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6 Tips to Staying Stress-Free This Semester

School is back in session, and nonstop homework is just around the corner. While these first few weeks will be easier than later in the semester, it’s imperative to get ahead of the game and keep up on your assignments. Staying stress-free and keeping everything in check is the name of the game, and here are 6 tips on how to do it:

1) Schedule out your work

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Once you figure out your workload for the semester, you should make sure to schedule out your studying for a given week. Figure out the times that work best for you, whether it’s early in the morning, in the afternoon after class, or 3 a.m. in the bathroom. Whatever works best for you is the way to go. From there, find how much time you’ll have to devote to a given class. Some classes need more work than others, so keep that in mind while you’re scheduling everything out. You don’t have to study every subject every day, of course, and I find it better to mix it up from day to day. That said, make sure you stay on top of things and lay out enough time to get things done.

2) Take frequent breaks

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Whatever you do, do NOT sit and study for six hours straight. We’re all human, and humans need breaks. Even in the workplace, breaks are mandatory. Study for an hour or two and then take some time to relax and give your mind a break. Netflix and other streaming sites are great for this, since you can easily queue up a TV show to watch (but don’t fall into binging – that’d only make things more stressful). If you’re not a fan of TV, you can always read a couple chapters in a book, go for a quick jog or take a short power nap.

3) Stay focused

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I know, I know, it can be tough to stay focused on homework at times. It just seems so inconsequential in the moment, and we’d all rather be doing something else. But if you stay in the zone, you will be able to get all your work done in a timely fashion and move onto the things you’d rather do. Once you start your study session, don’t stop until you’re finished. Obviously, take some breaks, but don’t get too sidetracked that you don’t get back to your work within a reasonable amount of time. Entertainment can wait, and anyways, having fun is always better when you don’t have obligations hanging over your head.

4) Don’t procrastinate unless entirely necessary

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Procrastination is the college student’s best friend and worst nightmare. For a while, it can be super nice to just chill and not think about your work. The you suddenly realize the paper is due in an hour and you’ve only written your name on the page. Procrastination is never worth it, and not only will you be more stressed as the deadline gets closer, but your work will suffer as well since you’ll be rushing through it. To stay stress-free, it’s better to get everything done in a timely fashion.

5) Stay social

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With all this homework, it’s easy to forget that you actually have friends on campus. Don’t be too antisocial, it is college after all! Find some time to meet up with friends and classmates daily to do some homework, talk, or just chill together and have some fun. Everybody here is in the same boat, so getting a group to study with you can make all the obligations much more manageable. Staying social helps not only your stress levels, but will keep you energized and happy, which is always a plus.

6) Don’t overwork yourself

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Homework is unavoidable, but not everything is as concrete. Don’t take on more than you can chew with side projects and other obligations. A few clubs and activities are fine, but once you get to the point that sleep is your only break, you’re probably doing too much. Take it down a notch, and focus on the things that really matter to you.

Let’s have a great and productive fall semester, Warriors!

Nathaniel Nelson

8 Tips to Relieving Stress on Move-in Day & Orientation Week

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Moving is a stressful time for everyone, especially when you are going to be on your own for the first time. You cannot control everything, and if you are like me that makes it even worse. However, there are many things you can do to help reduce the stress of moving into the residence halls this Tuesday and adjusting to college life during Welcome Week. Here are a few ideas:

1) Create your space

The first thing you can do is make your dorm room feel like home. Well, as much you can in a small area! The more at home you feel, the more comfortable it will be. I love to hang up photos of friends, family and pets all around my room as well as inspirational canvases.

2) Find emotional support

Whether it is from family, friends or another place, it is so important to have someone to talk to. Homesickness, social anxiety and overall stress is a normal thing to experience during your first week in college and during move-in day. WSU also offers counseling services on campus for additional support.

3) Be sure to eat and sleep

It sounds cliché, but getting enough sleep and eating healthy is key. It may be difficult transitioning, but I promise eventually you will get used to the dorm environment; especially if you decorated it to feel like home. As far as move-in day goes, it is crucial to stay hydrated and fuel your body with food as you sweat carrying your things to your new room!

