How to Keep Sane During Finals Week

A horrible thing is about to happen.

A painful

tragic

beautiful

thing.

Finals week is about to end, meaning that it is officially the time for the big workout.

The hard, going-to-die workout.

The I-haven’t-done-much-this-month regrets finally catch up with you, and now it is time to get real.

You know that it needs to happen. Those long study nights do not add up to great health, physically or mentally.

So here is what you do.

Do not just sleep for an entire day straight, despite the appeal I know that has.

  1. Listen to the Mayo Clinic and work on creating a steady sleep schedule. This may not seem like the first step, but trust me, if you have had a semester anything like mine, this is a key ingredient to a healthy summer.
  2. Hydrate and stretch before, during and after your workouts. This is incredibly important, as I am sure every person in the state of Arizona has heard more times than they can handle.
  3. Find a buddy. “If you can find a workout buddy it can help you keep yourself accountable,” says exercise and wellness major Ben Holko. If you alone will know that you did or did not work out, it is much easier to put it off.
  4. Create a playlist.
    Music is a great counter to stress.

    Music is a great counter to stress.

    I promise, it is necessary. Start with some motivating, high-tempo songs that make you feel fantastic and empowered — I suggest including plenty of Queen Bee. Work your way into some angrier, more intense pieces to push you through the rough patch and end with the most fun song you can find. Here are some must-haves:

    • “You Give Love a Bad Name” – Bon Jovi

      In order for you to be properly psyched for the legendary workout you are about to have, you must include this hit — at least, according to Barney Stinson.

    • “Are You Satisfied” – Marina and the Diamonds

      I have never been more motivated to challenge myself than when listening to some Marina. You are not complacent. You are strong and ready to destroy that treadmill.

    • “(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To” – Weezer

      This song always makes me feel happy and ready to take on the elliptical.

    • Everything Beyonce has ever touched.

      But seriously. Looking into that big mirror showing all your sweat and jiggle can be very detrimental. The entire purpose of this workout is to feel better inside and no one can make you feel more proud, capable and strong than Queen Bee. You can, and will, take on the world.

    • Wannabe – Spice Girls

      A throwback, but still a great mid-workout song. I recommend filling the middle part of your Get Psyched mix with throwbacks that will make you laugh. Working out can be fun. Painful, maybe, but fun.

    • One Foot – Fun.

      Maybe it is just me, but Fun is the soundtrack to my summer. This song is a great way to finish and get you through that final push.

  5. Create a plan. Stretch, warm up with some cardio and hit the machines. Do not forget to do a cool down. Decide your goal beforehand and give yourself a set amount of time you want to be at the gym or wherever you are.

    “Have a plan with you on paper and have a schedule of your workouts. It’s hard to keep it up, but when you have a journal-type thing, it helps,” Holko suggests.

    Only you can really know all the improvements that you have made, and that concrete proof can be a great motivation. Avoid overdoing it. You may think you can handle it, but this will negatively affect your future workouts.

Head out! Do not forget water, headphones and an optimistic outlook.

It’s going to be legendary.

Love 101

As we all know, Friday was the day when lovebirds all over the world supposedly bonded even more and the single folk celebrated their independence or maybe wished for some company — oh, Valentine’s Day.

Healthy love is the best love.

Healthy love is the best love.

So many mixed emotions! But let’s be real. A lot of us don’t just have these emotions on Valentine’s Day. They’re definitely a constant in our everyday lives, whether they’re getting annoyed because some couple is just too lovey-dovey or actually enjoying a romantic dinner with your lover.

This brings up the topic of healthy relationships. It’s vital to every aspect of your health to foster healthy relationships in your lifetime! And I’m going to give you a quick checklist of five aspects that are important when evaluating the relationships you’re in right now or might be in for the future.

  1. Trust: Trust is by far the most important aspect to foster in a relationship. It’s the one thing that can completely break a relationship if broken, and it’s really the one thing that, if broken, is very difficult to gain back. So, ladies and gentlemen, make sure you trust your partner 100 percent in all aspects of his or her life! It’s vital for a successful relationship.
  2. Fidelity: Fidelity goes hand-in-hand with trust. However, too often, partners forgive each other for cheating, and I think that’s really damaging to a relationship. If someone feels inclined to cheat, the relationship obviously isn’t meeting their expectations, and to fix this is next to impossible. Taking a break is probably the best option if you’re considering forgiving your partner for cheating.
  3. Secrecy: We all have secrets. That’s a given. But I’m a strong proponent of transparency in relationships and believe that really, if you’re with the right person, you shouldn’t have to keep any secrets from them.
  4. Intimacy: Some people believe a relationship isn’t “real” until you get intimate with your partner. To each their own! The most important part of this aspect is to ensure that both parties in the relationship are on board for intimacy. Never feel pressured to do something just because you want to please someone else.
  5. Compatibility: Compatibility is something that can grow over time. It’s probably one of the least concrete parts of a relationship, just because human beings are so quirky, and different things drive their capacity to love. But when it comes down to it, make sure that you feel like you’re not wasting your time just to be in a relationship. Make sure you’re actually invested in the relationship and committed to loving the other person because of who they actually are, not who you want them to be.

