Student hacks: The Sleep Edition

Oh, the romanticization of the coffee-addicted student who sacrifices their sweet slumber at the expense of marks. It is no secret that at some point during the semester, many students will lose sleep over their assignments and exams.  But let’s face it, sleep deprivation is awful—so awful that it is technique of torture! Lack of sleep leaves me feeling run-down, blunted and unmotivated. Realistically though, getting less hours of sleep is often unavoidable for students because of our busy lifestyle that sometimes feels like we’re juggling eggs on a unicycle.

As you may realize if you’ve been following my posts, I love all things efficient and self-experimental. So I’ve decided to look into hacking my sleep using different methods to optimize my time awake and asleep. Here are my results in a nutshell (and yes, they’re all quite subjective).

Source: http://giphy.com/gifs/pEPocGaLWGVxK

Sometimes we’re all a little tired.
Source: http://giphy.com/gifs/pEPocGaLWGVxK

1: Lucid Dreaming to Accelerate Motor Skill Acquisition

What is this about? Dr. Dax Urbszat, a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto describes lucid dreaming as “the act of being conscious—or what others would call “awake”—while dreaming”. Basically, lucid dreaming entails being aware that you’re in a dream state while sleep, which enables you to control your dreams. Studies have shown practicing a motor skill in a lucid dream can speed up its acquisition1.

The experiment: I play squash a lot and I like learning different techniques to improve my game. One of these is the power serve. However, I have a lot of difficulty with bringing my racquet behind my head and snapping it to the front to hit the ball and actually put power behind my serve. So, I decided to induce lucid dreaming 3x a week for 4 weeks and practice this specific move in my sleep. If you want to try lucid dreaming as well, here’s a how-to guide. (link: http://www.wikihow.com/Lucid-Dream)

Results: The hardest part of this experiment is actually inducing a lucid dream state, which takes some practice. Overall, I think it did help me refine my technique faster. By the end of the second week, my squash partner observed that I snapped the racquet back a certain way that I hadn’t done before without prior rehearsal except during my dreams. I wouldn’t recommend dreaming lucidly too often though, because it leaves you feeling faintly like you haven’t slept.

2: Placebo Sleep

What is this about? A new study (link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24417326) has shown that people who were told they slept better performed better on cognitive tasks (whether or not they actually did sleep better).

The experiment: Over a period of a month, whenever I got less than 8 hours sleep, or felt tired, I told myself that I actually got high quality sleep and felt rested. I also picked out a friend who I would tell upon seeing him that he looked like he had gotten a great night’s sleep.

Results: This only worked if I believed what I was telling myself. Some days I was so tired that it was hard to convince myself. As for my friend, he told me he felt a bit more energetic when I told him that he looked like he had a good night’s sleep, even when he said he was tired (Note to self:  don’t tell friends that they look tired, when they look tiredJ).

3. Actual Sleep

What is this about? There comes a time at 3am when I ask myself whether I should keep studying and pull an all-nighter, or go to sleep with what I know and go to the exam as well-rested as possible

The experiment: If I view the past 3 years of my student career as an experiment, then I can say that I’ve done repeated trials of seeing the outcomes of staying up and pulling an all-nighter, or going to an exam well-rested.

Results: I do much better going to an exam well-rested. The fact is information that you’ve learnt consolidates in your brain while you’re sleeping, so it’s important to let it seep in while you sleep!

Do you get enough sleep or do you feel sleep deprived? What are your sleep tips and tricks? Let me know below!

Gloria

Staying active while sick 101

If you’ve gone outside within the last few weeks, then you’re aware of how brutal the weather is in Toronto. This means many students are getting sick. Sadly, I am one of said students. For many university students, catching a cold per semester is practically a tradition. Sadly, when I’m sick, I tend to put my life on hold until I get better.