4) Work out

Working out relieves stress as well, so good thing you’ll be busy lifting and stair-stepping on move-in day! Remember to also work out during orientation week before, after or in between scheduled activities. Not only does it get you out of the residence halls, but it also takes your mind off everything. Getting up and moving as little as a half hour a day reduces your stress levels more than many people realize.

5) Write out your schedule

This may be overwhelming to some, but after you’re moved in and your parents have left, sit down and write out your Welcome Week schedule. This can help you feel more organized and less stressed. It’s always helpful to be prepared and know where you’re going and when! Also write out your class schedule and take time to walk around campus and familiarize yourself with the buildings you’re going to.

6) Meditate

After move-in day you might find yourself uneasy or out of sorts. Take that week to find your center again and meditate. There is a meditation room on campus located in the Student Activity Center in Kryzsko Commons that is open to students.

7) Socialize

On move-in day and the following week, talk as much as you can to other students! A great stress reliever is to talk with others about what’s stressing you out. Other freshmen will be able to relate to what you’re going through and offer tips and comfort while they’re enduring the same experiences.

8) Get a massage

Finally, if all else fails get a massage. It’s relaxing and allows you to have time to yourself. Plus, you can get one for a half hour for around $10 on campus!

As crazy as your first week on campus will be, I promise you college is not as scary as it may seem. Just be sure to manage your stress on move-in day Tuesday, Aug. 16, during Welcome Week, and throughout the school year. You got this!

Allison Mueller and Kayla Severson

7 Ways to Simplify Your Life

In college, it can be easy to take on way more than we are capable of. And that’s not only in terms of commitments and responsibilities; people can easily get caught up in the acquisition of everything from clothes, to movies, to books. In a cluttered life, time management goes out the window entirely. Sometimes, it becomes necessary to simplify everything and get back to the basics. In honor of National Simplify Your Life Week, here’s some tips on how to do that:

 1) Clear your closet

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Closets have a tendency to get stuffed long before we realize they are. You’ve got space one day, and the next you’re buying hangers to hold the shirts you just bought at a Pac Sun sale. Thankfully, clearing things out is never difficult. For me, the easiest way to figure out what to get rid of is to find what you actually use. Take all the hangers and turn them around. When you wear something, turn the hanger back around. After a few weeks or so, you’ll begin to see what you consistently wear and what you don’t. All that’s left then is to get rid of the stuff you don’t, either by selling or donating. I prefer to donate, but if you’re strapped for cash, selling can be a welcomed little boost. Erin’s recent blog explains great ways to resell your clothes!

2) Check those shelves

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Everybody’s got some kind of hobby, whether it’s movies, books, video games, comic books, sports, or collecting tiny toy elephants. Now, some people might have a bit more crowded shelves than others, but the fact remains the same: do you use everything you have? If you do, then good for you! That’s better than most of us can do. If not, it’s time to do some spring cleaning. Go through those shelves and grab things you’re sure you will never use again, and then check a second time to get rid of anything that’s on the fence. The closer you get to having only what you need and use, the better. Don’t stop at the shelves, either. Go through everything you own and do the same, and before you know it, you’ll be de-cluttered in no time.

3) Organize

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Sometimes it’s not the volume of the clutter that’s the problem, but the organization. Organization can go many different ways, depending on what’s being organized and who’s the one doing the organizing. Maybe you sort things alphabetically, or by color, or maybe by year. Whatever works best for how your mind operates is what you should use, and that’s going to be different for everyone. The important thing is to make sure that whenever you need to find something, you know exactly where to look. That goes for schoolwork, too. An accordion folder or some other type of file sorting system works wonders. However you choose to sort your things is perfectly fine, as long as you like how it’s all arranged and can find what you need.

4) Get connected

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Now, I’m not saying this from a social media perspective, but from a tech standpoint. With a smartphone, iPad, laptop, and maybe even a desktop PC at home, things can get a little cluttered. The first step into making things a little more manageable is to connect everything together. Using cloud services (even something as simple as Google Drive), you can have all of your files for classes, work, or freelance projects on any device at any time. Plus, this lets you edit pieces on one before working on it more on a different device later on. When speed is the name of the game, you can’t get better than this.

