A Parent’s Guide to Prepping Kids for College

Prepping your children for the college experience can feel like a daunting task. But it doesn’t have to be! What you do to help them prep for some of the best years of their life will help them develop life long habits. From understanding how to handle study and social pressures to finding valuable independence, it’s your time to show them what to expect and how to navigate the unexpected.

Prepping with Sustainable Study Habits

Stress is a learning lesson. Study stress and schooling seem to go hand and hand. Stress is an inevitable situation, but we don’t always have to see that stress as a complete negative. When study stress arises, it’s a great chance to help our children meet that stress head-on with positivity. Study burnout can happen to children of any age, but high schoolers are particularly susceptible. Whether a child is working with a busy schedule or is simply inclined to procrastinate, the pressures of schooling can get the better of students and parents alike. 

Watch how your children handle that burnout, and make sure that they’re getting the support they need to move past it. Encourage your child to recognize when they’ve heat their boiling point. Breaks from studying and nonschool related creative outlets are both important to the overall health of your child. If burnout is happening often, it’s a good time to take a look at what might be happening under the surface. It might be time to relearn healthy coping mechanisms for stress, anxiety, or boredom. 

It’s okay to take breaks. Even in college. Make sure your child understands that keeping to a schedule that works for them but never impedes on their mental or emotional state will be healthier for their future and their studies in the long run,

Know when you’re helping and when you’re hurting. As parents, it’s hard to say no to our kids when they ask for help with a paper or project. However, it’s good to examine each situation individually. Of course, lending a hand with studies and homework is sometimes necessary, but learn when to say no. Often we jump into helper mode without looking at the situation as a whole. Ask yourself, is this an opportunity for my child to work their struggles on their own? Is this a chance for them to problem solve? Do they really need my help, or are they looking for an easier solution to their problem?

It’s More than Academics

Success doesn’t only hinge on grades. As much as every parent wants to see their child perform well in school, prepping for college isn’t only about SAT scores and a lengthy list of extracurriculars. Of course, a great GPA and teacher recommendations look fantastic on a college application, but what happens after your kid gets accepted? So much of the college experience happens outside of courses and classrooms. Remember that a child going into college has to navigate their studies and their changing social life. It’s a lot to take on for any young person. Make sure that you’re doing what you can to keep the lines of communication open between yourself and your child after they’ve headed off to college. Be a sounding board when they need it. Be there to help with the mental and emotional stress that can easily overflow in a college situation. Keep an eye out for behaviors that are mentally or emotionally unhealthy. Be ready to step in when it’s clear your child can’t help themselves.

Safety First and Foremost

Having your kids away from home brings out a lot of anxiety as parents. Of course, we can’t watch their every move when they’re outside of our homes, nor should we. But before they leave the nest, it’s important to teach our kids how to stay safe around campus. Prep them with safety basics they should follow whether they’re on campus, in their dorm room, or on the road.

Help Them Find Independence

You’re not always going to be there. Now’s the time to teach your children about anything and everything that could help them once they leave home. Whether that’s how to save a buck or two on gas to how to get that ramen broth stain out of their favorite t-shirt, as mundane as it may sound, its the little things that teach your children to look out for themselves and take care of their needs.

Let them do the wrong thing to find the right thing. It’s tempting to step to regulate your child’s everyday life in the name of safety, and when you’re child is just an adolescent, some parents find that they need to keep a handle on their kids. It’s a good practice, however, for parents to pull back little by little as a child gets older. Keep in mind that many college freshmen are immediately met with the challenge of having too much time on their hands. Where their life may have been structured before, there is a noticeable lack of it in college. 
Responsibility, regulation, and free time. It’s important to let your children learn the importance of self-control, self-regulation, and personal responsibility while they have a soft place to land in high school. Reward healthy and smart choices, but outline consequences for poor behavior. This is a chance to show your child that you trust them and their decision-making skills. This is a chance for them to understand that parental guidance may not be readily available when they enter college. Eventually, they’ll have to make smarter choices on their own.