Being sick can be a bit of a hindrance when trying to keep up with my goals, but it’s not the end of the world. I’ve found that with  exercise, the usual lethargy  that comes with  having a cold tends to go away. Being sick doesn’t mean that I need to stop everything I’m doing but instead, just change my pace,

Here are my tips on staying  active while fighting a  cold:

1) Stretch, Stretch, and Stretch.
No, seriously, stretch as much as you can. Even if it means touching your toes and lifting up your arms, warming up your muscles can alleviate symptoms of soreness in your body. Even though having a cold means full-on exhaustion, I personally find that by stretching, I regain some of that lost energy and feel less lethargic.

Once I’m feeling a bit better,  I’ll try a drop-in  exercise class on campus. I’m aiming for a class like Stretch Works, which happens on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at the Athletic Centre (Free for all U of T students). I find that  getting out of bed and moving my body makes me feel  better mentally and  physically.

2) Buddy Up!
Of course, having a cold makes you want to isolate yourself and create a blanket fort in your room. Well, at least for me. But why not create a buddy system and make plans to hit the Hart House gym after class, just for a half hour or so? I’m planning on going to a drop-in class with another bed-ridden friend of mine this week. We can encourage  one another to leave our rooms and hit the gym! An exercise session with a friend   can benefit  your studies too! Physical activity helps me to focus on  schoolwork afterward. Believe me, with all of the drowsiness and brain fog caused by this nasty bug, focus is needed right now!

3) Rest
Call it a day, or call it a night—getting rest  is an  important element  in the recovery process. I know that I tend to be a night owl, but I also know that I need to defy the typical university student sleep schedule and go to bed early.  I start my day with  stretching to energize myself, and I end with more stretching  to calm myself down. When it comes to stretching before bed, this is when I  focus on yoga moves such as Pigeon Pose, where I stretch one leg out and back, and then lunge my other leg while bending it toward my inner thigh. Doing yoga  before bed  helps prepare me for the next day by releasing tension from my body. I can already feel myself calming down just  thinking of the poses I’ll do!. Namaste!

I couldn’t agree more.. VIA MULTITUDEOFGIFS.TUMBLR.COM

Even when  sick, it’s still possible to boost your  energy with exercise!

My dear readers: how do you stay active while recovering from a cold?

—Amanda

New Year, New Resolutions.

It’s 2014. Second semester has already started and I’m still trying to settle in. Along with my two full-year courses, I’ve got three new half-year courses, so my schedule has completely changed. And speaking of change, my schedule isn’t the only thing getting an overhaul. My goals have changed too. I know, it’s typical for everyone to make a few resolutions at the beginning of the year, and also to drop them after a few weeks, but this year I’m a little more hopeful.

My reaction to every new years resolution making before 2014. – VIA BILLBOARD.TUMBLR.COM

During the holidays, I took some time to reflect on my last semester and my attempts to establish a healthier lifestyle. I made a jumpstart on my aspiration to make a total 180 by getting out there and being active.I signed up for a Pilates class at the Athletic Centre. I made a pact to go to the gym at least once a week, and conquered the ever-so-despised plank. That was only the beginning. With the new year, I’ve come prepared with new, yet realistic, goals that I hope to achieve by the end of the semester. My goals for 2014 are as follows:

1) Try out a new exercise class.
With the second semester starting and all, I’ve been a bit inspired by the #tryitUofT campaign celebrating January as the month to get into new clubs and events. When it comes to exercise, I am craving a new approach. I’ve always stuck to slow, relaxation exercises, like yoga and Pilates. I think it’s now time to try something new. Now that doesn’t mean that I will quit Pilates— I mean, that whole semester spent doing planks wasn’t all for naught. I plan to keep up my relaxation exercises, along with my crazy dancing when I’m in my dorm, and in the gym.

I’ve been looking into martial arts, to even quirky classes like archery. Oh the many options that Hart House and the Athletic Centre at U of T has to offer!

