Another One Down

So pumped to say that today I’m going home for the winter break and am DONE with this fall semester!

Let me tell you, what a whirlwind it has been. One I wasn’t expecting. But now as I look back at how quickly it has flown by, I can say I’m grateful that it happened…but far more grateful it’s over.

Yes, I’m a senior graduating in three years. Yes, I took 18 credits’ worth of classes. Yes, I wanted to get involved in new ways and beef up my resume with a final hoo-rah.

You’d think all of these things would have hinted at me that maybe I was going to be stressed. I’ve had heavier course loads in past years, and handling the Canadian grading system last year felt like preparation enough.

Boy, was I wrong. Which I think a lot of factors came into play in making this semester one of the most challenging I’ve ever faced.

You don’t think there’ll be much of difference or added pressure just saying you’re a senior, but there certainly is. Not only are you making sure all ducks are in a row to graduate on time, but that looming question mark of what happens after the diploma is always there. Waiting. Luckily I’ve figured out the last part, but there still feels like hurdles to jump over to even see an end.

My living situation hasn’t been…ideal, and a solid half of the semester I was literally in a constant state of tension and anxiety that I’ve never felt before, at least to that degree. It’s still there, too, but somewhat better. Couple that with newly surfacing problems with my digestion and random killer headaches, and my health has been fighting back, big time.

My ambitions to make an impact on my campus through various roles have taken the backseat to simply going to class and taking care of myself. Sure, I would’ve loved to be more active in building up a club and spreading awareness about causes I admire, but at the end of the day, if I’m already running on a half tank, there won’t be much left for anything else.

When there are so many different influences trying to pin you down, squirming and helpless, it’s easy to just throw in the towel and let it all ovetake you. Even if you aren’t trying to, all the stress can sneak up on you and all at once smack you in the face.

I started the year already uneasy about where I stood and what to expect of my last months, so I wasn’t ready to carry an even heavier burden. So many days were hard to just get out of bed. I still have notifications on certain apps I haven’t touched in weeks because it feels like too much. I already discussed my complete breakdown over all the assignments and projects I had to complete within a three-week span.

So now I’m feeling a weird sense of relief and emptiness. I used so much will power and energy to get through, especially when my “getting through” is still doing my best in everything I do. I guess now I can just focus on recharging, writing the thesis project I’ve been putting off, and allowing myself to just breathe.

Hey, we survived! We made it through! Look at us go! If you’re in a difficult phase of life right now, hold on. Keep moving forward. It will seem impossible until you look back and see that you indeed made it.

And I still can’t believe my next semester will be my last as an undergrad. That has yet to sink in, probably because I feel like an 8th grader compared to other college seniors here. I’m almost completely done with this stage of life, a terrifying and exciting thought. Who knows what each day might bring?

I also hope over this month and beyond to devote some time to this site as well. I’ve been bouncing around the idea (as I have for awhile now) to take this blog into its own domain, perhaps venture into making more and different content. Let me know what you think in a comment or message. Either way, expect some more words from yours truly.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

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Day 22: Early Mornings #GIG2017

Yesterday was about the early nights going to bed? Today is all about the early mornings to rise.

Now trust me, I still don’t consider myself a morning person. It’s still often difficult for me to get out of bed, whether that be from exhaustion or just a lack of motivation to do anything and face the day. And I have spent years confused by anybody who was up at the crack of dawn and chose to be awake.

But now most days, the latest I can sleep in is 7 AM. Most days I’m up by around 6, sometimes as early as 5. Where this switch came from, I don’t know, but I figured I would embrace it. And indeed, I truly do appreciate becoming more of an early riser so I can see the beauty of being awake before the world is. To see the sun gradually rise. To have moments of pure silence and peace, or more time to be productive and proactive so I can ease my mind later in the day.

With that early start, I can begin my day less rushed. I can take the time I need to get ready and enjoy the process of a morning ritual. I can collect my thoughts and intentions for the day to ensure I’m starting on the right foot. I’m grateful for the opportunity available in that early morning, the promise of a new day waiting to be seized.

And, inevitably, I’m here to mention why waking up early can be good for you, too. Which, if you need a serious reason to think about setting an alarm clock, hopefully these will serve as incentives.

In 2010, Christoph Randler, a biologist from Harvard found that early risers are more proactive. When presented with statements such as “I spend time identifying long-range goals for myself”, an early riser is more likely to agree. There are less distractions in the early hours of the day so you can achieve more with minimal interruptions. After a good night’s sleep, your brain is charged and ready to work hard. You are at your efficient best and will get things done quicker and better, at least once your body gets used to the earlier wake-up call.

As I’ve already mentioned, having more time in the morning helps you set a positive tone that impacts how you feel and act the rest of the day. Studies have shown “morning people” are often more positive, more optimistic and more likely to experience satisfaction in their lives. Rather than the temptation to put off certain tasks, it’s pretty satisfying to finish school assignments, blog posts, and maybe work out if you’re into that, all before the day “officially” starts. My days can feel less hectic and stressful knowing I’ve already gotten some things checked off my to-do list, and it feels nice to remember that even if my only actual task completed was in the morning, I still got it done. You have to celebrate the little things.

