Thanksgiving isn’t all about the turkey

It’s easy for us Dukes to get wrapped up in looking forward to fall break, Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Christmas and New Years. But for me I am looking forward to my Friendsgiving on Wednesday night before I leave for fall break. With all of the holidays coming up it’s important to make every holiday event memorable and to express thanks.

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I am going to start with Friendsgiving. Recent research has confirmed that finding room in your heart for gratitude is really good for your emotional health. There are hundreds of ways that people may express thanks, but here are five general categories that might be able to help you, your friends and family express thanks this Friendsgiving or Thanksgiving.

  1. Remembrance Items
  2. Holiday-Specific Activities
  3. Time Reserved for Sharing
  4. Ritual Expressions of Gratitude
  5. Special Foods

Remembrance Items

This one might be corny to you but some traditional remembrance items usually include pictures or an item that represents your family or that holiday that you bring out every year. You can even start a journal where everyone writes under that year why they are thankful. You can do this for your family Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving but maybe for Friendsgiving you would want to do something less serious. Maybe just get an item that reminds you all of JMU and bring it to every holiday you celebrate together. Use that item to remind you of each other and why you are thankful for each other.

Holiday-Specific Activities

A traditional holiday activity is one of my favorite ways to feel a sense of gratitude, make memories, but also have fun and laughter with my family and friends. With my family on Thanksgiving we have a flag football game since twenty of my cousins and I are together. My aunts and uncles and parents usually come out to the field at my uncle’s house and cheer us on but when it starts to get cold they migrate inside to prepare dessert. This year it will be our fifth time having our traditional flag football game on Thanksgiving. For Friendsgiving that my roommates and I are hosting at my house on Wednesday, I want to propose to my friends that we all play a fun game like Headbands. I know that my friends are too lazy to go outside and play flag football so I think that Headbands is something that all of us would get a good laugh at and form a tradition for our next Friendsgiving.

Time Reserved for Sharing

Make sure you catch up with all of your relatives on Thanksgiving. Catching up gives a time for you to fill in your cousins and aunts and uncles with what you have been up to since you last saw them and can strike story telling with one another. Sharing forms a sense of family unity. This sharing category goes for Friendsgiving as well. I think that with your friends it is about reminiscing about what you all have done together this past semester. Since you are probably with these people most of your days at school, they probably are up-to-date with your life so your sharing might be more natural and relaxed.

Ritual Expressions of Gratitude

This can be done for family Thanksgiving as well as Friendsgiving. Throughout the year, write things that happen to you that you are thankful for on a slip of paper. Make it a goal to write at least two things per month. For us Dukes, have one jar for your Friendsgiving and the other for your family Thanksgiving and you can bring your jar home and add it to the family jar over break. During your Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving, go around the table and pull out the slips of paper and read them aloud and reflect on those memories with one another.

Special Foods

This one is pretty relatable to anyone. I’m sure everyone has a family member that makes the pumpkin pie every year and one who makes those garlicky mashed potatoes that everyone loves. For your family Thanksgiving I’m sure those traditions will still stand. Maybe this year, volunteer yourself to make a dessert or side. For Friendsgiving, make those special foods a tradition starting this year to carry for the Friendsgiving’s to come.

As stated above, expressing thanks is really good for your emotional health. Hopefully you can try to incorporate these five general categories into your Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving to show gratitude as well as help your emotional health in preparing you for the stressful finals week that is right around the corner after fall break.

Peace, Love and DDP,

Rachel

How To Get Through Finals Week Like A Pro

With Thanksgiving break coming up, it is almost that time of year to start thinking about finals! Finals week is probably one of the most dreaded weeks of every semester. Some students are too hyped up on coffee the whole week that sleep is the last thing on their minds. There are a ton of ways to mentally prepare for this week and stay on top of your work without stressing the heck out! About 1 in 10 college students are stressed out often, and 1 and 4 students are stressed out on a daily basis. According to Bryce Goldsen at CNN, “most stress comes from the pressure to perform well day in and day out.”

