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.

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Functionali-tea

When I was younger, drinking tea for me was almost like a right of passage. I would be out to dinner with my family for a special occasion, and when it was time for dessert all the adults would order fancy after-dinner drinks that I knew I couldn’t have even if I didn’t quite know why. My dad would always order me a hot tea to include me in these special drinks that were served with our desserts. I would watch in awe as he emptied packets of sugar and streams of milk into the dark drink, pushing it over to me when he was finished. I don’t know what it was about hot tea when I was little, but it was a drink that enchanted me.

I went through a long period of time where I abandoned my relationship with tea for coffee, declaring it much more helpful to me than tea. However, I’ve come to realize that while I only use coffee for caffeine boosts, tea can be used for much more than that. Here are some ways I have discovered, through both the internet and my own experience, that tea is helpful.

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Teas to Wake You Up

Matcha tea is the tea I’ve used most often to wake me up. It’s also super simple because you can drink it plain or with sugar or honey, so not much work is required to make it taste good. While I still tend to drink a lot of coffee, sometimes I prefer to drink matcha because it still has caffeine in it. Sometimes coffee makes me nauseous and makes me crash soon after drinking it, but I find that this is normally not the case with matcha. Matcha also has other health benefits such as boosting your immune system and providing relief from stress, so if you don’t like coffee but still want caffeine, matcha might be a good alternative.

Any other caffeinated tea is good for waking you up, so it just depends on your preference of tea. Sometimes I drink regular black tea if I want tea that I can put milk and sugar in. Plus, black tea brings me back to the days of drinking tea at dessert with my family.

Teas to Help You Sleep

Sometimes, even after a long day, it’s hard to unwind and get into the state you need to go to bed. Chamomile is a really good tea to help you sleep, because it soothes the nervous system to relax your body.

There are also a lot of tea brands that make sleepy time tea,, so if you’re partial to a brand they probably make one. Celestial Seasonings is a brand that often comes up when I type sleepy time tea into Google, and they also make many other varieties of tea. I’ve never tried any sleepy time teas before, because I normally don’t use tea to help me fall asleep, but I have had friends use sleepy time teas (though the brand names escape me) and I think they work. If you don’t want to drink chamomile, or you’re just curious as to how teas like this work, the may be a good type to try.

lavenderinfoTeas to De-Stressginsengteainfographic

We live in a stressful world, so figuring out ways to de-stress is always good, especially for college students. Sometimes there’s nothing better than curling up somewhere with a hot cup of tea, and if it helps to relieve some of your stress, it’s even better. Lavender is a good tea to relieve stress, especially if you are experiencing a tension headache. I’ve also often seen lavender used in things like lotions that help to relieve stress, so that shows that it works in a variety of ways and forms.

I have also never had ginseng tea, but much like lavender, it aids stress relief. It helps clear out mental stress and exhaustion almost immediately. Additionally, it’s also good for sleeping as well, so if you find yourself super stressed and unable to go to sleep, ginseng might be a good option.

Teas for Nauseagingerrootoil1

There’s nothing worse than feeling sick, especially with something like nausea where it’s sometimes impossible to find remedies for it. Ginger tea is really good for nausea, especially nausea connected with pregnancy, motion sickness, and chemotherapy. It can also help with digestion and even with menstrual cramps. If you like tea, or at least like to stock up on teas that have multiple uses, ginger tea is a good one to have.

There are a lot of different teas and even more ways that they are helpful. Some teas, while not included on this list have multiple uses and some are even just enjoyable to drink for fun. This website, where a lot of the pictures were taken from, is helpful to find out the various uses of teas. Whether you are an avid tea drinker or you just keep it around for one of these uses, it certainly has a lot of functionali-tea.

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For quick reference, this is a great infograph to use that shows you which teas you can drink in a wide variety of situations.

 

(Photos were taken from these sources: https://www.organicfacts.net/ and https://www.pinterest.com/pin/368450813236594525/)

Home Remedies for the Change of Seasons

The change of seasons and the cooling weather can make you sick. Getting a cold in college is never fun. Medicine at the pharmacy is expensive. The cold breeze seems to want to keep you sick.

