Don’t Let Winter Get You Down

By: Alejandra Malaga Walters, Francis College of Engineering Well-being Leader  

Since childhood, I remember worriedly watching as we came closer to the end of the year. Winter, sadness, and expecting the cold both outside and inside. Predictably, it’s very common to feel unmotivated, unsatisfied, and unhappy each winter.  

The reasons behind winter sadness are mysterious, the lack of light since the days are shorter, deficiency in Vitamin D3, the start of school again, and a decrease in activity may all play a role. But just because it’s cold doesn’t mean we can’t continue spending time outside. 

Even if it’s bitterly cold, the beauty of nature is incredibly healing and helpful for putting things back into perspective. Try new outside activities that you can only do during winter! If you find an activity you love, maybe you will want every winter to come to do it again. Go skiing, ice skating, snowboarding, or sledding. There are also other indoor activities such as roller skating or bowling. Try to keep yourself active. As long as you continue to move your body, you are taking a big step toward feeling better bonus points if you are outside in the fresh air. The university also offers Outdoor Adventure Programs (OAP) during the winter. You can look through the website and see something you might like:   https://www.uml.edu/campusrecreation/programs/outdoor-adventure/.

If you just want to stay at home and watch some movies or read a book, it’s completely okay to stay in your pajamas all weekend, even more, when you are feeling low. But if you want to change that feeling, it’s helpful to fight that negative mood with simple actions. In this case, taking a long shower and putting on comfortable and attractive clothing can be energizing and reset our moods. It is also extremely helpful for making us feel like productive human beings moving in the right direction.   

Take it easy. If you feel like laying on the couch and binging shows—whatever is going to feel good right now with minimal effort—then just do it. Just don’t let the winter get you down for a long period of time because, remember, it’s not going to last forever.   

“When things get harder, if you still have choices, ideally, you make that harder choice.” says psychologist Vaile Wright, senior director of healthcare innovation at the American Psychological Association

References:  

10 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues | Psychology Today

Practicing Self-Love This Valentine’s Day 

By: Yashvi Patel, Kennedy College of Sciences Well-being Leader 

Valentine’s day isn’t just about lovers expressing their affection by exchanging cards, flowers, and candy, and having romantic meals in restaurants. Nonetheless, it is a day to show extra love and appreciation for those who you care about, and that should include yourself. It all starts with yourself. I really believe that love starts from within and that your capacity to love someone else is largely driven by your capacity to love yourself. What I mean by that is you cannot give something that you are unfamiliar with yourself. Self-love allows you to love others because you know how to care for yourself. I think loving yourself and loving others goes hand in hand. If you develop inner contentment and wellbeing, you can naturally strengthen your relationship with others.  

Practicing self-love offers many benefits for your body and mind. Self-love helps you overcome insecurity. When you practice self-love, you become more forgiving of your flaws and accept your imperfections as something that makes you unique. People who love themselves are more confident and self-assured. Self-love can also encourage personal growth and self-improvement. You are more aware of your flaws and areas of improvements that you can actively work on to better your overall wellbeing. There are 8 dimensions of wellness that you can concentrate your efforts on: emotional, physical, occupational, social, spiritual, intellectual, environmental, and financial. Self-love also allows you to be at peace with yourself as you let go of negative self-talk, self-doubt, and self-criticism, and bring in positivity and happiness.  

I like to schedule “me time” at least once a week where I have one commitment, which is to myself. My self-care routine typically consists of putting on some relaxing music, doing a face mask, doing my eyebrows, and finishing it off by applying some oils and moisturizer. I also have days where I feel lonely and would enjoy the company of others, so I typically travel to Boston and catch up with some friends or go for a stroll around the seaport area.  

This February 14th, pamper and treat yourself to your own curated self-care routine. If you have nowhere to start, you can start by using positive affirmations, which are statements and phrases that replace negative self-talk with positive thoughts. Below are some powerful self-love affirmations you can use on Valentine’s Day. You can repeat these statements out loud or write them down in a journal. Personally, I like to make sticky notes of some of my favorite affirmations and stick them on my dressing table mirror, so they serve as constant reminders to think positively while I’m getting ready.  

