Stuck in a Mental Rut? 3 Reasons to Stay Positive

Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG /
Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG /

Do you ever feel like every step you take feels harder than the last? Sometimes we think that the world is against us and wonder ‘why me?’ as we forget an important deadline at work or lock the keys in the car.

With the growth of social media, I see countless numbers of people complain about how difficult things are and how they wish things were better.

Well, do something about it. You are the only person that you can control and staying as positive as possible during those tough times can seem like the only thing that can keep you sane.

Here are a few reasons why you should choose to be a Positive Pam instead of a Negative Nancy.

1. According to Mayo Clinic, there are several different health reasons why you should try to stay positive. You can live longer, resist the common cold better, lower rates of depression and you will be less stressed.

In an article by American Psychological Association, they state that “44 percent report that their stress levels have increased over the past five years.”

2. When you are a positive thinker, you will naturally attract other positive people and situations.

If you have a lot of negative things happening to you, or a lot of negative people around you, then it is probably a good time for a change.

Drama attracts drama.

Negativity attracts negativity. But the good thing is positivity attracts positivity. Guess what? Being a positive person is an attractive quality that everybody should want to be around.

3. You will be more productive and perform at a higher optimal rate if you are positive.

This links to the other reasons above.

If you are less stressed, physically healthy and have people to support you in a positive manner when you need it the most, you will most likely be more successful in your endeavors.

Don’t get me wrong, you can still check off things on your to-do list when you have strep throat, knots in your shoulders and while fighting with your spouse.

But we all can agree that we aren’t able to give our 110 percent. Being positive can help you achieve higher levels in your career and reach your aspirations

So, the next time that you are struggling and choose to post on Facebook about it, or make the mistake of gossiping next to the water cooler, I challenge you to think about it.

Think about the potential ramifications of attracting the drama, the increase of stress and the potential of getting sick, which will only make things worse.

Know that you are a strong person and things will be OK.

Have a Healthy Holiday

Remember that New Years resolution you made last December? Well, if you’re like the rest of America, it probably had something to do with losing weight or being healthy. Just because the year is almost over, there’s no excuse to forget your goals.

The holidays are an easy time to lose sight of the fact that although the delicious food will soon be gone, you’re stuck with the extra calories. Luckily there are multiple ways to enjoy those sweet, seasonal dishes without the guilt that tends to arrive shortly after.

Here are a few tips on how to stay healthy during the holidays:

1. Stuffing is something you do to a turkey, not your face.
Holiday food is delicious; there’s no denying that. Because of this, it is often difficult to stop eating because of the conflict between taste buds and stomach capacity. When you are full, put down the fork. Don’t eat until it hurts.

2. Keep your hands busy, not your mouth.
Holiday activities tend to be centered on food. Instead of decorating cookies or building gingerbread houses, try decorating stockings and ornaments, make red and green construction paper wreaths, put Christmas lights up outside or try making your own season’s greetings cards to give to friends, family and even professors. See if you can make better paper snowflakes than you could ten years ago. Pinterest is full of other great ideas!

Christmas ornaments
Photo credit: Joe Buckingham

3. Eat your calories, don’t drink them.
You might be surprised by how many calories are hidden in holiday drinks. If you really want to make your calories count, go for that slice of cheesecake but skip the Starbucks Caramel Brulée Latte. Water isn’t hiding calories, so drink up!

More tips:
• Don’t go for seconds.
• Don’t linger by the appetizer table.
• Instead of driving your car to see Christmas lights, walk through the neighborhood with friends or family.
• Volunteer!
• 25 more ideas!

Enjoy the holidays. It’s okay to indulge in yummy food, but family and friends are a much more rewarding indulgence. Cheers!

Planning the Perfect Siesta

Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein, Napoleon Bonaparte and Thomas Edison have one thing in common with me: enjoying an afternoon nap.

There are cultures that dedicate a portion of their day to having a siesta. Every day, between 1 and 4 p.m., I close my eyes and take a much anticipated break by napping.

Being a busy college student with a big course load, I have found that napping has increased my productivity. Long gone are the sleepless nights doing homework and studying. I find that the minute I wake up, I get more done and feel less stressed or lethargic about the pile of homework that greets me at the foot of my bed.

Photo credit: Chantal Richards

According to the National Sleep Foundation, there are three different types of napping:

  1. Planned napping is when you take a nap before you get tired. This technique is used when you know you will be awake later than your normal bedtime or to ward off getting tired.
  2. Emergency napping is when you are so tired you can’t function anymore. This occurs when you are engaged in an activity like reading a book and fall asleep right then and there.
  3. Habitual napping is when you take a nap every day at the same time.

According to a Fast Company article, napping between 1 and 4 p.m. boosts productivity because it kick starts your brain to think it’s a second workday and doesn’t mess up your sleep schedule.

Falling asleep in class and at work isn’t ideal, but we all have those breaks in-between tasks  where we can squeeze in a power nap. Even at work, we have our lunch breaks where a few zzz’s can make our work ethic stronger.

An article on Higher Perspective says there are different time frames for the mid-day power nap:

  1. Napping for 10-20 minutes Increases alertness and gives a boost of energy. It’s the perfect amount without falling fully into rapid-eye-movement or REM sleep.
  2. Thirty-minute long naps are 10 minutes too long in that most people wake up groggy and tired  for an additional 30 minutes. Only after that time has passed do people feel the benefits of the nap.
  3. Hour-long naps help with remembering names, places and facts. It helps when studying for a midterm or having to memorize a speech. The only downside is some grogginess does occur upon waking up but at least you’ll remember all the dates for your history exam.
  4. Napping for an hour and a half is considered a full cycle of sleep, which boosts creativity, emotional and procedural memories and it is easier to wake up.