5) Rework your schedule

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Many of us (me included) tend to bite off a bit more than we can chew. It starts slow, but suddenly you’ve got two full-time jobs, an internship, a mentorship, four collaborative projects with other students, and you’re trying to finish a screenplay in whatever spare time you have left. When this happens, you need to cut down. Whether it’s through cancellation or postponement, get that huge list of responsibilities down to something manageable. And don’t forget to leave a little space for relaxation to clear your mind.

6) Learn to love your Calendar

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Calendars are the lifeblood of simplification, and you should learn to use them religiously. By keeping all of your events, classes, due dates and bills on a single format, it makes the stresses of life much easier to maneuver. The only thing is you have to use the calendar for everything, or else there’s not really a point. But once you get into the habit of writing everything down right when you learn about it, life slows to a much simpler place.

7) Combine your work and your passion

This last one is a little on the vague side, but it’s important nonetheless. By combining the things you are passionate about with your work, either in or out of school, it makes the work easier and you get some learning out of it. For example, I might be a journalist, but I’m also incredibly passionate about film (trust me on that, it’s a bit of a problem). Now, these two don’t always overlap, but I try to mesh them in whatever way I can, like doing film reviews for the school paper or doing freelance videography on the side. The important thing is to never let go of your interests, but instead of trying to balance multiple interests at once, find a way to bring them together! The less you spread yourself out, the better.

Nathaniel Nelson

5 Reasons to Thank Your Aunt and Uncle Today

Last week my blog post was about maintaining a healthy relationship with your parents while away at college and becoming an adult. However, you aren’t always going to have a healthy relationship with your parents, or anyone for that matter.

Despite what you and your parents may be disagreeing about at a given time, there is always someone you can turn to who understands how difficult your parents can be. For me, that person is my Aunt Kim, or as I called her growing up, Auntie Kimmy.

My Aunt Kim and me at Christmas in 2011.

My Aunt Kim and me at Christmas in 2011.

My aunt is the typical wine-drinking, life-loving, advice-giving, fun aunt you see in movies or read about in books. She is the most self-less and positive person I know and is dedicated to living a healthy lifestyle and she has inspired me to embody these qualities.

She is my mother’s half sister and they may not have grown up in the same household, but they grew up as best friends and went to the same school. The relationship my mother and my aunt have has inspired me to strengthen the relationship I have with my own sister.

Today is National Aunt and Uncle Day, so here are some reasons I love having a close relationship with my aunt and encourage you all to develop a close relationship with your aunt or uncle:

1) They are the perfect people to vent to

The siblings of your parents have known your parents much longer than you have. Not only do they have a lot of embarrassing stories of your parents your parents would never tell you themselves, they also understand them. So, when you think your parents are being difficult or unreasonable, give your aunt or uncle and call and vent to them. I know I have always been able to do that with my aunt and it has kept me sane.

2) Sometimes they’re the few people who can get through to your parents

Similar to the first reason, your aunt/uncle may be the only people who can put your parents in their place and tell them they are being ridiculous about something. Your parents may not always listen to you because you are the child and they are the parent and think because of this they are always right and might pull the classic “because I said so” line. Your parents are probably more likely to listen to another adult who they trust, especially their sibling. So, have your aunt or uncle call your parents if you need someone on your side to stick up for you.

3) They give the best (and most real) advice!

When you have a close relationship with your aunt or uncle you can trust them to tell them anything without the fear of getting in trouble. You can tell them every stupid thing you have done and ask for help putting the pieces of your life back together.

4) They spoil you and also encourage your every move

Recently, I’ve been trying to live a healthier lifestyle and eat healthier. When my aunt heard about this she sent me a book in the mail about having a healthy body and mind titled “The solution to the Dangers of Modern Nutrition” by Dr. B.J Hardrick. It was such a simple gesture but meant a lot to me, and I cannot wait to read this book! Then, for my birthday, she got me Maximized Living Protein powder that doesn’t have any gluten, soy, GMO’s or artificial flavors.

