Mini Hobbies That Can Help You De-Stress

Hobbies can be anything you enjoy doing. Whether it’s staying in and watching TV, spending time switching between social media apps or taking naps. Sometimes these “hobbies” become routine and we need a break to do something a bit more fulfilling. Having hobbies can be useful so that when you’re ready to get back to work, you have a clear mind. Here are a few things you can try to do:

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Get Grounded!

When we’re stuck inside all day, whether for school or work, it can be harder to be productive. It’s so hard to unplug and get grounded, here are a few things you can try to ease yourself into the habit of unplugging:  

  • GARDENING
    • Nothing is more grounding than giving back to nature. If you don’t know anything about gardening, that’s OK! There are plenty of how-to books to help you get started. In case there isn’t a place for you to garden, you can invest in house plants. Bringing nature back into your house can liven it up and clean your air as well. There are plenty of different types of plants that will be convenient for your time and needs. Don’t have time to go to your local nursery? There are websites that will deliver the plants straight to your doorstep!
  • CAMPING/HIKING
    • Don’t have a green thumb? That’s ok too! Remember, hobbies are something that you like to do. If you’re more of the athletic type then give camping a go. There are usually trails around the campsites and you can hike around in the area. Adventures in nature are something that can clear your mind.
  • STARGAZING
    • Whether you’re out camping, in your backyard, or even on your balcony, the stars are always out to say hello! You don’t necessarily need a fancy telescope either, some stars and planets are visible to the naked eye. You can learn all about them through books, the internet, or even apps. My personal favorite is the SkyView. All you have to do is point your smart phone at any part of the sky, and the app will tell you what stars, planets, asteroids, satellites, etc. should be there! So even if you can’t see it without a telescope, at least you’ll know which cool constellation is hovering above you!
  • COLLECTING  
    • If you thought that collecting things was just a hobby for children, think again. It’s never too late to start collecting things. Choose an item or items that interest you (and fit in your space). This can be anything from rocks that you find when out on nature walks, gems, bottle caps or even aluminum cans (you can even get some cash if you take the cans to your local recycling area. Not only will you be helping Mother Earth, but you’ll also get some extra change in your pocket).

Create!

The outdoors aren’t for everyone and that’s ok. Some people have a more creative side that needs to be explored more. There are plenty of activities that can be done from the comfort of your home or your favorite coffee shop. Here are a few hobbies that are done using pens, markers, and stationery items:

  • WRITING/JOURNALING
    • There are times that our minds are overflowing with thoughts and ideas and it’s hard to organize them. Writing down your thoughts can help you de-stress. There are also online platforms like Wattpad and Webtoon that you can upload your content on for other readers. This can even lead to being discovered by scouts and can eventually lead to publication. Maybe you want something more personal, journaling can be the way to go. There are bullet journals you can buy or create yourself. Writing about anything can help sort out your thoughts on what might be causing more stress.
  • CALLIGRAPHY/DRAWING
    • Don’t want to write about your thoughts but you still want to use those cool pens you bought a while ago? Then try calligraphy! This type of art is a hot trending topic these days. There are plenty of books you can either buy or borrow from your local library. Perhaps you’re not sure where to start, then there are even kits sold in certain bookstores and online that come equipped with utensils that are needed and instructional books. Additionally, there are so many Instagrammers and YouTubers that specialize in this kind of content
      • Drawing can also be an outlet to help manage stress. The good thing about drawing is that you don’t have to be good at drawing. It’s art so it can be as good as you want it to be. There are also videos on online that can help you achieve the style you want.
  • SCRAPBOOKING
    • If you’re the sentimental type, then you can pick up scrapbooking. Not only can you use calligraphy but you can also put your new drawing skills into it. Scrapbooking can be a method to incorporate all types of art forms while keeping your memories alive. 
  • ORIGAMI
    • If you’re the type that wants to see the end product of what you’re working on, then origami can be the hobby for you. There are all types of intricate designs and sizes that you can make. There are plenty of books and videos on origami. Sometimes even thrift stores will have books on different trades and crafts that you can find at a fairly low price.
  • PHOTOGRAPHY
    • Photography is such a versatile hobby! You can do it from the comfort of your own home, or you can go outside and take pictures of anything else. So while you’re taking a walk outside, you can take advantage of the scenery and take amazing pictures. You don’t need a fancy camera to take the pictures either, most mobile devices nowadays have amazing camera qualities. You can even buy lenses for cell phones online at a very low cost.
  • DIY PROJECTS
    • Pinterest is a great place to look for DIY projects to do in your home either alone or with a group of friends. Who knows? maybe you’ll uncover a new hidden talent.
  • SEWING/CROCHETING/KNITTING
    • Sewing can be for everyone of all ages. It’s also a hobby that can save you money in the long run! Most local arts and craft stores have starter kits for all different types of sewing projects, whether it’s sewing something small or knitting a blanket.