Honestly, relationships are beautiful experiences. I encourage everyone to love someone and love them with every fiber of your being. Not only is it physically good for you, it’s beneficial for your emotional health too.

Relationships are a normal part of life that make us human. Through happiness or heartbreak, they make us stronger and more well-rounded people. I’m not saying they define who you are and by no means should a relationship take over your life.

The key is to find that ideal balance between your love life, social life and academic/work life. Once you do that, you’re golden. So until then, refer to the key points I highlighted above so you can be one step closer to finding this balance that’s essential to your success as a healthy person.

Stay healthy, my friends!

Hot yoga: Is it just a fad?

You’ve probably heard the illusive term “hot yoga.” What comes to mind?

Do you envision a crowded room filled with artificial light and sweaty people simultaneously engaged in poses that stretch convention?

Or do you envision something more private — perhaps a small group that practices in a low-light sauna, each bead of sweat produced a testament to their commitment to health?

Om.

Om.

The truth is, there are many different ways to engage in hot yoga. You can do it in classes with more than 200 people; you can do it with 10 people. The lights can be recessed lighting or candles — the options are endless.

But one fact remains constant: hot yoga is one of the best things you can do for your body.

Doing hot yoga in a room that’s anywhere from 95 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit increases your pulse and metabolism. This, in turn, allows for better circulation throughout the body.

So when you sweat a lot, that means you lose more weight, right? Not necessarily! Studies have shown that the fact that you sweat more in hot yoga does not mean you will lose more weight than you would at standard room temperature. However, more harmful toxins are released during hot yoga through the greater amount of sweat than with yoga done at standard room temperature.

By far the greatest advantage to doing hot yoga is the fact that your body will surpass the expected level of flexibility that currently defines how you pose. The heat loosens up tight muscles and knots, also lubricating joints that would normally inhibit your body from reaching its full potential.

However, while there are many advantages to doing hot yoga, you still need to take certain precautions. Staying hydrated is essential! It’s recommended that you drink at least 2-3 liters on top of the required eight glasses of water daily if you plan to commit to hot yoga as a fitness routine.

Also, food intake needs to be monitored. It’s recommended that you eat a small snack before doing hot yoga — too empty or too full of a stomach is detrimental to the hot yoga experience.

But, the most important thing is to listen to your body while doing hot yoga, and be careful not to overexert yourself. Oftentimes, you want to ignore the minor things you feel in a workout routine, but with hot yoga, the risk of passing out is higher than normal. It’s vital to take breaks when needed.

But, holistically speaking, hot yoga is a great fitness routine to get into. Not only will you burn calories and increase your flexibility, you will also put your mind at ease and keep your mental health in check! So, the verdict has been passed. Hot yoga is not just a fad. It’s arguably the best way to practice yoga because of all the added benefits. So get out there! Grab a buddy and sign up for a hot yoga class. The experience will be unforgettable, and your body will love you for it!

The Health Behind Spa Days

At this point during the year, a lot of students and professionals yearn for some sort of excuse to just kick back and take a break from the swamp of work piled up around them.

Treat yourself!

Treat yourself at Hotel Palomar’s Repose.

The vision of the spa atmosphere might seem extravagant to some — candles, aromatherapy, oil massages? Who really needs all that?

But the truth is, there are health benefits behind that luxurious visit to the day spa. Everybody needs a break, and a spa day is the ideal way to spend your day off.

So, how exactly do spa treatments benefit your health? Well, the explanation is actually quite predictable.

Many of the massage options at day spas release knots in your back that can worsen your posture and soothe sore muscles and inflamed joints by targeting areas that are tight or swollen. Additionally, services like bath soaks, mani-pedis, facials and other skin services can alleviate a lot of stress and tension that is built up throughout the school or work day.

It ultimately boils down to the “power of touch.” It’s been proven by multiple psychologists that being touched is essential to our sanity! Being touched releases endorphins which ultimately make you feel happy.

The following locations are full-functioning spas that include facials, wax options, makeup application, hair design and mani-pedi stations.

The Roose Parlour and Spa: Nestled in the historic district of downtown Phoenix at 918 N. Sixth St., this location is known for its charming, friendly staff and hip feel.