How to Improve Your Morning routine & Feel Ready for the Day

It’s tough to be the morning person. It’s even tougher when, on a groggy Monday morning, you head off to work and spot those individuals who’ve woken up at the crack of dawn with incredible optimism and energy. You might be thinking, “how do I become that person. How do I enjoy getting up”? Although the shift in your morning thinking might not happen immediately, the feeling of joy and optimism can be felt the moment you get up, over time. It’s all about creating a morning routine that actually builds your day up to prevent burnout and build confidence. Here are some tips to help you create that new routine…

Create a New Bedtime Routine

A lot of people will tell you that a brighter, cheerier morning starts with a calm, easy night of sleep. Those people aren’t wrong. Before you can start waking up totally ready for the day ahead, you need to have a good night’s worth of sleep. Like so many of us in this modern age, it can be difficult to get that perfect night of sleep that makes you feel entirely refreshed in the morning. And although there could be certain medical issues causing you to lose sleep, there are a lot of material items (your phone for one) that might be keeping you up at night. First thing first:

  1. Figure out when you plan to go to sleep. Some people need more sleep, some less. If you’re not sure how much sleep you actually need in your life to wake up ready to take on the world, it’s best to stick around the general standard of 8 solid hours of sleep. This means, of course, if you plan to get up earlier you should think about heading to bed earlier. 
  2. Spend a few hours before you go to bed relaxing. By “relaxing” I don’t necessarily mean you have to lay in bed or stop doing anything entirely. Relaxing can mean doing simple chores before bedtime. Laying out your clothes for the next day. Preparing lunch for tomorrow. Reading a book. Listening to a podcast. Mostly, when I say take an hour or so to “relax”, I mean stay away from a bright screen or that good old addictive social media. It’s incredibly difficult for our brains to shut off in bed the moment we decide to put our phones down for the night. Give yourself the time you need to wind down. 
  3. Spend time on yourself. Creating a new nighttime routine might mean spending a bit more time pampering yourself before bed. Sometimes, after a stressful day, we skip right to bed just to escape from a day’s worth of anxiety and annoyance. Instead, wash that day away figuratively and literally. Take a bath or shower. Spend some time experimenting with new skin or hair products. Find a new way to pamper your skin, keep it refreshed, and feeling optimistic itself. Of course, spend time on your fundamental routine of brushing your teeth, flossing, etc. Whatever you do, and however you do it, spend some time on you. 

Get Up Differently

It’s easy to get up and press the snooze on our alarms, but challenge yourself by greeting the day without immediately falling back asleep. Instead, try some new ways to wake up slowly instead of staying in bed, only to have to rush off after sleeping in for a little too long. 

  1. Wake up and meditate. Meditation and relaxation are a vitally important way to gain a little clarity, peace of mind, and meet the day with a certain amount of optimism that you might not otherwise have. You don’t have to spend an hour meditating, and you don’t have to practice a serious level of meditation. The key is to connect with your feelings and open yourself up to positive thoughts. Get out of bed, stretch out your limbs, take a seat on a nice, comfy pillow, and check in with your breathing. Find a rhythm of breathing that feels natural and calming. Think about keeping that rhythm of breathing throughout the day. 
  2. Think about what went well and what will go well. Take some time, as soon as you wake up and start your normal morning routine about what you’d like to accomplish in your day, and think back on what went well the day before. Don’t put pressure on yourself to create an impossible list in your mind of the things you need to get done in a day. Don’t put pressure on yourself to find something incredible that happened during the prior day. Think about the small stuff instead. What did you enjoy? What, if anything, felt like a bit of validation. When thinking about what you want to accomplish in your day, don’t restrict yourself to thinking about just tasks on a list to check off. Instead, think about it in terms of feelings, thoughts, and emotions. If optimism is on your “thoughts and feelings list”, try to use it throughout the day. It may feel silly at first. Heck, you might even feel cynical about the whole thing. But switching up your mindset to open yourself up to optimistic thoughts, and allowing yourself to hope for a great morning, may be just what you need.

No matter your routine, the night before or the day of, remember to face your morning with a healthy sense of optimism and opportunity. Even if you’re forcing it at first, you’re kickstarting something new. A fresh way to look at your normal days. You’re giving yourself a greater chance to feel that optimism, and in turn, it will eventually that optimism will greet you in the morning. 