Stimulate Your Mind!

Perhaps you need a bit more of a challenge mentally, then there are other outlets that might be more suited for you.

  • LEARN A NEW LANGUAGE
    • There are different apps for your mobile device that allow you to learn a new language. Apps like Duolingo and Memrise are at a low cost or even free. Not only is a challenging thing to do but if you get fluent enough with the language then you can add it to your resume.
  • LEARN A NEW INSTRUMENT
    • Music is an outlet that helps a lot of people combat stress. What better way to feel one with music than to make the music yourself? Do some research on what would be best suited for you and look for videos online that can teach you. You can also visit your local library and explore the books that they have or just stop into a local music shop.
  • CHESS/STRATEGIC GAMES
    • Chess is a great way to sharpen your strategic and critical thinking skills. You can learn a lot about yourself too! When you’re stuck on a problem whether at work or school, taking on a different mental challenge can help you come back to the problem with a new solution.
  • INTROSPECTION
    • One of the most beneficial hobbies to have is one that helps your personal growth. Professional, academic, social growth, etc. all come back to personal growth. Get in touch with your sense of self. If you need a little guidance, you can research different personality tests and identifiers. Find out your Myers-Briggs Type Indicator from 16Personalities. Or figure out your strengths and weaknesses through Stephen Covey’s Strengthsfinders 2.0. If you’re into astrology, there are so many different websites like CafeAstrology that will help you create your birth chart.

Get Active!

  • DANCING
    • Being active can be a very helpful way to help combat stress. There’s also no need to go out. It can be completely free by just turning on the radio and dancing in your room. Don’t want to do it alone, check your local community center and they might offer Zumba classes at a low cost.
  • COOKING
    • Cooking is another way that you can express yourself while destressing. There are many forms of cooking that you can choose from. Even if you don’t know how to cook, there are lots of books at the library you can check out and online.
  • VOLUNTEERING
    • Want to feel like you’re doing something for your community? Then check your local community centers to volunteer. There are plenty of options that you can do. Volunteering is a very fulfilling experience that you can learn from.

Titles Hitting Netflix This November

It’s getting chilly out and it’s the perfect season to stay in with a nice cup of hot cocoa bundled up in front of your TV. Looking for that perfect show to start binging can be tedious and before you know it, your indecisiveness has cost you the time of a full-length movie! Here’s a list of movies and shows coming to your screens in November so you can start planning your downtime now.

*All descriptions are taken from the IMDB website which you can visit yourself here or from the Netflix website here.*

Netflix Nov 2018

Halloween – Halloween Day may have passed but it’s still Halloween Week! Get spooky with these movies hitting Netflix.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) 11/1/18
The centuries-old vampire Count Dracula comes to England to seduce his barrister Jonathan Harker’s fiancée Mina Murray and inflict havoc in the foreign land.
Director: Francis Ford Coppola

Cape Fear (1991) 11/1/18
A convicted rapist, released from prison after serving a fourteen-year sentence, stalks the family of the lawyer who originally defended him.
Director: Martin Scorsese

Cloverfield (2008) 11/1/18
A group of friends venture deep into the streets of New York on a rescue mission during a rampaging monster attack.
Director: Matt Reeves

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) 11/1/18
Roy Neary, an electric lineman, watches how his quiet and ordinary daily life turns upside down after a close encounter with a UFO.
Director: Steven Spielberg

 

Holidays – It is never too early to get into the holiday mood (now that Halloween has passed). Swing into the holidays with these movies!

Angela’s Christmas (2017) 11/1/18
Set in Ireland in the 1910s, ‘Angela’s Christmas’ is a funny, heart-warming and poignant story about the power of family and the innocent desire of a child to ensure everyone is safe, warm and loved at Christmas time.
Director: Damien O’Connor

The Holiday Calendar (2018) NETFLIX ORIGINAL 11/2/18
A struggling but talented photographer inherits an antique holiday advent calendar, the contents of which seem to predict the future. Will this magical calendar lead her to love this holiday season?
Director: Bradley Walsh

The Princess Switch (2018) 11/16/2018
When a down-to-earth Chicago baker and a soon-to-be princess discover they look like twins, they hatch a Christmas plan to trade places.

