A Moment Of Self Reflection

Sketch by Marc Mercado

By Marc Mercado

I remember when I switched my studies from concrete industry management (CIM) to interior architecture my freshman year. Even the architecture advisor questioned why I wanted to switch programs considering how successful CIM is.

That was the reason why I chose CIM for my academic career at Chico State. At that point in my life, I was driven by the expectations others set for me, with hopes of leaping over the poverty line. It only took the introductory course to push myself to look into other avenues– if this was going to be my full-time career I needed something more;

I was on a line: “to be a concrete man, or to know that I can [succeed without sacrificing]”.

With a minor in theatre arts, I looked forward to pursuing a program that included media arts. I came across the Media, Art, Design and Technology department, researched the major advisors, and I got in touch with Jennifer Meadows.

I hoped that she would be able to tell that I was lost and this was where I belonged, but my path continued to change and after that meeting, I kept looking. I was honestly intimidated by something new.

I thought, “if I’m worried about learning new skills/software in this academic path, then why not look for something that already encompasses my own skills and knowledge?”

Then I found interior architecture, so I figured, I know how to draw, I love design, and this will also satisfy two important areas of my life: family expectations and financial goals. There was much to love about this major, and to this day, I look back and wonder what life would have been like.

  Int. Architecture sketches by Marc

Fall was turning into winter. I was burning up and freezing at the same time; during this time my mental health was declining so during break, I flew to Mexico. Being outside of the country where I studied and worked felt incredibly liberating, I was surrounded by the beautiful Michoacán coast, the most blue skies and the greenest plants. This place is a sanctuary to me, it’s where I spent most of my childhood.

Playa Chuquiapan by Marc Mercado

A month turned into one more night and then I was in the sky, flying back “home”. There was still a lot of healing to be done, I hadn’t spent time thinking about the things I was still dealing with, but at least had a new academic plan.

It’s Junior Year, the first semester is a breeze, I joined AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts) and felt comfort knowing I was part of a design community. I forgot to mention that every time I went to academic advising for my major changes, I had to do all the “figuring it out” and show up with a plan. The absolute best advice I got was from a friend, Luciana, who encouraged me to pursue this graphic design path.

The second semester was unexpected. My confidence level in this new program was low, but I knew I was still learning. I felt like I wasn’t doing enough “graphic design” and was still figuring out how I could find passion in this form of art and design. During this semester there were many new professors in the department and talks about how some would say “ you should’ve learned X in Jane Doe’s class”. The unveiling of Chico State’s rebrand happened during the same time students in our program were being told they wouldn’t be able to graduate on time due to class shortages and the entirety of at least two classes emailed the department with concerns about a discourteous professor.

With all this going on, I wasn’t sure of my place here at Chico State. The more I fell in love with graphic design, and learned about how to use it to communicate, to express and to create art, the more I saw how unimportant I was to my university. I turned my cheek and saw the Academy of Arts in San Francisco. Immediately, I began planning; I reached out and began the application process.

I was on the phone with Chico State but they kept me on hold. The Academy was ringing but the minutes were too expensive. I felt like I needed better guidance, I needed professors that cared, a campus that recognized my passion. I was going to end up paying more out of pocket than I ever did at Chico and could tell that my ambition was too much for my family, for our bank accounts. It was only going to be an online program anyway.

A letter was sent to my address, from the Academy. I got in, it all came down to the story I wanted to tell:

Work with what I’m given and persevere? Or succumb to a for-profit school and find myself in a worse financial situation?

Clearly, I chose the former option. It’s like this mantra I heard some years back about how a good artist can work under any circumstance.

Projects done by Marc Mercado
Projects done by Marc Mercado
Projects done by Marc Mercado
Projects done by Marc Mercado

5 Tips To Help Manage Anxiety In College: From A PR Student

Pink sunset clouds.

By Jessica Delgado

College students deal with so much during the four years they are in college. Some students take on financial independence, life obstacles, challenging circumstances, and toxic relationships throughout their college years. 

Anxiety can take over your entire day, running plans and obligations you made prior to being triggered. Most college students don’t know they are experiencing anxiety because they know little about it or how to handle it. 

In public relations, the amount of work and time you have to dedicate to strategy briefs, meetings, reports and collaborative work can be very overwhelming. 

Although I am not a licensed doctor and have no degree in psychology, I am a college student, and here are some of my self-help tricks to help with anxiety.