  1. I am perfect, just the way I am. 
  1. I am constantly growing, evolving, and becoming my best self. 
  1. I am a constant work in progress. 
  1. I am proud of who I am becoming. 
  1. I am learning to love myself more every day. 
  1. I accept my failures, but they do not define me. 
  1. I am not less for making mistakes. I am more because I learn from them. 
  1. My goal is progress, not perfection. 
  1. I am worthy of love, with my flaws and all. 
  1. I will treat myself with the kindness of a friend. 
  1. My imperfections make me unique. 
  1. I will not apologize for being me. 
  1. I will set my boundaries and reinforce them. 
  1. My body does not determine my worth. 
  1. I will accept my body the way it is today. 
  1. I care for my health, not for my body to look a certain way. 
  1. I am grateful for this mind, body and soul. 
  1. One bad day does not make me a bad person. 
  1. I will send love to my worries and doubts. 
  1. I will let go of things that no longer serve me. 

Resources: 

https://blog.journey.cloud/valentines-self-love-affirmations/

Naps: Beneficial or Detrimental? (Answer: It Depends)

By: Doa Jamal, Francis College of Engineering Well-being Leader

It is often joked that college students fall asleep and can take a nap anywhere. In warmer weather you’ll find students lounging on the grass or in  hammocks. Commuters rest in their cars. Have you ever just put your head down in the library and accidentally drifted asleep? And let’s not get started about those who fall asleep in class. Most of the time, these naps are well deserved. 

But what about when there’s an assignment due soon and we procrastinate by taking a nap? What about when we say we’re going to take a short nap but end up sleeping for two hours? Do you recall the feeling when you wake up from a nap and actually feel worse than when you fell asleep? You may feel groggy and disoriented. There’s actually a word for that. 

Sleep inertia refers to a transient state of confusion and a decrease in both cognitive and emotional functioning following the act of waking up from sleep. Individuals may experience delayed reaction times, impaired short-term memory, and a reduced pace in cognitive processes such as thinking, reasoning, remembering, and learning. Typically, sleep inertia only lasts for between 30 to 60 minutes, although its duration may extend for a longer period in instances of sleep deprivation, a condition commonly observed in numerous college students. Research shows that sleep inertia can even last for two hours. So, if you take a nap in the late evening or at night, you may remain groggy and choose to go back to sleep for the rest of the night instead of working on your assignment (I’m sure most of us are guilty of this). Remember when you said you’d go to sleep and wake up earlier in the morning to finish the work, but that didn’t happen because you couldn’t get up in the morning? Two words: Sleep inertia. Just do the assignment the day before and your future self will thank you. 

Additionally, as we all know, naps can interfere with sleep at night. Typically, it is the longer naps that interfere with the nighttime sleep quality. Napping after 3 p.m. is more likely to interfere with nighttime sleep. If you already experience insomnia or poor sleep quality at night, then napping can actually worsen these problems. 

So how do you take a proper nap? And I’ve mentioned the cons, but what are the benefits? A productive nap is a short nap. It is suggested to aim for 10 to 20 minutes. As mentioned before, it is better to take a nap in the early afternoon before 3:00 p.m. To achieve a high-quality sleep, it is essential to nap in a quiet, dimly lit environment with a moderate room temperature and minimal distractions. And be sure to give yourself time to wake up before doing activities that require a swift, cohesive or important response, such as completing a quiz. 

Benefits of napping (if done properly) include:

  • Relaxation and reducing stress
  • Diminished tiredness
  • Heightened vigilance
  • Enhanced mood
  • Improved overall performance, including faster reaction time and enhanced memory
  • Can be good for the heart (by reducing stress). A study revealed that individuals who took a nap lasting 45 to 60 minutes exhibited reduced blood pressure levels following exposure to mental stress
  • Taking short naps combined with moderate exercise can actually improve nighttime sleep

So next time you’re thinking about taking a nap, I hope you consider why you’re taking a nap, when you’re taking it, and how long you’re taking it for. Really ponder that nap and make an appropriate decision. Be sure to set an alarm to wake you on time. If you’re napping in a public place, especially in the library, make sure your alarm volume is low. 