The Christmas Chronicles (2018) NETFLIX ORIGINAL 11/22/18
The story of sister and brother, Kate and Teddy Pierce, whose Christmas Eve plan to catch Santa Claus on camera turns into an unexpected journey that most kids could only dream about.
Director: Clay Kaytis

A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding (2018) NETFLIX ORIGINAL 11/30/18
A year after helping Richard secure the crown, Amber’s getting ready to walk down the aisle with him. But she’s not so sure she’s cut out to be queen. 

 

Drama

Julie & Julia (2009) 11/1/18
Julia Child’s story of her start in the cooking profession is intertwined with blogger Julie Powell’s 2002 challenge to cook all the recipes in Child’s first book.
Director: Nora Ephron

House of Cards (Season 6) NETFLIX ORIGINAL 11/2/18
A Congressman works with his equally conniving wife to exact revenge on the people who betrayed him.
Creator: Beau Willimon

The Other Side of the Wind (2018) NETFLIX ORIGINAL 11/2/18
A Hollywood director emerges from semi-exile with plans to complete work on an innovative motion picture.
Director: Orson Welles

Westside (2018) NETFLIX ORIGINAL 11/9/18
An unscripted and deeply personal glimpse into the journeys of nine young L.A.-based musicians as they follow their dreams

Outlaw King (2018) NETFLIX ORIGINAL 11/9/18
A true David v Goliath story of how the great 14th Century Scottish ‘Outlaw King’ Robert The Bruce used cunning and bravery to defeat and repel the much larger and better equipped occupying English army.
Director: David Mackenzie

Narcos: Mexico (2018)  NETFLIX ORIGINAL 11/16/18
The rise of the Guadalajara Cartel as an American DEA agent learns the danger of targeting narcos in Mexico.
Creators: Carlo Bernard, Chris Brancato, Doug Miro

The Last Kingdom (Season 3) NETFLIX ORIGINAL 11/19/2018
As Alfred the Great defend his kingdom from Norse invaders, Uhtred — born a Saxon but raised by Vikings — seeks to claim his ancestral birthright.

Frontier (Season 3) NETFLIX ORIGINAL 11/23/18
Follows Declan Harp, a part-Irish, part-Native American outlaw who is campaigning to breach the Hudson’s Bay Company’s monopoly on the fur trade in Canada.
Creators: Rob Blackie, Peter Blackie

 

Documentaries/Reality TV

Follow This (Season 3) NETFLIX ORIGINAL 11/1/18
Follow the reporters at BuzzFeed as they probe topics ranging from quirky internet crazes to safe injection spaces for opioid users.

The Great British Baking Show (Season 6) 11/9/18
Bakers attempt three challenges each week trying to impress the judges enough to go through to the next round and eventually are crowned Britain’s best amateur baker.

The Final Table (2018) NETFLIX ORIGINAL 11/20/18
Teams of chefs vie to impress some of the world’s toughest palates as they whip up iconic dishes from different nations in this reality cooking competition.

Death by Magic (2018) NETFLIX ORIGINAL 11/30/18
Magician Drummond Money-Coutts travels the globe, sharing his infectious love of magic and attempting tricks that proved fatal to other magicians.

 

Comedy

Trevor Noah: Son of Patricia  NETFLIX ORIGINAL 11/20/18
Trevor Noah gets out from behind the “Daily Show” desk and takes the stage for a stand-up special that touches on racism, immigration, camping and more.

F is for Family (Season 3) NETFLIX ORIGINAL 11/29/18
Follow the Murphy family back to the 1970s, when kids roamed wild, beer flowed freely and nothing came between a man and his TV.
Creators: Bill Burr, Michael Price

 

 

Planner Tips & Tricks

In a day and age where tech comes first, keeping a paper planner probably isn’t all too exciting. But when due dates and events start to pile up, you’re gonna wish that you had a handy planner to keep you on track. Here are a few tips to help you start and keep a planner or journal.

Photo courtesy of CreativePlanners.com

Take your planner everywhere – There’s no point in getting a planner if you aren’t going to use it. Make sure you have your planner on you at all times in case a new event or a new due date pops up. Seeing your week or your month all in one spread can also help you schedule new things – you wouldn’t want to pick up an extra morning shift at work the day after a night out with your friends.

Use your phone – Sometimes you just can’t bring your planner with you or take an extra minute to pencil it in. You can always use your phone to keep track of events in times of need but always make sure to transfer your events do your paper planner. I personally rely heavily on my phone calendar but in my opinion, it just doesn’t do for me what a paper planner can. There’s a ton of more advanced planner apps out there but sometimes the interface can get too cluttered. Phones are great for setting reminders but come up short when giving you an accurate overview of your tasks and event so I suggest that you use your phone to set reminders rather than for planning.