1. Allow yourself to take a step back  

I have experienced the saying, “I bite off more than I can chew,” when it comes to workload. I never want to miss any opportunity for growth in my school and personal life. But there really isn’t enough time in a day to do everything. I know we have all been in a position where we sit down to work on tasks and become completely overwhelmed with what is required from us. I have learned over the years that your mind cannot remember everything. Writing down tasks and their due date can help prevent you from missing deadlines. Planners are a helpful tool in organizing when a task is due. Staying organized with a planner allows you to meet deadlines, takes the stress of forgetting away, and helps prevent getting overloaded with things to remember. 

2. Be in the environment where you feel the safest 

I have always considered “my space” to be the safest. Sometimes if you are in an environment where there are a ton of people or in an unknown area, it can be overwhelming for your mind. Loud noises and chaos can spike one’s heart rate. Being able to go to “your space” to decompress can really help with lowering your anxiety. Whether your space is the TGC office, library, bedroom, kitchen, living room, or car – find a space where you feel comfortable and safe! 

3. Free write your emotions 

Before I found comfort in opening up to people I trusted, I found a lot of comfort in writing down what I feel. Sometimes, we don’t feel comfortable opening up to others, and that is completely okay! Once you begin writing, it can feel like a weight is being lifted off of you. Find something that releases negative emotions and feelings that benefits your mind, whether it is free writing or taking a walk outside. Our minds are very powerful and creative in thoughts. Find something that works for you! 

"You are stronger than what is making you anxious." -Jessica Delgado

4. Talk to a friend or loved one

Find comfort in a friend or loved one when you are experiencing anxiety. I know not everyone feels comfortable or has someone they can go to when they are experiencing anxiety. However, opening up and letting someone know what is going on with you can help. Taking a break to laugh and talk about things like what’s going on with the Kardashians, reality TV, or sports can really help your mind not be in “work mode.”  

5. Leaning on your peers in class 

I know here at TGC, everyone is willing to pick up the slack if help is needed. Having open communication about needing help on a brief or creative project you are working on can help you and your team. Everyone has good and bad days. Relying on your team and letting them know you need to be “saved” can prevent missed deadlines and upset clients. 

Managing anxiety is achievable. Take it day by day by finding what helps you in conquering it! You are loved and you are strong! 

Daily Habits to Encourage Consistency as a College Student

Five simple daily habits to implement in college to establish a consistent and successful daily routine.

By Natalie Lewandowski

In college, it seems that every day is full of new opportunities, making it challenging to gauge what day-to-day life looks like. The lack of consistency makes maintaining a healthy school, work and social-life schedule extremely difficult. By establishing these five daily habits, your mind and body will find a consistent pace as you conquer your college career. 

1. Establish a Sleep Schedule

There are advantages to establishing a consistent sleep schedule and creating healthy sleep habits. According to Harvard University, “College students who prioritize sleep are likely to see improvement in their academic performance.” By being well rested, you will have the energy to complete your day, remain attentive during lectures and course work, and be less stressed. It is important to remember that most college students need 7-9 hours of sleep each night.

2. Make Time for Daily Movement

It can be easy to stay glued to a computer screen or notebook for hours at a time. Set yourself reminders to get up and get active throughout the day! A simple outdoor walk, guided yoga, or workout class can allow your mind to take a much needed break that will ultimately allow you to perform better! “Regular physical activity can help keep your thinking, learning, and judgment skills sharp as you age. It can also reduce your risk of depression and anxiety and help you sleep better,” noted the CDC.

3. Check-In with Yourself

Each morning take note of what you feel that YOU need that day. A simple mental check-in can diagnose a lot. Whether you feel that you need to make time to talk to a friend, have a self-care moment, or more time allotted in your day for studying. It is crucial to mentally, emotionally and physically check-in with yourself so that you are aware of how you are feeling and how to get help if necessary. Some questions you may ask yourself during this time are:

  • Do I feel overwhelmed with school? 
  • Am I feeling more stressed than usual?
  • What do I have to look forward to this weekend?
  • How have I been sleeping? 
  • What’s my energy level?
  • What has brought me joy recently? Who can I share this with?
  • Who can I lean on for support and encouragement?

By establishing your needs, “it can improve your mood, your energy, your relationships with others, and your productivity,” says Jordan Madison.

4. Clean Your Space

A lot can be accomplished in just 10 short minutes! Grab your phone and set a quick timer each day! This gives you the opportunity to focus on your personal space. Pick up laundry, wipe off your desk, rearrange your books, do whatever you need to free your mind and environment from the added stress of clutter. Having a clean environment can reduce anxiety, encourage organization and promote better time management skills. 

5. Plan Ahead
Before heading off to bed, reflect on what has been accomplished and prepare for the next day. Create a simple to-do list with tasks you need to complete, social engagements and course work along with its due date. By organizing your thoughts the night before, you will be mentally prepared for the next day and more strategic in your approach. Simply writing down a list encourages productivity and keeps a busy student organized.