2) Eat healthier
First semester was all about getting off my butt and moving my body. Second semester is still going to be about that, but it will also be about finding balance with the meals that nourish and energize my body. This is especially important after workouts, when I need my muscles to recover. I’ve realized how important eating healthy is; I find it affects my stamina when I have to move around all day. If I want to achieve my new goals, I need to start treating myself better.

Most of all, I don’t want to have a mid-day slump. I want to be able to be energized going into the gym and relaxed going out of it.

For inspiration, I took a look at fellow Student Life, and Health & Wellness, blogger Gloria’s post on mindful eating.

3) Go to the gym three times a week
Last semester was all about getting rid of the fear of going to the gym alone and exercising in public, and honestly, even though there are some days when I find myself slipping back to those thoughts, I’ve never once regretted going to the gym. Now it’s time to bump it up from going to the gym casually to making my commitment official.

4) No More Sleeping In
Oh my, sleep is a wonderful thing. Sleeping in is even better. But it’s a time-costing luxury that gets in the way of doing my work, and being an active person. Just like eating healthy, sleeping well is another goal that isn’t directly connected to being more active, but plays a huge role in the quality of exercise I get. So I want to be able to get to sleep earlier, and wake up earlier. I don’t want to go to the gym in the evenings, but instead, I want to start off my day by going to the gym first! That old expression, “you snooze, you lose” has never been this relevant!

What I used to think about sleeping. – VIA THETEENAGEGENTLEMAN.TUMBLR.COM

So far, these are my “healthy” goals for this semester.

Care to share your resolutions for 2014?

Staying Productive Over the Holidays

They say that what really defeated Hannibal Barca in his war against ancient Rome was the winter he spent at Capua. His soldiers became soft. They ate and drank and slept and relaxed, and when spring came around they were unfit for the tough demands of soldiering. I think you know where this is going . . . 

The Holidays are upon us! Well, soon. And over our nearly month-long break, it is tempting, tempting, tempting to throw away all cares and concerns and succumb to complete mental and physical abandon. OOH YES!!

BUT doing so tends to make returning from the Holidays much more arduous. Luckily, there is a beautiful word and a wonderful idea that relates to this exact predicament:

Balance 

A healthy balance between relaxation and reasonable productivity is exactly what the Holidays call for.  Here’s what I do:

Sleep . . . in.

http://wpmedia.o.canada.com/2013/05/kitten2.gif

http://wpmedia.o.canada.com/2013/05/kitten2.gif

I sprawl in bed throughout the morning. I need the rest. But I always get up before noon. It’s a terrible crime to sleep in past noon. Everybody knows that!

Eat . . . what I want.

http://community.babycenter.com/post/a43203493/always_hungry

http://community.babycenter.com/post/a43203493/always_hungry

I eat only my favourite foods. And I eat a lot of them. My favourite foods provide the best nutrients because my body likes them so much, and I need to replenish my fluids. All I eat over the Holidays is shrimp and asparagus. Warning: This rule could make you hate all your favourite foods.

Read a book . . . that I enjoy.

http://reederreads.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/funny-gif-baby-reading-book.gif

http://reederreads.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/funny-gif-baby-reading-book.gif

That’s easy because I find every book enjoyable. Reading helps keep my brain active, but not too active. I try my best to read a book that has a higher percentage of words than pictures. Pictures books are not books, their called magazines.

Talk to someone . . . about nothing.

http://washingtoncouldlearnalot.com/2013/09/gibberish/

http://washingtoncouldlearnalot.com/2013/09/gibberish/

I try my best to avoid talking about anything over the Holidays. I like to clear my brain. But it’s hard. Conversations are so easily started, and once they get going it’s hard to walk away. The best way to talk about nothing is to eat a lot of your favourite food!