Happy napping, Riverhawks!

References:

  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/napping/art-20048319 
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/work-hour-training-for-nurses/longhours/mod7/03.html#:~:text=Sleep%20inertia%20is%20a%20temporary,reasoning%2C%20remembering%2C%20and%20learning
  3. https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/ss/slideshow-health-benefits-of-napping

3 Daily Wins

By: Mia Andrade, Kennedy College of Sciences Well-being Leader

Want to be a winner? I know just the thing! As college students, our days become busier and busier, but it is important to prioritize yourself and your well-being in order to perform your best in all you do. With that being said, there are many benefits to having a holistic approach to maintaining your well-being. Here are three daily wins to help you take care of yourself:

1.) A Physical Win: Having physical exercise is key to maintaining your well-being. Some key examples of a physical win are walking, running, lifting, or joining an intramural or club sport on campus. UMass Lowell’s recreational facilities are great resources to achieve this physical win. Taking a walk to class rather than the shuttle is another great example, as you can get some fresh air and maybe listen to some music on the way. Prioritizing time to care for your body is just as important as taking care of your mind so that you can perform your best all around. Resources to achieve a physical win include:

2.) A Mental Win: Sometimes we need a break from schoolwork to shift our attention to our mental health. Some key examples for a mental win involve reading, writing, creating, learning, or whatever you put your mind to! Stimulating your brain in different ways is essential to your well-being. Explore new things, learn what you love to do, and stay curious! 

3.) A Spiritual Win: Keep yourself grounded. A spiritual win is key to seeking harmony and balance for yourself. Some key examples are praying, meditating, studying, and focusing on self-growth! It’s important to take a step back and reflect. Whether that’s studying in the library or using the serenity center to pray or nap, there are many options available! There are a variety of resources on campus that may help you seek a spiritual win as well 

As Well-being leaders, we are here to support you in all areas of wellness. Never hesitate to reach out and get the support you need by booking an appointment with any of us. 

Book an appointment here: https://www.uml.edu/wellbeing/well-being-leaders.aspx

Be a complete winner!

Stuck inside this winter? Not anymore!

By: Julia Yeadon, College of Fine Arts Humanities and Social Sciences Well-being Leader

Are you struggling to find fun things to do during the frigid winters in Lowell? Well, you have come to the right place. After three winters here on campus, I have compiled a list of budget-friendly activities that can turn a boring winter day into a day of fun and adventure. Check out my list of top 10 affordable and fun things to do locally this winter:

  1. Mill No. 5

One of my favorite places in Lowell to visit is Mill No. 5. Just a 7-minute drive from campus, you can drink a delicious cup of coffee at Coffee & Cotton or root beer float from Dows Soda Fountain, enjoy a comedy show at the Lunar Theatre, or shop small local businesses or the farmer’s market.

  1. Local Coffee Shops

If you are as addicted to coffee as me, exploring the wide variety of coffee shops in the Greater Lowell area sounds like the perfect task to add to your to-do list. Whether you are looking for the perfect scenery to study on a Sunday morning or a delicious coffee and breakfast destination to visit with friends, there are endless places to try. Some of my top coffee shops close to campus include Brew’d Awakening Coffeehaus, Nibbana Cafe, Top Donut, and a new coffee destination that recently opened in Dracut (only a 5-minute drive from East campus), The Perfect Cup.

  1. Local Restaurants 

Looking for some good food? Egg Roll Cafe and the Egyptian Grill food truck are within walking distance of North Campus! Some highly-rated spots located in Downtown Lowell are Viet-Thai, El Potro Mexican Bar and Grill, Life Alive Cafe, and my personal favorite, Mandarin Asian Bistro. 

