Midterms Mania: 3 Easy Ways To Ramp Up Your Academic Success

First thing’s first; take a chill pill if you need one. Midterms is one of the biggest stressors of the semester, so it’s very easy for everyone to start to freak out a little. “OMG what if I fail? What if I blank on this part of the test? I have three tests this week what do I do? I work 8 hours tonight too…what am I going to do?!” You’ll be okay, you’ll be fine, so relax. Instead of getting all worked up and anxious over what hasn’t happened yet, here are 5 great ways to help you succeed and stay productive over these next few weeks:

1. Organize & Prioritize

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Make a list of all that you need to do and accomplish before fall break (which, if you didn’t know, is next week Thursday 10/26 and Friday 10/27). Writing everything down can help you easily visualize your tasks and give you a starting point. Star the MOST important ones, and then rank them in order of when they need to be done. For example, instead of worrying that you need to study for four tests next week, write a lab report due tomorrow and clean your super messy room eventually, organize and prioritize them! Clearly, you need to get your lab report done for tomorrow, so do that first. Then, work on studying for each test you’ll have chronologically. Worry about cleaning your room some other time, or if you have a study break and want to stay productive.

2. Better Body, Better Brain

The generalized triad of a healthy body in college includes eating well, sleeping enough and staying adequately hydrated. When you’re stressed out, it’s super easy to forget to eat or reach for the easiest, junkiest foods on hand. Try to stick to the “good stuff” that helps you think and feel better. Sleeping enough at night is critical too. You’re way less likely to perform well on an exam if you pull an all-nighter beforehand cramming for it. Relax, go to bed, and wake up early instead if you feel like you need to. More sleep equals better creative and logical thinking for those test questions you get stumped on. Lastly, drinking enough water is especially important when we become caffeine-crazed from mega studying. Caffeine from coffee, energy drinks and some teas can seriously make you dehydrated, and thus make your brain work lousier. For every caffeinated beverage you have, try to drink 2 big glasses of water afterwards.

3. Utilize Flashcards & Mnemonic Devices

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When you’re trying to prepare for a lot of exams in one time period, it’s easy to feel frantic that you won’t remember everything. Chillax. Some great tools to use while studying to help your memory work better are flashcards and mnemonic devices. Flashcards are great for putting your pen to paper and having that mind-body connection of writing different terms. If you’re a visual learner like me, it gets easier and easier to “see” the card over time when testing yourself. Mnemonic devices are also easy to use, and help your brain encode things easier and faster. Here’s a great link for seeing some examples of Mnemonic devices.

Make sure to try out at least one of these tips for going through all your mid-semester tests and projects – they’re sure to help you out in one way or another!

 

Written by Hannah Garrett on 11/04/17

 

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College Cold & Flu Season: Newsflash-You’re Not Dying

So I am absolutely sure this is not the first blog post I’ve written about being sick while also being sick myself. It feels like in the past few weeks, there’s been a nasty bout of illness going around campus – heck, maybe even the entire state of Minnesota. Who knows. I have been sick for what feels like a month, with recurring episodes of waking up with a headache, struggling to get out of bed, blowing my nose incessantly, and trying to figure out how to talk without sounding like a Gremlin.

Being sick in college is tough! There’s no mom or dad to bring you some soup and tuck you into a warm bed. There’s no, “I’ll call you in sick today at school” or mental thought of, “It’s okay, I won’t miss much anyways.” NO. There’s only a big fat smack in the face of sinus pressure when you wake up and the alarm blaring at you saying, “Yeah, um, you need to school right now because you have 17 tests, 49 quizzes and 23 group projects due today…oh and don’t forget you have to work your 12 hour shift tonight at work cause your boss is this close to snapping at you and making you clean toilets.”

Even though that is a ridiculous and over-dramatic scenario, it sometimes can feel that way when we are bombarded with a virus that has us feeling like we’re on the verge of calling up friends and saying, “Just so you know, don’t let Tiffany come to my funeral.” It’s very easy assume your life is crumbling to pieces because your nose is leaking some strange-colored mucus 24/7.