Sleep . . . more.

http://o.canada.com/uncategorized/watch-these-cats-fall-asleep-in-hilarious-ways/

http://o.canada.com/uncategorized/watch-these-cats-fall-asleep-in-hilarious-ways/

Once I’ve done all the other stuff, especially after I’ve eaten some of my favourite food, I find it helpful to go back to sleep. Sleep offers priceless restorative powers for both your body and your mind. In fact, most doctors say we should probably sleep at least once every day.

And if I feel like it . . . sometimes . . . I review my old study notes. But I don’t really have to explain the merit of that one. You’re a university student. You get it.

 

Have a great break, U of T!

- Stephen

Little Things Count Too

With the semester coming to an end, I find myself focused on reaching the big goals that I set for at the beginning of the school year. Just to recap, my ambition for this blog is to build the habit of making physical activity a part of my lifestyle. My secondary goals are to become physically fit, more energetic, and fearless when it comes to exercising in public. When I look at these goals, they can be a bit broad and, at times, I lose track of where I am going. Yet, it shouldn’t have to be all or nothing for me when it comes to exercising, because every moment of physical activity counts into my journey. Instead of focusing on the big picture, I’ve realized that I should pick out each pixel to work on instead. Each day is an opportunity to make smaller goals that can help me work up to the bigger ones, and motivate me to stay on track.

I’ve decided to start off with a minimum of three goals to accomplish each day. After all, I don’t want to bombard myself with too many tasks, I’m still getting into to this new lifestyle and change doesn’t happen overnight. Instead of getting overwhelmed with how much work I still have to do, I can change my perspective around and focus on what I have accomplished each day, and see how close I am to realizing my aspirations. Following through with these goals each day will also help me appreciate that even the littlest things that I do in terms of physical activity can contribute to becoming a healthier me.

1) Work On My Posture
Ever since I was sixteen, I’ve had the nasty habit of slouching whenever I am sitting down or standing up. And lately, this slouching has been causing a ton of back pain, especially when I’m hunched over my desk studying. The pain distracts me from my studies. Since having bad posture tends to lag me behind on my exercising, such as making it painful to do crunches, I’ve decided to tackle this problem head on.

Enough with the bad posture! – VIA GIFSOUP.COM

Even though through Pilates (thanks to the plank), I’ve managed to strengthen up my core a bit, I still forget to relax my chest and roll my shoulders back. I know that it’s impossible to have perfect posture 24/7, so I aiming to work on straightening my back for at least a half an hour each day. Then, I will build up to an hour or two, until having a straight posture becomes second nature to me. Correcting my posture can be a pain, even though it sounds simple, but it’s worth it. I get the confidence by shifting my appearance and standing tall, and running around campus becomes less of a task since I won’t have to work on keeping up with my slouching.

2) Start/End The Day By Stretching
Like so many students, I’m often in a rush to get to class in the morning so I jump out of bed and forget to warm up my body as a way to prepare for the day. And sometimes, after many hours of working, I collapse onto my bed, forgetting to loosen up my muscles and relax before passing out for the night. Either way, I start and end the day sore. Whenever I take the time to condition and stretch my body, I’m more energetic, focused, and, obviously flexible.

Even cats do the downward dog. -VIA AMEOWZINGOBSESSION.TUMBLR.COM

Since mornings can be hasty, I plan to do one full-body stretch, standing up on the balls of my feet, lifting my arms above my head, trying to reach for the ceiling. I will also add touching my toes and twisting my body from left to right. At night, I’ll devote more time stretching, and do yoga postures like downward dog (standing on all fours), child’s pose (lying face down, legs bents, and pressing my thighs to my chest while stretching my arms over my body), and tree pose (standing on one leg, while the other is bent with the foot inwards to the opposite leg and knee outwards). The best part about yoga is that it also frees me from whatever state of mind I am in. Was today a rough day? Am I excited about something that’s going to happen tomorrow that I can’t sleep? By stretching, all of that is forgotten, and I’m able to focus on the present. There’s no better way to go to sleep than on a positive note.