I want to share with you some of my natural remedies to get over a cold.

  1. Sleep

Sounds obvious, right? Well many a times we are so caught up in our lives that we don’t want to take a break. When you are starting to feel your energy levels are down, allow your body some rest. Take a break that night, go to bed early and use the excuse to catch up on some Netflix.

  1. Honey and Lime

This is your best bet if you have a cough, and can also help you to get over a cold. Lime is a natural expectorant, which helps loosen the mucus in your lungs and sinuses. Honey is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, and will soothe a sore throat. You can also add ginger to the mix.

Just go ahead and mix the lime juice with the honey in a small bowl. You can take it with a spoonful. Do this at least twice per day.

Tip: try to get local honey. The darker the honey the more nutrients it has.

Read more here.

  1. Tea

When you’re sick, it’s important to drink liquids to help your body cleanse itself. Hot tea is a great option. It will soothe your throat and detox your system. My personal favorite is green tea, because it is so rich in antioxidants. I like to mix it with mint or ginger tea. Mint tea aids digestion, and ginger soothes the throat.

Try to drink as many cups of tea as you can. Add honey if possible.

Tea is a magical thing. Learn more about tea here. 

  1. Nasal Wash

It sounds gross. I know. I was terrified of nasal washes, but I had a terrible sinusitis a couple of months ago and the nasal wash was what cured me.

My favorite brand is Alkalol. It is made up of only natural ingredients and is not harsh in taste.

If your sinuses are clogged, don’t stuff yourself with medicines that will only block the mucus from being released. A nasal wash will cleanse your nasal passages and sinuses and will get rid of all the stuffiness. This will help you heal from the inside out, and will prevent you from having leftover mucus after you get over the cold.

  1. Yoga

You probably won’t want to go to yoga in the peak of a cold, and you shouldn’t. Even if you have never done yoga and are not interested in it, there are some yoga positions that can help you heal and release.

Yoga is much more than an exercise, it is an ancient practice aimed at helping us heal and relax the nervous system. I believe that yoga is an integral part of healing from any illness, and this is why I include it as such a large part of this article.

Do not be intimidated by the Lulu Lemon’s and the crazy Yoga Instagrams. Yoga can be extremely simple, and you can do it at home.

The following positions will help you relax and restore.

Try to stay in the positions for at least 30 seconds to one minute, repeating them 2 or 3 times. Your body is your best teacher, so hear what it has to say. Don’t overwork yourself. Most importantly, relax and breathe.

Bridge Pose

This position will open your chest in a subtle way and will allow blood to get to your head.

Supported Bridge Pose

If you like bridge pose, but simply want to relax in it, then this is the position you will want to take. Using a bolsters blankets (4) or blocks, slide them under your lower back.. Measure a height that works out for you. If you don’t have these props, pillows and towels also work.

Camel Pose

Camel pose will open up your back and chest. It will also clear your passageways.

This pose can be intense on your low back. Take it easy. Bend back slowly, with your hands on your lower back. If you feel like you can do more, then place your hands on your ankles. Come out of it slowly.

Plow Pose

This pose is considered to be the best to clear your sinuses. It will open your passages and bring blood to your head.

This is a position that can be hard if you are not flexible or have not stretched in a while. Take it easy and go for it slowly, don’t just swing yourself back. If your hamstrings are tight, bend your knees and place them close to your ears. Stay in the position for at least 30 seconds, breathing deeply.

Standing Forward Bend

Stand with your feet hip-width apart and slowly bend forward, trying to place your hands on the floor. If your hands don’t reach easily, bend your knees. This pose will bring energy to your head and respiratory area and help clear the sinuses.

Legs Up The Wall

Relaxes the groin and opens the chest area.

Lay on the floor and simply put your legs up on the wall. Relax and hold for a minimum of 3 to 5 minutes.

Now, remember to take it easy and don’t push your body. When you are sick, the body is asking for rest. Listen to it and feel better!