Wellness: How-To’s! (Staying Unplugged Part 2)

In the last post of this two part series, we considered why unplugging from our phones is important to destress, become more productive, and connect with the people around us. But is unplugging really even possible? Phones have become a ubiquitous part of life in 2019, and in many ways have made life easier. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for my phone, and neither would you, possibly (I am thinking about myself and many of our students who got lost while trying to find the Weingarten LRC).

In my last entry, I suggested some simple alternatives to picking up your phone, like taking a deep breath or giving a friend a quick hug. I hope that if you tried them, you felt more connected or relaxed, even if it was only for a moment. My wish is that the more you make unplugging from your phone a habitual practice, the more peace will enter your day, causing you to actually want and need a phone-free space in your life. This is a lot easier said than done, however. Like I tell myself and many of our students, keep trying. Very few things that are worth it feel effortless the first time.

Here are some ideas to help you reduce your daily phone usage:

  • Available for both iPhone and Android, the highly-rated forest app plants an actual forest on your phone’s main screen. Help your forest grow by staying off your phone!
  • If using an app on your phone to stay off your phone sounds too meta, consider asking a friend or partner to join you in your goals. Set a phone free time when you are together and stick to it!
  • Finally, you may wish to consider throwing your phone into the Schuylkill! That’s a joke, but keeping it in a drawer or elsewhere out of site or (gasp) not bringing it with you on your trip to WaWa can help. I’d recommend a cool, dry place.

I hope you enjoyed this two-part series on unplugging from your phone, and good luck!

By Staff Writer: Jennifer Kobrin, Learning Fellow & Instructor

Wellness: Why You Should Unplug (Staying Unplugged Part 1)

Crossing Locust Walk during peak hours can be a risky venture. Twice yesterday, I narrowly missed crashing into students on their way to class, their eyes too fixated by whatever was happening on their phones to notice. It’s easy to judge, but I’m sure I too have been guilty of this unsavory behavior. Although body-slamming another student on Locust Walk would be extremely unpleasant, if we were crossing the street or driving there could have been far worse consequences.

We all know that smartphone use has become an epidemic. According to the Pew Charitable Trust, 26% of Americans go online almost constantly. No pun intended, given that another statistic I found online claimed that 40% of people check their phones on the bathroom. For busy students, phone overuse can be a barrier to productivity and focus, or even cause feelings of anxiety as we compare ourselves to photos of our seemingly happy and healthy friends on social media, outside having fun on a sunny day while we are trapped in the basement of Van Pelt.

The next time you reach for your phone (I am guessing it is at some point as you read this short article), consider the following alternatives:

  • Take a few deep breaths and a moment to check in with yourself today.
  • Stop by to say hello to a coworker or give a friend a hug.
  • Get up and walk around for a few minutes.
  • Go get a healthy snack or a drink.
  • Listen to your favorite song (or try a new dance move, no judging!).

My challenge for you today is to try 2-3 of these strategies. You may find it’s harder than you think. I’ll be back with part two of this series, where we’ll explore strategies to help you unplug from your phone.

By Staff Writer: Jennifer Kobrin, Learning Fellow & Instructor

Wellness: Make This Semester Your Best One Yet!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Welcome Back to Campus!

It’s hard to believe how quickly summer went by. Here at Weingarten we are excited to have you back! We have collected some tips over the years to help you start this semester off strong and make this semester the best one yet.

1. Make a plan.

Before the semester gets too busy, write down all of your obligations, including
exams, projects, quizzes, trips, and parties for your classes, jobs, clubs,
organizations, and personal commitments. Adjust your schedule to ensure you
have time for each.

2. Make your health a priority.

Schedule time for you now. Make taking care of your health a habit early in the
semester. Decide when and how you can take time to ensure you are doing what
you need to do to stay physically healthy and active.

3. Make time for sleep.

Make a night time routine for yourself now. Getting a good night’s sleep increases
your success and focus in your academic and personal pursuits. Try to keep a
schedule so that you can be the healthiest and most productive you.

4. Make personal appointments.

Schedule any appointments you will need this semester (doctor, dentist, therapist,
counselor). Once the semester gets going, it’s easy to brush these to the wayside.

5. Make appointments with campus resources.

Schedule appointments with Penn Libraries, Career Services, Academic Advisors, or
the Weingarten Learning Resources Center. Get to know the resources on campus
now so that you are more comfortable reaching out for help later!

