Permanent link for How to Unleash Your Inner Sleeping Beauty: The Ultimate Guide to Better Zzz's for GV Students on April 24, 2023
As a Wellness Information Team Peer Educator, one of the most common concerns we hear from Grand Valley State University (GVSU) students is trouble sleeping. Numerous students have trouble obtaining the sleep they need, whether it's due to trouble falling asleep, remaining asleep, or waking up feeling exhausted. In this blog, we will explore the psychological and emotional impact of sleep and provide practical tips to help students get a good night's rest. Let's dive in!
Think: "Unlocking Your Best Self: The Power of Good Sleep Habits"
When it comes to achieving your goals and feeling your best, quality sleep is a critical component. The way we think about sleep can have a big impact on our ability to prioritize it and establish healthy habits. By recognizing the power of good sleep habits and the benefits they can bring, we can shift our mindset towards prioritizing rest and reaping the rewards of a well-rested mind and body.
The term "thinking" in this sense refers to a variety of activities. You must consider your existing sleeping patterns and attitudes, including whether you value sleep and understand its significance. It also involves being aware of the advantages of getting enough sleep, including enhanced mental clarity, greater physical health, and increased productivity. Last but not least, it is being proactive about changing your sleeping patterns, for example, by putting the blog's advice into practice or looking for extra resources and support.
By "unlocking" the power of good sleep habits and recognizing their role in achieving our best selves, we can take a more intentional approach to sleep and prioritize it alongside other aspects of our well-being.
Feel: "Snooze to Success: Empowering Your Mind and Body with Quality Sleep"
The way we feel about sleep can have a big impact on our ability to prioritize it and establish healthy habits. When we recognize the benefits of quality sleep and the positive impact it can have on our mental and physical health, we're more likely to make it a priority in our daily lives.
The "feel" aspect of this title is all about recognizing the emotional benefits of quality sleep. Getting enough rest can help us feel more energized, focused, and productive during the day. It can also reduce stress and anxiety, improve our mood, and support our overall well-being. By prioritizing quality sleep, we can tap into these emotional benefits and empower ourselves to feel our best.
In this context, "feeling" is about recognizing the connection between our emotions and our sleep habits. It involves understanding the impact that sleep can have on our mood, stress levels, and overall well-being. It also means recognizing the emotional benefits of quality sleep and prioritizing it as a key aspect of self-care.
By "snoozing" to success and empowering our mind and body with quality sleep, we can tap into the emotional benefits of rest and support our overall well-being.
Do: "Take Charge of Your Zzz's: Practical Tips for a Restful Night's Sleep"
There are many factors that can affect sleep quality, including stress, anxiety, caffeine intake, and screen time. Here are some common sleep problems, that students may experience:
- Insomnia: difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
- Sleep apnea: a condition where breathing is interrupted during sleep, leading to snoring and daytime fatigue
- Restless leg syndrome: a condition where you feel an uncomfortable sensation in your legs that makes it difficult to sleep
- Circadian rhythm disorders: disruptions in your body's internal clock that can lead to difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep at the right times
If you're experiencing any of these sleep problems, it's important to talk to your healthcare provider to determine the best course of treatment.
There are several things you can do to improve your sleep quality. Here are some tips:
- Stick to a sleep schedule: Establishing a consistent sleep routine can help regulate ( your body's internal clock and improve sleep quality. Aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. If you have trouble falling asleep, avoid napping during the day, as this can disrupt your sleep schedule.
- Create a sleep-conducive environment: Your sleeping environment can have a big impact on sleep quality. Make sure your bedroom is cool, quiet, and dark. If you live in a noisy area or have roommates who stay up late, consider using earplugs or a white noise machine to block out distractions. Use blackout curtains or an eye mask if necessary to block out any light that might disturb your sleep.
- Limit screen time : Exposure to the blue light emitted by electronic devices like smartphones, tablets, and laptops can interfere with your body's natural sleep-wake cycle. Try to avoid using electronic devices for at least an hour before bedtime. If you need to use your device, consider using a blue light filter or wearing blue light-blocking glasses to reduce the impact on your sleep.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol: Both caffeine and alcohol can disrupt sleep quality. Caffeine is a stimulant that can keep you awake, while alcohol can interfere with REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which is important for memory consolidation and overall sleep quality. Try to avoid these substances in the hours leading up to bedtime.