Important Habits to Develop before Going to College

College is a wonderful time for students to explore the academic pursuits that interest them, as well as to hone the skills necessary for eventually entering the workforce. And while it is generally an exciting time for young adults, it is also very rigorous and requires a great deal of dedication, focus, and hard work. If you’re a high school student anticipating heading to college within the next few years, here are some key skills that you should be nurturing now to make for a successful college career in the future.

Reading comprehension.

Reading is by far the most common type of assignment that college professors will give—especially in the liberal arts fields. Successful college students are able to read dozens of pages of text per day and keep detailed notes throughout the course of their reading. The best kind of note-taking is both a summary and an analysis of the text, which results from meaningful time spent synthesizing the text.

Assertive writing.

Virtually every college student at one time or another will be asked to write a paper for a particular course, and for most college students the number of papers assigned is quite a few. Papers that are assigned in a college environment typically involve laying out an assertion—or in other words, something that can be argued. This means that in order to be a successful paper writer in college, you must become familiar with the general process of laying out an assertion in writing form early on. One of the best ways that high school students can prepare for this is to practice creating a thesis statement, pairing that thesis statement with two or three supporting arguments, and citing primary sources within a paper.

Understanding mental health.

College can be stressful, especially for freshmen who are learning to be independent and manage the workload. While this stress is to be expected and is often critical in a higher-learning environment, it’s still important for students to be able to take stock of their mental health and ensure that they are in a good mental place to continue learning and developing their knowledge. Many colleges even offer on-campus therapy sessions that are geared towards helping students work with mental health-related issues.

Seminar-style discussion.

College-level courses tend to be a great deal more discussion-oriented than high school-level courses, and college students will generally see more opportunity—and even obligation—to express their own opinions in class. If voicing your opinions to a group is something that still feels uncomfortable to you, take the opportunity to practice any time you happen to find yourself in a public forum-like environment.

Ability to overcome distraction.

Let’s face it—college is full of distractions. Libraries are not always quiet, hallmates are not always mindful of study hours, and college campuses are bursting with extra-curricular activities all calling for your attention. It’s important that as a college student you are prepared to handle the many temptations that will draw you away from your focus. This even includes time spent in lecture when you might be using a laptop to keep notes; it may be easy to simply open up an Internet browser and find something to pass the time, but you be able to overcome distractions such as these when it comes time to take notes. Having a good pair of noise-canceling headphones you can throw on can also help you limit distractions while you’re working; that’s why it’s one of the things that are recommended to bring with you to college.

Time management.

Finally, even if you are well versed in all of these skills, none of them will come in handy unless they are paired with a heavy dose of strong time management. Time management is essential to balancing the heavy workloads that are typical of a college environment while still making time for healthy, recreational time away from studying.

Financial literacy.
Over the years, college has become more and more expensive, even relative to rising incomes in that time. Because of this, there is more financial risk involved in going to college than there ever has been before. Indeed, student loans are a common cause of bankruptcy in today’s world. For this reason, it’s critical that students who are preparing to go to college develop a sense of financial literacy. This will drill home the importance of looking for scholarships, considering long-term costs associated with specific courses and degrees, and help promote good economic behavior.

How to Change Your Perception of Depression

Advice for College Grads!

One major difference between depression and any other mental disorder (such as PTSD, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder) is the stigma attached: a stigma that says that you can fix the disorder if you can just have the gumption to pull yourself up by your bootstraps. This can make us callous and completely break our ability to help loved ones cope with depression. If you don’t have someone you love who suffers from depression, you probably will at some point. Depression affects about 10% of the American population during any given year. That’s one in ten people! 

See Depression as a Real Mental Health Issue

The most important thing to realize first off about depression is that it’s not a mood; it’s a mental disorder. One or two blue days aren’t the same thing as depression. Neither is grief or laziness. Rather, depression is tied to an imbalance in our hormonal systems in the brain.

Depression can be triggered by a myriad of things; from the death of a loved one, to bad weather, to social media. Sometimes depression seems to be caused by nothing at all. It comes and goes mysteriously. 