  1. Axe Throwing

If you’re wanting to try something new and exciting, get a couple of friends together and visit Axe Shack in Lowell! The venue offers axe throwing, knife throwing, cornhole, and pool. Better yet, Groupon frequently offers deals for a more affordable experience. https://axeshack.com/

  1. Ice Skating/Roller Skating

Conway Arena in Nashua, New Hampshire offers public skating several times a week for only $5 with a $4 fee for rental skates. https://conwayarena.com/schedule

Not into ice skating? Try roller skating at Roller Kingdom in Tyngsboro with just a $16 admission and $3 rental skate fee, or roller skate for only $1 on Wednesday nights during the month of February! https://rollerkingdom.com/schedule/tyngsboro-schedule/

  1. Escape Room

Pick between a variety of themed rooms and complete a mission by cracking codes and solving puzzles to successfully escape in 60-minutes. Escapology in Tewksbury offers a fun and thrilling adventure for $38 per person. Keep an eye out for frequent deals and offers on the website! https://www.escapology.com/en/tewksbury-ma

  1. Wellness Wednesdays 

Stressed with school and in need of some relaxation on campus? Attend a Wellness Wednesday, offered at the University Crossing Serenity Center every Wednesday evening from 4pm to 6pm. Some exciting programs we have planned for the semester include DIY Bouquets, Crochet, DIY Blanket Making, Bracelet Making, Game Night, Yoga, Therapy Dogs, and more! https://www.uml.edu/wellbeing/programs-events/

  1. Hockey Games

If you are in search of something to do on a Friday or Saturday night, cheer on our River Hawks at the Tsongas Center by East Campus. Students get in for free! Our men’s ice hockey team has several home games scheduled up until the beginning of March that can be found in the following link: https://goriverhawks.com/sports/mens-ice-hockey/schedule/2023-24

In addition, the Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) Boston team has recently announced their home games will take place at Tsongas Center, and tickets can be purchased through Tsongas Center’s website linked below! https://tsongascenter.evenue.net/events/PWHLIG

  1. UML Outdoor Adventure Club 

Have you heard of our Outdoor Adventure Club? This club offers a variety of winter trips including hiking, outdoor ice skating, cross country skiing, snowboarding, and more. Most trips require no prior experience, so don’t be afraid to try something new! Additionally, the majority of day trips are offered for just a small fee of about $15 to $30. https://www.uml.edu/campusrecreation/programs/outdoor-adventure/trip-calendar.aspx#February

  1.  Rock Climbing

Whether you have experience or have never been, Metrorock in Littleton offers indoor rock climbing for a variety of skill levels. Just a 20-minute drive from East Campus, Metrorock is the perfect place to test your agility, endurance, and strength with a whole new hobby. This location offers day passes and rental gear, as well as memberships. On Wednesday nights, Metrorock offers a $20 day pass with only a $5 fee for all rental gear. https://littleton.metrorock.com/

If you find rock climbing to be your new passion, UMass Lowell has its own Indoor Climbing Club with discounted passes! https://www.uml.edu/campusrecreation/programs/club-sports/active-clubs/indoor-climbing/indoor-climbing.aspx

It is especially important to prioritize your physical and mental well-being during the winter months. While the days are shorter with less sunlight, many people feel their moods shift. In addition, the cold weather tends to keep people confined to their homes, limiting time spent with loved ones and contributing to the “winter blues.” Look after your health by checking out a few of these activities with friends! If you’re looking for more events on campus, check out the Engage website with events from all clubs and organizations across campus: https://umasslowellclubs.campuslabs.com/engage/events

Welcoming Winter Wellness

By: Doa Jamal, Francis College of Engineering Well-being Leader

As winter blankets UMass-Lowell in a layer of snow, it brings with it a unique set of challenges for our physical and mental well-being. The colder temperatures, shorter days, and reduced sunlight can often take a toll on our health. However, with a mindful approach to self-care, we can not only endure but thrive during the winter months. 

Here are some tips to ensure your well-being remains a priority during this cold season:

Nourish Your Body:

  • The winter season often invites cravings for comfort foods, but it’s essential to maintain a balanced and nutritious diet. Opt for warming, nutrient-rich meals that include a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, herbal teas, and broths to support your immune system and overall health.

Stay Active Indoors:

  • Colder weather can discourage outdoor activities, but staying active is crucial for both physical and mental health. Consider trying indoor exercises like yoga, pilates, or home workouts. Regular movement boosts circulation, increases energy levels, and helps combat seasonal depression.

