Get Org-anized

“I’m going to a meeting. And then another one after that.”

“Didn’t you just have a meeting?”

“Yeah, but I have more. And another one tomorrow.”

This is kind of how it goes for me. Being a member of four organizations, it’s not uncommon for me to have three meetings in a week. One night I even had three meetings in a row. At a school like Emerson, sometimes it’s hard to say no and it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the stress that your organizations are adding to your already busy workload. Here are a few tips from someone who knows this stress firsthand.

Get Organized

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If you don’t already have a way of organizing all of the work you do, that’s your first step. Since college is so busy, it’s best to have a place to keep everything that you need to do in one spot so that you know all of your obligations. It might be easier to rank assignments and meetings in order of priority or due date so that you know what to do first. I usually highlight all of my assignments based on class or organization so I can quickly spot what I need to have completed for everything I’m involved in. If there’s a lot of things you have to do, it’s only going to be worse if you don’t hand things in or forget deadlines.

Prioritize

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If you find that you’re too stressed, consider doing less next semester or maybe dropping a club that same semester if you can. There are certain clubs, like magazines, where it’s harder to do that mid-semester because you’re on the staff. But if it’s a club where the only requirement is to go to meetings, it might be beneficial to take a few weeks off to get a hold of things or even drop the club entirely. You can always rejoin next semester if you think the workload will be lighter.

Focus on Yourself

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It’s so easy to compare yourself to others, especially when it comes to all of the activities that your peers are involved in. It’s easy to go on Facebook and see the films your friends have worked on or the articles your classmates have written and feel you’re not doing enough. I know I’ve often looked at classmates who are more involved than me and had the thought that I’m not doing enough, even when sometimes I’m way over my head. Having a heavy workload forces you to learn a lot about yourself, about what you can and cannot handle. Focus on what you can handle and not what everyone else is doing. That person in your class who’s in seven different organizations may look like they’re doing okay, but they probably barely have time to breathe, and if you can’t handle that (because honestly who can?) it’s okay to take a step back and reevaluate what you’re involved in.

Don’t Be Afraid to Say No

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Don’t be afraid to say no. Emerson students are especially bad at this because everyone around us is always doing so many amazing things. It’s easy to feel like you’re underachieving if you’re not in seven different organizations. Every person is different and you know what you can handle. If your workload is too much, don’t feel pressured to stretch yourself too thin. It’s okay to miss a meeting or two every once in a while if you’re feeling too stressed. People will be understanding as long as you’re responsible about it.

Take Time to Destress

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If it’s 1 a.m. and you’re in between writing a paper, reading for a class and trying to prepare for meetings and classes the next day, maybe take a deep breath and take a minute to yourself. Take a long shower or watch an episode of a TV show to give yourself time to relax and decompress. The paper will eventually get done, but you probably won’t be successful if you’re too stressed or tired. Remember that your health is your first priority.

Sometimes it seems like attending an arts school pressures students to think that if they’re not doing well in all their classes as well as taking on multiple organizations, then they’re not getting the most out of their college experience. I have friends who go to more traditional schools and they may take more classes that have a larger workload, but I feel like the pressure to be involved is a lot less. It’s okay to not be involved in 101 things; just do what makes you happy and enjoy your college experience the way you want to.

Images: Giphy (5)

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Find Your Zen and Destress Your Life

It’s the middle of the semester and stress is abound. Work is always piling up, whether it be midterms, projects, papers or just your good old fashioned deadline. To our brains, it all means the same thing: stress. When stress has its clutches around us, we can turn into knotted up wads of bad energy. Luckily, there are ways to combat this. All you need is a healthy dose of willpower and a place to start!

It Begins With Your Environment

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I don’t know about you, but I often find that the root of my stress lies in the state of my living space. One of my friends always says that when her room is a mess, so is she. If you’re the type whose emotions are linked with your surroundings, then this should be your first step. For me, it happens like this: one or two articles of clothing get tossed on the floor, and in a week’s time my space has descended into anarchy.  Empty bottles and discarded wrappers litter the floor. Makeup is strewn across my desk.