5) Your aunt/uncle can be a role model in your life in addition to your parents

As I stated earlier, my aunt has inspired me to be more selfless, positive and healthy. My aunt puts a lot on her plate, drops everything to help her loved ones, and handles this all with such grace.

Whether you have an aunt or an uncle (or both) you’re close with, give them a call this week and tell them how much you appreciate them being in your life.

Dana Scott

7 Simple Steps to Better Communication With Your Parents

My parents separated and divorced within the last year, so not only during college has my relationship changed with my parents because I am becoming an adult, but now it is changing because I have to build a relationship with them both individually; that has just made our relationships stronger.

My parents separated and divorced within the last year, so not only during college has my relationship changed with my parents because I am becoming an adult, but now it is changing because I have to build a relationship with them both individually; that has just made our relationships stronger.

​A lot changes during the transition from high school to college: surroundings, friends, interests, lifestyle, etc. However, there is one key element in life that also changes during this transition time and is often overlooked. That element is the relationship one has with their parents.

Why the change? The first reason is pretty obvious, and that’s the physical distance between you and your parents that probably did not exist before. Most teenagers do not have to put much effort into maintaining their relationship with their parents while growing up because they see them on a daily basis. Now, because of the distance, both you and your parents must be willing to put in more effort than before to stay in touch.

Your relationship with your parents will also change as you change and grow. Going to college will mark the beginning of your adult relationship with your parents. As you become more independent and less dependent on your parents, the basis of your relationship will change. Some parents may have a difficult time with you not needing them as much as you once did, so be gentle and don’t flaunt your independence too much!

Because of these two reasons it is important to maintain a healthy relationship with your parents while away at college. It is also important to understand and embrace the fact that your relationship with your parents is going to change.

So, here are a few tips to keep in mind while trying to stay connected to your parents after moving to college:

1) Find a form of communication that works for everyone

Everyday there are more communication platforms to choose from: phone calls, letters/mail, text messages, FaceTime, Skype and Facebook are just a few. You may have to help your parents learn how to use some of these applications. My dad recently got a smartphone for the first time and I’m teaching him to use it. Showing him applications such as Facebook has been such a fun, and at times frustrating, experience.

2) Find a convenient time to touch base

Whether you choose to touch base daily with a few quick text messages are block out an hour each week to Skype, scheduling this time will make it more likely to happen. This can be made easier by exchanging schedules so your parents aren’t calling you in the middle of class.

3) Be honest and communicate your feelings

Whether you feel like you need some space or need a little extra help with something, communicate it. Some parents may have eyes in the back of their heads, but they aren’t mind readers. Also, not all parents went to college, and if they did a lot has changed. So, make sure you explain the reality of college to them because at times it can be stressful and you may have to reschedule that weekly Skype date. But you don’t want your parents to think you’re blowing them off.

4) Ask your parents what is happening in their life

A lot will be changing in your life and it will be exciting, so you will probably have a lot to report back to your parents. But don’t forget to ask how things are going for them; even if they just simply tell you about their workday, it will make a difference in your relationship.

5) Communicate the struggles of young adulthood to your parents

Again, a lot has changed since our parents have been in college or have been twenty-somethings trying to start their life. College is the time you learn to become more independent, however it doesn’t all happen at once. So, you still may need help from your parents with somethings. That is okay.

7) Tell them how appreciative you are of them

Whether you are the first or last of your siblings to go off to college, remember that you not being home is going to be a difficult time for your parents. It’s always fun to get a care package from your parents during midterms, but remember you could always send them something nice too! Like all relationships, your relationship with your parents is a two way street.

Overall, every individual is different and everyone’s relationship with their parents are going to differ. But just remember how much your parents have done for you and the support they’ve provided through out your life. Parents are so awesome that there’s even a national holiday for them! Sunday, July 24 is Parents’ Day, so recognize this day and make sure to do what’s best for you and your relationship with your parents while in college!​

My mom not only gave me her small size, but more importantly her big personality. The photo of my dad and me shows how he makes me smile and laugh with his humor and one-liners which I would say is a quality of his I have.

My mom not only gave me her small size, but more importantly her big personality. The photo of my dad and me shows how he makes me laugh with his humor and one-liners, which I would say is a quality of his I have.