- Practice relaxation techniques: Stress and anxiety can make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep. Practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga can help you relax and prepare for sleep. Consider incorporating these practices into your bedtime routine to help calm your mind and body before bed.
- Get regular exercise: Exercise can help improve sleep quality by reducing stress, promoting relaxation, and regulating your body's internal clock. However, try to avoid exercising too close to bedtime, as it can increase alertness and make it harder to fall asleep. Aim to exercise earlier in the day, at least a few hours before bedtime.
- Seek help if needed: If you're struggling with sleep despite trying these tips, consider talking to a healthcare provider or seeking help from a sleep specialist. There are many effective treatments for sleep disorders, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) or continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy for sleep apnea. Your healthcare provider can help you determine the best course of treatment for your specific needs.
In conclusion, getting enough sleep is critical for overall health and well-being. By prioritizing sleep and taking steps to improve sleep quality, you can feel more rested, alert, and focused throughout the day. Don't hesitate to seek help if you're struggling with sleep, as there are many effective treatments available. Good luck and Sweet dreams!
- Worley SL. The Extraordinary Importance of Sleep: The Detrimental Effects of Inadequate Sleep on Health and Public Safety Drive an Explosion of Sleep Research. P T. 2018 Dec;43(12):758-763. PMID: 30559589; PMCID: PMC6281147.,
- https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-hygiene ,
By: Aravind Gurusaran Korukonda, WIT Peer Educator
Posted by Katie Jourdan on Permanent link for How to Unleash Your Inner Sleeping Beauty: The Ultimate Guide to Better Zzz's for GV Students on April 24, 2023.
Permanent link for Press Pause... and Get Outside! on April 7, 2023
It is that time of the school year again for finals, but don’t let studying take up too much of your time! It is important to balance school and time for yourself. The flowers are blooming, the sun is shining, and the birds are calling your name! But don’t forget to wear sunscreen!
What the outdoors can do for you!
- Helps motivation and physical health
- Lowers stress and anxiety levels
- Improves sleep
- Stronger immunity
- Supports positive mental health
- Better breathing and sight
Tips for getting outside!
- Make plans with a friend
- Block an hour out of your schedule
- Set a time limit for studying
- Make a reminder
Things to do outdoors on campus!
- Hammock in the arboretum
- Go hiking on the trails behind campus or near Laker Village
- Set up a slackline with a friend
- Have a picnic
- Play sand volleyball
- Read a book or make friendship bracelets on a blanket
- Eat lunch with a friend on a bench
- Ride your bike
- Take a nap under a tree
- Go on a scavenger hunt
- Roller Skate or skateboard on the sidewalks
- Set up your yoga mat in the sun
The outdoors improves your overall health! There are many ways to get outdoors on campus. And remember to treat the outdoors with kindness. We want our favorite places to last a long time!
By: Ruhi Khanna, WIT Peer Educator and Climbing Center Staff
Posted by Katie Jourdan on Permanent link for Press Pause... and Get Outside! on April 7, 2023.
Permanent link for The Power of Meditation and How to Use It on March 22, 2023
Meditation is a powerful tool that can help you achieve mental, emotional, and physical wellness. As a college student, you may face many challenges, such as stress, anxiety, and a lack of focus. Meditation can help you overcome these challenges and improve your overall well-being.
What is meditation?
Meditation is a practice that involves training your mind to focus on the present moment. It can involve different techniques, such as deep breathing, visualization, and mindfulness. The goal of meditation is to quiet the mind and achieve a sense of inner peace and calm.
How can meditation benefit college students?
- Reduces stress and anxiety: College life can be stressful, and it can lead to anxiety and other mental health issues. Meditation has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety levels, and improve overall mental health.
- Improves focus and concentration: Meditation can help you improve your focus and concentration, which can be beneficial for your academic performance. By training your mind to focus on one thing at a time, you can improve your productivity and efficiency.
- Enhances self-awareness: Meditation can help you become more aware of your thoughts and emotions. By observing your thoughts without judgment, you can develop a better understanding of yourself and your feelings.
- Improves sleep quality: College students often struggle with sleep issues, such as insomnia or sleep deprivation. Meditation can help you relax and calm your mind, which can improve your sleep quality and quantity.
How to get started with meditation?