The first thing we do everyday when we get out of bed is touch our feet to the floor. When there’s no floor to touch because it’s covered in junk, you know you have a problem. By de-cluttering your room, you will in turn begin to de-clutter your mind. I find it rather therapeutic to clean my room in one fell swoop, but others disagree. Marie Kondo, the author of The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, insists that the best way to keep a space clean is to work on it a little bit every day. Letting your clothes pile up is a metaphor for how you deal with your problems. The good news is that anyone can be clean–it doesn’t take any special skills or superpowers. Once you get a taste of the harmonious feeling that comes with a clean living space, you’ll never want to go back to your old ways.

Embrace the Antioxidants!

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When Kermit said, “It’s not easy being green,” he was lying, assuming he was talking about eating green things! As long as you have access to healthy, organic fresh fruits and vegetables, you can be like Kermit, too. My favorite green thing (besides Shrek) is green tea. The benefits of this drink have been touted by health gurus and nutritionists alike. It all comes down to polyphenols, which are the antioxidants found in green tea. Antioxidants are known for fighting “free-radicals” which cause inflammation, weaken cell structures and otherwise wreak havoc on our insides. By eating antioxidant rich foods like blueberries, avocados, walnuts, fresh brewed coffee (and of course green tea,) we can boost our body’s defenses against ever-present environmental pollutants. When our bodies feel cleansed, so do our minds. This in turn gives us a sense of control over our lives, which leads to lower levels of stress.

And Now For The Fun Part

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It’s time for arts and crafts! Don your smocks and tie your hair back, it’s about to get messy (but this time in a good way). In the spirit of zen with the yin of harmony comes the yang of chaos. As great as it feels to tidy up, it can feel just as calming to make a big mess.

One of my favorite ways to achieve this effect is to make a collage. It can follow a specific theme, like pictures of your best friends or a memorable vacation, or it can just be anything that makes you happy. I am a notorious hoarder of magazines, so to make good use of them I like to grab a stack and start ripping out pages of pretty things. If you’re the scrapbooking type, using washi tape, stickers and other craft store staples can really liven up your piece–but sticking to good old scissors and glue is just as good. 

Drawing a heart map is another easy and effective way to take stock of what matters to you and what doesn’t. You don’t have to be an artist to create something beautiful. Just draw a big heart, then fill it in with things you love like a patchwork quilt. If your heart is big enough, you can write or draw those things inside the spaces. If your canvas is smaller, try drawing lines outside of the heart to label the things you love like a web.

How to Have a Rad Spring Break at Home

Hello spring breakers! That infamous season is almost here. It’s one long week of wild, crazy, totally uncensored mayhem for college students to take full advantage of.

Some of you will undoubtedly be jetting off to popular destinations like Cancun, Miami, Jamaica, or the Bahamas. But what about those of us who are going to be stuck in the middle of nowhere, passing the days in our podunk hometowns? This year, I’m one of them.

Do not despair, my fellow staycationers. There is still hope on the horizon for rad times right at home. I have taken the liberty of planning out five days worth of mind-blowingly fabulous activities to sprinkle throughout your week at home, in between Netflix binge sessions and staring into the abyss, of course. I guarantee you’ll have just as much fun as your friends in palm tree paradise and all without damaging your liver!

Day 1: Beach Trip!