Just as depression can be triggered by diverse things, it can be alleviated or cured by numerous means. Each patient may find their own solution, or way out. For example, for one person that might mean making a major change in the amount of daily stress they have. For another, it might mean starting a new adventure or undertaking. For one person, it might mean finding new ways to view themselves and their problems. Another person might find that the only cure is medication. For another, it’s thoughtful counseling with a professional to run through a check on personal and mental habits and change to more productive habits. Another person might simply need time. 

Understand the Difference Between Mild and Clinical Depression

One of the biggest things that we can do to help our loved ones struggling with depression is to encourage them to find solutions. Many times, the solution is in professional counseling. The trouble with depression is that because of the very nature of the disease, patients usually can’t see or hope for a time when it gets better. Because they’re having a hard time making plans and being motivated, they often need an extra push of encouragement to try things that will make it better. 

Here’s how you can know when it’s time to encourage your friend to seek out professional help for their depression: 

  • If the depression occurs nearly every day, for longer than a two-week period. 
  • If your friend seems to no longer feels or acts like themselves. 
  • They’re finding it hard to function the way they used to, including job performance, relationships, and personal goals and habits. 
  • They’re perpetually having a hard time sleeping. 
  • Their health is flagging, whether that’s in weight gain or loss, increased pain and headaches, or other symptoms. 
  • They’re using a substance to treat symptoms of depression, whether this is sleeping pills, alcohol, or an illegal drug. 

Weakness Can Also Be A Strength

I find that it’s important to remember when it comes to loved ones who suffer from depression, that often, the personality traits that make one susceptible to depression can also be the strengths that we love about them so much. For example, sensitivity, nurturing, creativity, and high-achievement expectations can all make someone more susceptible to depression. That doesn’t mean that those attributes are problematic. Rather, the depression needs to be moderated and mitigated in order for them to reach their true strength and potential. 

How Can You Help a Friend or Loved One with Depression?

It’s hard to know what we can do to help our loved one when they don’t have goals or a plan of their own while they’re stuck in the mire of depression. However, it’s important to stay connected and encouraging, whether or not the individual is welcoming to your overtures. Suicide, addiction, and other harmful behavior is a very real possibility in patients with severe depression, especially if they haven’t yet connected with a professional who can help. 

  1. Talk to them. Let them know that they’re connected and give them a safe place and judgment-free zone to express what’s going on. Building a good support network makes a big difference in one’s ability to cope with depression. Sometimes, it’s important for someone simply to realize that someone else noticed them and noticed that they’re suffering. Although it can be hard to know what to say and how to help, remember that often, being a compassionate listener is more powerful than any advice you could give. Start the conversation with “I’m concerned about you…” and enumerate the changes that you’ve seen in them. 
  2. Encourage them to stay active. Often, depression is exacerbated by isolation and lack of stimulation. You can help by encouraging your loved one to take part in outside activities. Activities that leave you with a sense of accomplishment can be especially powerful in getting patients of depression out of the harmful cycles of self-talk that perpetuate depression. Invite your friend out to exercise, volunteer, work with children and animals, and reconnect with activities and people that they love. 
  3. Help them break bad habits. When depression sets in, it’s all too common for a person to start embracing habits that only make the problem cyclically worse, usually due to diminishing health, hygiene, nutrition, and overall behavior. As a friend or loved one, though, you can do your part to help them recognize that a behavior or habit is truly harming them.
  4. Set a positive but understanding example. It’s important, while you’re trying to help someone struggling with depression, to continue to take care of yourself. Otherwise, the situation can be frustrating and can lead to feelings of grief, pain, guilt, and irritation. You need to set your own boundaries and take care of your own mental health. Don’t overextend yourself, and set an example of positive behavior and habits. Remind your friend that it’s possible to feel better and that they’ll get there soon. 
  5. Push them to seek professional help. As we mentioned before, severe depression is a medical disorder. Often, the best way to find a solution is through professional counseling. A therapist can help determine which form of treatment will be the most beneficial, monitor risks, and help find creative solutions for daily challenges. 