Have no fear, I am here to help you mentally prepare for those extra stressful weeks here at JMU. Not only can being stressed out all the time be physically draining, but it can also increase levels of stress and can even lead to anxiety or depression. Some things that you can do to reduce these harsh symptoms is squeeze time in for yourself.  This may include getting your nails done, taking a yoga class at UREC, watching an episode of your favorite show or maybe just listening to music. If you take no breaks while trying to prepare for exams it can actually effect your grade in the long run.

My top tips for mentally preparing for an exam:

  • Don’t cram: study in intervals of 20-50 minutes. I like to do this and then walk around the library a little bit, maybe hike up and down ECL a couple times to get my blood flowing.
  • Eat superfoods: try to fill your diet with the best types of foods that will fill you up and keep you motivated. For breakfast try eating oatmeal with chia seeds for an extra fiber boost that will keep you full and focused the whole day.
  • Alternate study spots. Don’t keep going back to the same seat on the 4th floor of ECl because you will learn to dread it more and more each time you start to approach it. JMU has a wide range of study spots to choose from to change the scenery up.  Last year I spent most of the week studying in the small library in Memorial Hall. Not many people know about it, so it was extremely quiet and was way less depressing than carrier.
  • Avoid all nighters at all costs. This is my biggest tip. I am the type of person that if I am studying past 1 am, it is a huge waste of time. My body can barely function and retain any information that I am trying to memorize.  I recommend going to bed earlier and waking up early with a clear fresh mind.  Some mornings I even wake up at 5am to study for a 11am test and feel so confident because all of the information is fresh in my mind.

Pro Tip: Review the toughest material right before going to bed the night before the test. It makes it easier to recall the material later.

Finals week is not all that bad though. Here are some benefits of finals that will definitely make you smile:

  1. Falling asleep on a carrier couch is totally acceptable
  2. The perfect excuse to eat comfort food
  3. You have the motivation of going home for a month of relaxation and Christmas!
  4. It will be the last time you see that professor you cannot stand
  5. You can wear the comfiest, slouchy clothes you own and no one will judge you
  6. You do not have to worry about squeezing time in for the gym
  7. When you are reaching your maximum stressed out levels, the person right next to you at ECL is probably in the same boat
  8. No classes
  9. And last but not least, acing that test you stayed up all night for will feel better than you can possibly imagine

Finals week is hard, but don’t let it defeat you!

Study Tricks That’ll Have Your Grades In For A Treat

Its that time of the year, the holidays are coming up and all you can think about is how you are ready to go home and relax. Studying is the last thing on your mind. We just had midterms so you believe that you deserve a break at this point in the semester. Most proffessors see the opposite, Thanksgiving break is quickly approaching and they seem to love to cram in projects, papers and tests so that when we get back we can focus on the last bit of the class right before the final. The Huffington Post has an article on “9 Awesome Study Tips for College Students” that I will delve into and describe in detail a little further than they did and help give JMU resources that you can use when studying.

Alternate Study Spaces

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We all have a favorite library or study spot. ECL and Carrier seem to have an unspoken rivalry and everyone prefers one to the other. Others also prefer SSC because they wouldn’t dare cheat on Dunkin for Starbucks and there’s no better spot than the booths. But as studies show, according to an article in the New York Times, switching up your study spot throughout the course of studying for your tests can boost your memory and increases the chances of you retaining the things you’ve learned.

Study and Homework Groups

When working through a difficult problem or reading assignment on your own there’s a chance that you may get frustrated and end up working the whole day on something that could have taken you 30 minutes, or that you may skip that assignment, problem or reading entirely and then never learn from it. Creating a study group in a difficult class with others in the same class could help you avoid this. They may be better at a portion of the work than you and vice versa. This way you can help each other out and finish the work in a shorter amount of time than you could have on your own.

Make Flash Cards

Yes, I know you have probably used flash cards since you were learning your multiplication tables in elementary school but there is a reason they’re still used today and its because they really work. When creating flash cards it is reinforcing that information into your brain by writing it down, then you can use those wherever and whenever you have the chance to look over them. For those environmentally conscious people Quizlet.com is a paperless alternative with the same results.