3) Do At Least One Physical Activity
Be it taking a walk, going to Pilates class, going to the gym, or dancing like crazy to a favourite song, it doesn’t matter what I do, as long as I manage to fit in some sort of activity into my day. I’ve come to the realization that being physically active doesn’t have to only be about running on the treadmill for 90 minutes, and if there’s no time for that, then nothing else will do. Instead, it’s about the minor changes I make in the way I live, such as taking time to stand up and move around after a long study session. Life can be busy, so why not get creative and fit in a workout in between the most crowded moments?

I mean, running away also counts as exercise, right? – VIA GIF-CENTRAL.BLOGSPOT.CA

What are your daily active goals that you plan to achieve?

-Amanda

Essay Writing Dos and Don’ts

Warning: Now entering Essay Alley, a two-month span of the academic year known for an increase in essay-related stress, anxiety, and all out no-good-not-niceness. Luckily, the unofficial U of T Essay Writing Dos and Don’ts is here to help. (Have essay advice? Share it #UofTessaytips).

In my second year I took the Innis College course, Writing English Essays. An intermediate, hands-on course, I learned many skills and techniques of persuasive writing. Most useful, however, was the T.A.’s suggestion that we all read The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White (the author of Charlotte’s Web). It’s a little guidebook to clear, concise, stylistic writing, and I would highly recommend it!

Now! The unofficial U of T Essay Writing Dos and Donts:

Do: Give it time.

http://buzzfeedanimals.tumblr.com/page/4

http://buzzfeedanimals.tumblr.com/page/4

I have written essays the night before they were due. And I’ve written essays weeks in advance. Which do you think resulted in a better essay? Allowing myself time to reconsider and re-contemplate my arguments has always proven beneficial. An essay is a presentation of our thinking in words, and our thinking is constantly changing and developing. We need time to get it clear.

Don’t: Summarize or list facts.

http://natgeo-gifs.tumblr.com/post/31358180042

http://natgeo-gifs.tumblr.com/post/31358180042

Sometimes a summary of events may feel necessary to situate your arguments. I always ask my T.A. or professor about this. Most say that summaries are a boring, unneeded waste of words. Listing facts may also seem beneficial because it fills space. But a list of facts is not a developed argument. To write a good essay we must try to show our thinking.

Do: Engage arguments.

http://olympo.tumblr.com/post/9053065525

http://olympo.tumblr.com/post/9053065525

This is easier than it sounds. Just about every subject has previously established arguments made by scholars and students in books, papers, and journals. Find these. Read them. Pick two or three that are pertinent to your thesis and discuss them. Agree or disagree. Explain why you think so-and-so’s point is invalid, and then argue for your own ideas!

Don’t: Plagiarize.

http://jalapenoandolive.tumblr.com/post/63381014971/monday-via

http://jalapenoandolive.tumblr.com/post/63381014971/monday-via

Obvious! But also very serious. For academic, argumentative, critical writing there is no greater offence. Just imagine doing it in person: Some guy next to you says something brilliant, and when it’s your turn to speak you simply copy what he said, but you claim it’s your own idea. I don’t think so.

Do: Analyze the particular.

http://littleanimalgifs.tumblr.com/page/6

http://littleanimalgifs.tumblr.com/page/6

What do I mean? Find something small and work outwards. When I write an essay on a novel, I try to focus and build my arguments from particular passages that extend to broader themes within the book. For a history paper, I would centre my analysis on a particular event, person, or act, and draw outwards. Small is big. The particular argument informs the general assumption. Try it!

Don’t: Bribe your professor or T.A.

http://televandalist.com/post/43606450500

http://televandalist.com/post/43606450500

It just doesn’t work. Money, chocolate, theatre-tickets, a bottle of 50-year-old scotch—it’s all been tried. Unfortunately, the most effective gesture to receive that longed for A+ is a well-written essay.