Boost Your Immune System:

  • Cold and flu season often peaks during winter, so taking extra measures to support your immune system is crucial. Include immune-boosting foods in your diet, such as citrus fruits, garlic, ginger, and probiotics. Consider taking supplements like vitamin D, which is often deficient during the winter months due to reduced sunlight exposure.

Take Care of Your Skin:

  • Cold and dry air can be harsh on the skin, leading to dryness and irritation. Use a good moisturizer to keep your skin hydrated, and don’t forget to protect your lips with a nourishing lip balm. Consider adding a humidifier to your living space to combat the dry indoor air.

Cultivate Coziness:

  • Winter is the perfect time to create a cozy and inviting atmosphere in your home. Surround yourself with warm blankets, soft lighting, and comforting scents. Engage in indoor activities that bring you joy, such as reading a good book, watching movies, playing board games or spending quality time with loved ones.

Sources: 

https://uwo.ca/se/thrive/blog/2022/wellness_wonderland_tips_for_selfcare_during_the_winter_.html

My Journey Beyond the Barbell

By: Medi Woldemichael, Manning School of Business Well-being Leader
When I first stepped into the weight room, I saw it as a place to get stronger. Little did I know weightlifting would become a realm where strength isn’t just about the muscles, but about resilience and self-discovery.
Here are a few things I’ve gained from this journey:
Self-Confidence
With every lift, every accomplishment in the gym, I’ve found a newfound confidence that extends far beyond the weight room. The belief that I can push through the most challenging moments in lifting has translated into a belief in my capabilities in various aspects of life.
Mental Resilience
The ability to overcome the hurdles in weightlifting has taught me how to navigate and overcome obstacles in other areas. It’s not just about the physical challenge; it’s about training the mind to persist through difficulties and come out stronger.
Goal-Oriented Mindset
Setting and achieving personal bests in lifting has instilled in me a mindset of goal-setting and achievement in all areas of life. It’s not just about the numbers on the weights; it’s about continuous improvement and striving for personal excellence.
Discipline and Consistency
The routine of showing up at the gym, pushing through workouts, and striving for progress has cultivated a discipline that spills over into daily life. Consistency in the gym has translated into consistency in pursuing other personal and professional goals.
Discovering My Potential
Through my journey of lifting weights, I’ve unearthed strengths I didn’t know I had. It’s not just about muscles; it’s about discovering my own resilience, confidence, and capability. The weights became a medium for self-discovery, unveiling the layers of my own potential. Lifting weights has become more than just a physical exercise. It’s an intertwining of mind and muscle, a journey of self-discovery and personal growth. It’s an ongoing narrative, a fusion of strength, discipline, and the unveiling of the self.

The Best Investment You Can Make: A Good Night of Sleep

By: Haiya Patel, Kennedy College of Sciences Well-being Leader

As  college students, we all know how sleep can often be neglected due to other responsibilities such as academics and social life. Regardless of all the other stress factors, it is crucial to prioritize your sleeping schedule to allow yourself to show up as a well-rested student for the following day.

In general, our cognitive functions are pivotal for our daily functional abilities such as memory retention, and information processing. Showing up with a fresh and well-rested mind allows one to enhance their problem-solving skills and improves attention span in general to stay engaged throughout the class and retain the academic knowledge. In  retrospect, the lack of sleep can further towards cognitive impairment and difficulty making vital decisions.  Sleep also allows for enhanced performance and productivity to be able to succeed in  career, education, and personal projects. 

The importance of sleep can be paralleled to improving health and longevity. Quality sleep allows for longer and higher quality of health throughout one’s lifespan. Your immune system is your body’s defense against  illness, and the quality of your sleep determines the strength of your immune system. Ensuring  good quality   sleep allows your immune system to produce cytokines to regulate your immune responses. On the alternative perspective, lack of sleep is associated with a compromised immune system leading to an increased rate of illness. Illness can further to have a direct effect on your academics and other goals. Lastly,  quality sleep also allows for better physical health, and growth overall. It allows for essential repairs such as tissue repair and growth, hormone balance, and works to prevents chronic illness such as cardiovascular disorders, when combined with a proper diet.