Take Tests

I have yet to find a person who enjoys taking tests but according to the New York Times taking tests allows us to know what we do know and what we do not on the subject. Taking tests also allows us to enhance our knowledge as we use our critical thinking skills throughout the test to assess what the best answers are. Now I know you cannot just take a test in a class whenever you want but going over and studying your old tests can be a lifesaver when preparing for final exams. Quizlet.com also has an option to create the flashcards you made online into a test with fill in the blank, multiple choice, true false and matching.

Sleep

Pulling an all-nighter is not as effective as you would think. According to Business Insider staying up all night to study or finish a big project stresses you out. You produce more cortisol aka the stress hormone when you do not get enough sleep. Staying up for long periods of time does not allow your body to concentrate, which means you are not retaining any information therefore wasting your time studying anyway.

Don’t Categorize Yourself

We tend to categorize ourselves as being visual, auditory or kinesthetic learners, and right brained or left brained. The New York Times has busted this myth and the article shows that many of the distinctions are incorrect. Instead of figuring out what “kind” of learner you are take that time and energy to figure out what study techniques work the best for you. You think you are a visual learner but using those techniques aren’t helping you in anyway so instead of focusing on that try a variety of study habits and techniques and use whichever you find to be the most effective for you.

Go To Class

We have all taken a class that we think is “useless” to attend. Some classes don’t have attendance policies so to you this means they become optional. Going to class can be the best way to prepare for your tests, sitting through the lecture and paying attention (this means getting off of Facebook in the back row) can begin your reviewing process for that test. When starting to study for that class’s test you will be able to recall what the professor previously spoke about especially if you tend to slack on the readings.

Don’t Immerse Yourself in Subject Material

When sitting and working on a single class for fiveIMG_6728.JPGhours in the library, you may find yourself getting distracted. Looking at the same information over and over for long periods of time is boring and could be less effective than looking at a few subjects over the course of that five hours, especially if they are related subjects. You are more likely to pay attention to things if you alternate between subject keeping things fresh and new.

Manage Your Time

Create a schedule and whatever you do stick to it. Getting into a routine can allow you to stick to deadlines than if you randomize your week and pray for the best when it comes to projects, papers and studying for tests. If you do the same study habits the same time each week you are less likely to stray from them and that way you don’t have to worry about ever procrastinating or missing a deadline.

These nine study tips can allow you to stay on track with your semester, cut down on procrastination and boost your grades. Even though it is the time of the semester when all you want to do is give up and sleep in push through try out these tricks and you might just find that your grades will be in for a treat when it comes time for final exams.

Peace, Love and DDP,

Hunter

Study breaks are a must

I think the title says it all. Study breaks are one of few strategies that I feel truly work to be the most productive and to de-stress. An article called, “When, How and How Often to Take a Break” written by Neil Patel revealed that the average American only has an attention span of 8 seconds which is actually shorter than a goldfish which is 9 seconds. To me, that seems almost unreal how small our attention spans are for how many times I make myself write two papers and a study guide all in one sitting. I feel like my brain is in over drive and I need to take a long nap to recuperate. It doesn’t have to be like that.

I have put together a list of things to do on your study breaks that I will expand on further into my blog, so if one of them catches your attention feel free to skip to that section. Some may apply more to you if you are someone that studies at home but other activities can be done in your favorite study place on campus, like SSC or ECL. I have broken the activities into two lists, one for shorter study breaks and one for longer study breaks.

Shorter study break activities include:

  • Listen to a few songs
  • Answer your emails
  • Call a friend
  • Clean your room
  • Paint your nails
  • Take a shower
  • Take a power nap

Longer study break activities include:

  • Visit the Lavender Farm
  • Lay on the quad

Special add in for this week only

  • Mindfulness Space

Studies show that every 52 minutes, a 17-minutes break was the best for productivity. That’s why I picked certain things for the shorter study breaks. Your breaks can range from 5-20 minutes but if you are concentrating for about an hour your break should be closer to 20 minutes long.