Repose Spa and Salon: Tucked inside CityScape between Washington and Jefferson streets and First Avenue and First Street, this location is affiliated with the Hotel Palomar and is known for its upscale, unique lay out.

Inner Radiance Spa: Though it’s not downtown, this spa at 4503 N. 32nd St is close to the esteemed Biltmore Hotel. This location is known for using all organic products and specializes in skin care.

Downtown Salon Phoenix: At 101 E. Monroe St., this location mainly caters to hair care but also offers massage, nail, and skin services.

The Spa at Pilgrim: Again, a bit outside downtown, but right off Jefferson Street, this spa at 1401 E. Jefferson St. focuses on massages, including Swedish and hot stone massages. But for “total indulgence,” the Caribbean Therapy Total Indulgence package is a must. It’s comprised of a bath soak, body scrub and body cleanser all done in flower water with candles.

As you can see, there are some pretty nifty places downtown or nearby where you can really treat yourself after a long day. So do it! The next time you’re extremely stressed out or just need a breather from whatever is going on, go to the spa! You won’t regret it.

Not only will you have the ability to completely unwind, you’ll also benefit your physical and mental health through various spa treatments. It really is a win-win situation. An investment in your comfort is an investment in your health. Don’t delay!

Sleep it off: Fighting stress

With finals looming around the corner, we all try to find ways to keep the stress at bay. Whether it’s eating, exercising, music, meditation, yoga or cooking, everyone tries to find a way to keep stress levels low and stay sane in these last few days. To all the seniors graduating in a couple weeks, kudos! You’re almost there.

Although this might seem counterintuitive, my best recommendation for keeping stress at a manageable level is sleep. Sleeping is the best way to reduce the effect stress has on our body. Of course, eating healthy and being as active as possible help immensely too!

First off, stress. What really is it, and how does it affect me? In reality, a certain amount of stress is actually healthy — it keeps us alert and ready to avoid danger. However, experiencing continuous stress without enough relaxation or rest can be extremely harmful to the body.

Image via www.today.ttu.edu

Image via www.today.ttu.edu

Stress can cause headaches, upset stomach, fatigue, chest pains, skin conditions, high blood pressure and sleeping problems. Apart from effects on the body, stress can also affect a person’s mood and behavior. Anxiety, restlessness, lack of focus, irritability and even sadness are common effects of stress.

This is why sleep during these last couple of weeks is imperative to anyone’s health if they’re experiencing higher levels of stress. There are a multitude of benefits that come from sleep. Sleeping can help improve memory, reduce inflammation across the body by reducing inflammatory proteins in the blood, spike creativity, help stamina, sharpen attention and improve your mood.

A couple interesting facts about stress, according to WebMD:

  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) declared stress a workplace hazard. Stress costs American industry more than $300 billion annually.
  • The lifetime prevalence of an emotional disorder is more than 50%, often due to chronic, untreated stress reactions.

When going to the doctor, many people think they are treating the cause — but in reality, it’s only the symptoms they’re curing. It’s a never-ending cycle!

Being smart about your sleep has so many benefits, it’s hard to see why you wouldn’t do it. Napping and getting your eight hours of sleep during finals will help you tackle these last days successfully.

Don’t forget, stress can be dangerous if it goes unchecked. Make sure you’re sleeping, drinking plenty of water and being as active as possible to ensure you make it to graduation — or simply just summer break — in one piece!

Fight the stress and stay healthy, Devils!

There’s a time for everything: Mindfulness

As a college student, the majority of all assignments are a race against the clock; every second counts. The phrase, “timing is everything” really does apply to every aspect of life, and during this time in life, it matters even more.

Photo via MegWorden.com

Which brings us to the question: What is time? It’s something we’ve invented, but how does it apply to your health? Think about the amount time you spend exercising. What about the number of hours you slept last night? The more time you spend doing both, the better, right? Did you know that your life-span is positively impacted by getting a college degree? Although the late nights spent studying and the copious amounts of coffee to recover the next morning may not make it seem that way, college graduates on average live two years longer than people who do not have a degree. While this isn’t a get-out-of-jail-free card, this is where mindfulness comes into play.

Mindfulness

There are many definitions for the term mindfulness, but all encompass a theory of raised awareness. Being mindful in life means being aware of your time, activities, feelings and emotions; all are important to your mental and physical well being. By focusing on being mindful of the time in your life, you can apply a better sense of knowledge and awareness to help you find balance.