Do: Pick an exciting title.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/summeranne/wildlife-photos-from-the-nat-geo-photo-contest

http://www.buzzfeed.com/summeranne/wildlife-photos-from-the-nat-geo-photo-contest

A professor of a friend of mine said that until students become famous, our best form of marketing is an exciting essay title. Wise words. I always check with my professors about title etiquette. Some are traditionalists.

Don’t: Lose sleep.

http://cineraria.tumblr.com/post/55964955759/sleepy-kitten-frida-youtube

http://cineraria.tumblr.com/post/55964955759/sleepy-kitten-frida-youtube

Handing in a late paper is not the end of the world. Nor is getting a B, or a C, or even a D. Sometimes we just get stumped and can’t think anymore. During third year, Essay Alley hit me hard and I had to ask my professor for an extension. If it’s necessary, DO IT. But ask earlier than later.

Do: Try to enjoy it.

http://headlikeanorange.tumblr.com/post/58178637114

http://headlikeanorange.tumblr.com/post/58178637114

When I’m stumped and scattered, I close my books and get out. I go see a friend. I talk about my stupid essay! And it helps. An essay is best when it’s written positively, when the mood is right.

 So remember: we’re students, we’re trying, and we’re lucky to be here.

 

 

‘Til next time, U of T, stay diamond!

-Stephen

Take A Walk

With this new blog came commitment, and with commitment came a well-organized action plan to tackle my new lifestyle change. And it was an easy task—I just had to:

• Get acquainted with the Hart House gym and the Athletic Centre
• Take a look at my options for what exercise classes best suit me (such as spinning classes at the AC, since I miss being on the bike, but am too scared to take on the streets of Toronto. Or my usual go-to for exercise, drop-in Zumba at Hart House)
• Make a schedule to fit in time for these activities
• Most of all, start with baby steps.

But that didn’t happen because my plans fell through this week. Instead, I practiced the art of tossing and turning in my bed, because as life happens unpredictably, colds do too.

That was me for the past week and a half. — VIA MYGIFDUMP.TUMBLR.COM

That’s right, I joined the hundreds of other students on campus who were plagued by the common cold this week. I also missed some classes, had to delay a few of my extra-curriculars, and fell off the face of the Earth. But when I did go to class, I joined in the zombie line of students trekking from Queens Park and Hart House crossing. If you also have been affected by a cold recently, then we probably have walked by each other, both with jumbo-sized tissue boxes in hand. I also feel sorry for you, because this cold’s a strong one.

Aside from my staying in bed or slugging around from class to class, I noticed that I was falling behind in my school work. Although my strong, and unfortunate, ability to procrastinate already contributed to this, I felt like I was losing energy whenever I tried to pick up a book and read. Maybe it was me feeling under the weather, or maybe it was me just being exhausted over my exhaustion, either way, my inability to focus made me realize that I needed to take a walk. You know, the walk that you take when you feel like you need to take some time to recollect the current events in your life. Or in the case of having a cold that prevents you from going outside, a walk to recollect the lack of any events that happened whatsoever. And I didn’t want to walk in Queens Park, or in and around the university bubble. I wanted to go somewhere far from campus (and most definitely far from Con Hall). Either I had to wander away, or else my mind would.

Hey, procrastination seemed fun at first —VIA REACTIONGIFS.COM

So I chose the former for the sake of needing to get back on track with my school work and social life. The walk was more like a break from doing nothing—and what a wonderful procrastination from procrastinating it was. I started my trek at Victoria College and headed on to Harbourfront to ponder on the coast of Lake Ontario. Since it was daytime, this was not a moonlit walk by the shore, which was unfortunate for the romantic in me (sort of).

