowing you made a good choice by eating breakfast can set you up for a great day of healthy decisions!
Eating Breakfast Doesn’t Have to Be Difficult
So, eating breakfast is a smart choice. But, it can be hard to find time for a healthy breakfast when you’re rushing out the door to class. Don’t worry! A balanced breakfast that will start your day off right can be quick, easy, and delicious. Here are some suggestions:
- Slice of whole grain toast with peanut butter and sliced banana, glass of milk
- Apple and string cheese
- Hard-boiled egg, granola bar, grapes
- Whole grain waffle with peanut butter, orange
- Packet of instant oatmeal with walnuts and banana added
- Whole grain cereal with milk and sliced banana
- Yogurt with frozen berries and almonds
What are your favorite breakfast options?
Freitas, I.F. Jr., PhD, et. al. The Association between Skipping Breakfast and Biochemical Variables in Sedentary Obese Children and Adolescents. The Journal of Pediatrics, Available online 7 June 2012 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jpeds.2012.04.055.
Wing, R.R. & Phelan, S. Long-term Weight Loss Maintenance. Am J Clin Nutr. July 2005 82:1, 222S-225S.
Wesnes, K.A., Pincock, C. & Scholey, A. Breakfast is associated with enhanced cognitive function in schoolchildren: An internet based study. Appetite. 14 August 2012 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2012.08.008
Remember the amazing energy and promise of the last day of the school back in Elementary School? Clamoring onto the bus, singing “no more teachers,” maybe throwing paper airplanes out the window (not that I ever did that or anything) and thinking about all the amazing things you’d do over the summer without all that darn homework to do? Well I’m not going to lie, I kind of feel like doing that now.
With classes wrapping up and the weather warming up, I’m starting to think about all the possibility and promise that summer offers. Despite the fact that summer break in college comes with some strings attached—summer jobs, internships and perhaps summer classes—for me it’s always entailed a sense of adventure, relaxation and promise. I’ll be working pretty hard this summer, however; I’ve already begun to plan some little adventure here and there that I never had time for during the school year. For example… laying by my pool (with sunscreen on of course), learning to grill a really great steak, finally going to Asheville and, hey, maybe I’ll make a few paper airplanes just for the heck of it.
So, on behalf of all of us here at Counseling and Wellness we’d like to congratulate you all on a year successfully completed here at Carolina, whether it’s your first or your last (woo class of 2012!). Enjoy your summer, have an adventure, or don’t, whatever you fancy. But, the bottom line is, take some time relax and enjoy—it’s your summer and you deserve it!
Here at Counseling and Wellness we’ll also be relaxing a bit, but we’ll still be blogging! Make sure to stay tune in for new blogs on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Have a suggestion for a topic you’d like to see? Submit it anonymously, using the anonymous submission box on the right hand side of the screen.
This blog is dedicated to everyone who’s ever been told:
“If you would just listen you would understand.”
“Just look at the diagram, it makes sense.”
Or “Stop moving around, sit still and just study already.”
Were you never able to just listen? Look? Stop moving? Well, I’m here to validate you, using science (fancy, I know), so the next time that someone tells you to just _____. You can respond: “That’s just not my learning style!”
What? Learning style? That’s right. The theory of learning styles was developed by psychologist, David Kolb, in the 1980’s to explain how and why different people acquired knowledge differently. Kolb outlined four different potential learning styles based on how learners engage with material by feeling, doing, thinking and/or watching. I won’t delve too deeply into the theory here, but if you’re interested you can find a more detailed explanation here.
Spring break is only a week away and, if you’re like me, you’re counting down the days until your life isn’t dictated by school work, classes, and other obligations. For me, the week before spring break is probably one of the most stressful times of the year. So to keep you all motivated, healthy, and happy (relatively), here are some tips on how to survive this upcoming week:
1. Keep on moving on. Multi-tasking is like kryptonite for your brain, especially when you’re trying to learn something new. The key to remembering facts is to give your whole attention to learning them. So if you’ve got a to-do list a mile long, instead of trying to do everything at once, just try and tackle one task at a time and change the tasks up once an hour. Switching things up every once in a while can keep you mentally stimulated and engaged in what you’re doing, making you a more efficient student!
2. Disconnect the cable. When you’re studying for that big test or trying to get that assignment finished, be sure to turn off your phone and the wireless function on your laptop! This is a really tough one, but distractions only prolong the pain, so turn it off!
3. Get plenty of shut eye. Making sure to get enough sleep each night will help you be mentally prepared for the day and can actually help you perform better on that super hard test of yours! According to a 2007 study at Harvard Medical School, sleep helps memories lodge themselves into our brain (as anyone who has ever pulled an all-nighter and then tried to recall important information can attest). Here’s the link to that study. Point is, get at least 6.5-8.5 hours of sleep a night and you’ll be brilliant by morning time Or you might turn out to look like this poor pup:
4. Get your mojo back. Taking time out of your busy schedule to do something you find pleasure in can really help you de-stress and recharge! I personally like to attend group exercise classes with friends or meet up with someone and have dinner with them. I find that if I take time to take care of my mental and physical health, I’m more motivated and able to complete the tasks that lay ahead of me.
Hope you enjoyed these tips! Are there any survival tips that you all gravitate towards? Leave them in the comments down below!
I just took down my Christmas tree last Thursday. It was February 16th. It only took 1 hour and 10 minutes. I have been stressing out since I got back from break because despite the amount of free time I have on my hands, I could not bring myself to take down that tree. I got the box set of Sex and the City for Christmas and just finished the first DVD of Season 5 – I certainly had a free 70 minutes at least 30 times over in the past month and a half. So, if it was stressing me out and if I had the time, then why couldn’t I buckle down and do it?
I wish I knew the answer to this question but it seems as I go through life, questions of this variety pop up much more often than the answers. Continue reading