A U of T Student’s Recipe for Success

I’d like to consider myself a borderline foodie, and as a result, I refuse to let the quality of my meals slip just because of a few trivial things like ‘exams’ or ‘homework.’ I have a few go-to methods and recipes to make sure that even when heading to Robarts at 8AM for a 12 hour study session during midterms, I’ll still be able to have a healthy and preferably home-cooked meal to eat. Apparently cake pops and Frappucinos are not part of a balanced meal.

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When it looks this good, anything can be a part of a balanced meal.

I’ve come to the realization that the problems with being healthy while busy (for me at least) can be narrowed down to a few issues:

  1. Money
  2. Flavor
  3. Time

Sometimes, it may just be easier to grab a cheesy poutine from the food truck, but I still try to make myself decent food despite these issues. After many failed attempts with expensive veggies, bland food and simply just sleeping in too late to cook anything, I’ve finally figured out a system that works for me. So here is one of my favourite recipes, along with some of my useful shortcuts to go along with it!

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Couscous Salad!

Let me take a minute to express my outright love for couscous. All you have to do is add boiling water, and it cooks in 5 minutes. Even if a 5-minute cooking time isn’t short enough, this is the perfect food to make in big batches on a Sunday night, for a daily grab-and-go during the week. It’s also super customizable. So if kale or celery isn’t your thing, you can add whatever vegetables you love (or whatever vegetables are cheapest to buy!). I have a flyer app on my phone called Reebee that gets me all the grocery store flyers, so I scan it to stock up on fruits, veggies, and anything else I might need thats on sale.

Recipe: Amounts can vary depending on how much you want to make but here are the general ingredients! Enjoy!

-1 cup of cooked couscous
-1/2 cup of chopped kale
-1/2 cup of scraped carrots
-1/2 cup of scraped zucchini
-1 tomatoe, diced into small pieces
-1 small onion diced into small pieces
-1 tsp chopped ginger
-salt and pepper to taste
-lemon juice
-2-3 tbsp of olive oil

Instructions: Sauté ginger, carrots and zucchini and kale in a large pan. When cooked to your desire, add salt and pepper to taste and set aside to cool. Meanwhile, mix together the tomatoes and onions with a little lemon juice, olive oil and salt. Once everything has cooled down, mix together in a large bowl and store in the fridge! This will save cooking time in the morning so you can be more relaxed. Or, you can always sleep in longer and rush out the door, but either way, you have a meal ready to go!

To make it extra special (this is where the flavor comes in), invest in some flavourful ingredients such as sriracha sauce, balsamic vinegar, sesame oil or fresh coriander (or other herbs). Most of these don’t go bad very easily and last in the pantry or fridge for a long time. It’s comforting to know that the $4 I spent on sriracha was well worth it.

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Just kidding, I never regret the sriracha.

Sometimes, even despite our best efforts, life can get too hectic to even make time for cooking (see: Finals week). If you ever need to find somewhere to eat on campus, there’s a app for iPhone and Android with the UeaT Campus Food Map! You’ll have all of the campus restaurants and cafés at your fingertips!

Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 5.12.19 PM

Makes it easier to find Harvest Noon <3

So tell me U of T, what are your go-to healthy recipes? Let me know down below in the comments or tweet me your suggestions at @Api_UofT on Twitter!

Library Lovin’

Last week I had my very first (and maybe last?) summer school exam and I found myself once again spending a lot of time in the library. I’ve never been one for studying much in Robarts (although the 12th floor views are a big pull for getting there earlier and snagging a table in the window section of the St. George corner) so over the last 2 years I’ve sought out smaller, more visually appealing libraries. If you read my last post you’ve already gotten to see some of my favourite (outdoor) study spaces so this one will be some of my favourite indoor spaces!

Hart House • 7:00 am – Midnight • noise level varies hh

Hart House Library is a great space because it's so central on campus. Unfortunately every other student at U of T also thinks it's a great space so all the good spots are pften taken. Never fear though, you can normally find a spot onthe benches and chairs on the landing, or at a table in the reading room.