Newsflash – you’re not dying.

As a college adult – which, YOU are – you are going through a critical transition period of your life from dependent teenager to sorta-kind of-maybe-independent undergraduate. You’re not about to jump into the lifestyle of a 25-year-old, but you’re also out of the house and need to be a little more on your own. That means that when it comes to being sick, you should put on your big boy/girl/etc. underwear and take care of yourself. Cause…well…sorry to break it to you but nobody else is. SO, where do you go from here?

1. Stop Stressing Yourself Out

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I could say this a million times and I’m sure you’ve heard it even more. STOP. STRESSING. OUT. YOU’RE GONNA BE OKAY. Whatever it may be about, find healthy ways to minimize or stop it all together. Stress takes a toll on the immune system and if you’re getting sick all the time, you may need to take a step back and take a breather.

2. Don’t Stay Up Late on Your Phone

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Go. To. Bed. Dude. You will never fully recover if you’re staring at your own Snapchat story over and over and over (it’s okay I’m guilty of it too) instead of getting a good night’s rest. Sleep is the time where your brain and body will take over and start to take care of you. Why would you want to inhibit that just to *like* another cat video?!

3. Eat Right, Drink Right & Move Right

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Don’t eat garbage, don’t guzzle pop, and don’t lay around moaning in your bed all day like an injured wildebeest. You’re only prolonging your sickness OR letting one fester for the future. Eating healthy, whole foods will help properly fuel and heal your body. Drinking enough plain water and moving enough throughout the day will do the same.

If you can focus on those three things while you’re feeling gross like I am right now, then you’re on the right track. If not, you’re in for a long recovery process that will feel like FOREVER. But again, you’re NOT dying. You’ll be okay.

Happy Hump Day!

 

Written by Hannah Garrett on 3/1/2017

Motivation Monday: Finding Purpose in Every Single Day

This will be my newest series of blog posts every Monday called “Monday Motivation”. I’ll throw up some snazzy, inspirational pictures along with a complementary explanation of how to make your Monday (and the rest of the week) absolutely amazing. The very first one today is about finding your purpose in each day.

So…why do we always give Monday a bad rap?

“Ugh…it’s Monday”

“I’m sooo tired…Mondays..”

“IT’S ONLY MONDAY AHHH!!!!”

Seriously…what’s the big deal? Why is Monday such a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day? (As Alexander would say). What’s so wrong with it? Today, you are given another brand-new opportunity to change your life, to change others’ lives and to change the world. Monday is no different than any other day, we just treat it like it is. Time to cut that out.

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People our age, the college kids and the “millennials” as many of our elders like to call us, really don’t like Monday. We love Friday, we love the weekend and we even love Wednesday because we get to say “hump dayyyyyyy!” and feel as if our week is “almost over”.

Monday is just as great of a day as any other day. You wake up, you look around, and you realize you get to make today yours. You can do anything you could possibly want to do today. Want to eat out for lunch today? Do it. Want to run a couple laps at the gym between classes? Do it. Want to wear your Chewbacca mask and watch Return of the Jedi while eating brownies? Do it!

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Stop waiting around for Friday, for the weekends, for Fall break, Spring break, any break for that matter. Every day is valuable; you just need to find your purpose in each one. When you sluggishly zombie-walk through your school/work week only giving 50% of your effort, you are not experiencing your life’s opportunities to it’s fullest. And that is the ultimate waste of time. You’re wasting your own time can’t you see! If you can find something purposeful to think about every single day, you will realize how much more you will accomplish, how much better you will feel about yourself, and how full your life really is.

That being said, how do we go from the dreaded “Monday blues” to finding something special about each day? What can you do that will change the habitual act of only trying half the time? You evaluate your goals, make a plan to do them, and act on it.

1. Evaluate Your Goals

Write this all down. Think about your passions. Your goals. Your wants in life. What are they? How do they make you feel? How badly do you want to achieve them? Are you doing anything right now to accomplish them? Are you doing anything right now that sets them back? Who are you trying to be this year? At graduation? 5 years from now? 10? List anything and everything about what you want your life to turn out like, no matter what your circumstances may be. Hang your goals up where you can see them every day.

