How to Manage Final Exams

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This picture was taken in India June 2018

It is that point in the semester where we are not only cramming to get done with our classes but have the added stress of upcoming Holidays! Though this was once our favorite time of year, it has become ruined by the overbearing weight of final exams! I have yet to successfully not stress over finals, I still have a few tips to make them a little more bearable!

1- invest in an essential oil diffuser!- My diffuser has become one of the most essential necessities when it comes to relaxation! I use a blend of lavender and eucalyptus essential oils when I need a little extra relaxation. The benefits of essential oils are extensive and well worth the purchase! You can find both a diffuser and a wide variety of essential oils at a lower price in TJ Maxx. I highly recommend investing in one of these because they are relatively inexpensive and offer many benefits!

2- Keep up with your Planner!- I know I have posted about the importance of a planner in previous posts; however, this is the most crucial time to utilize a detailed schedule! I find that marking things off of a to-do list gives me a sense of accomplishment (which leads to a little bit of happiness) so feel free to get extremely detailed in like listing out times to take a shower, eat, and even a small yoga practice! These small objectives mixed in with big ones like “Study for ____ Final”, help you feel less pressure because you are still getting things done!

3- Allow time for study breaks!- Studying 24/7 seems critical at this point, however, this mentality can do significantly more harm than good! By scheduling time for yourself you are stabilizing yourself and your mental health! This can be anywhere from 30 min workout sesh to a full out Netflix binge night with your closest friends!

4- Evaluate the importance of Finals!

“The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem.” -Captain Jack Sparrow

-Growing up my mom would say this to me when I was being over dramatic about a situation. I found this quote to be extremely helpful for two reasons 1) Jack Sparrow is by far one of the coolest characters 2) you have the ability to control your attitude about any situation no matter how big and scary it may seem.

– There is no doubt that finals and good GPA’s are extremely important! However, sometimes we need to think of the bigger picture, such as is the one B going to really affect me long term! Once you understand the actual importance good grades have on your overall life and pursuit of happiness they become less stressful and significantly more conquerable! Minimize the stress of the situation means to minimize the problem as a whole!

 

Mini-Vacation Zen

IMG_4749 I have talked about making time for yoga and relaxation while traveling, which are very helpful, but today I’m going to give you a quick, easy and relaxing yoga flow to help you get your yoga fix on a mini-vacation. This past weekend I went on a weekend trip to Dallas for one of my close friends 21st birthdays, as you can imagine we had late nights and early morning to get the most out of our trip! Due to the lack of sleep, we all needed an energy boost, but didn’t have the time or desire to do a full workout so we decided to do this mini flow! This takes about 5- 10 minutes to complete depending on how long you spend in each pose! Since this is tailored towards people on vacation a mat is not required!

  • Starting in a seated position (legs crossed) take a few transitional breaths to slow down your heart rate and clear your mind.
  • On your next inhale, bring your left hand in the air, placing your palm on your right ear, tilting your head towards your left shoulder. (Be sure not to push your head to your shoulder, just allow the weight of your palm/ arm to give you that natural stretch.) Stay in this pose for 2-5 breaths.
  • On your next inhale, lift your arm and return to center, take a transitional exhale then on your next inhale to raise your right arm and repeat on the opposite side. Staying here for 2-5 breaths. Then return to center.
  • with your palms on either side of your legs take a transitional inhale and raise into a neutral tabletop position (on your hands and knees with a flat back).  On your first exhale tilting your head down between your arms and arching your back upwards we will be in cat pose. On your inhale tilt your head upwards and look at the ceiling and arching your back downward (stomach towards the ground). Alternate between these positions 5-10 times. Then return back to a neutral (flat back) position.
  • On your next exhale, shift backward into children pose by sitting on the back of your calves with your head on the ground and your arms either beside you or straight in front of you. Stay in this pose for 2-5 breaths.
  • On your next inhale, transition back into table then push into downward dog. Do this by planting your feet and palms on the ground raising your hips in the air while pushing your chest toward the ground. Stay in this pose for 2-5 breaths). Then place your feet between your hands on your next exhale. On your inhale raise up slowly and enjoy the rest of your day!
  • Namaste!

Sunday morning Yoga!

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My Sunday’s are the days I allow for yoga, homework, family, and BRUNCH! It is the best day of the week to get caught up one everything you have procrastinated on for the past week and get prepared for the upcoming week. I like to start my days with a coffee and a fast hot yoga session to jumpstart my day! 20 minute yoga full body workout showing poses infographic

This flow is not only extremely easy but also very effective in engaging your entire body! After you finish this flow its great to take a shower then join your friends and/ or your family for brunch! By scheduling time for your loved ones, you are not only strengthening those relationships but also your support system overall! This hour or two every week to connect with oneself (via yoga) and the people around us help us maintain and effectively manage our busy lives! This goes back to the direct correlation between how engaged you are in life and how fulfilled you feel in the long run!  I decided to pick one day a week and devote it to self-care and investing time in my friends/ family, by doing this I am able to give them, and myself, my undevoted attention and be fully present!

Spending Free Time Effectively

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At this point in the semester, everything is in full swing as we are getting ready for finals and the holiday season! It is extremely easy to spend all of your free time inside with a cozy blanket and a cup of hot chocolate while you binge watch your favorite TV show on Netflix, but we need to ask ourselves if that is really what we need?  I know that all I want to do after a busy week is to sleep the weekend away, but I have noticed over the past several weeks when I actually limit my amount of screen time and spend free my time doing actual activities I am more energized and relaxed. This doesn’t mean I don’t schedule a movie night (or two) a week, however, I am more diligent with how I choose to de-stress and decompress. The main tip I have for anyone who is having issues with stress is to avoid naps at all cost! Rather than taking a nap to avoid your responsibilities do something productive and beneficial like taking a walk outside or a quick yoga fix! My quick but effective yoga flow takes as little as 10 minutes to complete!