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The best way to kick off spring break is at the beach, no matter where that beach may be. If you live on or near the coast, you can probably find one within an hour of you. I know East Coasters like me will say that the beach is too cold in March, but have a little faith and you just might have more fun than you expect. And if where you call home has no beach access short of a plane ride, well, you’ll have to improvise. Are there bodies of water near you, like a lake or a river? Don’t write it off just because you think it isn’t “beachy” enough. Even a local pond can be a beach if you use your imagination like the great prophet, Spongebob, commandeth (though you don’t have to sit in a cardboard box.) Grab a beach towel, an umbrella to stick in the “sand,” some snacks and a cool, refreshing beverage. If the spirit moves you, I suppose you can even be “that guy” and bring along an obnoxiously large stereo to provide the necessary beach jams. On the east coast it might not be quite warm enough to wear a swimsuit, so this is where the imagination comes in. Bring along a bunch of friends, build a bonfire, wrap up in some blankets and feel the imaginary salt air on your face.

Day 2: Let’s Get Crafty

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Picture me rubbing my hands together maniacally as I prepare to plunge you into the magical universe that lies in the heart of the world wide web: Pinterest. I believe that there are three types of people in this world: those that love Pinterest and devote far too much time to it, those that vehemently reject Pinterest and all that it stands for and those who have not yet discovered it.

I have personally spent many an hour on Pinterest, scouring DIY craft ideas, home decor and yummy recipe boards alike. This fascinating website can improve your life in the realms of organization, creativity, time management, decorative skills, and more. One DIY craft I’ve always wanted to try is painting mason jars. There are endless possibilities for these cult-favorite drinking vessels–you can even make cute little herb gardens. Just type “craft ideas” into the search bar and you will embark on a wild ride.

Day 3: Nature Walk

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It’s time to put on your hiking boots (or at least some old sneakers you don’t mind getting dirt on) and become one with nature. If you live in a town full of boy scouts like I do, there are lots of mapped out trails all over town to explore. If not, you can probably find some kind of park or wildlife refuge not far from you. If you’re from the city, a public park works just fine, too. In the middle of a long week at home, it’s nice to go explore places you never knew existed. Bring some friends with you and walk around in the trees. You might even see some birds or other animals you never noticed before.

Just make sure to be safe–tell someone where you’re going and pay attention to where you are so you don’t get lost. 

Day 4: Pillow Fort!

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Harken back to the days of your youth for the fluffiest, coziest day yet. It’s time to build a fort the likes of which you’ve never seen. The location can vary, but in your room would probably be most courteous to other members of the house. I used to build them in the living room and sadly they all got dismantled before their time. But you’re an adult now! Not only do you have the freedom to do with your bedroom what you wish, but you also have sharper engineering skills! Gone are the days of forts caving in due to poor foundation laying. You’re gonna do it right this time.

Once you’ve assembled the ultimate pillow fort, it’s time to bring in supplies. Snacks and drinks (when was the last time you had a Capri Sun?), adult coloring books, movies and books. If you’re the type, you could sit in there all day and read an entire novel. Or just watch “Napoleon Dynamite” all the way through. You are the king of the castle: the world is yours.

Day 5: Spa Day

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As Donna and Tom from “Parks and Recreation” once said: treat yo’ self. That’s right, this day is dedicated entirely to your comfort and leisure. The best part is that everything you need to make this fantasy a reality can be found right in your mother’s cabinets! You don’t even have to spend a dime. You just need a big ol’ tub, some simple household ingredients, a bathrobe, towel, and lots of bubbles.

The options for spa time are really endless, but my personal favorite is to draw a hot bath, put on some relaxing tunes, slather on a face mask and hang out in the bubbles for a while. Here’s a simple recipe for a fool-proof, soothing and moisturizing face mask:

¼ cup plain yogurt

2 tablespoons honey

1 ripe banana

All you have to do is cleanse your face, mash up that banana, mix it in with the yogurt and honey and smooth that gooey deliciousness all over your countenance. Leave it on for about ten minutes. If you want to get fancy, you can steam-open your pores before applying the mask by leaning over the tub as it fills with hot water. You can also add cooked oatmeal to the mask for more calming benefits. When you’re ready to take it off, rinse with cold water to close those pores back up! Then slip on a bathrobe and parade around in your slippers while continuing to treat yo’ self into oblivion!