Even though I wasn’t running, like the many joggers that passed me while I leisurely walked downtown, I felt energized. I was able to sort out my thoughts enough to realize that I missed doing things. I especially missed my extra-curriculars and studying. As a university student, among many, who gets stressed by school work, missing the latter part sounds like a joke, but honestly, it was true. I felt proud of myself for going outside and taking a walk, and for at least doing something. And I think that this exercise was what I needed the most to get that peace of mind I so needed. Most of all, after that walk, I actually did sit down, and was able to focus on my readings.

 

-Amanda

Ready, Set, …Wait, I’m Not Ready to Go

With frosh week gone (along with my voice and inability to stop turning day-to-day conversations into cheers #froshleaderproblems), it’s time to get on that back-to-school grind – that is, if you can first wrap your head around the amount of hard work and dedication you’ll be undertaking for the next 8 months. For the past two years, I’ve made the mistake of assuming that the first couple weeks of school was nothing I should take too seriously. If anything, they’re arguably the most important time to plan out your academic year.
The key to not falling behind is to start by getting ahead. And so, for your ease (and because I know you’re all busy jumping the gun on those readings you already have assigned… right???), here are several ways to help you stay on top of everything before midterm season rolls around and you realize you still don’t know all of your professors’ names.
  • Figure out where – and when – your classes are. Simple enough, right? Believe it or not, I have friends who went the whole year without memorizing their timetable. Knowing where and when you’re going to be occupied during the week makes it easier to plan out meetings for extra-curriculars, telling your boss your availability times, and finding out the fastest ways to get to places you need to be.
  • The UofT Bookstore is just one of the many to look for anything you need for school. Check TUSBE, an online student exchange where you can buy or sell textbooks and notes to other students, or even Amazon to see if they hold cheaper prices. Ask professors and course coordinators if old editions are allowed – it will usually save you a ton of money in the long run. Save on stationery by hitting up all the back-to-school clubs fairs for free pens and other nifty things, as well as a free student planner from UTSU. Laugh all you want, but that’s, like, $15 I’ve saved that I can now spend on Food Truck Fridays.

    Always double check if certain textbooks are actually required or are optional and supplementary. (Source: http://www.quickmeme.com/Lazy-College-Senior/)

  • Actually bother reading your course syllabus. Mark down your assignments, quizzes, midterms, labs – any assessment you might have – on any calendar you might use and plan your year out ahead that way. Make an abstract study plan for yourself and check up at the end of the week if you’re up-to-date on knowing certain concepts or material that you’ll be tested on soon, saving you the trouble of falling too far behind and having to cram a month’s worth of material the night before.

    3AM delirium while attempting to catch up on your readings and notes will do this to you.

  • Get enough sleep while you can! Seriously. Because if you’re anything like me, three weeks down the road you’ll be slaving away at Robarts past 11PM wondering why on earth you didn’t just use all the free time you had at the beginning of the year to catch up on your ZZZs, instead of staying up until two in the morning watching reruns of every sitcom imaginable. I’m aiming to start building a healthy sleep schedule by having a consistent routine of what time I go to bed, so that waking up the morning of a midterm is less of a pain, and making it to my 10AM class is still a plausible concept.

    Every time. (Source: http://thesimpsonswayoflife.tumblr.com/)

  • Last but not least, see your friends – strengthen bonds with new ones, reunite with old ones – spend time with them before the year gets too hectic and you begin to feel guilty about either not studying or having to postpone plans.
If you have any other tips on the best ways to start off a new school year, tweet them to me at @Katrina_UofT (don’t forget to hashtag #StartUofT!). I could honestly use all the help possible to get rid of this urge to bask out in the sun on Front Campus to work on my tan. With all that said, do try to enjoy the sun as much as possible and ease yourself back into things! Until next time, fellow students – have a wonderfully productive first week back!

The Numbers Game

I often hear myself telling friends that university is a numbers game. Some weeks it is simply impossible to finish all the required readings and assignments. Often, we’re forced to choose one task over another.