Stress Management for online school

By: Hector Betancourt

Online school is not the end of the world and managing stress will keep you on the right track.

It’s been almost a year since the pandemic began to affect everyone globally. What we used to consider normal has been changed. School became virtual and remembering to grab a mask when we leave the house has been added in our routine. I have to say it hasn’t been easy adapting to life virtually; school is different for a lot of people. We all had what worked best for us, but now every student is experiencing the same thing: online learning. Adapting a new routine into your life is a challenge such as trying to find the best study spot, the right time to do homework or even the best lighting for Zoom calls. All these factors could lead to stress which might affect one’s ability to stay on track. Here are some tips to manage stress for online school.

Exercise

Exercising is a great way to keep your body moving after sitting for long periods of time in front of the computer. Many gyms have been impacted due to the pandemic, but even just a walk or run around the block helps to lower stress levels. Improving your mood is a great benefit when it comes to working out. Yoga, for example, is a nice way to relax your body and your mind. Home workouts are now popular, and there are tons of online resources to discover helpful videos to start incorporating fitness into your schedule. Fitting in time to exercise into your schedule is a great stress reliever for the body and a great way to stay active during these times.

Organize 

Getting and staying organized is a great skill to have when you want to declutter your life. I make sure my room is clean before I start class. Having a clean space helps me focus on the task I’m doing. Getting organized doesn’t just have to be what’s around you. For many, it can be therapeutic to organize their schedules. Creating a to-do list, updating your planner and re-organizing files on your computer can help make a difference. Stress can come from the mess that’s surrounding you. Let’s clean up that mess, throw away those empty water bottles and organize our lives. 

Ask for help

Online learning isn’t for everyone. Some learn better in person, some thrive online. Getting help isn’t the same as it was. Before, I could just walk into my professor’s office hours to talk. Now I have to share my Zoom screen so they can understand what I’m doing. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It might be nerve-wracking to hop on a teacher’s link for office hours, but know that they’re there to help. Take advantage; you don’t want to stress yourself out by not asking for help. Stressing over an assignment is not fun, so let the teacher know when you have questions. Press the “raise hand” button on Zoom (or Google Meet), talk in front of the class and get that question answered. The best stress reliever is when you get that light bulb click in your brain when you figure something out.

Take breaks

I do this a lot. I need breaks. I need to clear my mind. I call them “mental breaks.” I remember my teacher in high school had no decorations in his classroom, just blank walls. Everytime we felt overwhelmed, he told us to look at the wall. “The classroom is a blank canvas for creativity,” he said. I have to admit he was right. I would look at the walls to clear my mind and it helped me re-focus. Taking breaks is an easy way for stress management. Especially after looking at a screen for hours, just sitting outside for a few minutes could help. Classrooms would give us a different learning environment, but now we might be stuck in the same environment (at home). It’s time to create new zones. Online school is not the end of the world and managing stress will keep you on the right track.

Separating your home from your home office

By Hannah Manoucheri

As more and more work lives transfer online, full-service offices shift to coffee tables and kitchens as we continue to adapt our lives to quarantine. The new normal has changed in the agency landscape and life for students and professionals alike has shown how hard it is to keep home life outside of the home office. 

Some prefer to merge the two, allowing their family and friends to creep into their workspaces and working hours, but the results are often similar across the board. Poor distinctions of what’s work and what’s not will prevent you from setting aside time to live your personal life outside of your work life.

According to Adda Birnir from Skill Crush, “without some serious boundaries, working from home means the office can easily seep into your life and make you feel totally unhinged.”

Whether you’re trying to start a new semester out strong, or you’re trying to make the most of your work-from-home environment, here are a few tips to get your work balance just right while we all continue to perfect our quarantine WFH routines:

Tip 1: Set your working hours

Whether you’re building a class schedule or designating what times you’ll be online and working, reinstating your work schedule is the easiest way to set up a boundary between work and home. It allows you to delegate time for you to be online and available to work on projects so your personal life can remain offline when your hours are up.

Tip 2: Let your loved ones know when you’re working

From roommates to family members, someone will always be there to bug you. Working from home means sometimes you have to let them know when you can and can’t be bothered! Building a system to alert them when they can come and talk to you creates a boundary that the people in your life can be aware of themselves. 

The “Cup System” from Jessica McCabe with How to ADHD on YouTube is great for individuals working in a space where people can easily access you. Utilizing a red light, green light system, you simply:

  • Set up three different plastic cups: red, green and yellow
    • The red cup means “I can’t be interrupted right now”
    • The yellow cup means “You can interrupt me if it’s important”
    • The green cup means “I’m free to talk!”
  • Stack the cups on top of each other with the color indicating your working condition on the top and adjust as your priorities shift.