The Health Benefits of Moving to a Desert Climate

When you look at the migration patterns around the United States, it might surprise you to see the rapid growth in areas like Arizona and Nevada. After all, who wants to live in those hot, dry places? Turns out, a lot of people do! There’s a lot more to places like Scottsdale or Henderson than meets the eye, and the number of fun amenities in those places continues to grow as the population does. However, one major driver for why people are moving to the desert is actually due to health. Are you surprised that such seemingly inhabitable areas are such a boon to so many people’s quality of life? You shouldn’t be. Here are some of the great health benefits that come with moving to a desert climate…

Increased Vitamin D

When people think of the desert, they think of a long stretch of sand with a hot sun bearing down on every living thing. That high level of sunlight is precisely the point! People in desert areas get a higher amount of sunlight exposure than the general population, and that means an increased amount of vitamin D, which is important for a variety of reasons. Here are some examples of why you should be clamoring to get a steadier diet of vitamin D:

  • Reduces the impact of a variety of mental disorders, including depression, seasonal affective disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and a whole lot more!
  • It helps the body absorb more calcium, which leads to much better bones and teeth. This is important for elderly people who are more prone to breaking a bone upon impact.
  • It improves the immune system to help people fight off a variety of diseases.
  • It helps improve a person’s blood pressure, due to making circulation easier on the circulatory system.

Lower Population Density Reduces Stress

While the increased amount of vitamin D can actually do wonders for your stressed levels, there’s another reason that living in the desert is going to help improve your stress: lower population density. Even though these areas are growing, deserts are generally so large that the population grows outwards instead of upwards. Lower levels of population density are connected with lower stress levels in many people.

Great for Sensitive Breathers

The air quality in desert areas tends to be very high, which is great for asthmatics and other sensitive breathers. There are several reasons for this. First of all, the lower population density means that there tends to be less air pollution. Desert plants also produce far fewer allergens during spring and summer, which reduces the rate of seasonal allergies. The dry air also means that mold is far less prevalent, especially in the air. This is a big deal because mold in the air can cause respiratory infections.

Lots of Outdoor Recreation

The amount of open space in desert areas is great for hikers, mountain bikers, and rock climbers. Generally, if you are an avid outdoors enthusiast, a world of adventure is scarcely more than a 30-minute drive from your house if you live in a desert area. This helps encourage more active living, which helps people lead a much healthier lifestyle.

Harmful Insects Are Less Prevalent

While desert environments are still home to certain venomous spiders and snakes, the likelihood that you will be affected by these creatures is actually borderline nonexistent. However, the arid climate means that lots of insects that love damp environments have a hard time thriving in the desert. Specifically, as it pertains to your health, mosquito populations are greatly reduced in desert areas. People in more humid areas need to be constantly vigilant about mosquitos during summertime. However, in the desert, you are far more likely to get bit and contract a disease from a mosquito than you are to get attacked by a venomous desert spider. Moving to the desert means that you don’t have to be as mindful of those mosquito dangers.

How to Budget for Paying Off Student Loans

Today, college graduating classes have an average of roughly $37,000 in student debt per student. Although the standard payment plan for federal student loans has a timeline of 10 years to pay off the debt, the average bachelor’s degree holder takes closer to 21 years to get it all paid off. As the numbers continue to climb, it’s obvious that we need to learn more about how to get student debt squared away earlier.

It’s a challenge to live with debt hanging over your head, especially when most jobs straight out of college don’t pay that much (or, in some cases, anything at all.) However, remember that you managed on a strict budget while you were a college student, and you can continue to be disciplined until the debt is paid off, as well. The quicker you can pay off those debts, the more money you’ll save on interest payments, and the more money you’ll be able to put towards your future instead of your past.

Important Things to Remember About Paying Off Student Debt

Realize that paying interest doesn’t actually reduce your student debt. You’ll never get out of debt until you start taking chunks off of the principle. Strive to shave off that principle a little bit each month. The less principle there is, the less interest you’ll have to pay each month!

You need to set a budget. Most of the anxiety about debts occurs when you’re not sure what you can and cannot spend. Setting a budget will give you a plan for when the student loans will be paid off, and let you know how much wiggle room you have with your paycheck each month.