6. Get to know people in your classes, in your residence hall, in your clubs
and organizations.

Attend events and programming here at Penn with your friends, hallmates, and
classmates! The University of Pennsylvania is a place where we can all grow
personally and academically. Make the time to be a part of a community where
we can learn and grow together this semester.

 

Staff Writer: Kelcey Grogan, Learning Fellow and Learning Instructor

Wellness: Long-Term Project Management & Self-Care

images (9)

Now that you’ve figured out date goals and to-do lists, let’s talk about focusing on wellness.

A large factor of being able to maintain a grueling work schedule is being able to balance that work with things that provide mental wellness and support.

With an intentional wellness plan carved out of a few moments each day, you will be more productive. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Start off the day with exercise

When working on a large project or paper, I find exercising for a few minutes each morning a valuable way to get both my mind and body moving. Head to Pottruck for a quick class or cardio session or do an exercise video from the comfort of your own home.

  1. Make lunch/dinner plans with friends

Everyone needs to eat. Use your meals as a social break time from doing work. Meet your friends at the dining hall for brunch at 11 a.m. on Saturday or at Chipotle at 6 p.m. on Tuesday for dinner. Plan to work for an hour or two before and after dinner. Socializing while eating will nourish your mind and body, and it will give you time to vent about this pesky project that you’re working on.

  1. Celebrate small accomplishments

After you complete a few steps on your to-do list, celebrate! I had a mini-celebration every time I finished a chapter of my dissertation. Whether it was taking a break to watch a movie or baking (and then enjoying) some cookies, a small celebration will motivate you to keep going.

  1. Maintain your sleep routine

Research shows that pulling an all-nighter one night and “making up for it over the weekend” doesn’t actually restore your body as well as a consistent sleep pattern can. Try to go to sleep and wake up at around the same time each day. I also recommend that you work a “wind down hour” into your nightly routine so that you have an hour or so to shut your brain down and focus on something relaxing before you try to sleep.

Rather than thinking of these breaks as distractions or time taken away from doing work, they will help you maintain productivity. Just remember: There is a light at the end of the tunnel. This semester will end, and you will get a break. There are only a few more weeks to go before you can return to Netflix binging and serious relaxing! For more tips on how to successfully complete your final papers and projects, please stop by the Weingarten Center to meet with any of our Learning Instructors. We would be happy to help!

By Staff Writer: Cassie Lo, Learning Instructor

Time Management: 4 Suggestions for Optimizing Your Personal Time!

Love-sculpture-university-of-pennsylvania.JPG

Wow! Spring semester is here and charging forward at full speed!
(I don’t know about you, but for me the winter break flew by!)

Now, the spring semester has kicked off, Canvas sites have been published, syllabi collected, books ordered, first classes attended, preliminary assignments completed, and first projects and/or exams scheduled…

work-life-clockssmall

It’s time to balance the semester workload with time to relax and recharge on your own and with friends.

Maybe you have weekend plans or you’re already planning your spring break, or maybe your plans are to squeeze in watching some of your favorite shows on TV or Netflix in-between studying.

We here at Weingarten have four suggestions for how to make the most out of your personal time while on campus in order to remain as relaxed, refreshed, and rejuvenated in the spring semester as possible:

1. Read a book that you want to read!

Often, during the semester, the only reading students have time to do are the readings that are assigned for classes. Use your scheduled and dedicated study breaks to read a book you have been wanting to read. So many wonderful books were published this year, check out these lists for some suggestions:

2. Write a thank you note!

Stay connected and send a thank you note or an email to a professor, staff member, friend, or classmate who was a big help to you last semester. Your kind words of appreciation will mean more than you know.

3. Plan your spring semester strategically!

Take an afternoon to lay out important dates on your calendar and planner for the spring semester.

4. Form an exercise habit!

With each new semester, it’s the perfect time to start building a new habit! Do you have plans this semester to walk each day or to go to the gym or to do yoga or to meditate each week? Do these plans fall to the wayside when the semester get busy? Exercising regularly is one of the best things we can do for our mind and body, but it can be easy to push these commitments to the side when the semester gets busy.

It takes three weeks to form a new habit and make it stick! 
No matter what your plans are, we hope you optimize your personal time while maintaining your work-life balance!

By Staff Writer: Kelcey Grogan, Learning Instructor

Wellness: Scheduling Self-Care

self-care yoga

            Now that we are entering our mid-semester period here at the University of Pennsylvania, it is easy for us as students to start feeling busy and pressed for time. Sometimes the first thing we cut out in our schedules is the time we make for ourselves. In reality, as our schedules get busier and our workloads get heavier, it is more important than ever to keep time in your schedule for yourself!