 –Dana Scott

Reduce Your Spending, Reduce Your Stress!

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College is a fun time for many things, but not so much when it comes to finances. Between paying for rent, various bills, classes and loans, it is easy to feel like you cannot stay ahead. It is common to freak out about money. However, it is important to not let spending money stress you out too much. One way to minimize the stress is to budget!

One of the most important parts of budgeting is planning ahead. You know how much your rent and some of your other bills will be each month, and you know when these things are due. Make sure you will have that money when the time comes. I know some bill payments such as energy bills change every month, but sometimes you can set those accounts up on a budget. If you call your energy company you can set up a certain amount that you do not want to go over every month, and they will help you minimize the energy usage.

Another part is not making impulse purchases. Think about if you really need the things you are buying. Do you really need another pair of jeans or another video game just because it’s on sale?

You should also try not to eat out. At the time, going through a McDonald’s or Taco Bell drive-thru may not seem like a big deal, but it does add up. Research from 2014 reveals that the average American spends more than $1,200 on fast food every year! Also, try to avoid going grocery shopping when you are hungry. If you are like me, then you buy more at the store when you could eat everything in sight right then and there. Grocery shopping after you eat will save you money and even save you from wasting food.

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To make some quick cash, sell the stuff you do not use. Have extra pieces of furniture or clothes you never wear anymore? Get rid of them. If you aren’t using them, what’s the point of keeping them around? Lets face it, the dorms and off campus housing don’t exactly have the most space. So, why not make a couple bucks for something that is just taking up space?

Finally, use your student ID to save. It is good for more than getting you into the IWC and buying spring concert tickets. Many places around town offer a student discount. All you have to do is show your student ID! Some discounts may not seem worth it, but why not save the money where you can? Be sure to ask about student discounts when you’re out and about!

Hopefully these money-saving tips and advice will save you from some stress – we have enough of it already in college!

Kayla Severson

Achieving Spiritual Health - With or Without Religion

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When people discuss spiritual health, they often center on religious ideals and beliefs. Be it about gods, prayers, or church services, it’s often said that one cannot have spiritual health without being involved in a religion. I’m here to say that’s not the case. Spiritual health is something that everyone can achieve, with or without religion. Simply put, spiritual health is all about yourself and the life you choose to live.

For much of my life, I was inbetween religions. Raised Lutheran, I became disenchanted with some of the ideals the church supported. I wandered and studied for several years before finally coming upon Zen Buddhism in my freshman year of college. The thing I realized in my many studies is that spirituality is not inherently about praising a deity or regularly attending a church. While those things do help many people, not everyone will be religious. And that’s okay.

Spirituality is, in a way, the most human aspect of each and every person. A person’s spirituality can stem from a number of sources, and not just what they are taught in Sunday School. It’s about connecting with the people around you and seeing who they are, what they do, and who they can be. It’s about forming bonds with not only you friends, but those who may not always be in your favor. It’s about love, not romantic love, but the love of life and where you are.

Some people pray every day to connect with their spiritual side. Some meditate. Some read scientific texts. Every one of these options is just as good as any other. It’s important to see life as a journey, and one with its ups and downs. And everyone is on that same journey. While they may take others paths, everyone is headed to the same place in the end. During this journey, you will make many choices, and pursue many different beliefs. While you may follow a religion, religion is not necessary to have spiritual health. When you find that reason for your existence, spirituality will come.

More than anything, spiritual health is the connection to something bigger than you. Whether it’s God, the trees, the stars, your friends, or the world you live in that leads you to feel connected, what matters is to feel that you are a part of something and able to contribute to something better. We all have a strong connection to this planet, and will likely never see another. It’s the bonds and beliefs you form throughout your life that form your own unique spirituality. And that’s the most important aspect. It’s your spirituality, not anyone else’s. Everyone’s beliefs will differ. It’s the journey, which formed those beliefs that make us who we are, and we should be proud of them. So embrace them. Embrace your life, embrace your thoughts, and embrace your own unique view of the world.

Nathaniel Nelson

Find a Hobby, Find Your Happiness

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“What do you like doing in your free time?”