Hart House Library is a great space because it’s so central on campus. Unfortunately every other student at U of T also thinks it’s a great space so all the good spots are often taken. Never fear though, you can normally find a spot on the benches and chairs on the landing, or at a table in the reading room.

HH3

Chairs and benches on the landing

This is on the landing at the east end of Hart House and I've never actiually studied here because it's always occupied but one day I will.

This is on the landing at the east end of Hart House. I’ve never actiually studied here because it’s always occupied but one day, if I’m lucky, I will.

Knox College Library • hours vary • quiet space

knox lib'

The perfectly inspiring place, especially when poring over history books. Look up and be transported to a bygone age of architecture. Make sure you check out the old card catalogues!

Emmanuel College Library (Victoria College) • hours vary • quiet space

This tiny library is so beautiful and only gets really full at the peak of exam season. To get here go to the third floor of Emmanuel College, in front of you will be the reading room (which I also love) and to your right is the library. There are divided desks throughout the main floor and some (but don’t quote me on this) up on the mezzanine.  DSCF2541DSCF2537DSCF2535

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The reading room opposite the stairs. People seem to sleep in here a lot.

On Perfectionism, Writer’s Block, and Overcoming Both

Hands down, my least favourite question during a job interview is being asked the quintessential “What is your biggest weakness?” question. Firstly, where do I even begin?! Secondly, how do I trick my potential bosses into thinking any flaw of mine is actually going to be an asset to their business? (Fun fact: I once answered with “strong, dark-haired men”. In return I received astonished laughter, and a job offer. #TryItUofT?)

I read somewhere once that the best and worst response in an interview would be to say, “My biggest flaw is that I’m a perfectionist.” I figure this works both ways because – congratulations: you have solved the quandary I discussed above and successfully fooled those suckers into hiring you – but you’ve done it at the cost of sounding like the most irritating human being on the planet. And at the risk of coming in a close second to that title, I’m going to take the leap and say I can relate to that.

Trying to sell yourself to somebody vs. not coming off as incredibly annoying... the eternal struggle.

Trying to sell yourself to somebody vs. not coming off as ~the worst~… it’s the eternal struggle. (PC: headlikeanorange.tumblr.com)

I really, really enjoy writing as a pastime. One of my most prized possessions to date is a purple plush-bound diary I received for my fifth birthday. I’ve blogged since the days of Xanga. I actually kind of enjoyed proofreading my friends’ essays in high school (albeit partially due to my grammar nazi tendencies). I tend to do better on essays and written assignments than I do on tests that solely feature multiple choice questions. I think I’ve even started several novels throughout my lifetime (I know, it’s taking all of my energy not to roll my eyes at myself right now).

Yeah... I was that girl.

Yeah… I was (and still am) that girl. (PC: via Tumblr/survivingcollege.com)

But it’s been almost 15 years since I received that diary and I never managed to fill out all of its pages. I’ve started so many blogs with the intent of keeping a constant record that I can’t remember all the screen names I own. I’ve spent time rewriting sentences for other people’s papers without starting my own. I don’t think I’ve ever finished an essay earlier than the night before or morning of its due date. And there’s a reason I’m here as a student at U of T and not richer than the Queen of England, à la J.K. Rowling. To what do I owe this misfortune? My prognosis: a terrible case of writer’s block, brought on by the onset of perfectionism.

Writing for Life at U of T has not so much been a job for me as it is has been an outlet to create something I hope others will enjoy from doing something that I love. Recently, however, I’m finding it harder and harder to produce writing that I’m happy with. (Another fun fact: I had writer’s block while writing this post about writer’s block. Super meta and ironic.) The constant anxiety of not being able to perfectly transfer my thoughts from mind to keyboard has gotten me literally nowhere, except in slowing down my progress.