It might sound ridiculous to schedule your ‘relaxation’ time, but if we don’t make it a priority and set aside time for self-care, on our busy days it won’t happen. Making self-care part of your everyday routine will make you a better, happier, and healthier student, friend, and person.

Screen Shot 2017-10-08 at 3.17.23 PM

            Self-care can be defined as “any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health” (Michael, 2016). For each of us, these activities can vary. However, because we spend so much time in front of computer and electronic screens as part of our workloads, I recommend taking a break from the screens when scheduling your self-care time (This means binge-watching a show on Netflix doesn’t really count as self-care). Here are some suggestions for ways you might want to self-care:

  • Head outdoors! Some fresh air and sunshine can do wonders for yourself. Go for a walk around campus and appreciate the foliage on campus as we head from summer to fall. Or head down Spruce Street to the South Street Bridge and walk on the trail along the Susquehanna River.
  • Participate in some physical activity. Whether you like to go for a run, head to the gym, or take an exercise class, getting your blood pumping and your body moving is good for your physical, mental, and emotional heath.

Internal-Misc.-Banner

  • Find some quiet time! Campus and college life can be busy. We can feel like we are constantly surrounded by people and that we always need to be ready to go, appearing like we have it all together. Find a quiet space to journal, meditate, do yoga, or reflect on your week. The peace can do wonders for your health, even if it is just for 15 minutes.
  • Do something creative! Whether you enjoy crafts, music, or coloring, doing something creative helps us use our whole brain. Even if your definition of art is filling in an adult coloring book, make time during your week for it!
  • Get enough sleep! Make sure you are getting at least 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Do this in addition to your 30 minutes of self-care during the day. All the studying in the world won’t help you reach your potential if you’re not getting enough sleep. Athletes know this. It is time students remember it too!
  • How do you take care of yourself? Comment with your suggestions! We will discuss more about self-care topics as the semester goes on.

Remember to make time for yourself every day during this semester. Doing so will make you a better student in the long-run. Scheduling self-care isn’t being lazy or saying you’re not tough enough to handle your work load. What it shows is that you care about yourself and well-being. It will make you a better student and person in the long run!

self care poster

Reference:

https://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2016/08/10/what-self-care-is-and-what-it-isnt-2/

Staff Writer: Kelcey Grogan, Learning Fellow & Instructor

Sleep and Success, Part 1: Productive Sleep

One of the more pertinent results of productive sleep is consolidation of memories. Let’s unpack, shall we?

Without delving too deeply into the specialized vocabulary and evolving hypotheses in sleep research, we can, for the sake of simplicity, concern ourselves with a few basic concepts: Non-rapid eye movement (NREM) rapid eye movement (REM) and sleep cycles. To go any deeper would lead us into a clash of competing scholarship, where researchers have it out with each other Hunger Games style in a battle for academic and intellectual supremacy. (Okay, I’m exaggerating, but only a little.) For now we’ll just focus on what the experts agree upon, but by all means hit Google Scholar and look up the work of your favorite sleep researcher.

Productive sleep, in order to be productive, has to include the right amounts of both NREM and REM state sleep, and in the right order. We commonly associate REM with dreaming, the last stage in a sleep cycle. A full sleep cycle takes roughly about 90 minutes, with REM taking up about 20 to 30 minutes.

NREM and REM seem to have different functions in the memory consolidation process during sleep. Learning that involves motor skills or procedures – think of practicing a piece of music or learning some type of protocol that involves steps – seems to be strongly linked to NREM, even though test subjects do better in procedural tasks if they’ve been allowed REM sleep. In other words, memories don’t really get consolidated until we finally sink into REM state. Oh, and by the way, going through the whole cycle five or six or seven times is necessary for sleep to be productive.

So think of it this way, we do not actually fully learn a procedure or fully analyze anything until we’ve had the opportunity to sleep on it.

Sleep deprivation has become a grotesque badge of honor. How many people have you met who brag about how they need only three or four hours of sleep a night in order to be truly awesome, tacitly implying you should be deeply ashamed of yourself if you sleep more? This is based on a fallacy not supported by research, and that fallacy states that sleep time is time wasted. Decades of sleep research refute this notion. From a purely physical point of view, sleep time is certainly down time. From the standpoint of learning and sharpening mental processes, for long term problem solving as well as critical and creative thinking, sleep time is production time, if you allow it to be.

For more sleep tips and wellness consulting, visit Student Health Services:

SHS_logo

Pete Kimchuk
Senior Learning Instructor