Listen to a few songs:

Listening to two of my favorite songs really either calms me down or pumps me up. If I am anxious about my work because of an upcoming deadline I force myself to take a break and listen to calming music so I can relieve some of my anxiety on my break. But if am doing a boring Philosophy reading and I am about to fall asleep I choose to listen to some up beat music to get me motivated to finish my reading when I resume from my break.

Call a friend:

I find myself doing this often when I am taking a study break, usually I will call my best friend from home or my Dad just to catch up.

Clean your room:

The days that I clean my room for a study break is when I have my 4 p.m. class and I sit on my couch and do my assignments instead of sitting in an uncomfortable chair at Carrier. When I clean my room for my study break, I will work for a solid hour and then tidy up for no more than ten minutes. I try not to go over ten minutes because after that I start using my break to think of ways tor rearrange my room and it gets quite distracting.

Paint your nails:

I will bring my nail polish to SSC and sit at a booth with my friends and paint my nails for a study break. Sometimes the smell is overbearing but if its okay with your friends I highly recommend. Painting my nails physically does not allow me to do anything for at least fifteen minutes, since I don’t want to smudge them.

Take a shower:

Again, this is for someone that is doing some work at home before heading to campus. I usually use this study break when I am writing a paper. I will write as much as I can for 50 minutes and then I will take a shower. Being in the shower let’s me brainstorm my paper more but does not allow me to write anything down for those ten to fifteen minutes.

Take a power nap:

You can really do this one anywhere if you were really tired, I know I could fall asleep on a cement floor. So if you are behind on your zzz’s, during your study break just put your head down and close your eyes for fifteen minutes. You will wake up with more energy than before and be able to push through that last section of outlining.

These longer study breaks are for when you are done studying for the day and you just need to unwind and de-stress for the next day of studying.

Visit the Lavender farm:

This can be a relaxing study break that you can go on with your friends during midterms week. The farm is right in Harrisonburg, called the White Oak Lavender Farm. The oil of lavender is shown to be useful for treating anxiety, insomnia, depression, and restlessness. This has definitely been one of my favorite things I have done in the Shenandoah Valley since I’ve been at JMU.

Lay on the Quad:

This is the best time to go to the Quad to take in the view of Wilson with the vibrant fall leaves slowly starting to come down. I stopped studying thirty minutes before my class yesterday so I could just go lay on the grass for twenty minutes. Going into my class I was refreshed and not thinking or stressed about the concept I just read about in my textbook.

Mindfulness Space:

This is a special event that is going on this week only. It’s called Mindfulness Space and faculty has set up coloring books, beanbags and a projector that has nature scenes. This room is here so students can de-stress during their busy midterm week. Take advantage of this as a long or short study break as it is only here for this week. It is located in Conference room 7 in Festival.

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These study breaks are something that I have started to do. They de-stress me as well as make me as productive as possible for that hour or so that I am doing my work. Trying these for just a day can’t hurt.

Peace, Love and DDP,

Rachel

Catch Up On Your zzz’s

Unfortunately, the amount of college students that get less than 8 hours a sleep of night is constantly increases and that is not okay.  Don’t get me wrong, I have pulled my fair share of ECL all nighters, studying late nice in dungeon-like basement dorms, and 5am wake up calls after going to bed at 3am. It seems like it is apart of college to have nights like this several times a semester. It doesn’t have to be, or at least doesn’t have to be so often.  Sleep is crucial to getting good grades, staying healthy, and decreasing stress. Cramming for an exam, finishing a paper, or even just late night binge watching Netlix are very important to cut out of your routine to better your mental health and improve your sleep.