2. Make an Action Plan

Every single day, reference back to your goals. What are they? When you look at them, do you feel inspired to do a little better each day? Write down everything you will do today to bring you closer to them. Start small. Want to lose 10 pounds? Make a plan to go to the gym for at least half an hour and choose water over pop. Want to ace that test on Friday? Make a plan to study for it in the library for a few hours and working with a tutor. If you truly want to achieve these goals, you need to make a game-plan as to how you’ll get closer to them every day. Writing down your top tree  actions each day to help you get there will make you feel focused and motivated

3. Go Out There and Get It

You can achieve absolutely anything you put your mind to – it’s all mental. If you let your brain tell you “No, I can’t, that’s impossible”, you’ll believe it. Be confident. Be your best friend. Tell yourself you can do it every single day. Drive yourself towards accomplishing those goals. Wake up and value your time. Find your purpose in the day by figuring out what you can do to better yourself; to get closer and closer to your hopes and dreams. Don’t waste your own time; go out there and get it done. Make it a priority to act on your three top tasks each day, whatever they may be.

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Monday is just another name for “today”. What are you going to do today?

 

Written by Hannah Garrett on 9/26/2016

 

What to Do When You Get Sick in College

It’s that time of year again when everyone starts to spread germs and the chilly temps outside bring in the sniffles, coughs and colds. I can most relate to writing this blog today too since I have become a literal human snot rag this week (ew). As I’ve been busy with a few tests, homework assignments, and going to work, I’ve realized that college students don’t really know how to take care of themselves when they get sick. Hey, I’m not bashing anyone’s recovery-skills here, but it has become very noticeable that people our age don’t really know how to get better. It’s almost as if we are so busy being stressed about school that we take one look at our weakened immune systems and say, “I don’t have time to deal with you!” In actuality, giving ourselves a little TLC when we do get a cold can help us get over it so much faster. This week, I’ve done quite a few things to help myself feel much better, and they are as follows:

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Drink Plenty of Water & Fluids

You’d think it’d be pretty self-explanatory, but many people our age don’t drink enough water or fluids, especially when they get sick. Make an effort to drink at least eight cups of water a day, as well as hot liquids like tea and soup, to keep your body hydrated as it fights off a cold.

Get A TON of Rest

Don’t stay up until 1 am studying or watching Netflix – just go to bed. Your body needs a lot of sleep to recover when you feel this miserable, so eliminate all distractions and get to bed early. Take naps when needed and try to focus on quality rest. You’ll thank yourself for it later.

Don’t Go Out on the Weekends

A lot of people would look at this and say “duh, I would never go out if I was really sick on the weekends”, but the temptation to in the heat of the moment can be extremely strong. Everyone wants to have fun, go out and hang with friends at the end of a hard week of school, so many students end up feeling like they need to. If you’re sick though, don’t go out. Stay in, watch a movie, get to bed early, and relax. There will be plenty of future times to have fun with friends; just not right now.

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Bundle Up in Lots of Layers

When you were sick when you were little, one of the things you might have experienced is your mom or dad tucking you into bed in a huge cocoon of warm blankets. Now that you’re going from class to class though, that might not be an option. Bring a lot of layers with you to school so that you can keep your body warm as you recover from a bug.

Take Your Meds

Whatever medicine you’re used to taking for colds, make sure you have plenty of it. The school store has a couple options on hand, and CVS and Walgreens aren’t that far away if you need something else. Follow the dosage you need and make reminders for the next time you need to take it.

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Don’t Stress Yourself Out!

The most important thing to do when you’re sick is to make sure you aren’t stressing out. Stress will only prolong your illness and make you feel worse. If you have a lot of stuff to do for school, focus on one thing at a time. Relax and tell yourself “I got this”.

From following all of these important steps, I’m already feeling much better. Of course I still have a little bit of cold to get rid of, but taking care of yourself goes a really long way. Remember that you are very important, and that you should treat yourself like it, especially when you aren’t feeling your best.