Credit: Screencap from The Office

Essentially what perfectionism does to you. (PC: Screencap from The Office)

This was not so much a piece on health and wellness as it is a reflection of an experience that I’m sure most of you will be able empathize with in your time at U of T (and probably one that’s occurred more than once). It also isn’t necessarily limited to an experience within the scope of writing. It’s scary thinking about constantly having to reach a certain standard you’ve set for yourself once you start producing work that you’re actually happy with, or when you start believing that everything you’re doing isn’t living up to your potential. This is probably especially prevalent to most of us when it comes to finals season. Upon the arrival of finals season, it boils down to two emotions – (1) feeling like you have to outperform yourself on the exam because you didn’t do as well as you had hoped throughout the semester, or (2) worrying about your exam performance pulling down your grade and having a semester’s worth of hard work thrown away in vain. Take this common piece of advice given by psychotherapists to patients with anxiety-related disorders: Stop worrying about not being able to do your best, and just get out there and do your best. You’ll only be doing yourself a favour.

So on that note, come brilliant, inspiring, prose or not – until next week, U of T.

Kat

In which I do what I say…

We’re in the beginning stages of exams, and UofT has been zombified.
Everyone seems to be walking around in various ‘walking dead’ personas.

Last week I talked about taking time off to really enjoy how far you’ve come,  so this week I will do exactly that.

As an English student, exam season is really essay season for me, as I write papers that usually determine up to 40% of my overall grade, all in the last two-three weeks of school.

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i can never see my actual desk this time of the year.

Recently, as I was busy pumping out papers, I remembered two papers I wrote in first year:

The first one, my first ever history research paper, received a dismal 60ish%.
I admit, I had no idea what I was doing.
I also hated writing the paper.

The second one, my first ever, close-reading paper, received a whopping 90ish%.
I had thoroughly enjoyed writing the paper, and on it, my T.A. told me that if I continued writing papers this way, I’d do really well.

The catch is that both these papers are from the same class.
The expectations hadn’t changed, only, my selection of topic and approach to writing had.

Fast-forward to fifth year, and I’ve become extremely self-aware of what kind of essay topics I’ll respond to better. Regardless of the subject, I’ve developed a way to write essays that play to my strengths, and also tackle the content required of me.

There are always expectations asked of us this time of the year, but there are many ways to go about meeting them.

Whether you study till you look like an extra from the Walking Dead, or cram under pressure the night before the final, figure out what works for you.

If you study better sprawled on the floor in a mess, do it.
If you need multiple breaks, take them.
If you focus better alone, get a study cubicle.
If you work better with friends, book a study space at Gerstein.

In Chinese, we say 加油 as a form of encouragement.
This literally means “add oil”.
Add oil everyone.  : )

Just a little further, and it will all be merry again.

IMG_9212uh guys…we ran out of oil again.

 

And Here We Are . . . The End of Term!

I used to snowboard a lot in the winter. Ever since I was about six years old, I was out on the snow-hills and riding chairlifts. But once I came to university, I stopped. I guess I got busy. Always finding myself, all of a sudden, at this same moment: The end of term.

Feeling rushed. Stressed. Panicked. Less than a week left of classes. Then exams. It’s especially hard because I can smell the winter break like it’s a warm, cinnamon-sugared beavertail at the bottom of the hill and I just want to bomb the course to reach it. But school and snowboarding, unfortunately, are two dissimilar things.

I can’t bomb school. I have to work hard. I have to do well. I have one final project this term (it’s true, but it’s my fifth year, so don’t hate me). I probably could rush it. But I know that if I take my time it will be better, more interesting, more enjoyable, and altogether more worthwhile.

The tricky part is committing, staying focused, and seeing the project through to the end. Whether it was my first end of term, or now my ninth, finding the energy and concentration is a challenge. Not to mention finding the time to eat, and to take healthy breaks.

And that’s where I bet most of us are right now. I’m assuming that everyone is busy, stressed, and resenting the day they ever chose to attend U of T. So I’ve decided to forgo regaling you with a tale of my own academic sufferings, and just get on with my schoolwork.