The equations and ratios that are constantly swirling through my mind are migraine inducing. I am not a natural mathematician. I am always trying to figure out of which assignments will weigh more weigh more heavily towards my GPA, and which assignments I can afford to let fall below my normal standards.

For example, last week I had a midterm for a H1F class that was worth 10% of my grade in the class. On the same day I had a twelve page paper due for a Y1Y course that was worth 30% of my grade. Simply mathematics  proved that I designate more time for the essay than studying for the midterm. The morning of the midterm, I was just finishing up my essay, so I never had the opportunity to study for the midterm.

As I was writing this midterm, that I didn’t study for, I was mildly panicked that I would earn a mark in the 20-30% range. However, I somehow pulled off a B+. I’m not sure if this was just dumb luck or if it was because I always attend the lectures and tutorials for the class. I was able to work my way through the test in a jigsaw pattern, starting with the dates and events that I remembered from lecture and then guessing my way through the rest of the test.

In a perfect world I would have had time to write the paper and study for the test, but as the end of March approaches and time starts speeding away I think we are all finding ourselves in these situations. Don’t even get me started on the cruel reality of daylight savings time and how it has robbed me of a needed hour of schoolwork!

If you need to pick and choose between assignments and studying then make sure you’re picking the right item to concentrate on. It is easier to recover from a loss of 10% than a loss of 30%. Don’t forget that Y classes count more heavily towards your GPA than half classes and try to spend the most time on the assignments that matter most.

It really is a numbers game and understanding how to spread your efforts in the most pragmatic manner possible will save you time and stress!

Lori

 

So that’s how the pros do it..

Have you ever watched professional athletes on TV in awe, wondering how on earth their bodies could be so fast and strong? Watching them amazes me, and I’ve often wondered what goes on behind the scenes – what do they eat? How much rest do they need to recover? It’s made me think about my own exercise and health habits… Are there specific foods I should eat after a hard workout? Do I really need to stretch? Am I drinking enough water?
Well, earlier this week I learned about all of this and more, thanks to the Hart
House Recreational Athletics Committee
.  They hosted the seminar “Keys to Recovery and Regeneration” featuring Dr. Greg Wells, an established human physiologist and assistant professor in the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education (FKPE) here at U of T. I’m glad I got there early enough to snag a front row seat with my friends, as the room was packed!

Source: Hart House Recreational Athletics Committee Facebook Page

The lecture was very interesting and informative – Dr. Well’s didn’t talk just about exercise or training, but about how other key factors can influence our performance as well. One of the first things he mentioned was how crucial it is to constantly hydrate your body throughout the day. He also talked about how food is essentially our fuel and that we need to replenish our bodies with the right stuff – lots of whole foods!

Source: bbc.co.uk

Along with proper nutrition, Dr. Well’s emphasized getting enough sleep and de-stressing our minds as well as our bodies. Unsurprisingly, these are areas where many of us busy students often fall short (myself included!). But as he explains in this video, taking a little bit of time out of our day to meditate, do some yoga, or walk through a park can really benefit our health and well-being in the long run.

This was the first time I went to a Hart House Recreational Athletics Committee event, and I’m looking forward to attending more seminars. If you missed out, you can connect with Dr. Well’s and check out some resources via his website, Facebook or Twitter.

Also, March just so happens to be Nutrition Month, and to celebrate the FKPE is hosting some FREE talks on nutrition and exercise in the upcoming weeks! The one on Friday, March 15th will be all about healthy eating habits, and Monday March 18th will focus on proper nutrition for exercise/sports. Check out the Facebook event for more details!

-Lesia

PS: Once you hit up the links and events I mentioned above, there’ll be no more excuses to skip exercise – and that’s exactly what the MoveU Crew wants to hear this month! Every Tuesday they will tweet an excuse NOT to work out. And they want students to tweet back (#Excuse Eraser) their excuse-busters for a chance to win some cool prizes! If you aren’t on Twitter, no problem – you can find out more details on Facebook too.