 

Written by Hannah Garrett on 9/24/2016

 

 

Cheap AND Tasty Dorm Room Eats

If you are living in an on-campus dorm room this year, you may have realized how hard it is to make some of the food you’re used to having at home. Without a full kitchen, and being equipped with just a tiny fridge and microwave, the dining center can seem like your only option.

Sometimes, making your own food is so much better than anything else offered to you. Other times, you’re in such a rush to get to work or class that you have to throw stuff together quickly to eat on the go.

But, what if your wallet it is skinnier than usual? What if the only things you know how to make require a stovetop? What if you don’t know what to put in the microwave that isn’t Velveeta mac ‘n cheese cups?

The internet (especially Pinterest) is full of all kinds of cool and creative ways to step up your dorm-room cuisine on a budget. I’ve collaborated the best of the bunch, with some favorites in every meal category. Here’s some tasty ideas.

Breakfast

The most important meal of the day…so don’t skip it! Even if you’re on the go, here are some of the easiest and yummiest things to throw together with your tiny dorm room space…

Eggs in a Mug

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From KarenInTheKitchen

 

Best way to get your fix for something cheesy and warm? Make an egg in a cup! Crack two eggs into a coffee mug, add a splash of milk, top with a handful of cheese, and add bits of bread and ham if you want. Put it in the microwave for 2.5 minutes and top it off with some salt and pepper. Deeeee-lish.

Overnight Oats

4fcf38df71d35168fbfe791d293aa11bMaybe you’re looking for a sweet-fix bright and early in the morning, and don’t want to put a lot of effort into making it. Here’s the perfect idea for you! Overnight oats are full of yummy stuff that YOU like and they require only a little bit of preparation before bed. Healthy, quick way to make something for your 8-am’s.

Lunch

Maybe you have only a short period of time to scarf something down for lunch each day, or some days you don’t even have a break. You want to make sure you’re still eating throughout the day to keep you mentally focused on class.

Mug Mac ‘n Cheese

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By far one of the yummiest things you can make in your microwave. Add 1/3 cup of dry elbow noodles into your coffee mug, add a little less than 1/2 cup of water to it, and then microwave it for 2 minutes. Stir it up, and microwave for another minute or two (with stirring in between) until the water has evaporated. Add as much or as little cheese and milk to it as you want, and microwave one last time for 30-60 seconds. Tasty cup of homemade goodness in under 5 minutes.

Baked Sweet Potato

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A quick, light and filling lunch to make is a baked sweet potato. Super nutritious and inexpensive, it’s still one of my go-to meals. Take a fork and pierce the potato a couple times with the end of it to make some “steam pores” as I like to call them. Then, wrap the potato up with a damp paper towel or napkin. Put it in the microwave for about 8 minutes and be careful when you take it out, as it gets quite hot. Throw some butter and salt on the top and you’re good to go.

Snacks & Treats

A hungry belly during the midmorning or midafternoon is no fun at all. Here’s a quick list of easy snacks to keep in your backpack or in your dorm room, along with some yummy sweet-tooth fixes:

Snacks:

  • Chopped apples or sliced bananas with peanut butter
  • Mozzarella string cheese sticks with pre-sliced salami
  • Grapes and cheddar cheese cubes
  • Cliff or Luna bars
  • Baby carrots and hummus or ranch dressing
  • Strawberries and blueberries
  • Cucumber slices with cream cheese
  • Fresh cherries
  • Mini bag of popcorn
  • Mixed nuts

Sweet treats:

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  • Sliced strawberries and mini-chocolate chips
  • Fro-yo bars
  • The Mug Brownie, which includes:
    • 4 tsp flour
    • 4 tsp sugar
    • 2 tsp cocoa
    • 2 tsp oil
    • 1/4 tsp vanilla
    • Mix & microwave for 30 seconds

 

There’s your food for thought, or in my case, food for hungry thoughts. Remember that the most important thing above food is water however, and to prioritize staying hydrated throughout your long class days. Drink water, eat good food, and study hard!