Yep, that’s right, I am going to study. I can do that, no problem. I’m going to take my time and do an excellent job. It’s not like I’ll slowly drift away to amuse myself with strange, funny, stupid, and generally pointless distractions . . .

Like these!

Okay, that was fun! But I should probably get back to work.

Ha, I love that! All right, I really need to study for that in-class exam on Monday.

Wow! Just wow! But that’s enough. Time to destroy this essay!

You know, I kind of want to see that. No! Stop! I need to focus!

Source: http://imgur.com/a/Culn9

Source: http://imgur.com/a/Culn9

Maybe I could become an extra once I graduate. THAT’S IT! No more! I have to finish my schoolwork!

What just happened? How long was I watching that stuff? I guess it doesn’t really matter.  It’s the end of term. Needing some kind of break from studying is inevitable. I’m not going to stress, or panic, or run away. I’m going to recognize that distractions and procrastination are normal. Good studying and good work require a break now and then.

Next time, though, I think I’ll go out for a walk. Get some fresh air. Call a friend. Eat some soup. And let my tired little brain actually rest, until it has to get back to work.

 

Good luck out there, U of T!

- Stephen

Things that make me anxious during mid-term season

It’s that festive time of year again when we celebrate the midpoint of the semester by donning our favourite sweats, while subjecting ourselves to sleep deprivation and massive amounts of studying. These rituals often take place collectively at Robarts or any 24 hour Tim Hortons. Those who survive the festivities often leave with a mean caffeine addiction.

This event is infamous for its ability to instill anxiety in students that can be felt across campus. Without further ado, here are the things that make me anxious during mid-term season :

1. Just knowing that it’s October.

Source: http://animisensa.tumblr.com/post/47142847738/i-keep-seeing-pictures-on-facebook-with-the-dates

Source: http://animisensa.tumblr.com/post/47142847738/i-keep-seeing-pictures-on-facebook-with-the-dates

I might not look like that on the outside, but that’s probably what my inner self would look like.

2. When my friends and I argue over who is more stressed than the other.

Source: http://gif-reactions.tumblr.com/post/37644113632

Source: http://gif-reactions.tumblr.com/post/37644113632

I don’t even know why we waste time on this. Nobody gets a prize.

Instead of engaging in counterproductive bantering, why not become each other’s support system. For me, it’s easier to get through studying with friends than alone because I feel less stressed. The bonus is that being less stressed provides for better cognitive function—like memory!

3. Realizing the amount of testable material for the midterm.

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Source: http://motionlmags.tumblr.com/post/63493671283/over-1-000-followers

4. Realizing the amount of testable material for the midterm that I haven’t read.

Source: http://tragically-epic.tumblr.com/post/53250473329/reaction-to-teen-wolf-3x03

Source: http://tragically-epic.tumblr.com/post/53250473329/reaction-to-teen-wolf-3×03

I find that the best way to deal with this type of anxiety is to stay on top of my readings every week. That said, if I find myself in a position where I still have chapters that I’ve barely touched and a limited amount of time to know them, the most efficient learning system for me is to read over my slides first and pick out the topics mentioned in them from my textbook.

5. When I look at the test paper and it’s written in alien.

Source: http://tragically-epic.tumblr.com/post/53250473329/reaction-to-teen-wolf-3x03

Source: http://tragically-epic.tumblr.com/post/53250473329/reaction-to-teen-wolf-3×03

I find it is reassuring for me to know the format of the tests, to look over past tests to gain familiarity with the types of questions, and to be prepared for the level of testing difficulty.

6. When my brain decides to forget everything during the exam…

Source: http://tragically-epic.tumblr.com/post/53250473329/reaction-to-teen-wolf-3x03

Source: http://tragically-epic.tumblr.com/post/53250473329/reaction-to-teen-wolf-3×03

7. … and then remembers all the right answers the second I hand in the exam.