Read up about your loans. Understand what the grace period is for each of them, and which ones have the highest interest rates.

Avoid bankruptcy. While many people feel the only way out of their student debt is through bankruptcy, it is important to remember that there are lots of programs and strategies that can prevent bankruptcy caused by student debt.

More Tips for Paying off Student Debt Faster

Celebrate landmarks (with inexpensive, reasonable treats, of course). Celebrating certain points will help you remember that you’re working towards a goal, and encourage you to continue in the track you’re going.

Meet with a financial manager. They can help you understand your loans, and whether it would be worthwhile to consolidate or refinance your loans. At the very least, they can help you set a payment goal and stick to it. Sometimes it’s worthwhile to hire someone new as your financial manager, but even if you don’t want to go that route, you can meet with someone at your bank to help you get a plan underway.

Pay as much as you can towards student debts AFTER inflexible expenses (like rent, insurance payments, etc.) and BEFORE flexible ones (like entertainment, clothing, snacks, non-essential groceries like chips or tv dinners).

Look for creative ways to cut spending. This might include biking to work in order to save on gas costs (or you could just improve your gas mileage), couponing, making lunches at home so you never eat out at work… whatever works for you.

Don’t be tempted to just use credit cards to pay it off. Credit cards generate interest too, and oftentimes the interest rate is worse than student loans. You also won’t be eligible for tax breaks and loan forgiveness measures that are sometimes accessible to you.

Ask for what you’re worth. Some of the best ways that you’ll increase your earnings (and therefore your ability to pay off loans) is by asking for a higher starting salary or asking for raises when appropriate. This can be a difficult thing to force yourself to do, but you’re an adult now. You might not always get exactly what you ask for, but if you’ve proven your worth to your employer, you will get something.

How to Plan Your Family’s Christmas Ski Vacation

Taking your family out for an awesome skiing and snowboarding holiday experience? It’s one of the best Christmas vacations that you will find. However, you’ll need to be prepared, especially if it’s your first time. Hitting the slopes is a lot of fun, but it can be dangerous if you don’t take the necessary precautions. Here are some tips you should remember for planning your family’s Christmas ski vacation…

Choose Your Locale

If you don’t have much experience with skiing or snowboarding, pay special attention to where you book your vacation. Some resorts are made specifically to accommodate more advanced skiers, so look for a place with a good bunny hill and more easy and intermediate courses than advanced ones. They can also vary wildly in price, so you’ll need to make sure that it fits your budget. Also, check out the resort to make sure that it’s a friendly environment for all members of your party. The real crown jewel is if you can plan to rent ski-in/ski-out property to stay in by the property.

Schedule a Lesson

Even if you’ve been skiing or snowboarding before, don’t take the lift to the top of the mountain without taking a lesson first. Find a resort that offers lessons and schedule one for yourself and any others in your party who need it. Many offer them free as a part of your vacation package; others will ask for a small fee, but it’s well worth it. You’ll be a lot safer and have a lot more fun if you go take this important step. 

Be In Shape

Skiing and snowboarding aren’t actually all downhill. On occasion, you’ll have to push yourself along with your poles or arms. You’ll also need some core strength to stay balanced and make turns. Make sure that your body is fit enough to do so before you hit the slopes. 

Be Prepared for the Real Thing

Many people find it helpful to brush up on the technique of the sport before they try it themselves. You could look into booking a private lesson at an indoor slope or watch training videos for advice before your trip so that you’re as prepared for the real thing as possible. 

Gear Up

Experts recommend that you don’t borrow your gear, as it is fitted specifically to the owner and might not fit you properly. Renting is a good option, but for the best experience possible, you’ll want to buy your own gear. You’ll need your skis and poles or snowboard, the boots that attach to that gear, a good pair of high socks, snow pants, a ski jacket, goggles, and a hat. Those are the basics, and you won’t regret purchasing them. 

Pack a Bag

Bring a small rucksack that you can take with you on the trail. As the day goes on, you might find yourself getting warmer or colder, and you should have the means to add or shed layers wherever you are. You’ll also want to have an emergency kit and some water and snacks in there as well. 