Hence, sleep is a crucial investment towards your short term as well as long term well-being. In the world of a busy college student, it can be difficult to factor out enough time to sleep, however, the significance that a good night of sleep can provide for your cognitive, and physical health can often trump the lack of sleep. To aid towards improving your sleeping schedule, you can start by setting a relaxing bedtime routine may it be reading a book, or listening to your favorite music, a few minutes of meditation, or having a relaxing bath or showe or  skin care routine. Whatever it is, it is crucialto take some time out for yourself at the end of your day to ground yourself and prepare your body for rest. To conclude, your sleep plays a powerful role in your daily lifestyle, so do not underestimate the benefits that a good night of sleep can contribute towards your overall well-being.

References

  1. https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2021/04/good-sleep-good-health#:~:text=Good%20sleep%20improves%20your%20brain,stroke%20to%20obesity%20and%20dementia
  2. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-deprivation/lack-of-sleep-and-cognitive-impairment#:~:text=Getting%20enough%20hours%20of%20high,%2C%20emotional%20processing%2C%20and%20judgment
  3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/expert-answers/lack-of-sleep/faq-20057757#:~:text=During%20sleep%2C%20your%20immune%20system,production%20of%20these%20protective%20cytokines

Mind/Body Fair – 12/13/22 

The Mind/Body Fair was a collaborative event hosted at University Crossing on reading day. We had reiki, nutrition consultants, smoothie bowls, essential oils, and more. The fair engaged students to interact with other peers and work their minds and bodies through various self-care activities. Students got to make their own roll-on essential oils from four blends, make Christmas tree ornaments with elements of nature with the Office of Sustainability, write affirmations on balls for the Serenity Center, and got to play with therapy dogs! Over 60 students attended and one student left the event saying “this improved my mental health.” We can’t wait to host this event again!

Viral TikTok dessert combinations you might want to try this summer

By: Yashvi Patel, Kennedy College of Sciences Well-being Leader

Below are two fun TikTok recipes that you can try if you have a sweet tooth, like me, and like trying food combinations that may seem like they don’t go together. Trust me, these are both surprisingly so good and addicting!

The fruit rollup ice-cream hack:

For this recipe, you need a fruit rollup, a plate, mango/fruity sorbet or vanilla ice-cream, and a spoon. You will unwrap a fruit rollup. The first two steps are to lay it flat on a plate and scoop ice-cream or sorbet onto the center of the fruit rollup, seen in the image below. Then, you should wrap the fruit roll up around it like a burrito to create a crunchy sandwich. I say crunchy because the ice-cream/sorbet should freeze instantly (within seconds!) and there is a satisfying crunch factor as you bite into it. This has become my guilty pleasure and I go through boxes of fruit roll ups just to be able to indulge in this snack. I have experimented with both vanilla and chocolate ice-cream, but personally I would say that it tastes better with fruity ice-cream or even better a sorbet because the coating is sour/fruity. The flavors will just blend more smoothly if you get a fruity flavor. Fair warning: SUPER addictive and EXTREMELY sweet, so try not to be me and eat this every night. I’ve been trying to limit myself to one a week. Rating: 9.5/10 (probably the best invention ever)

Wannabe sour candy hack:

I’m a fanatic of sour candy, but I always feel guilty after I eat it. With the next recipe, I feel like I’m putting something good into my body, but also having the illusion that I’m eating sour candy. Jell-O coated grapes are one of the best alternatives to my sour candy cravings. When this craving occurs, you can indulge in this delicious treat that is slightly healthier. This recipe requires only two simple ingredients: a box of sugar free Jell-O and 2 cups of green grapes. (You can also kick this recipe up a notch by trying a different variety of grapes). For this recipe, you will pick and wash a serving of green grapes and let them sit for a couple mins. Making sure they are still wet, transfer them into a large Ziploc bag. Pour the dry Jell-O into the bag and give it a good shake to coat the grapes. Remove them from the bag and place them onto a plate or into a bowl and pop them into the freezer. Let them freeze for half an hour and enjoy! Like the fruit roll up ice-cream, this treat is VERY addicting and should be consumed in moderation. RATING: 8.5/10.

https://www.tiktok.com/foryou

https://lifehacker.com/fruit-roll-up-ice-cream-is-a-textural-delight-1850253022