 

Written by Hannah Garrett on 9/21/2016

 

 

Off Your Butt & Into the Woods

UMD is very well-known for being a school college kids flock to because of Duluth’s beauty. With Lake Superior just outside our doorstep, it’s pretty clear as to why everyone enjoys living here. You’d think everyone would take full advantage of all the adventures here, but very few know what else to do besides taking a stroll around the lake in Canal Park. Therefore, a lot of UMD students become so engulfed in the busy chaos of college classes and schoolwork, that they forget the value of spending quality time in nature. Whether it is during the last warm days of September, or a snowy weekend in January, it is so important to get outside. Here are some absolutely amazing places to see and things to do while you are at UMD, and why they are so dang good for you.

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1. Trail Running

I don’t care if you like running or not – Duluth has some pretty sweet running (or walking) trails. Bagley Woods is right on campus with a breathtaking view of the lake once you reach the top of a significant uphill trek. Running through there is killer for your glutes and endurance. UMD’s Recreational Sports Outdoor Program (“RSOP”) is actually hosting a 5K through Bagley’s woods on October 2nd with proceeds going to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. UMD students are $15 and others are $20. Register here by September 23th to guarantee an awesome t-shirt!

Besides Bagley wood, there’s a whole bunch of places to spend an afternoon hitting the trail. Some of these include:

  • Chester Park
  • Hartley Woods
  • Park Point Beach (sand running)
  • Congdon Park
  • Grassy Point
  • Lester Park
  • Kingsbury Creek
  • Lincoln Park

The reason I stress trail running being advantageous is because it is a lot kinder to your body than spending your days on a treadmill or sidewalk. Trail running is easier on your joints, and can prevent injuries associated with running on hard pavement, like shin splints. Not only that, but nature trails can significantly help college students by putting themselves into a stress-free place. According to Runner’s World, “Trails provide an undeniable escape from what can be an otherwise hectic day. Eliminate the outside environment of cars and other city noises and import sounds of birds and trees rustling in the wind, and you’ve got an entirely difference experience”.

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2. Exploring Lake Superior

It’s right there – so don’t waste the first beautiful month(s) of school inside and get out on that lake! RSOP has an abundance of programs, activities, and rental options so that you can spend however much time you want on the Earth’s largest fresh-water source. Here’s just an idea of all the cool things you can do on Lake Superior:

  • Canoeing
  • Sea Kayaking
  • Kiting
  • Surfing
  • Sailing
  • Fishing
  • Stand-up Paddleboarding
  • Swimming

RSOP has tons of rental options and programs they offer to help get students to venture out to the beautiful blue water. Paddle Surf Kite does exactly that with water-based activities like the ones above. There’s also Kayak and Canoe Club which focuses on building paddling skills and taking incredible trips with lots of paddling.

Any sort of water-based activity is exceptionally good for your body because you tend to have to work harder to either swim, paddle, or maintain your balance. You get a workout in disguised as total fun in the outdoors. Plus, when you leave your phone behind and are totally surrounded by the Lake, stress is typically non-existent.

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3. Road or Mountain Biking

If running is definitely not your forte and you don’t enjoy being out in big waters, biking might be exactly what’s right for you. I brought up my small road bike this school year, and I absolutely cannot wait to use it! As a freshman, you more than likely don’t have a bike up here, but there’s a lot of opportunities to still be able to go biking. RSOP also lets you have a variety of rental options for bikes, including:

  • City or Path Bikes
  • Mountain Bikes
  • Fat Bikes
  • Buck-A-Bike

Here’s the link for the rental rates for the bikes listed above, and who to get in contact with if you’re interested.

I personally am excited to be using a bike this school year because it allows you a lot more opportunities to be outside if you’re on a time crunch. A walk to Canal Park would be extremely long, but a bike ride there and back would be timely and very good for your body. I have a weak left knee, so sometimes I need a break from rigorous exercise. Biking is super good on your joints an doesn’t usually feel like exercise either (unless you’re competing in the Tour de France). A once-a-week bike ride to and from school can also be great for your wallet if you drive to campus, not to mention great for the environment!