As college students we don’t get a lot of free time, and this question makes it even more stressful to find an interesting hobby to fill our free time. This is just one of the reasons finding the right hobby for you is important. It is also important to have something that provides personal enjoyment and fulfillment.

As college students, many of the activities we find ourselves doing have other benefits other than our happiness. Such as studying for classes to get good grades with the goal to eventually graduate. Many of us also work part time or full time jobs in addition to taking classes to make money or gain experience in a certain field, regardless if you enjoy your job or not – its sole purpose is not to bring happiness, but rather to fill your pockets and resumé.

We all also fill many other roles as friends, parents, significant others, siblings, children, etc. These can all be very fulfilling roles, but the most important role you will fill in your life is being yourself and part of that job includes providing your own happiness. To do this effectively and without the risk of also draining yourself, you need to find a hobby or activity you can participate in solely for your own fulfillment and enjoyment.

It may take some time to find the perfect hobby for you, so don’t get discouraged! Don’t be afraid to try something new and don’t worry about whether you will be “good” at this hobby because as long as it provides happiness and enjoyment, that’s all that matters. Here is a list of some hobbies for you to try out:

 1) Reading

Many college students do a lot of reading already, so try to find books you can read at your own leisure. You could also join or create a book club for motivation or discussion.

2) Writing

Many college students also do a lot of writing, so again, do this for leisure. There are many things you could start writing: daily journals, letters to friends, short stories, poetry, or start a blog.

3) Hiking, biking, running and other outdoor activities

Winona is a great place for this! Between the bluffs, the lakes and the river, there are a lot of outdoor activities to pick from!

4) Photography

Even if you don’t want to buy a new, expensive camera, you can always go out with your phone in the search for the perfect Instagram-worthy picture!

5) Painting

If you are 21 or older, you could start by attending a wine and canvas night for a fun and interesting experience.

6) Cooking or baking

Hit up Pinterest for recipes to try. Follow WSU’s College-Friendly Recipes Pinterest board for some cheap and delicious ideas. You could even invite friends over and host a dinner party!

7) Knitting

This skill could come in handy around the holidays to make all your loved ones scarfs or hats for gifts.

8) Scrapbooking

You get to reminisce on old times and create something that will allow you to look back on great memories.

9) Yoga

Attend yoga in the park, go to a class at the IWC or even look up videos on YouTube.

10) Gardening

This is great during the summertime!

11) Teach yourself something new

Whether it’s learning to play an instrument or a speak a new language, trying something new is always fun!

12) Volunteering

Donate your time to a cause you are passionate about.

13) Sports

Join an intramural team or league for fun.

14) Collections

Start a collection of anything from stamps to coins, and go out in search for the perfect additions to your collection.​

Now, get out there and find your next hobby and find your happiness!

Dana Scott

Why Pacifism?

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Pacifism : the belief that it is wrong to use war or violence to settle disputes. 

Pacifism is an ideology as old as time itself, but for many of us, it seems like a pipe dream. It seems there’s never an end to the constant stream of wars and violent acts, so what’s the point of being pacifist anyways? Well, here are 4 distinct and immediate benefits from denouncing violence and following a peaceful way of life:

1) Low level of stress

Part of pacifism is avoiding conflict. But this isn’t just war-based conflict. It can be everything from conflict between workers, to between friends, to the short fights in a relationship. Oftentimes, stress is caused by the worry about these sorts of conflicts. Without them, stress flows right off of you like you’re a stone in the Mississippi.

2) Understanding of the individual

Pacifism’s number one ideological fact is the importance of every person, no matter who they are on the inside or out. Each person is just as special and interesting as anyone else. You may find people you don’t like, but you can understand that they matter. In this crazy messed up world of ours, everybody is in the same boat going down the same river. Though people may take different routes, they are all just as important.

3) Certainty of safety

This one is a bit strange. “How can you be sure of your safety with how much violence there is in the world today?” Here’s the thing: by avoiding violence and actively denouncing it, other people will learn to see life from the same angle. Not only that, but nobody wants to pick a fight with a pacifist. There’s no gratification from fighting with someone who finds no reason to fight, after all.