According to Dr. Lawrence Epstein, medical director of Sleep HealthCenters, sleep deprivation affects not only the way students perform in class, but also how well they perform on exams, and keeping healthy.  I am writing to you as a student who experienced every side effect of sleep deprivation my Freshman year.  Adjusting to college is HARD. Having a roommate, or in my case three roommates, can make it extremely challenging to go to bed at a reasonable hour.  After several nights of bad sleep, it did not take me long to wake up with a scratchy throat and an achy body making it even harder for me to study, than just being exhausted. Studies show that “after two weeks of sleeping less than six hours or less a night, students feel as bad and perform as poorly as someone who has gone without sleep for 48 straight hours” (American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 2007).

Is it even possible to get a good night sleep in college? 

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http://www.hercampus.com/school/ufl/7-things-about-freshman-dorms-everyone-experiences-nobody-talks-about

Try out some of these tips to get a better night sleep TONIGHT

1. Avoid coffee past noon

If you are fortunate enough to get in bed at a reasonable hour, don’t let that cup of coffee you had at 2pm keep you up at night.  Sometimes you need that extra boost of energy but that Venti coffee from Starbucks is not that answer. Try green tea, it can have 24 to 40 mg of caffeine which is less than half of what is found in coffee.  You can get this at ECL and carrier, without having to sacrifice a great night sleep. Black tea, and even bottled iced teas are also a good pick-me-up option if you are in a jam!

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http://www.starbucks.com/menu/drinks/iced-tea/teavana-shaken-iced-green-tea-lemonade

2. Create a sleep schedule and stick to it.

This can be very hard to do in college but it is important to try! If possible, try to be consistent with your class schedule. Waking up at the same time every day can be very good for your body because you will feel less tired.  Not have those “earlier” days will make it seem less hard to wake up. Time management is extremely important. If you know you have that killer presentation on Thursday, start working on it in bits and pieces starting Monday.  You will be able to get a better night sleep, and perform better without staying up late the night before.

3. Put laptops away at least 30 mins away before bed.

Watching TV right before bed is never a good idea. Not only does looking at a screen make it harder to fall asleep, but it also effects how tired and alert you are the next day. This is a very easy habit to break.  Dive into an easy, engaging book that can relax your mind the same way binging on Gossip Girl does. Reading a book stimulates your mind before bed, making you feel more refreshed the following morning.

4. Exercises during the day

Studies show that people feel overall better and more alert during the day if they get at least 150 minutes of exercise a week. Exercising shortens the time it takes to fall asleep at night.  If you’re like me and have a running mind at night that is constantly thinking about tasks for the next day, then you need more exercise. When I have a stressful week I know that I am going to have trouble sleeping if my daily activity consists of just walking to the bus from my house to the library. On days like these it can be hard to do a full workout, but even just a short walk to jog can improve your sleep that night by relaxing you. Exercising in general relaxes and de-stresses me, which is why it always helps my sleep schedule to make time for it.

5. Sleep with earplugs and eye patches

It can be hard to have a roommate. Different sleep schedules, and different class schedules can disrupt your peaceful night sleep. Get yourself a nice pair of eye patches to help you sleep. My favorite are ones that have a soft lavender scent to relax me. Another thing to consider is noise.  Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights are not always the most peaceful time to catch up on sleep. Consider investing in a pair of ear plugs to block out that noise.

6.Eat well

There are about one hundred benefits to eating healthy, and a better night sleep is just one of them.  Try to cut out that sugary fruit pop tart before bed that will keep you up late at night. There are actually several foods that are known for helping sleep.  Try eating a few cherries before bed.  Cherries have a natural source of melatonin, which is a great sleep aide. Walnuts are also enriched with melatonin and tryptophan which is a sleep-enhancing amino acid. There are also a number so “sleepy time” teas out there that have literally put me to bed before I can even finish them.

These are just a couple of tips that can improve your sleep throughout college. Even though it seems like as a college student we are always exhausted, it sometimes is not that easy to fall asleep with stress and noisy roommates. I hope these tips and tricks help you have a peaceful night sleep.

Peace, Love and DDP,

Paige

De-Stress During Midterms

I’ll be honest with you. As I sit here writing this post, I’m stressed. Chances are, being that we are in the middle of midterms, you may be feeling the same way. I have about a million papers, projects and tests this week (okay, maybe not a million, but you get my point) and it just seems as though there are not enough hours in the day to get everything done. Needless to say, ECL and I will become very good friends by the end of this week.