- Find a quiet and comfortable space where you won't be disturbed.
- Sit in a comfortable position with your back straight and your eyes closed.
- Take deep breaths, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth.
- Focus your attention on your breath, and try to keep your mind from wandering.
- If your mind does wander, gently bring your attention back to your breath.
- Practice meditation for at least 5-10 minutes a day, and gradually increase the time as you become more comfortable with the practice.
In conclusion, meditation is a simple yet powerful practice that can help college students achieve mental, emotional, and physical wellness. By incorporating meditation into your daily routine, you can reduce stress and anxiety, improve focus and concentration, enhance self-awareness, and improve sleep quality. Give it a try and see how it can benefit you.
By: Abdul Ciise, WIT Peer Educator
Posted by Katie Jourdan on Permanent link for The Power of Meditation and How to Use It on March 22, 2023.
Permanent link for Caffeine is Keeping You Up on March 1, 2023
March is here, and at GVSU, March is all about sleep! Winter semester is Recreation & Wellness’s Press Pause campaign, and in March we focus on good sleep health and getting adequate rest. I am going to talk all about the relationship between caffeine and sleep so you can start off your March getting the best sleep you can!
You may have read the title of this blog post and thought, “Well yeah, that is why I drink it.” Lots of Americans drink caffeine daily to help them feel alert and awake in the morning. The FDA states that around 80% of US adults drink caffeine daily. It is common to hear tired voices lament that they have not had their coffee yet, especially on a university campus. But drinking caffeine daily can actually be the reason you don't feel alert and rested without your coffee.
Let's start by explaining how caffeine works.
In the brain, you have a chemical called adenosine. This chemical builds up during the hours of the day you are awake and sends a signal that you are tired by binding to special adenosine receptors. So the longer you are awake, the more adenosine builds up and the more tired you feel. When you drink caffeine it makes its way through the bloodstream and into your brain. Caffeine will then bind to the adenosine receptors and block them. This means that although adenosine is still building up in the brain, your body doesn't know that it is tired yet. This is why you sometimes crash mid-day, the caffeine has left your system and isn't blocking those adenosine receptors anymore, leading to a sudden feeling of tiredness. This is also why drinking caffeine later in the day will keep you up, that caffeine is still blocking your adenosine from making you feel tired and getting the rest you need.
So now that you know how caffeine works to make you feel awake, let's talk about how caffeine use affects sleep quality.
Once your caffeine has worn off and you go to sleep, the effects of caffeine consumption still continue. Even if that cup of coffee was early in the day, drinking caffeine still affects your sleep. Caffeine can make it harder to fall asleep, stay asleep, and can overall reduce the quality of sleep you get. Especially if you drink caffeine regularly. Caffeine reduces short-wave sleep; This is the deep restful sleep that makes you feel recharged and alert the next morning.
So what happens for many of us is we don't get good quality sleep so we are tired in the morning and turn to coffee, soda, or other caffeinated drinks. Then that caffeine makes our sleep worse, so we are tired in the morning and drink more caffeine. This creates a vicious cycle of needing caffeine to feel awake because of getting poor sleep. Don't worry coffee lovers, I am not saying you need to give up your favorite part of your morning entirely, but cutting back can improve sleep and stop this cycle.
The safe amount of caffeine in a day is 400 milligrams, which is about 4 cups of coffee. You may not be drinking that much coffee but soda and energy drinks during the day can easily put you over that safe limit. This is also true if you take pre-workout and drink caffeine. Drinking too much caffeine can lead to symptoms I am sure most of us know well, like jitters, nausea, headaches, and a pounding heart rate. It also increases your blood pressure, makes you more dehydrated, and can even cause health issues like problems with digestion.
You can stop this cycle and feel awake without caffeine in lots of different ways. One big one is cutting back on caffeine. If you drink a lot of caffeine or drink caffeine daily this can be hard. One way to do it is to cut back slowly. So if you drink 2 cups of coffee in the morning and an energy drink at lunch, start by just cutting out one of those 3 drinks. Then cut one more, and maybe then you switch to a lower caffeine option like tea. This is going to look different for everyone. Some people may be able to stop drinking caffeine entirely, but for others, caffeine is part of some of their favorite drinks. Just know that cutting back on caffeine (even if you don’t cut it out entirely) will still have benefits.