1-Mountain Pose- Start by standing at the front of your mat in a relaxed position and slowly start bringing awareness to every muscle in your body. Next, flex or tighten all of those muscles to ground you in a full mountain pose. Hold this pose for at least 4 breaths.

2-Forward Fold- After you have released mountain pose, bending at the hips and keeping your legs straight, fold over and try to touch your toes (trying not to put too much strain on your hamstrings). Take a few transitional breaths here then move into downward dog.

3- Downward dog-  From forward fold plant your hands at the top of your mat and step back. Stay in this pose for 3-5 breaths.

4- Plank-  From downward dog step back enough to where your body is flat. This is simply a transition pose so don’t feel obligated to stay in this position for long.

5- Pigeon (left foot forward) – Next put your left foot in the air and then bend your knee and place your shin on the mat between your hands. next lower your body so you are sitting on your calf, next fold over your bent leg (your face should be resting on your thigh. Stay in this pose for at least 4 breaths.

6-Plank- A transition pose again.

7- Childs Pose- From plank rest your knees on the mat and sit back on your calves, then fold over your thighs placing your forehead on the mat. Stay in this pose for as long as you need to (at least 5 breaths)

8-Downward dog-

9- Plank

10- Pigeon (Right foot forward)- a repeat of step 5, with the alternating leg.

11- Plank

12- Mountain.

Namaste-

All you need to know about hot yoga

ZOEWhat is hot yoga? Hot yoga is basically any type of yoga that is performed in very warm or humid conditions. With the few encounters I have had with hot yoga, I have come to realize they are more for exercise rather than relaxation. This is definitely a class that I would recommend for more experienced yogis or people that frequently do cardio/ HIIT workouts. Though these classes are possible for people who are just beginning yoga, it is difficult to do the class effectively if you don’t know poses very well because the instructors spend very little time describing each motion. Though this is an extremely effective way to boost your heart rate and switch up your workout routine dont go into these classes expecting it to be easy! A few things that may help you in your first hot yoga class are to definitely make sure you are hydrated and drink plenty of water the day of your class! You sweat a lot during this class because of the increased temperature so be hydrated and bring a bottle of water with you! Also, try to stay away from long sleeve tops and baggy clothing, as you may feel uncomfortable or overheated while in the class. Due to the increased temperature dont be afraid to sweat, so make sure you put on deodorant and bring a towel with you! These classes are great because you are getting a great workout while still focusing on the core of yoga which is to connect your mind body and spirit.

Taking a Break from Instant Gratification

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As a generation that has grown accustomed to and thrived on social media/ technology, we expect all aspects of our life to either happen or have a reaction instantly! I have said in previous blogs yoga is a great way to take a step back and truly evaluate what is important. This technique of self-evaluation can assist your prioritization and determining what deserves your time. Though yoga may seem like a small step towards breaking up with our instant gratification addiction, the clear mindset it can potentially provide helps one understand that life is beautiful and perfect in its own unfiltered way.

When I was attending my first yoga classes as a teenager I found that the separation anxiety I had during the hour my phone was away from me to be slightly unbearable and extremely challenging. This became an increasingly large problem when I was attempting to clear my mind during savasana. I finally had the realization that my constant need to be connected to the outside world was unhealthy when I was in a yoga class and the instructor said something along the lines of “leave everything that is bothering you outside the door and focus on being present right here right now.” This simple sentence has had a large impact on me and how I approach stressful situations. By just mentally separating myself from the stress I am able to be more present, which is also applicable in separating yourself from the constant need to be on your phone.

Rather than turning towards social media for the false sense of self-confidence to deal with stress, try something like yoga, or another form of physical activity, to get a dose of dopamine in a healthy way. In other words, try being in control of your self-worth instead of relying on the constant praise and gratification from your followers and online friends!

 

How Yoga Impacts Mental Health

IMG_0640This picture was taken May 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana 

 Growing up I began doing yoga at my local athletic club with one of my mother’s close friends to get out of sitting in the club daycare while my dad and bother would work out. At that time I would simply make myself a pallet in the back of the room out of yoga mats and the traditional Mexican yoga blankets and take a nap while enjoying the relaxing atmosphere. As I was getting older my interest in the classes began to increase from using them to take naps to actually attempting each pose and eventually doing a whole class. It wasn’t until I was in high school that I truly dove into seriously practicing yoga. As I was attending more and more classes I became aware of all the benefits yoga has to offer, both physically and mentally. I have discussed in my previous blogs how my life has improved since letting yoga into my life, however, the actual list of the mental health benefits is lengthy but includes:

-Reduces stress

-Lessens the symptoms of PTSD, sleep disorders, schizophrenia, and depression

-Can help reduce feelings of anxiety

-Increase in mindfulness

-Sharpen concentration

-Increase in self-confidence

-Overall improvement in mood

And the list goes on, but as you can tell by reading such lists there is an infinite amount of positive incentives for people to at least try a class or two! Though you may not have any diagnosed mental illnesses, we all struggle with the burden of stress in our everyday life! Yoga can help lessen the symptoms of more serious/ harmful mental illnesses but it can even have an impact on little things like stress! So just get out there and try it!

More information about the mental health benefits of yoga can be found here and for a more extensive list of the benefits here is a link for 60+ Benefits of yoga for men and women