Check the Weather

The heavier the snowfall, the better the skiing or snowboarding, but that doesn’t mean you want to be on the slopes during a heavy blizzard. Know what the weather is forecasted to be before you schedule your trip to minimize the chance of you getting stuck in unpleasant and dangerous conditions on the slope. Another important thing to remember about the weather is that it will affect your drive up to the resort. Winter driving can be incredibly dangerous, so make sure that you have a car that is winter-ready.

Hydrate and Snack

Carry plenty of water and snacks with you in your pack and use them! Though it seems like you will mostly be gliding down the slopes, skiing and snowboarding is hard work, and you keep your body hydrated and fed to keep going. You’ll also want to have this in case of an emergency. 

Wear Sunscreen

Just because it’s cold does not mean that you are safe from the sun. On the contrary, the effects of the sun are actually worse when you ski than it is when you go to the beach. The sun reflects off the snow and hits your skin with doubled force. Protect any exposed skin by slathering it in a high SPF sunscreen several times a day. 

Exercise Caution on the Slopes

Accidents happen to the best of skiers and snowboarders, but a lot of them can be prevented if you’re cautious. Read all the signs on each hill you encounter to make sure the terrain is at your level. Don’t go on a slope that you aren’t ready for. Be prepared in case of accidents. Above all, listen to the advice of your instructor, and if you have a question, ask. This is your best bet for a fun-filled and accident-free holiday on the slopes!

Getting Involved Your First Semester on Campus

our first semester away for college is one of the most exciting times. You are moving out of your parents’ house, you are finally on your own, and just imagine the new social life you are bound to be part of. Since there is a lot going on around campus find something you know you’re going to enjoy! If you get overwhelmed, ask your friends and roommates if they are interested in something specific and you can tag along with them. We’ve got a couple of tips and things to look and be prepared for during that first semester. 

Get a Student Pass for Games and Activities

Since most college campuses’ have a sports team this gives you the opportunity to sign up for a student pass to the student section of various sporting events and activities. Being in the student section in the middle of some serious school spirit is a great chance to meet new friends that you can go to future activities with. They may even know about more events that you are interested in that you may have missed. 

Check out the Campus Calendar

There’s usually always something going on around campus. Whether it is homecoming parties and activities or a block party put on by different houses or dorms that you can go to with friends or roommates. These events usually have activities, lots of new people to meet and free food. When living alone for the first time and learning to budget, free food is a great thing to happen upon at parties. Some parties will even have so much leftover food they start sending it home with party-goers. Grab some and take it home and box it up in your Tupperware for a meal later in the week!

Stay Healthy

Staying healthy when you’re living away from home for the first time especially if you’re not used to doing grocery shopping on your own and making your own meals. One way to keep yourself accountable is to ask your roommates for help. You can go grocery shopping together and rotate making dinners for everyone throughout the week. Perhaps one of your roommates is studying nutrition and they could help you make a meal plan and grocery list! But staying and eating healthy will be easier if you are doing it with people around you and you aren’t alone! Eating healthy and clean food has also been proven to help keep focus and keeping your energy up and is more sustainable than endless amounts of energy drinks and shots while you’re trying to study for a big test coming up. 

Stay Fit

Most college campuses’ have a gym on campus and offer a lot of different, and occasionally free, classes that you can get involved in. Ask your friends and roommates if they want to go with you to these classes so you don’t have to go alone. Whether it is just a run around campus, using some equipment in the gym or yoga or high fitness class that you’re interested in. Getting a group of friends to go is sure to make your class and workout fun and something you will look forward to. Getting in a good workout has many benefits and can help break up your study sessions so that your mind doesn’t get too exhausted sitting and doing the same thing for long periods of time. Allow yourself to study for an hour, head out for a short workout, then reward yourself with your favorite treat before you head back to hitting the books. 