So now you have cut back on caffeine, but you may still feel a bit tired in the morning. Are there other caffeine-free ways to feel awake?
You bet there are! There are actually a lot. Here is a list of proven ways to boost alertness without that cup of coffee:
- Hydrate throughout your day by drinking lots of water
- Eat some fresh fruit
- Eat a balanced diet
- Nap throughout the day (check out our nap map here!)
If you still can’t shake the sleep off and feel well-rested, there may be some underlying reason for being tired day in and day out. That is when you should talk to your doctor about your symptoms. Conditions like sleep apnea are fairly common, 1 in 15 people in the US has a type of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea can reduce sleep quality and cause other serious health concerns.
Now that you know the ins-and-outs of caffeine and sleep, you are ready to go and tackle your fatigue and get lots of restful sleep. If you want to dig deeper into the topic of sleep, Check out Emilio’s blog post on how sleep impacts fitness, Annie’s blog post on the racial sleep gap, and Stella’s blog post on the importance of sleep.
By: Eva VanWyck, WIT Peer Educator
Posted by Katie Jourdan on Permanent link for Caffeine is Keeping You Up on March 1, 2023.
Permanent link for Eating as a College Student on February 3, 2023
As college students, many of us are short on time and long on the grind. We have papers piling up, clubs to attend, hours to clock, and so it can be difficult to find time to sit down and nurture our bodies with all of the nutrients that we need. Last year, I found it difficult to find the time to eat, especially being on a budget and being obsessed with eating the ‘right’ way. Sometimes we make a full meal with vegetables, sometimes we have a donut with our coffee. I’d like to discuss the obstacles that come with food when you’re busy and how to improve our relationship with it.
Eating On the Go
First up, addressing the big time constraint. If you’re like me, you’re taking classes full time, working part time, and pulling off multiple extracurriculars and side projects. When you’re busy and on the go, it’s hard to maintain an eating schedule, let alone finding time to eat. You’ve heard it from your friends, you’ve done it yourself; you’re running off a large cup of coffee and nothing else. We are human, we aren’t perfect. However, keeping our bodies nourished should be a top priority. Every meal may not be a five-course endeavor, but you can start by implementing snacks and simple meals. If this means taking a half hour to make some pasta and add some spinach to the sauce, go you! If this means driving to a drive thru before class instead of skipping a meal, still, go you! Making the time, and making the choice, to eat when and where you can will make a difference. You do not want your stomach rumbling in a silent lecture room.
I’d like to address and acknowledge the prevalence of food insecurity when it comes to trying to eat and maintain health. According to Basic Needs at GVSU, more than 1,000 students here at GVSU struggle with food insecurity. Food insecurity is the lack of access to nutritious food on a consistent basis. For college students, this might look like not having enough meals on our meal plans or living off of a few packs of ramen for a week. Food insecure college students don’t have enough food to properly sustain themselves through the week and their grades (and health) may suffer from this. While food insecurity is a broad issue, there are some resources out there and even some on our campus.
Replenish is a basic needs center on campus with three different locations. One location is on the lower level of Kirkhof center, in room 074. The other two locations are on the downtown campus located at the Steelcase library building A of the DeVos Center and room 347 of the Cook-DeVos Center for Health Science (CHS 347). Students are welcome to stop in during open hours, check in with staff, and get the food or basic need items they need.
SNAP benefits, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, provides supplemental income via a Bridge card to lower-income individuals. While there are eligibility requirements, students can and should consider applying for SNAP. Students can apply for SNAP online and will later be contacted to complete a phone interview. There is no downside to applying for SNAP, the worst thing that can happen is you get denied and the best is that you are approved for benefits! If you need help applying, reach out to the CARE team by filling out a report for yourself.
There are many food pantries across the towns surrounding our campuses, including Love Inc., The Other Way Ministries, and more. Students can search for resources using the Feeding America resource map.
There is nothing to be embarrassed about when it comes to experiencing food insecurity as a student. Many of us come from different backgrounds and experiences and it’s important to recognize them and help one another when we can. If someone you know is experiencing food insecurity, consider finding ways to help them like sharing the resources above. If you are experiencing food insecurity, ask for help and take advantage of the resources available to you. While folks who are experiencing food insecurity have a more difficult time with accessing nutrient-dense foods, it is so important to do your best to eat the food that is available.