4) Living a peaceful life

This is the biggest, most obvious benefit from pursuing a pacifist lifestyle. When you live a life devoid of violent anger and hatred, and see the beauty in the individual, life becomes a peaceful journey without fear and without stress. You can spend your days awing at the wonders of the natural world, and of the individuals who work to keep people wondering. Without war, without violence, without hatred, the world is just a much better place.

Nathaniel Nelson

Address Your Spiritual Wellness!

How is your spiritual health?

Do you feel a sense of purpose? Joy? Inner peace?

Is your outlook on life positive or negative?

Are you stressed, anxious, or feel as if you have no control over your life?

Wellness is made up of several different dimensions including physical, emotional, social and even spiritual wellness. Unfortunately, spiritual wellness is most commonly the first facet to get pushed to the back burner when people are trying to improve their overall health and well-being. This is ironic because without a connection with your spirituality, every other aspect of your wellness cannot and will not reach its full potential. Spiritual wellness is the backbone of wellness because it affects all of the other components of your well-being.

Often overlooked, spiritual wellness is very important and ultimately effects and influences the other dimensions of wellness (Image taken from WSU's Integrated Wellness Complex site).

Often overlooked, spiritual wellness is very important and ultimately effects and influences the other dimensions of wellness (Image taken from WSU’s Integrated Wellness Complex site).

You see, spiritual wellness encompasses everything from our daily disciplines to finding our true purpose in life. It is the values and beliefs in which we live by. Implementing realistic standards and boundaries based on our beliefs and values is crucial because without them it is next to impossible to find your calling and reach your full potential. Moreover, spirituality is necessary in order to attain fulfillment.

Additionally, being spiritually healthy is the only way to live with genuine JOY. Some may think that is an overstatement on my part, but what they may not realize is the difference between joy and happiness. Happiness is simply a temporary emotion. Today, so many people have found themselves caught up in pursuing the things this world says will make them happy. A few examples of these falsely advertised ‘must-haves’ may be attaining a 4.0 GPA, accumulating a large amount of money, or having the ‘perfect’ body image. But what they don’t know is the things of this world are only temporary and can never bring long-term fulfillment or satisfaction.

Meanwhile, joy is also an emotion or a feeling, but is one that we have been commanded to feel. Therefore, I believe that command can only be granted by God himself, because joy is the natural reaction to the ways God is working and moving in our lives. Just as we are commanded to be joyful, we are commanded to rejoice, express gratitude, and be tenderhearted. However, these things are all out of our control to produce because we are sinful human beings and have fallen short. Only through a relationship with God can we produce these emotions. It is written that through Christ and Christ alone we can do all things. As humans we were never meant to do everything in our own strength. As a matter of fact, we can’t. We become not only spiritually weak, but also physically and mentally weak when we try to do everything in our own strength. This is why I believe stress affects every aspect of wellness.

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Stress is one of the biggest struggles people are faced with today, especially college students. Some may say it is the result of living in our extremely fast paced society with unrealistic expectations. Although that may be true, I believe there is more to it. Without values and beliefs and ultimately without having a relationship with our Creator, there is no ‘bigger picture’ or purpose in life. When you begin to live only in the moment instead of living as if this is only your temporary home, you tend to handle certain trials and temptations differently.

Spiritual wellness also involves community. It is crucial to surround yourself with a positive community of people or those who will help you stay true to the values and beliefs you have decided to live your life by. One of my mentors in high school always said, “Show me your friends, I’ll show you your future.” Realizing who is influencing you and how they are influencing you is an extremely important analysis to do, especially in college when there are always pressures to make poor decisions. Finding this community may be difficult to find and it might take some time, but it will be so worth the wait.

For me, I found my community through a campus ministry called Chi Alpha. This year, Chi Alpha has been a place for me to grow in my faith alongside other college students who were also intentionally pursuing the promises of Christ and not the things of this world. The opportunities Chi Alpha presented me this year and the friendships I made within this community are truly what made my transition from living at home to college so smooth.

Overall, it is my hope that each student on our campus will realize their need for spiritual wellness and choose to seek out and get involved with a community in college that positively influences them.

Erin Kloepping