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The list goes on with endless possibilities of what you can do to get outside all year ’round here at UMD. Make it a priority for you to get a breath of fresh air and relieve some stress. You may think you won’t need it, but we all do eventually. We’re nature’s beings; so go outside and be all naturey!

Written by Hannah Garrett on 8/23/2016

 

2 Truths & a Lie About the Freshman 15

Let’s face it. On top of all the other worries you have about coming to college this year, you might be worrying about the possibility of the haunting legend of “The Freshman 15”, a.k.a putting on weight. Whether you’re a girl or a guy, this is something friends, family and today’s media warns us about as if it’s an inevitable doom. And it’s not! The UMD community does a fantastic job at keeping students involved with healthy living and staying active (even during the brutal winter months!) Here’s my two truths and a lie about the “fated” freshman 15 and what to do about it.

1. Truth: You Need to Stay Active

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Once you come to college, you’ll realize that the amount of time you spend sitting on your butt in class or studying is enormous. Not only is that not fun, it’s a huge risk for your health. According to the Washington Post, “People with the most sedentary time are more than twice as likely to have cardiovascular disease than those with the least”. So what should you do about it? Try to take breaks during long study sessions by just walking to the bathroom or down the hall to keep your blood flowing and your muscles working. Make a consistent workout routine whether it’s going ham at the awesome rec center seven days a week, or just going for a daily walk through Bagley Park’s woods. Do whatever is comfortable for you and your body, and make taking care of it a priority.

2. Lie: What You Eat Doesn’t Matter as Long as You Workout

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This is the biggest, most important part about avoiding the freshman 15. Staying healthy is only 20% working out and is 80% about what you put into your body. In college, it’ll be easy to want to reach for five slices of late-night pizza with friends every weekend, or to devour a whole bowl of ice cream when you’re stressing out about having three tests, but avoid that at all costs. Treating yourself to junky food is okay as long as it is every once in a while…that’s why it’s called a treat! Develop a habit to eat a well-balanced diet with lots and lots of fruits, vegetables and water. Think of yourself as a car engine, and only fill yourself up with quality fuel. Your car wouldn’t run efficiently if you kept filling it with the worst, cheap stuff, and neither will your body in terms of food.

3. Truth: Find Healthy Ways to Manage Your Stress

panicYou are going to be stressed out, and that’s a fact. Freshman year is the most overwhelming year in college because you have to move away from family, make new friends, learn to live on your own, pay for many expenses and tackle challenging classes all at the same time. Stress is a major contributor to gaining weight, which makes it no surprise that freshman 15 comes about during a time of major anxiety. The Mayo Clinic says that, “When you’re under stress, you may find it harder to eat healthy. Also, during times of particularly high stress, you may eat in an attempt to fulfill emotional needs — sometimes called stress eating or emotional eating. And you may be especially likely to eat high-calorie foods during times of stress, even when you’re not hungry”. To avoid this, you’ll want to establish an effective and healthy way to relieve stress that works for you. Bike around Duluth, go hiking, meditate, take a hot shower, disconnect from your phone, take a nap, go for a run, do some yoga, pet a fluffy dog, make some crafts―whatever de-stresses you, do it! You have to give yourself a break every now and then.

Freshman 15’s Got Nothin’ On Me!

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Me attempting some sort of yoga pose on Park Point Beach in Duluth. (Picture credit: Kate Shelley, who is my best friend from my Rock Group at UMD and is in the lovely cover photo for this post)

To avoid the legendary tale of gaining a zillion pounds your first year in college, remember the three major tips about staying healthy: Stay active, eat right, and find good ways to cope with stress. Also, there are many other important factors like getting enough sleep, not smoking or drinking alcohol and maintaining your mental well-being that contribute to the freshman 15 to keep in mind. When you come to UMD, take advantage of all the awesome opportunities to stay fit and healthy on and off-campus. Odds are that if you follow these basic rules, you’ll be happier and healthier than you’ve ever been.

 

Written by Hannah Garrett on 6/22/16