When you don’t have the time or the resources to eat the “right” foods, you might fall ill to food guilt. Food guilt is when you obsess and feel ashamed over the food you eat or think about eating. Sometimes this may look like eating a bag of chips instead of a salad, but the reasons may vary: the chips might be cheaper, the chips might have a higher calorie count and might be more filling, or, simply, you might be craving some chips. All of these reasons are completely valid, and what’s important is that you are eating. The way that diet culture has infiltrated our minds (and bodies) has made us believe that skipping meals is healthier than eating “junk” when in reality, skipping meals has faster, more harmful consequences than eating something unhealthy. Just checkout this resource.
Tips and Tricks
- Eat the foods that make you feel good: try to balance foods for your soul and foods for your gut (instead of chips or salad, why not both, if you can). You do not need to give up any category of food- try to add vegetables and fruits when and where you can. It’s about adding nutrients, not taking them away.
- Have specific foods ready for on-the-go like protein bars, muffins, and yogurt. On busy mornings, afternoons, or evenings- it is helpful to have something ready to grab and take with you. To cut costs, some of these on-the-go items can be meal prepped and ready to have on hand.
- Let go of the stigma surrounding different foods. Every food has its place.
- Have ‘backup’ foods for low-energy days like instant noodles, freezer meals, or even a gift card for a restaurant. It’s better to eat “unhealthy” than nothing. Having easy foods available to you when you’re not feeling your best can help make sure you’re still nourishing your body.
- Experiment with recipes in your free time, and find out what foods you like. You can find recipes online, from family and friends, and even on the RecWell instagram. Budget Bytes is a great resource for cheap and yummy recipes.
- Try to attend a farmer’s market for fresh produce, such as the Fulton Street Farmers Market, a SNAP certified market!
- Try food-prepping meals or try to create a “grazing” plate in the fridge with things like cheese, veggies, crackers, and your favorite proteins (nuts, seeds, meats, meat alternatives, etc.).
What to Avoid Eating
- Foods you have a life-threatening allergy to
- Foods that you dislike
- Inedible objects
- Foods that go against your values (if you’re vegan, religious, or otherwise)
To wrap things up, take care of yourself. I know it can be hard to maintain balance, especially as a student- and even more so if you’re a student with additional barriers. But it’s so important to make sure you’re eating consistently, even if what you’re eating is not always the ‘healthiest’ option. Don’t listen to diet culture and remember to prioritize food.
Additional Links and Resources
By Rowan Armour, WIT Peer Educator
Posted by Maddie Vervaeke on Permanent link for Eating as a College Student on February 3, 2023.
Permanent link for Unplugging Can Be Hard...But It Doesn't Have to Be on January 26, 2023
You know those days when you keep trying to finish a homework assignment and somehow the time keeps flying by…and your phone keeps getting in the way? You rack up all the motivation you have but your phone is just taunting you to pick it up, and somehow you are subconsciously pulling up Instagram, Snapchat, *insert app/social media here* again . A couple hours later you still have more homework to do. The plans you had for the night– watching a show, game night with friends, book reading, video gaming, (or whatever your jam might be)-- become harder to fit in by the minute!
Reasons We Grab Our Phones
It turns out this is not an uncommon scenario, and there are many reasons our phone is the first thing we grab when doing homework or waiting for class to start. One reason could be the feeling of missing out (aka FOMO). A study that collected data from 3,606 college students found that when individuals had FOMO, they often were more likely to feel the urge to grab for their phone. The study also found that FOMO was not as common in those who thought fondly of the future and felt they had a strong social support group.
There are many other feelings like FOMO that could cause us to subconsciously reach for or turn on a screen:
- Screen time can cause the brain to send signals of happiness (in the moment) that the brain increasingly craves
- There is a link between being uninterested and using a phone
- Depending on the person, feelings during social situations could increase phone use
What do you think causes you to look at your phone or pull up a screen? Maybe the above reasons sparked some ideas, maybe not. Either way, the following tips, tricks and resources may help you find out, or at the very least help you to unplug and do what you truly want to do!
One way that could prevent FOMO, being uninterested, or having other scenarios leading to high phone use is by following a tip by Laura Vanderkam. In the Food Heaven podcast “Listen to This if You Struggle with Time Management” she says it is a good idea to take some time each Friday and outline a page as shown below:
Using this template, each Friday (or day that works best for you) you can make a plan for the upcoming week, giving you times to look forward to in the following week.