Source: http://ginger-dad.tumblr.com/post/55630194799/that-moment-you-think-your-baby-might-be-stronger-than

Source: http://ginger-dad.tumblr.com/post/55630194799/that-moment-you-think-your-baby-might-be-stronger-than

Test anxiety affects thinking ability either through the mechanism of “blanking out” or having racing thoughts that are difficult to suppress. I will often take a few deep breaths before reading over my exam as a way to relax myself and to relieve my anxiety.

8. Realizing there’s only 15 minutes left in the exam and I’ve only completed a third of the exam.

Source: http://motionlmags.tumblr.com/post/54097691892/surpassed-600-followers

Source: http://motionlmags.tumblr.com/post/54097691892/surpassed-600-followers

I find the best strategy for this again, is prevention. I scan through my test for the first 3-5 minutes of the exam and allot time for each section. One of the worst mistakes I have made is spending too much time on the short answer question, and leaving no time to answer the long questions where the bulk of my mark resides. Now, I actually work backwards by doing the long answers first, before moving on to the short answers.

9. When everyone but me walks out of the exam early.

Source: http://gi-jew.tumblr.com/post/27542717929

Source: http://gi-jew.tumblr.com/post/27542717929

I’ve learned to focus on the test instead of how empty the room is getting. I tell myself: “the time it takes other people to complete an exam is a variable independent of your abilities!”

One thing is sure: feeling anxious is very natural during exam season. In fact, anxiety is a good thing to feel in limited amount since it can help motivate us to do better!

These are things that I have tried and that work for me. What stresses you out and how do you deal with it?

If you have tried various coping techniques and the anxiety still feels uncontrollable and/or interferes with your studying and test-taking, you might want to check out the resources at the Academic Success Centre or Counselling and Psychological Services.

Cheers,

Gloria

3 Places With Horrible WiFi Connections

I have a procrastination problem. Over the weekend, I picked over the top 10 hits on google.com under the search term “how to not procrastinate” for 15 minutes before I realized that I waste too much time online.

This weekend, I figured out the solution to my problem, and I studied for 9 hours straight.

Turning off my electronics and putting them in a corner has never worked for me. They tempt me from my bookshelf, calling me to turn them back on and get to googling. The only way I could get my school work done was to make sure that I had no internet connection. Once I disconnected myself from the wireless world, my productivity shot through the roof.

If you’re looking for an internet-free zone to study in peace, I have a few suggestions. If none of these are particularly helpful in your case, I’m with you in spirit – try not to spend too much time looking up recipes you’ll never actually get around to making.

Basements - On Sunday, I collected my things and went to the basement of my building. There’s a great little study room there with dim lights and not even the slightest wireless signal for phones and laptops. The fact that I was an entire elevator ride away from the nearest wireless signal was enough to keep me in place for the entire day (oh yeah, I’m also lazy).

The closest thing to a Wi-Fi free basement on campus is a study room in one of the lower levels of the Gerstein Information Centre. If you’re lucky, you won’t get even a single bar of WiFi service in there, but on most days, you can at least count on your phone being useless.

Outside – This one might be a stretch for some of us (and by us, I mean me – I don’t like bugs). The nice weather isn’t going to last much longer, so if you’re an outdoorsy person, why not make the most of it while it’s still here? Lay out a blanket, sit on a bench, or drag a lawn chair to the farthest corner of your backyard, and read away.

Lecture Halls/Classrooms – Yesterday, I knew that I had a class in a lecture hall with a non-existent wireless signal. There isn’t a class in there before mine, so I showed up early and got stuff done. I’m serious about this no Internet thing.

The next time you find yourself distracted by Tumblr, Twitter, or if you’re anything like me, Google, while you’re trying to study, don’t power down your computer. Don’t shut off your phone. Move. Better yet, if you don’t use your electronics in your lectures, leave them at home. I’m not suggesting that you keel over your textbooks and notes for 9 hours like I did, because that’s probably not the healthiest thing to do. Get up, find a spot that has 0 wireless access to the world wide web, and study away.