I am glad that I schedule a nap in everyday because I do reap the benefits.

It’s 1 p.m.; time to hit the hay.

College Student Survival Guide to Eating Healthy on a Budget

Let’s face it. Being healthy in college is pretty hard. We’re constantly in situations such as snacking on delivery pizza with our roommates late at night or gulping down sugary energy drinks to help us study. It’s difficult because these unhealthy foods and drinks are easily available to us and usually pretty cheap which complement our “broke college student” lifestyle.

Luckily, eating healthy on a budget is not as hard as you might think.

For the most part, people have a good idea what foods are healthy versus what aren’t. When choosing healthier foods to eat, it’s important not to make yourself miserable. I know spinach is healthy, but would I want to eat it everyday? Absolutely not. Eating should be enjoyable! Focus on what healthy foods you do like and eat those.

Making small changes in your diet can go a long way. Try having egg whites instead of the whole egg or choosing wheat bread instead of white. If there is something unhealthy you absolutely cannot give up then look for healthier alternatives. If you’re craving chocolate, go for some dark chocolate (which is better for your heart) instead. If you love potato chips then find the one lowest in fat and sodium and choose those. Baked chips, instead of cooked in oil, are also tasty alternatives.

If you like energy drinks, like I am guilty of, a great alternative is green tea. Green tea has almost as much caffeine as coffee and provides amazing health benefits. It’s also inexpensive. You can find green tea at any grocery store for about $5 a pack.

Photo credit: Janet Beasley
Photo credit: Janet Beasley

Farmers markets are a great way to find fresh locally grown fruits and veggies at a reasonable price.  Unfortunately, the Thursday Night Market we are probably most familiar with ends on Sept. 26.  However, there are some other options.  There is a year-round Chico Certified Farmers Market  from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays at the parking lot on Second and Wall streets.  There is another Chico Certified Farmers Market from 7:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. Wednesdays in the North Valley Plaza Mall parking lot on Pillsbury Road (adjacent to Trader Joes).  This market goes until November 27.

Another great place to do your grocery shopping is at Chico Natural Foods.  The store is located at 818 Main St. and they pride themselves on supporting local farmers and offering organically grown produce.  The store has a special co-op membership program where for $25 a year, members have access to member only discounts and monthly specials.  Students who are on financial aid and sign up for the program will receive an extra 5 percent discount for any product they buy.

With these tips, it is possible to eat healthy while in college.  It just takes a little dedication and knowing where to look.

Snapping Back Into School Mode

As we creep into September, it becomes evident that summer is coming to an end and fall semester is in full effect. Considering it is the second week of school, we should all be in school mode, right? Well, not exactly. In case you aren’t completely prepared for what lies ahead, I have a few tips to help you get there. It can be easy if you do it right. In fact, it can be kind of fun.

Make time to eat!

After a summer of spoiling yourself with delicious homemade food and restaurant meals, it can be hard to stock your own fridge again, let alone make meals. With schedules jam-packed with classes throughout the day, it can be hard to even find time to eat.

Here are some tips:

1. Try to buy snacks and small meals that are easy to bring to school or work. Vegetables, fruit, crackers, Trail mix, salads and small sandwiches are all great foods that you can grab-and-go.

2. If you are on campus all day, try using Wildcat Dollars to purchase food! By clicking here, you can add money to your student ID card and use it at any of the campus food stations.  They carry items such as fruit, sandwiches, salads, snacks, drinks and much more.  It is a quick and easy way to fill yourself up.


Find time to exercise

With a busy schedule, adding exercise into your daily routine can seem like a tough challenge.  Even though exercising can be a drag, especially when you’re tired, it can be a great way to de-stress, clear your mind and remain healthy. Here are several ways to get a workout in during the week.

1. Attend classes at the WREC Center:

The WREC Center is open every day of the week and offers over a dozen group exercise classes.  Each class ranges from 30 minutes to an hour and focuses on various aspects of the body.  A list of class descriptions can be found in the WREC section of the Associated Students website.  Make sure to check out the schedule to see which classes best fit your busy day.

2. Try exercising at home:

If you can’t make it to the gym, try simple exercises that you can do in a few minutes at home. I use the Nike Training Club app.  It serves as my personal trainer that is available at my convenience.  I can choose workouts that meet my needs, listen to audio instructions, track workout results and share workouts with friends.   The workout section of Pinterest has great workout routines as well.


Stay Organized & use apps!?

School calls for serious organization skills. Having a planner is the first step to organization. However, sometimes organization doesn’t seem like enough. Here are two apps that I have found extremely helpful.

1.Snap2PDF: I love this app. You can take pictures of anything, handouts, a page in a textbook, etc. and turn it into a PDF that you can then email to yourself. You can also create multipage documents that you can convert into one PDF instead of having a bunch of separate ones.

2. IStudiezPro: This app is great because it is tailored toward students and you can use it to manage your classes.  The app allows you up upload your entire schedule and then add individual assignments and notes into each class section.  It is a great way to stay organized and ensure you don’t miss assignments.