Laura Vanderkam also says that instead of trying to find shortcuts in the day so that there is more time to unplug, it can be easier to simply fill the day with activities that bring you joy. For example, instead of looking for ways to make a Quizlet faster, you could set up a time to hang out with a friend. This planned event will mean there will be less time to make the Quizlet, so you will spend less time making the Quizlet.
Everyone has different priorities so it can be helpful to write down your personal priorities so that it is clear how much time should be spent in each area of your life. This goes along with setting healthy boundaries and making sure to stick with them.
There are various tools you could use to not be tempted to look at your phone. Here are a few of my favorites:
- An app called Flora. I started using it last semester and I give it above five stars! This app allows you to grow plants while staying off your phone. Not to mention, you can grow trees with your friends by joining each other’s study rooms!
- Adjusting settings. Stella mentioned in her Press Pause: Unplugged blog post last year that she likes to adjust the settings of certain apps to notify her when a certain amount of time has passed.
- And my personal favorite, the out-of-sight-out-of-mind method: toss your distracting device in a random drawer or room out of your field of view.
If the above tips and tricks are not working for you, or you are having trouble figuring out how this can fit into your daily life, there are many resources on campus that are waiting to help. One of these is the Wellness Navigators at Recreation & Wellness. Wellness Navigators are students like you who can help you with anything related to ways to unplug, setting boundaries, getting connected to resources on campus, time management, or any student or wellness goals you may have. If you sign up, the discussions and meetups with your Wellness Navigator will be completely tailored to what you need, even if that means simply talking over the phone or connecting through email.
For longer-term goals, sign up with a Wellness Coach at Recreation & Wellness. If you are experiencing mental health stressors for more than a few days at a time, the Counseling Center has many services for students that can help.
You Know You
Everyone has different goals and needs, so when reflecting on your phone use make sure you have in mind what is realistic and makes sense for you. The Laura Vanderkam template and the Flora app are only a few ways to stay off your phone, so it’s okay if they don't work for you. There are many ways you can figure out the best strategies for you to unplug, and there are trained students, Wellness Coaches and counselors that are eager to figure it out with you!
By: Josie Kasmauskis, WIT Peer Educator
Posted by Katie Jourdan on Permanent link for Unplugging Can Be Hard...But It Doesn't Have to Be on January 26, 2023.
Permanent link for WIT Blog Series is Back! on January 25, 2023
The WIT Peer Educators are back again this semester to share about their favorite topics in nutrition, sexual health, pressing pause and so much more. WIT members are GVSU students from a variety of majors and backgrounds. They are brought together by their passion to support their fellow students in pursuing health and wellness.
Stay tuned every Thursday for the latest blog entry. Have ideas for a blog post? Submit a question to our Ask WIT Form and we'll get one written just for you!
By: Katie Jourdan, Assistant Director RecWell
Posted by Katie Jourdan on Permanent link for WIT Blog Series is Back! on January 25, 2023.
Permanent link for What Does "Balance" Look Like? on April 7, 2022
We see the word “balance” everywhere and most of us can agree there are things we could do to improve it in our lives - but how? Before we can even think about how we can improve balance in our lives, we need to fully understand what the concept of balance means to us individually. The word balance will often be used to describe nutrition, the amount of exercise we’re getting, or “the work-life balance.” Balance can mean all of these things and represent aspects of our lives on so many levels; the important part is just reflecting on how you would like balance to look like in your own life.
Balance is different for everyone and everyone is seeking a different level of it. As college students, we’re at a unique point in our lives juggling school, work, leadership positions, social activities, and overall learning how to be functional adults. It’s hard to find balance, but there are a few reasons for why it might be so hard and of course ways to help find balance in your own life.
The “All or Nothing” Mentality
When it comes to trying to find balance in my own life, I often find myself dealing with the same type of issue. Balance can be difficult to achieve, no matter who you are. One minute, you feel like you’re doing it all - exercising regularly, eating well, finishing all of your basic household tasks, socializing, and getting lots of work done. It feels great - you feel productive, energized, and ahead of life. But as I have experienced myself, it feels hard and almost exhausting to do this consistently, and when I don’t do all of these things I end up being extremely hard on myself.