Color code – Using codes for your different tasks and events can help tremendously when you’re looking for the information you need quickly. It also helps important due dates and tasks stand out so that you don’t accidentally miss it. Use different colors for school, work, due dates, bills, and more. 

Use the right materials – Just as important as the actual planner, your materials can make a huge difference in efficiency. For example, there are some events that crop up that aren’t necessarily set in stone. In times like these, you can use sticky notes or tabs to write the event on so that your planner isn’t littered in strikethroughs and scribbles. Another great solution is erasable pens.

One task at a time – Don’t overload yourself with a bunch of to-dos. It’s tempting to fill up every line and every checkbox but you have to set realistic expectations. Planning isn’t supposed to make you feel bad or stress you out over not accomplishing your goals. When you set unrealistic goals you can’t achieve, you’ll less likely want to keep a planner that reminds you of your ‘failures’ in the first place. Be kind to yourself and to your capabilities. 

Divide your workload – To help you with overscheduling yourself, divide out your tasks and events. Use either the Eisenhower Matrix, Covey’s Time Management Grid or both to help you determine the importance and/or urgency of a task. Using this method, you can now divide your tasks and events into your daily, weekly, monthly, and even yearly schedules. 

Make time for planning and journaling – We all know that life gets hectic sometimes – especially in the Fall semester with school, a handful of important holidays, and just the end of the year. As mentioned before, you can always use your phone to help with planning but you also have to make time for your paper planner. Make sure you schedule a designated time for planning and journaling. Depending on your needs and your methods this can take anywhere from as little as 5 minutes to 45 minutes.

Explore your needs and different methods that help meet them – Finding the perfect planner can be daunting. There are so many options and layouts to choose from but sometimes too many choices can make the decision even harder. Choose one that fits your needs and wants. If you don’t have a lot of time to spend on planning, choose a minimal layout that gets down to the basics. If you want more a comprehensive lifestyle planner, choose one that has dedicated spaces for those things. When choosing a planner for yourself, also take into account the size that is most comfortable for you to keep on hand at all times whether it’s pocket-style, full size, or even weekly or monthly printables.

Photo courtesy of The Chic Cupcake

Bullet journaling – If traditional planners just don’t cut it for you, you can try your hand at the bullet journaling trend. This method does away with traditional planners altogether and allows you to basically create your own layouts and spreads. The great thing about this method is that it extends beyond just planning and to-do lists and ventures into real complexities of different lifestyles. You can add sections for a mood tracker, weight tracker, seasonal bucket lists, affirmations, and so much more.

Be budget friendly – Planner and bullet journals can get pretty costly. Always keep in mind that you can DIY a great planner. So many brands and lines have create-your-own options where you can buy the sleeve and filler pages separately. Even better than that, there are so many free downloadables and printables online. If bullet journaling is your thing, you can even upgrade regular notebooks, journals, or sketchbooks to avoid paying upwards of $20 – $30 for a dedicated bullet journal. If you need DIY help, there are also tons of videos online like this one from YouTuber SeaLemon.

Personalize it! – Add your own touch by using stickers, washi tape, or even your own doodles and drawings. If you aren’t artsy or satisfied with your handwriting, stickers and washi tape can help a great deal. You can use stickers for your headings – you can either buy journal sticker booklets or print your own on sticker paper. You can use washi tape on page borders to mark important pages or even outline boxes.

 

How do textbook rentals work?

Book Stock - from customer

You probably don’t need to hang onto that freshman level history book for the rest of your life nor do you want to pay a lot of money for it to sit in the back of your closet for years. This is where renting can be a great option!

Renting textbooks is just like renting movies or sporting equipment. When you rent a textbook, you pay a discounted price to use the book you need for the semester. This allows you to pay less up front but still use the textbook you need. When you’re done, you just return the book back to the rental company!

Do keep in mind that since you are renting, the book needs to be returned in a reusable condition. In addition, it is important to return your books by their due date to avoid any late fees.

Summer Wind Down: Back to School Checklist

Its August and that means school is starting up again soon! Preparing for a new semester can get hectic especially if you’re still in vacation mode. Start preparing now a little at a time so when the first day rolls around, you’ve got everything in control! Here’s a rough checklist to keep you on track!

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Registration
If you haven’t already, register for classes! So many students put off registering until the week before school starts but by this time, all the good classes at great times taught by awesome professors are full. Crafting a great schedule could make or break your semester so make sure you do your research and meet with your advisors.
Since my first semester of college, I’ve kept a spreadsheet of my course hours and I use it to track the classes I’ve taken, the grades I made, and the classes I still need. I’ve even broken it down further and split up my remaining courses into different semesters leading up to graduation. This way, when it comes to registration, I can pull up my spreadsheet and know exactly which classes to register for.