Last week, Leah detailed ways you can avoid stress this fall. She encouraged you to get rid of distractions, lay out your tasks, set realistic goals, find support with peers, ask for help and give yourself a pat on the back. I hope these suggestions are helping you, because they are definitely helping me.

To add to Leah’s suggestions, I want to share with you some resources JMU offers to help you relieve stress. Even as a senior, I was unaware of just how many options are out there before doing some research. I hope after reading this post, you will take advantage of all the ways this school helps JM(TakeCareOf)U.

When you’re feeling stressed . . .

The Oasis

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The Oasis – Located in The Student Success Center

The JMU Counseling Center offers The Oasis. This room is available to all students, faculty, and staff and serves as a resource to relieve stress and learn relaxation techniques. Visit The Oasis for all of its features including:

  • Yoga Mats, Pillows, and Blankets
  • Water Features
  • iPads with many relaxation apps
  • Two Massage Chairs
  • Noise-Canceling Headphones
  • Relaxation Guidebook

When you’re full of bottled up emotions . . .

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The Studio – Located in The Student Success Center

In addition to The Oasis, the JMU Counseling Center offers The Studio which is an expressive arts room featuring:

  • Paints and Brushes
  • Canvases, Sketchpads, Construction Paper
  • Moldable Clay and Sand
  • Markers, Colored Pencils, and Crayons
  • Outlines for Mandalas and Masks
  • Fabrics and Ribbons
  • Studio Guidebook

Visit this room to allow yourself to express your emotions and explore your creative abilities.

When you need a smile . . .

Animal-Assisted therapy is proven to help mental and physical issues. The American Humane Association defines Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) as “a goal directed intervention in which an animal meeting specific criteria is an integral part of the clinical health-care treatment process. Animal-assisted therapy is delivered or directed by a professional health or human service provider who demonstrates skill and expertise regarding the clinical applications of human-animal interactions.” Luckily, JMU is home to three therapy-dogs. Francis (pictured below) even has his own Twitter! Follow him for information on where he will be on campus if you ever need a smile brought on by this adorable face.

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Francis – I mean, look at this face!

When you are struggling with a class . . .

The Learning Centers

JMU offers learning centers to assist you with subjects including:

  • Communication Center
  • Digital Communication
  • English Language Learner Services
  • Peer Assisted Study Sessions
  • Science & Math Learning Center
  • University Writing Center

Personally, I have been to the Communication Center and had an amazing experience. The tutors helped my group and I perfect a speech we had to do for a Presentational Speaking class. They even videoed us and sent us the footage of us performing the speech so we could decipher areas where we could improve. If you are having a hard time in a class, don’t be afraid to make an appointment. It never hurts to ask for help.

We are lucky to go to a school that makes a point to offer students help beyond a classroom setting. As students, it is our job to take advantage of these resources whenever we feel they are necessary. So, the next time you need a second to relax or help on an assignment, remember these tips as a way to de-stress.

Good luck on midterms dukes. Hang in there.

Peace, Love & DDP

Steph

How to Avoid Stress This Fall

Most people like fall. It is the season of comfort flavors and large sweaters. If you candy, you have your candy corn around every corner. It is acceptable to parade around in oversized sweaters and leggings. What’s not to love? It’s finally cold enough to be comforted by warm coffee.

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Unfortunately, for college students, this time of the year also entitles midterms and increased stress. Three months ago I was sitting at the beach and now I am reluctant to go outside because I hate cold weather. Even though this weather makes us regret buying so much summer clothes, there are ways to overcome the cold and make the most of this time of year.

Get rid of distractions.

As college students, we are constantly surrounded by distractions. Whether this be completing a season on Netflix or spending one too many hours in a dining hall. These distractions are not as fun when they lead to stressing over an assignment that needs more time than you have saved for it. Because of this common problem, we should set ourselves up for success by alotting time to complete tasks without distractions near us.  This is easier said than done.  For the most part, we work on assignments with other people around us talking or there are interesting things going on near us. If you know what triggers your attention, try to eliminate the trigger while you are allowing yourself valuable time to complete important tasks.