But there’s great news - you don’t have to do it all and most people are feeling the same exact way. Balance is all about doing what you can (and sure, challenging yourself a bit too) but shedding the guilt that comes along with “not being productive'' (when in reality, you may be being very productive in another way). This thought pattern of thinking you need to do everything to have a healthy and positive life all at once is part of a negative thought pattern called the “All or Nothing” mentality. If you’ve been feeling trapped in this cycle as I have, do not fear! There are ways to combat these negative thought patterns and begin incorporating balance into your life.
- Replace Negative Thoughts: Understand rest and social activities are just as, if not more important, than an assignment at times. Don’t let negativity spoil the fun of social activities or having a rest day. Losing balance in our lives can sometimes be a way to find it again.
- Reframe Your Thinking: Adopt healthy habits one or two at a time. You don’t have to do everything at once. Long-term lifestyle changes can be gradual and take a while to become a habit. Also, start integrating your life. What does this mean? Stop compartmentalizing your work, school, and social time. Instead of viewing these separately, reframe them as parts of your life that collaborate. For example, instead of thinking about your work and social life as competing with one another, think about these as all part of your day - sometimes you might need to work more to get something done, but then spend more time spending time with friends another time.
- Learn to Say NO: Understand it’s totally okay to say no to things or take a break if you need it. Becoming an advocate for yourself and what you spend your time doing will give you the control to create balance in your life, whatever that means for you.
- Listen to Your Body and Mind: As simple as it may seem, sometimes we tend to bypass the signals our body and mind are trying to send us. Be kind to yourself and the cues your body and mind are giving you. If you don’t listen to these cues, you can end up feeling overwhelmed and burnt out. These may include exhaustion, irritability, anxiety, frequent colds/viruses, low confidence, not responding to friends/family, etc.
- Find an Activity that Makes YOU Feel Like YOU: Set time aside for a hobby you have, set time aside to start a hobby you want to try, set time aside for YOU. Even things like journaling, reading, meditating, or stretching can be ways to ground yourself and figure out what kind of balance you want in your life.
For more ways to incorporate balance in your life, check out these links:
Explore Your Wellness
If you are struggling to evaluate your own wellness, or are just interested in measuring the areas you would like to improve in, here is a quick activity you can do at home to measure how you’re doing between all eight dimensions of wellness: emotional, environmental, financial, spiritual, social, intellectual, physical, and occupational.
For this activity, all you will need is a piece of blank paper and a pen or a pencil. You can draw the diagram on the top (in second image of blog post) and make sure each section of the circle is labeled with the dimensions of wellness. Once you have the diagram drawn, rate how you’re feeling in each dimension by shading in each level (1= less well and 5= most well). Once you have it filled in, it should look something like the diagram on the bottom. You can use this tool to gauge how you’re feeling and reflect on what you might do really well in, but also some areas you might see room for improvement.
For more information on the eight dimensions of wellness, the Recreation & Wellness website has resources available on each dimension. You can also take this quiz to help you think a little bit more about each dimension (no score is given at the end).
Balance Takes Time
No matter where you are in your wellness journey, the key to balance is to be kind and patient with yourself. Changes and habits aren’t formed overnight and “achieving” balance is a long-term investment in yourself. Slow down, take a breath, and take some time to reflect on the types of balance that make you the happiest and feel like the best version of yourself.
Finding Balance at GVSU
This month, the Press Pause Campaign at Grand Valley is focused on Balance. If you are feeling overwhelmed and struggling to find balance in your life (whatever that means for you), Grand Valley has a variety of resources available for students. Recreation and Wellness offer Wellness Navigation, Wellness Coaching, and a monthly speaker series. The University Counseling Center also offers counseling services to GVSU students, free of charge.
By: Sofia Hessler, WIT Peer Educator
Posted by Katie Jourdan on Permanent link for What Does "Balance" Look Like? on April 7, 2022.
Permanent link for Your Spring Break To Do List on March 8, 2022
Hello all! This is Katie - taking on writing this spring break blog post so the WIT Peer Educators can take some time to rest, relax and refresh; to press pause if you will.
Is it just me or has this semester seemed really long already?
Now, I know you’re halfway through spring break, but I want to be sure you’re all getting some things done this week. It may seem counterintuitive to have a spring break to do list, but trust me… you’re gonna want to make sure you do some of these things!