From Spectating to Participating: the time to get involved is now

With the first week of March now upon us, we students are entering that proverbial ‘crunch time’ of late nights, libraries, and fancy lattes to help us cope with it all.

And this year, more than most, seems to have a lot of stuff crammed into the final six to eight weeks of the semester.

In addition to the assignments, tests, and exams, this time of the year also features plenty of activity in the world of student life as many groups, clubs, and student organizations begin turnover processes, paving the way for next semester – starting September 2013. While you may feel that you don’t have much time to devote your awareness to anything other than your textbooks over the next few weeks, I implore you to keep an eye on the goings on in the student communities you are a part of, as the way in which these communities are shaping up at the end of this semester will have a very real impact on the way they look when classes resume six months from now — unless you’re a graduating student, of course. (If you’re in this boat you have plenty of bigger concerns to deal with………anyone looking to hire a Student Blogger, available for work immediately in early May?…Please?)

The elephant in the room being all this University of Toronto Students’ Union secession business that has been dominating student politics at the university as of late (for the seven of you interested in undergraduate student politics, that is). And while this issue is definitely an important one – especially as the consequences of all of this hullabaloo have yet to be borne out - this is not the only thing happening in student life right now that you should be concerned with.

Student communities take all shapes and sizes, from small college-based clubs to inter-campus wide student associations. What I hope to emphasize is that many of these organizations are holding elections/seeking membership for positions for the upcoming year and if you have ever thought about trying out for one of these positions, the time to do so is now. Don’t simply get caught up in being a spectator to everything going on around you. As cliche as it may sound, the four or five years you spend at the University of Toronto is short (trust me) and if you have ever considered the possibility of enhancing your undergraduate experience through some extra-curricular activity, now is the time to seek those position out.

I know first hand that this can be a daunting task for the uninitiated, but trust me: go for it. The first ‘major’ thing I did in the realm of student life involved running for an executive membership position on the Victoria University Students’ Administrative Council at the end of my second year. I had dabbled a bit in Vic’s student life before then, but I was a relatively unknown candidate and was up against someone who had already been on the council previously and was a somewhat of a known entity around the Vic community. Needless to say I lost the election and while it definitely sucked I gained invaluable insights into how student life functioned at the college as well as had the opportunity to meet a number of people I would not have otherwise met. The experience of running, despite losing, no doubt played a factor in my attaining an elected position on the council in the following Fall election at the beginning of the new term. Leaving my comfort zone was, you’ll be surprised to hear, uncomfortable but the experience was essential in my personal growth (overcoming social anxieties) as well as integrating myself in a community I now have grown to love and adore. There is not a doubt in my mind that if I hadn’t run in that Spring 2010 VUSAC election you would not be reading this post right now.

The moral of the story is, I’m sure, quite obvious. You’ve heard it before but it is worth stating again: your experience as an undergraduate student is what you make it and oftentimes the best experiences in life involve a little risk. Students at the U of T have been known to complain that they experience a lack in communal-feeling with their peers and while this may be true the opportunities to remedy this feeling are out there; you just have to be willing to look.

The Art of Forgiving Yourself

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”

- Mahatma Gandhi

We’ve all heard the expression “forgive and forget.”  For most people, it seems, that expression only applies to other people. We’re supposed to give loved ones, whether they be friends, family members, partners, or others, second chances. And that can be a struggle, especially when we have been wronged.  But I’ve learned that one of the hardest things to do is to forgive yourself for mistakes that you’ve made.

My first year was my worst.  Hands-down.  UofT intimidated me.  I can still remember walking into Con Hall and thinking “there are more students in this one class than in my entire high school.”  I lived in residence but homesickness took over within a few weeks. I struggled through my courses and felt a little lost on campus.  It wasn’t until the end of Year 1 that I decided to talk to someone.

