Indulge…in a campus spa day

Readers, how was Reading Week? Did any of you take advantage of the (fingers crossed) last dump of snow and go for a skate or a cross-country ski? Instead of spending my Reading Week writing my sociology paper, I had some quality "me" time. I hung out with friends, got caught up on all the Best Picture nominees before the Oscars (yah "The King's Speech!") And, I'm proud to say, got quite a few good workouts in. Usually when I get back to school after a break from the books, the panic and regret of "how I should've spent my time off from class" sets in immediately. AHHHHHH! Paper! Midterm! Presentation! No time! But this time, I came back to school fully rested and recovered. My usual army of unhealthy fixes: sour ju jubes, caffeine and compulsively checking Facebook, were not needed for this essay. Instead, it was: research, write, edit, and hand in. Who knew the writing process could be so simple? For me, this experience proved that I need to take more "Reading Weeks"  to do my best at school. A bit dreamy, I know. But, instead of taking a whole week to relax and re-fuel, I could schedule one day each week to be my own "spa day." Celebs, like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, visit exclusive spas when they need to unwind from their busy schedules. Now readers, I don't about you, but their budget is a little bit bigger than mine! I simply don't have the extra cash to spend on lavish massages, thermal baths, and pedicures. But I've paid my student fees, which means I have access to many services and activities on campus. Here's my attempt at indulging in a free "campus spa day": 1. Swimming: For me, it wouldn't be a spa experience without a swim. I did about half an hour of lane swimming during women-only hours at the Athletic Centre to get some low-impact exercise and enjoy the therapeutic sensations of floating on my back and putting my face in the water. When I was done, I cleared my pores by sweating out toxins in the steam room in the changing room. 2. Massage: Readers, did you know we can get free massages on campus? Just stop by Hart House on Mondays from 11-1 until April 4, for a free mini shiatsu massage. It was absolutely wonderful to get the knots of tension released from my head, neck and shoulders. Oh, and following my massage on Monday, I had a hair cut at "The Hair Place" at Hart House. Getting rid of my split ends really added to the spa experience! 3. Yoga: This term, I've registered for the Mind-Body Flex Pack, which lets me go to any yoga or Pilates class at the Athletic Centre. After my spa day's ashtanga yoga class, I've progressed from basic poses to "binding," a more advanced option where you use more flexibility to intertwine and lock your arms to pull yourself into deeper stretches. If you're not registered for a class this term, there are some yoga classes on the drop-in fitness schedule at the Athletic Centre that you should check out. 4. Sleep: I topped off the spa day by going to bed early!!! For me, the biggest challenge of getting to bed on time is turning my computer off. This makes me tired and groggy the next day, which means less motivated to get to the gym and hit the books. According to a 2009 U of T Health and Wellness report, 22% of U of T students reported that problems with sleep negatively impacted their academic performance. So, in order to get the full academic benefits of my "campus spa day," sleep needs to be a priority. Yes, the concept of a "campus spa day" is a bit of an oxymoron (Campus: Exams! Stress! Marks! Due dates! Spa Day: Relaxation! Rest! Massage! Hot baths!). But, I know that taking one day each week to rest, relax, and re-charge will help me do better academically by making me more focused, have less anxiety, and work more efficiently. Oh, and readers, if you have any other activities to include in our "campus spa day" itinerary, please let me know!

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