Spend time with friends/family - Our social wellness has taken a hit during the pandemic. With more time spent in our rooms and in a virtual world, we’ve lost opportunities to just be in spaces with people. Take some time to be with people you like.
Sleep - Seriously, get some sleep! The WIT Peer Educators have plenty of blog posts on why sleep is so important if you need any reasons to sleep more.
Do something you enjoy - Haven’t read a book for fun in awhile? Haven’t binged the newest Netflix series? Whatever it is (cooking, painting, video-gaming, puzzling, crafting, running, hiking, fishing, dancing, driving, singing….). Now’s your chance!
Unplug - Getting away from technology, especially social media and the 24 hour news cycle can be super cleansing. Maybe go for a walk or call a friend instead?
Whatever you do for the rest of spring break, please take some time to rest.
By: Katie Jourdan, Student Health Promotions Coordinator (and a big fan of resting!)
Posted by Katie Jourdan on Permanent link for Your Spring Break To Do List on March 8, 2022.
Permanent link for Can Lack of Sleep Significantly affect One's Physical Well-being? on March 3, 2022
Spoiler: it can.
Have you ever woken up late and been unable to do everything you wanted to do in the day? Finding yourself staying up late on your phone watching Tik Toks? While these activities seem fun at the moment, they negatively impact more than just your energy, they can affect your body, too. Prioritizing your sleep routine can benefit your personal fitness goals!
Your body without sleep: Hungry!
While it is true that sleeping is our body’s way to rest up the brain, sleep gives a deep meaning to our body’s physical health as well. Previously mentioned in last week’s blog, neurotransmitters give our brain signals. Two of them, called ghrelin and leptin, tell our brain how hungry or full we are. A study done by the National Library of Medicine (NIH), tells us that a restriction of sleep, or sleep deprivation, can raise our ghrelin and leptin levels, causing us to get hungrier. The study also concluded that we tend to choose calorie-dense foods that are high in carbohydrates when we’re sleepy and hungry. Now, carbohydrates are really good for our body - they are our body’s preferred source of energy - but the problem is, the study shows we tend to choose fatty foods for our carb fix with lots of less healthy fats, such as pizza, donuts, fries, etc. when we do not get enough sleep.
Other ways sleep affects the body and your fitness goals
- Helps muscles rebuild at night (think muscle repair after a workout)
- Lowers blood pressure, giving your heart and blood vessels a break
- Increases motivation (which is important if you’re trying to stick to routine!)
- Supports your immune system
- Allows for a steadier blood sugar level in the deepest sleep (which helps lower risk of type 2 diabetes).
So if you’re lacking sleep, you’re missing out on all these benefits!
A step in the right direction
Reading all this, it may be overwhelming to think what is happening to your body with too little sleep, but you can make a change and get more sleep if you want! For example, I personally just found out about google calendar and now like to incorporate my sleep schedule into each day. Giving yourself an idea of when to go to bed and how much sleep you will get is very useful! And,the biggest piece of advice I have is setting a specific amount of time to put your phone away before bed. The Tik Tok video will still be there when you wake up. This has become especially helpful for me being, that I would always be on my phone late trying to chase the next helpful or funny video, but what I realized was, the most helpful thing I can do is go to sleep on time; because waking up late and having to risk missing a class is not the funniest thing in the world.
If setting up a calendar a week in advance or putting your phone away an hour before bed seems like too much, then take baby steps. Maybe just plan a day out. You can put your phone in a place where you cannot reach it before you go to bed. What can also help is figuring out how many hours of sleep your body needs. Testing different amounts of sleep and seeing how your body reacts can be handy. This gives you a plan for how many hours you want to set aside to sleep.
Sleep to access the gains
When you go to sleep early, it gives your body strength to take on the day! It leaves more time to cook, say yes to healthier food options, and even prevent obesity. Make sure to get the proper amount of sleep so that you can make the best choices for your body and chase after your fitness goals (or just feel better physically). For more information on the benefits of sleep, how to get better sleep, and sleep in general, be sure to check out our other blog posts about sleep.
By: Emilio Espinosa, WIT Peer Educator
Posted by Katie Jourdan on Permanent link for Can Lack of Sleep Significantly affect One's Physical Well-being? on March 3, 2022.