By Elaine Wilson
It is a good thing I’m writing this rather than telling you, because I can’t really talk, due to the disgusting amount of Oreos I’m eating right now. So, hi! I’m Elaine Wilson, a college freshman who is super proud of the fact that I’m a dual-major (with a minor thrown in) at an out-of-state university with a custodial job at the rec center. The image that may pop into your head is a disgruntled young woman with bags under her eyes, wearing pajamas, and downing Starbucks like it’s her job. I promise you, I make time to have fun, but some of those images are more common as the semester goes on. College is fun and frustrating, like many other major life changes (having a child, getting married, or moving). Major milestones happen more often than we think, so I’m going to share my experiences and hopefully create a connection to what my professors call ‘The Big Picture.’
Why Do I Need Balance?
Well, it’s week thirteen of fifteen in the semester. I have made sticky-notes of everything I’m supposed to do between now and week fifteen, without including meals, gym time, work shifts, and sleep. I am pretty much drowning in a yellow and orange sticky-note sea. Between work, exams, research papers and chapters to read, it seems impossible to make the time to take care of myself. Every week it gets harder to get to the gym, or remember to wash my face before falling asleep on my desk, or to resist eating another package of Oreos while studying.
Without further ado, here’s a little of what I’m doing to balance the imbalance:
If You Like It Then You Shoulda Put TeaTree On It
I’ve got a history with acne, and it’s not unusual for me to breakout under stress. The big secret of my clear-face routine has been tea-tree water. Either spraying directly on the face or using a soaked cotton ball both tones and gets rid of any extra dirt or residue from the cleanser I use (with happens to be green and sticky, so tea-tree water makes me look less like a monster). I pair it with a light face moisturizer called Vanishing Cream and my face loves it. I get all my products from Lush, a vegan beauty store that has been my lifesaver. It’s impossible to avoid the random pimple here and there, but with consistent routine, my face has been easily controlled.
The Gym Is Evil…Or Is it?
The gym has proven to be one of the best stress relievers during crunch time, but I don’t overdo it. I try to keep my workout varied and do a little bit of everything so I don’t get bored easily: some arms, a couple squats: usually ending with some abs. I usually spend around forty-five minutes working out, twenty of them being on the elliptical or treadmill. It’s just enough to relieve a good amount of stress without adding to it by taking from my lack of precious free time for myself. Looking at it this way truly puts the gym as a stress reliever into perspective. I’m getting healthier both mentally and physically. Plus, I feel so accomplished when I do it.
Eat This, Not That… Because THAT Is Good, But THIS Is Better:
I have to admit, I am a coffee junkie and feel like I can’t get through a day without a latte. To control my caffeine intake, I only buy coffee on exam days or on days where I have an early morning shift before classes. It gives me a little warm boost of confidence before the exam and helps me work harder in cramming right before a test. I’ve also taken the step of eliminating sodas or energy drinks (unless there is an immediate studying emergency) and replacing my usual carbonated drink of choice with water or sports drinks. I feel alert instead of groggy throughout the day, the adverse of what I thought would occur when I started. I’ve also found that smaller, healthier meals hold me over much longer than large, fatty meals and reduces my urge to snack while I study. Salads and soups have been a large choice, or a simple sandwich packed with veggies. All these choices have made me more focused on my studying and have reduced my stress-eating significantly.
Easy Enough, Right?
Turns out, balance isn’t some crazy acrobatic act. It takes time to develop, and I’m only in my first semester of college! My good friend once told me to be still, and live in the moment you’re experiencing, because that moment will never happen again. If I take the time to just breathe, maintain balance and my sanity, my college experience is going to be more and more interesting. College is about learning, so every month, I will be sharing those learning experiences with you (maybe not the anatomy of a cell or the history of the immigrant movement in the United States just yet, but who knows). Until then, just know that balance isn’t about control. It’s about enjoying the little experiences and taking care of yourself. Grow your appreciation for every moment that you’ll never have again.
I know I’m learning to.