If you can’t use cups right now, it’s okay to get creative! Handwritten notes, colored post-its, or even hand-drawn signs will all get the message across the same. 

Tip 3: Stay accountable for taking a break

The easiest way to burnout at home is to avoid taking breaks. Setting aside time between your working hours to step away from the computer and stretch, drink some water or grab a snack, and rest your eyes is a great way to keep going strong throughout the end of your workday.

Take your break away from your workspace. This allows you to make the mental separation between what’s a place to work and what’s not. By reinforcing this separation in your break, you’re more likely to consistently respect the boundaries you set for yourself.

If you have trouble taking breaks on your own, find a break buddy! They could be a coworker on one of your teams, or even just your roommates, but their purpose is to make sure you take a break. However, this is a two-way street, you have to keep them accountable too! If you both take your break together, you’re more likely to commit to keeping it in your schedule.

Tip 4: Create a routine for logging on and off

Some have taken to calling this their fake commute but establishing a routine that helps you transition in and out of work mode will help you shift better between the two. This further creates the mental separation between what’s considered work and what’s not. 

Logging on could be making a cup of coffee and drinking it while checking your email, or taking a walk while listening to a daily news briefing. Whatever it is, creating a morning ritual that helps your brain shift into work mode will help you dive into the workday more seamlessly.

Logging off could just be shutting down your computer. It could also be making dinner or spending time with friends. Creating a routine that helps reduce stress and take your mind off work helps shift your brain out of work mode. 

Creating a separation between work and home means making time for yourself to be productive and relax. Quarantine means working from home, but it also means being kind to yourself.

What to do when you can’t generate creativity?

If you find yourself sitting in front of a blank project. Stop what you’re doing, walk away and clear your mind.

Photo by  Lauren Mancke on Unsplash

By: Maria Ramirez

Do you ever find yourself sitting in front of a blank doc, canvas, editing timeline or any other piece of work that forces your brain to think creatively? Whether you’re a writer, artist, video creator or any other professional this has happened to you. You sit down and try to start but nothing comes to mind. I’ve been in that position too many times. It’s not a good feeling, especially if it’s something you’ve put off and a deadline is approaching. Okay, so you look at the clock and do the math. “This project is due at midnight, it’s 1:45 p.m. right now. If I start at 2 p.m. then I can be done by 4 p.m., but if I take a 30-minute break I’ll be done by 4:30 p.m.” I do this every time which causes me more stress, my mind begins to spiral and I can’t focus. The term for this feeling is creative/writer’s block. If you catch yourself in a knot like me, stop what you’re doing and take a step back.

Continue reading “What to do when you can’t generate creativity?”

Coping with Loneliness

Photo by Canva

By: Brooke Martin

Many tend to overlook their daily privileges and fortunes until they are taken away. Going to the grocery store, getting coffee with friends, boarding an airplane and so many other things we took for granted just a few months ago. With the Coronavirus quarantine, people are interacting with others less, staying in the same, confined spaces and are combating loneliness. Routines have changed as have the mindset of a lot of people. However, there are ways to cope with loneliness and even put it to good use.

Continue reading “Coping with Loneliness”

Stuck on a project? Sleep on it

Photo from Pixabay

By: Sam Rios

I woke up in the middle of the night, straight out of a dream. My first thought was, “I need to assign Jessie a to-do.” Still in the shallow-end of R.E.M., with the subconscious bubbling, I thought about project details for my internship. In this half-awake state, I was able to have clear insight into something that had been bouncing around my mind for days.

Continue reading “Stuck on a project? Sleep on it”

Keep Calm and Carry On: How to focus on your goals when it feels like the world is ending

It can be hard to stay calm in times of such uncertainty, but it’s not impossible

Photo by Brian Luong

By: Christina Cahill

“Normal” is a word that no longer holds much meaning to those of us around the world who functioned on a schedule. Here at Chico State, as with everywhere else, we have a lot to come to terms with. Graduating seniors may never set foot on campus again. Our commencement has been indefinitely postponed. Plans for summer travel, studies or internships have been all but abandoned. Some of us that have received job offers have seen those offers revoked and some of us who have yet to start our job hunts find ourselves looking at a bleak market. Covid-19 hit hard and fast and, apparently, the worst is yet to come. It’s difficult to swallow the consensus of specialists that the fall out from this virus will last months at a minimum, not weeks, but the notion that our lives are to remain abnormal for the foreseeable future is finally settling into our accepted realities.

Continue reading “Keep Calm and Carry On: How to focus on your goals when it feels like the world is ending”