I booked an appointment with my registrar’s office and walked my advisor through my issues.  I asked her to fix my situation. To make it right.  I wanted her to give me a step-by-step solution to all my troubles.  I wanted her to turn back time.

What she said to me completely through me off because it was so unexpected and seemed so irrelevant.  She looked me in the eye and asked me “If your best friend came to you with this issue, what would be the first thing that you say?”

I wasn’t really sure where this was going but I said “I’d tell her not to give up.”

“Oh?”

“Well yeah. I’d tell her to cut herself some slack.  Everyone makes mistakes.  And she’s resourceful enough to recover from a setback.”

And then she said “So why can’t you say that to yourself?  Why doesn’t that apply to you?”

I think that was one of the first times I realized that it’s okay to make mistakes.  To not have everything figured out.  Forgiving yourself doesn’t mean that you don’t have to deal with the consequences of your actions (and yes, there will be consequences).  It just means that those consequences don’t have to include shame, guilt, or depression.

I remember asking my advisor “if I’m not hard on myself, won’t people think that I’m not taking my situation seriously?”

She pointed out “do you think that your loved ones want you to be moping around?  Or do you think they’d prefer it if you were resourceful and found a way to rectify your situation?”

“Maybe I should change my study habits.”

“And you will. But before you can do that, you need to move on.  And the only way to do that is to forgive yourself.”

I remember walking out of the registrar’s office with a sense of relief.  I didn’t have a step-by-step solution to my problem like I’d hoped.  But I figured out a way to re-channel my time and energy to improving my situation instead of beating myself up over it.

I think, in the midst of the expectations that others have for us and those that we have for ourselves, we forget that we are human. That we fail.  And that presents one of the biggest barriers to letting go of the past and moving on.  Reminding ourselves that we are worthy of forgiveness is half the battle.

Till next time,

Ishita

I’ve found my escape. What’s yours?

I love keeping myself busy with things I love doing, but sometimes living the 100-mile-an-hour student life takes its toll. I have this tendency to over-analyze and worry WAY too much about everything… so when there’s a whole bunch of things going on all at once, I inevitably start feeling strained. But I know that there is one thing I can turn to in order to release any negative energy. I’ve discovered an outlet through which I can burn away my stress, clear my thoughts, and just put life on hold for a while.

Ever since I took up cross-country running in my first year of high school, I’ve kept at it. It’s been two years since I’ve actually raced, but it was never really about that for me. I didn’t care about winning or being the fastest. Over the years, running has become my escape from the stresses of everyday life. On days when it feels like nothing is going my way, I’ll go for a run. When I’m angry, frustrated, or completely distraught about something, I’ll take my mind off of it by running. And when I’ve re-read the same sentence five times and the computer screen starts to get blurry, well, there’s not much left for me to do but lace up and hit the road.

I’ve come realize that it’s MOST important to make time for an “escape” when I’m so busy/stressed that I feel like I don’t have time for it. I had FIVE exams in FOUR days last week, so leading up to that my life was a blur of eating, sleeping, and studying like mad. But I also made sure to fit running into the picture, especially since it has been so mild out lately. Even if I only got outside for a bit, I always came back feeling refreshed, re-energized, and glad that I took the time out of my busy day for it.

As exams wrap up and the holidays approach, the whirlwind of festivities can be stressful too. So I encourage you to find an activity that makes you feel alive and can help you get through a bad day. It doesn’t have to be running. Maybe you are heading back home to snowy mountains, and can’t wait to hit the slopes. Or perhaps simply heading outside for a walk to see the Christmas lights lets you clear your mind. Yoga, Zumba, the elliptical – it doesn’t matter what it is. The important thing is to find something that gets your body moving, something to fall back on whenever you need to get away from all the stress and worries of the day.

If you’re looking for more ideas, then check out the MoveU crew’s awesome tips! Already got a favourite sport that you turn to as your escape? Planning a fun activity for the holidays? I’d love to hear about it!

-Lesia