Lay out your tasks.

Staying organized is more important than most of us think. We may own a aesthetically pleasing planner, but that doesn’t mean we are taking advantage of it. Using highlights to indicate what kind of obligations you have for the week can be a quick way to plan effective time management. Organizing your events, tasks and thoughts are vital to optimizing your productivity and avoiding stress.

This can seem like an overwhelming task or maybe your schedule doesn’t call for color-coding or tracking errands. That’s fine. Just be sure you have a clear study space and all the materials you need to memorize what you are studying.  For some people, flashcards work the best. While for others, reading in-depth text/ watching videos will paint a clearer picture of the concept at hand. You can start by keeping notecards with you and slowly separating the concepts you have memorized from the ones you have not.  You’ll be surprised how fast the pile of correct answers piles up!

Focusing will help you achieve your tasks without causing excessive stress and anxiety.  Even if it is spending ten minutes a day on a paper due in two weeks, you will thank yourself. Staying organized will keep you on track with due dates, organizational commitments, family obligations and social events. Simply keeping your study space clean and organized will eliminate stress. Be sure to have your everyday materials at arms reach and stick to the plan you made for yourself in your planner. Which leads to my next point..

Set realistic goals

Personally, I think one of the most common setback for achieving tasks in a timely manner and avoiding stress is setting unrealistic goals. This means thinking you can write a four-page paper in an hour because you can focus and do not need as much time. Unrealistic goals can be the key to failure. Realistically, an hour to complete a four-page paper is setting aside time and keeping you organized, but it is not achievable. You need more time if you want a good grade.

So, how do we set more realistic goals or know if they will work for us? Setting goals can be different form person to person. Since you know yourself better than anyone else, be mindful to how long specific tasks take you (studying, memorizing, understanding, etc.). Once you establish how much time you need for a task, you can break it into parts and decide how early you should begin.

Sometimes doing as little as determining a topic to write about is enough to get you excited about writing a paper! Start slowly by choosing a topic, reading into the project’s description, or looking into applicable sources. This can give you a broad understanding of what needs to be done and what resources will help you. Allowing yourself time to choose a topic you find interesting will lessen your anxiety to work on it.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

One of the awesome things about being a JMU student is having an excessive amount of resources to help you. It is your job to take advantage of these opportunities.  With this being said, if you don’t ask for something you will never get it. Acknowledging the resources available to you will help you stay accountable for your part of the deal. Instead of guessing what you need to get done, visit the Student Success Center and speak with a representative of the department most helpful to you.

If the stress has already hit, stop by the meditation room in the Counseling Center. If you prefer drawing or coloring, head to the coloring section in the Counseling Center. These are both reliable means of lessening stress and getting you back on track.

Find support with peers

College is a huge opportunity to find the friends that support you.  Be sure you surround yourself with people who encourage your efforts and applaud your success. These people should also be there for you when you need guidance or acceptance. Your peers are probably facing similar stress, so why not talk about it? Use your friends and peers to hold each other accountable and for encouragement.  Some of your peers may live far away, miss their family, have something going on or are experiencing anxiety and are not sure how to cope. Whatever the case may be, it is important to be there for your friends as they are for you.

Give yourself a pat on the back.

Lastly, acknowledge you accomplishments and know what works for you. If you g
ive yourself a positive incentive to get a task done, you will most likely complete it in less time. It might be completing a big task and rewarding yourself throughout the slow, but sure process. This will keep you motivated and eager to tackle the next task.
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Take advantage of the sweater weather and head treat yourself to Sunday Brunch for getting an A. Since you studied a little everyday this week for an exam next week, you better enjoy a couple hours at Crosskeys. Or even enjoy a simple walk on campus with a warm drink, because you’re working hard and you deserve it.

Peace, love & DDP,

Leah