  • Past: Everyone has met that person who cannot seem to get out of the past. They focus their attention on memories and previous moments and don’t let go. Be mindful of the past but do not dwell on it. You are not defined by who you used to be, the experiences you had or the choices you have made. Be mindful, but move forward and look to the past for motivation.
  • Present: Live in the moment. Be mindful of the present and live your life with a veracity for each new day and every new experience. If there is something you’d like to try, do it. If there’s something you’re afraid to say, say it. If there is somewhere you’d like to be, go. Enjoy the present while it is yours.
  • Future: Have goals. Make plans and then laugh when they don’t work out the way you intended. Be mindful of the future and do not fear it. Embrace something new and enjoy the path you take to get there. Take steps toward your goals and always have something you’re working toward.

Photo via imgfave.com

Be mindful of your time, Devils. And enjoy every minute!

The happy yoga lifestyle

I know there are some people out there who may think yoga is another health trend, but from my experience, that couldn’t be more wrong. Yoga has been practiced for over 5,000 years and has spread with many different varieties and sub-types all throughout the United States.

Ever since I discovered yoga and the benefits of how it made me feel, there was no turning back. Being a beginner at yoga can be a little difficult, but yoga comes with a multitude of health benefits. There are a variety of yoga classes, studios in the downtown area and a huge amount of options online.

Image via chakrasreflexologyspa.com

Image via chakrasreflexologyspa.com

After starting with yoga myself, it took about two weeks of practicing for me to really start feelings its effects. I started feeling a little soreness in new muscles I had never really stretched out before, my flexibility increased with each session, my breathing deepened and I was filled with a general feeling of goodness and tranquility.

Research on yoga and its health benefits are still in its early stages but it has had a promising start. It has been shown to lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure and heart rate, heighten metabolism rates and for those who reported to have insomnia, help with sleep. Yoga has demonstrated to alleviate specific kinds of pains as well such as migraines (something I suffer from frequently), lower back issues and even arthritis.

Yoga was designed to bring together the different disciplines of the mind and the body through slow, controlled movements and breathing.  Those are the two main focuses of any type yoga and will be in any yoga class. I found breathing the hardest. It’s not something people usually focus on, and while doing new yoga poses is more easily overlooked. Remember to always breathe.

Image via notsalmon.com

Image via notsalmon.com

This is not the type of exercise that is mastered in a short amount of time, and it’s not one with lighting-fast results.

But that’s the purpose of yoga. It’s to teach us how to take things more slowly, to take a pause in our everyday life and find peace within ourselves.

Don’t let this discourage you! Yoga isn’t some trend exercise; it’s a lifestyle change. You may do as many sessions as you want per week or as few as you want. Take your time, find the time to make a small pause in your busy schedule and I’m sure you’ll see the results.

Practicing yoga, despite it being a safe non-aerobic exercise, does come with a few risks. If you do decide to try it out, you should remember to:

  • Warm up before every session. Cold muscles increase the chance of injury.
  • Know your limits. Before beginning any new type of exercise be sure to know what it demands of your body to avoid harm.
  • Take it slow. Yoga is an exercise for the mind and the body, helping to ease stress and condition your physique. Remember, it is not competition. Learn the basics of how to maintain proper balance and breathing before going headfirst into any session.

Stay healthy, Devils!

Keeping holiday stress at bay

Christmas trees are lit, semi-cooler weather is upon us and stress levels are so high we feel like quitting. Happy Holidays, right? This time of year is supposed to be merry and bright, but with finals, group projects and traveling home, the holidays can be a bit gloomy. Stop stressing about what you need to do before Winter Break and take some time to enjoy the days leading up to it.

Photo via Active.com

Follow these tips to help you stay stress-free

  • Take a minute to breathe. This is one of the most important things you can do for your body and mental health. When the world around you is in disarray, take Rumi’s advice and “Sit, be still and listen.”
  • Go holiday shopping. Make a list of what you need and where you can find it. Simplify your life with online shopping from sites like Amazon where you can get free shipping and customize the order for a gift. When buying for your friends, get creative and make something unique they’ll love. Check out websites like Etsy or Pinterest for some good ideas.
  • Budget your time and your wallet. It’s easy to overspend this time of year whether it’s through time commitments or with shopping for gifts. Plan out how much you can afford to give in both scenarios and stay strict with it!
  • Start a new tradition. It’s easy to get hung up on perfecting and maintaining traditions and forget why you’re doing them in the first place. Simplify traditions and start something new.
  • Keep exercising and eating well. When stress levels rise, your body goes into the “fight or flight” mode which means your body is working overtime to compensate for your high stress levels. When you keep up with your regular exercise and diet routines, your body realizes it doesn’t need to enter the fight or flight stage because it’s just a normal day.
  • Spend time with the people you love. The Holidays are here only once a year and now is the time to enjoy it. Be thankful for the people in your life and share some quality time with them. Watch a holiday movie, bake some holiday cookies and celebrate the wonderful life you’re living.

Stop stressing, Devils. Enjoy the holidays instead!