Applying for FAFSA
Many students rely on financial aid to pay for most, if not all, of their school expenses. If you rely on FAFSA, make sure you apply as soon as possible. Visit the FAFSA website here.

Packing
If you’re planning to live on campus, packing your things and moving in should probably one of your top priorities. If this is your first semester living away from home, you’re probably already stressed about leaving your friends and family behind for a couple of months. Get a handle on the stresses of moving by creating a moving checklist. Categorize essentials, things you need to purchase now, and things you can probably purchase once you’re there (to save on space). There are tons of premade packing and moving checklists available online like this one from College Board.

Summer Cleaning
Look, cleaning isn’t fun for most people. But organizing and going through your belongings before school starts make your day to day activities a whole lot easier. It allows you to take inventory of what you do (or don’t) have so when you go back to school shopping, you buy things that you actually need. Assess your closet and make sure you have essentials like socks and undershirts. Go through drawers and bins and collect all your pens and pencils and you might not even have to buy any more. Clear out old class folders and binders and reuse them.

Find or Create the Perfect Planner
Learn to get organized by using a planner. There are so many options and designs to choose from that can really help you stay on track. I always strayed away from traditional planners because I could never find one that fit my needs that’s also in my price range. If you’re anything like me, maybe you can try your hand at bullet journaling. You can personalize your own subheadings with a mood tracker, affirmations, goals, important dates, to-do lists, and many more!

Plan a Self Care Day
Usually, when you think of back to school checklists, you don’t think about self-care but for me, its probably the most important thing on my list. When school rolls around, I get stressed fast and easy so I make sure I’m in a good place physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually before the first day of classes. Find the activities that relax you and take a day to enjoy yourself.  For me, this means going on a detox (to purge my system of overall summer unhealthiness), booking a massage, getting my nails done, doing an at-home spa facial, and writing an emotionally and spiritually charged journal entry. To each their own.

Creating a Budget
No doubt about it, I spend more money when I’m in school. I have a reason to be out of the house almost every day, and it’s tempting to buy instead of make. Buying a coffee 4 times a week for the whole semester is easily $200-$300, now imagine if you’re also spending on lunch every day – keeping a tight reign on your spending habits can be daunting but you could make it easier by setting a budget.

Fix Your Sleeping Schedule
The days of staying up late and binge-watching Netflix are almost over – it’s time to fix your circadian rhythm. This can be hard if you’re a night owl plagued by insomnia, so I suggest starting off small. Figure out when your body starts to get tired and turn out your light, tv, and other distracting devices 30 minutes earlier. The next night, try doing it an hour earlier and so on. If this method doesn’t work, I usually force myself awake no matter how much sleep I got the night before which pretty much ensures I’ll be knocked out at a  decent hour later on. If all else fails, there are many sleeping aids on the market. If you’re wary of becoming overly dependent on sleeping aids or waking up with a “Nyquil hangover”, melatonin is a great alternative.

Get a Head Start
Working at a college textbook store has given me a lot of insight into the minds of college students. When customers come in, they usually aren’t familiarized with their schedule. Take some time before school starts to get ahead. Try to find the online syllabus to figure out what you need to be prepared for (and whether or not that textbook you weren’t planning to get might actually be worth renting). Try to mentally prepare for each class and make sure you’re not blind-sided by a much heavier course load than you were intending. Another great way to get a rough idea of how your classes might go is through RateMyProfessors.

Jump Start Your Brain
Not that you haven’t been using your brain all summer, but you might not have been engaging in as much active thinking, reading, and listening. Jump start your mind by engaging in activities that can simulate class time. Watch interesting TEDtalks or documentaries that will help simulate listening to a lecture and take note of when you find yourself zoning out. Do some light to medium reading to get you back into the swing of reading chapters upon chapters from your textbook.

Figure Out What Textbooks You Need
Purchasing textbooks is one of those things you have to time just right. You don’t want to buy them too early in case your professor changes titles and you don’t want to buy them too late in case the title goes out of stock. Check your online syllabus and start looking at prices and package options now. Keep in mind that prices might change, but it should still be in the rough ballpark. You can always buy or rent your textbooks in advance and return them for a refund as long as it’s within the refund window and it’s still in the same condition. If you don’t want to take a chance, always ask your professor on the first day of class for confirmation of the book title, edition, and/or ISBN and order your book as soon as possible.

Save money on your books by ordering from Textbook Solutions here!

Summer Beach