Keep Your Mental Health in Check

A lot of college students experience a dip in their mental health when they head off to college and are learning the ins and outs of living alone. Be aware if you’re experiencing these feelings prior to going to college that you may not have access to your primary care physician back home. So make sure before you head out you’ve received the on any medications you may need so you don’t catch yourself in a bind. If you aren’t wanting to take any medications you can make your mental health a priority by getting enough sleep, allowing time to be alone, and getting yourself out of your dorm can be a big help when it comes to your mental health. 

This first semester of college is supposed to be a fun, new experience. Don’t let anything get in your way of having a memorable time. By getting involved on campus it allows you to meet more people, find things to do that you may have missed and being able to live with some great friends that are your roommates. Getting everyone out of the dorm whether it is for grocery shopping, hitting the gym together or going to a good party with them. Getting out of the house will be really helpful and will help you stay motivated and positive through the hard times in the semester. Make sure if you need help with your mental health that you get help sooner rather than later. If you aren’t sure how you will react to a new environment it is important to be prepared and have your doctor get your prescriptions in order ahead of time so you aren’t scrambling for something when you are already struggling. Try combating these harder days for your mental health by taking some time for yourself, going out for a workout, stay hydrated and try meditating. College will be a great experience if you allow yourself to get involved with different activities on campus.

Happy studying!

Helpful Ways to Stay Sober at Parties

Going to parties when you don’t drink alcohol, either because you are trying to change your life and stop drinking alcohol or because you haven’t drunk alcohol before and don’t want some short term alcohol abuse to become a long-term problem, can be a challenging experience. If you have recently had alcohol issues, it may even be worth avoiding parties with alcohol altogether, for the moment, but that might not be realistic in the long-run. 

The good news is that there are plenty of ways you can have fun and comfortably avoiding partaking of alcohol at these parties. Friends who still drink but who are supportive of your decision to become sober can still very much be a part of your support system. It does, however, require an extra measure of caution if you are going to spend time with them. If you are in the process of overcoming alcohol addiction and have friends or family members who drink, here are some tips for staying sober.

Have a Plan in Place

It helps tremendously before attending a party, wedding, or other events to make a plan for how you will avoid temptations and pressures to drink. Decide to arm yourself with a glass of club soda from the very start, for example, and to maintain a comfortable distance between you and the refreshments table. It will also help to leave on the earlier side, before guests who are drinking start to get buzzed. You could even plan specifically to be the designated driver, which will both keep you accountable and put you in a role where no one is going to pressure you to drink.

Be Comfortable Saying No

Some ways of saying ‘no’ to alcohol work better than others. Stating that you never drink, for example, will likely cause others to probe for more answers, asking you why you have taken on such a lifestyle. For some people, they are still developing enough confidence in their sobriety that may be necessary to be comfortable expressing it. Putting it in simpler terms, however, will usually suffice. Simply tell those who ask that you’re not drinking tonight. Perhaps you’re the designated driver or are taking a prescription that interferes with alcohol; he or she won’t know. The key is to find a way to express your sobriety for the night in a way that makes you feel comfortable.

Ask a Friend to Hold You Accountable

Sometimes you may find yourself in a situation where you are surrounded by others who are drinking—at a wedding, for example. If you are unsure about your abilities to withstand the pressures to drink, confide in a close friend or family member who is a part of your support system. You could have a friend remain sober with you, or at the very least help to fend off any pressure to drink that might come.

Remember the Purpose of Your Sobriety

It helps to remind ourselves of the many positives to choosing not to drink when you are having a difficult time resisting temptation. It’s important to make this reason specific to you, personally. Maybe you don’t drink because you are trying to improve your general physical wellness and are trying to be healthier. Maybe you don’t drink because you have a history of alcohol abuse and it is critical for your mental well-being that you maintain the sobriety you’ve worked for. Remind yourself of how staying sober will benefit you physically, mentally, and financially, and think about the negative short-term consequences of drinking that you are avoiding simply by not drinking on this particular occasion.

Know Your Limits

It is important to know your limits when it comes to spending time in environments that could tempt you to pick up the drink again. Many recovering addicts who are in the early stages of recovery overestimate their abilities to resist temptations to drink, joining in on drink-centered celebrations and late-night parties. Be diligent about avoiding your triggers, and remember that this is one circumstance in which you don’t want to step outside of your comfort zone.