So if you’re a chronic night owl or generally despise mornings, I get it. But if you’re interested in hopping on the early riser boat, hop on aboard. There’s plenty of room. We leave harbor at dawn. Sharp.

Seriously though, how does one start waking up earlier if their body doesn’t just randomly switch wake-up times like mine did? Have a personal reason you want to wake up earlier because as much as I can ramble on, if you don’t resonate with an intention you set yourself, I can’t convince you of anything. Be gradual with yourself in transitioning, even if that means waking up just five minutes earlier than the morning before. Be wary of hitting snooze or relying upon an annoying alarm to wake up to. Establish a morning routine you’ll actually look forward to, like having true time to eat and enjoy breakfast, getting into a new hobby like exercise or meditation, or whatever else tickles your fancy.

Regardless if you wake up at 6 AM or 11 AM, the most important thing to be grateful for is that you woke up. Realizing that each day, we can rise in a healthy body, in a healthy environment, knowing everything life has to offer us, is the best habit of all. Anything I’ve mentioned this month would be nothing without the simple gift the morning brings and everything that is meant to come our ways. Each morning is an opportunity to express gratitude, to treat ourselves, others, and the world with kindness.

That mindset is not just designated this month, but for every morning of every day in any month. I hope to celebrate gratitude in all I do and wake up in a sound mindset aware of these gifts, and I hope the same for you.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 20: Tea #GIG2017

Never did I think I’d be making this post. But here I am, eating (or sipping) my words.

Tea is like many other things that I have come across and for one reason or another immediately discounted and wrote off as something I flat-out didn’t like and would never like. Until I try it at some later point and realize that perhaps I do enjoy it. Bear in mind I’m overly critical and opinionated.

But since over the past few weeks and especially during Thanksgiving break, I had really come to enjoy a mug of tea every evening. It’s a new part of my nightly routine to look forward to, just as I’ve made coffee a guarantee (and a necessity) each morning.

Obviously if I’m drinking tea at night, I’m into the decaffeinated and herbal varieties. I have yet to try the traditional English Breakfast and Earl Grey, and I still don’t know how I feel about those. Green tea is supposed to be very good for your health, but again, have yet to jump aboard that train or start making matcha lattes, or whatever the hip kids are doing these days.

However, I have another tradition when I’m at home as well involving tea, but the fermented variety: kombucha, or affectionately, booch. Especially since prioritizing my digestive health to make IBS symptoms at least somewhat manageable, I have gotten into kombucha as a great way to get in probiotics in tasty and vegan way. Seriously, GT’s should sponsor me for as often as I drink and buy their products.

Now let’s dive into all the health benefits and awesome reasons why to be grateful for tea beyond the flavor and toasty feeling of wrapping your hands around a mug on a chilly evening. But before that, let’s make sure to discredit a certain variety of tea that has become popular thanks to social media: detox teas. The one’s designed to “remove toxins” from your body and help you lose weight. Simply put, they’re diuretics that will indeed flush out water weight and get rid of anything in your body, good or bad, but once you start eating and drinking again, it’s like you did nothing to begin with. Please research more into these trendy products before purchasing because although they market themselves as healthy, they most certainly aren’t and don’t deserve your support.

Back to the good stuff. There’s much more research backing up black and green teas rather than herbal teas, but that just means we have much more to learn and discover. When consumed on a daily basis, herbal teas are known to help you achieve a more calm, relaxed state of mind, support heart health, aid with stomach and digestive problems, provide cleansing properties for the body, and promote energy and wellness.

Different types of herbs are known to contain different properties. Chamomile is known for its calming attributes and helps promote restful sleep. The botanical is also used as a natural aid to reduce inflammation and is purported to help ward off a variety of other maladies. Ginger is a centuries old herbal remedy used to treat a wide range of health concerns from nausea and colds to indigestion and migraine headaches. Raspberry Leaf helps with colds, sore throats, canker sores and diarrhea along with keeping nails, bones, teeth and skin healthy. The list goes on.

Now what’s up with kombucha? Known as the “immortal health elixir” by the Chinese and originating in the region around two millennia ago, kombucha is fermented with black tea and sugar. Once fermented, the beverage becomes carbonated and contains vinegar, B vitamins, enzymes, probiotics and a high concentration of acid (acetic, gluconic and lactic). This composition thus benefits the body by reducing inflammation, improving the immune system, supporting a healthy gut, and even acting as an antibacterial.

I mean, the list goes on here. I’m just dabbling into the basics, but again, search out information yourself from reputable sources and see what’s out there. While I won’t guarantee all your problems will dissipate when drinking tea, I can say that there’s no true reason not to drink it.

I’m grateful for sources of health and nutrition that protect my body. I’m grateful for the information available and the researchers out there providing insight into how certain foods and beverages interact with my natural composition. I’m grateful to have these gifts so easily accessible so I can enjoy them on a regular basis. And I’m grateful for the taste of these drinks and how they make me feel, knowing I’m making good choices for my personal well-being.

So hey, grab a booch or a mug and take a sip of that tea. The good kind.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie