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  • Articles, Health, Lifestyle, School, Social, Stress

    Self-Care Isn’t Selfish

    Self Care ≠ Selfish

    Because being self-aware does not make you self absorbed

    I feel like I’m always enveloped in some sort of activity— finishing an assignment or project for school, cleaning my room and bathroom for the third time in a week, or spending time with my closest friends, doing anything from running errands to talking about our days.

    Recently, I’ve realized that there’s never a moment where I take a moment to breathe. A moment to relax, to clear my thoughts.

    Don’t do this. Make time for yourself, whenever it’s possible.

    After years of spreading myself too thin, I’ve finally recognized a crucial aspect about myself: I cope with stress and anxiety by keeping busy. Whenever I’m alone with my thoughts, I begin to think about all of the other, more productive things I could be doing at that moment. I feel guilty for taking a break.

    It’s difficult to define stress; it can present itself in a multitude of ways, ranging from napping to the inability to concentrate. However, once you’re able to detect when you’re stressed, much like I did, you can discover how to alleviate it. Is confronting your emotions easy? No. But is it worth it? Definitely.

    Self-care is not selfish. I have to repeat this mantra to myself every single day, and chances are, so do you. You’re allowed to be your own priority.

    One of my favorite anti-stress methods, and one that has helped me the most is journaling. Through writing my emotions, I have learned so much about myself, including how to identify my emotions and why I’m feeling that way.

    I’m not a fan of pushing my problems onto other people, so through journaling, I’ve found a way to express my thoughts and relieve myself of the pressure they put on me. After putting my feelings on paper, I typically engage myself in “me time.” This concept, something that leaves you feeling rejuvenated and refreshed, varies from person to person. It takes some trial and error to learn what works for you. Common methods are taking a bubble bath, applying a face mask, engaging in a type of exercise, or listening to your favorite music– as long as you’re doing something you love, you’ll come out the other end feeling better than before.

    As broad and cliché as it sounds, try to shut your brain off. Release the stress and worry of the day and be present in whatever you’re doing. We tend to become so wrapped up in our worries that we miss out on opportunities that can take the edge off, such as goofing around with friends or getting lost in the latest episode of New Girl.

    Stress is completely normal.

    So don’t be discouraged whenever that all-too-familiar feeling rolls around; above everything else, don’t burn yourself out by ignoring it. Recognize and accept what you’re feeling. Take a break to do something you love. Acknowledge that the feeling won’t last forever– you’ll wake up tomorrow, regardless of what happens day, to a fresh start.

  • College, Confidence, GirlSpring.com, Goals, Mental Health, Puberty, School, Stress, Tips, Tough Questions

    Uncertainty is Actually A Positive Thing

    Uncertainty is Actually A Positive Thing

    By Maggie Thompson

     

    Being uncertain is a feeling with which we are all familiar.

    A looming pressure to know exactly what we want in life is placed on us as early as middle school – if not before. This question of what we want our lives to be is actually ridiculous. How could one possibly know what they truly want if they have yet to decide what they do not?

    Uncertainty is how we learn.

    When we acknowledge our uncertainty, we open the door for more opportunities. This is because knowledge is not obtained without first admitting its absence.

    Experiences shape our beliefs – on everything.

    Hesitating to wear a certain color, deciding to study before a test, and avoiding certain types of people are all decisions made due to past experience. We believe the color yellow is not flattering for our skin tone because we read it in a magazine, we study before a test to avoid a failing grade, and we choose not to befriend dishonest people so that we don’t get hurt. Regardless of how big or small the belief – it is formed by past experience. However, some of these beliefs will alter as we learn and grow. This is a good thing. Being open to new challenges provides a chance for a new perspective.

    As a result, being uncertain is the best way to unlock change and growth.

    Do not be afraid to admit uncertainty or lack of knowledge, for this is how truth is uncovered – through exploration. So when you are feeling down about not knowing exactly which direction to go, accept that some of the steps you have taken thus far have been incorrect. Although this feeling is initially terrifying, it begins to dissolve as soon as you take the first step into the unknown. Because before you know it, you will find yourself happier and more engaged with life.

  • Articles, School, Stress, Tips

    2019: The Year of Organization

    2019 – The Year of Organization

     

    The beginning of the school year is pretty painless — you’re stocking up on notebooks and folders, colored pens and highlighters, saying this year is going to be different.

    This is the year I’m going to become organized.”

    As the weeks go by, your class assignments start to pile up, your extracurricular activities strain your sleep schedule, and your social life seems to be waning by the second. The quickest fix might be to throw organization out the window, solely focusing on meeting deadlines by any means possible, but don’t do it! Putting your energy towards organizing won’t only ease your mind, but it’ll make your daily tasks and goals easier to accomplish.

    A planner will be your best friend in this new, tidy phase of your life. Personally, I believe the best type of planner encompasses all of the tools you’ll need on a daily basis: a monthly calendar, weekly breakdowns, to-do lists and places for notes. A planner is essentially a pretty, portable lifesaver, helping you keep track of what needs to be done and reminding you when you have to do it. Mustering up enough motivation to update my planner each day has been a critical component of organizing my life– inside and outside of the classroom. Next, to the almighty planner, color-coding is a must. I fill up my monthly calendars with multiple colored categories: all subjects, social events, and mandatory events – like meetings. Not only can you glance at your calendar with a clear understanding – you can admire your craftsmanship at the same time!

    While you can easily dismiss customizing a planner or beautifying a calendar – failing to manage your time wisely comes without recovery. 

    Dedicate a time of day or part of your week to a certain task or activity.

    Have a free period during the day? Use that time to complete homework for another class.
    Have free time after school before practice, but need some downtime? Try to Relax!

    The key is to use the same time each week for the same activity. By developing this routine, it’s harder to stray from productivity.

    It’s difficult to depend on our own devices 100% of the time. If a specific routine, a few colored pens, and a planner can help you become organized – why not take advantage of it? These aren’t ground-breaking tips, but if utilized correctly and regularly, they will completely turn your life around.

  • School

    Religion in Schools: Good or Bad?

    The debate about the role of religion in public schools is decades long.

    The goal of a school system is to educate and encourage the youth to be a functioning part of society. In some cases, teachers and students feel that religion is a necessary part of that. The necessity stems from the belief that religion provides morals for people to abide. I believe that any one person can obtain decent morals without religion, as so many have. In my opinion, a secular environment with the option to practice your faith is the best option for schools.

    The law requires teachers to remain separate from their beliefs when teaching academics.

    It is okay for them to be religious, and they can express their faith when appropriate. However, teachers are not allowed to push their beliefs. The same rules apply to the students. If the lesson discusses a religion, then any answers or questions about said religion is appropriate to ask. However, if the lesson is about another subject that has not mentioned a religion, then it is discouraged to bring it up. You cannot teach one specific religion as correct and others as incorrect.

    These rules provide a comfortable learning environment for all teachers and students who may or may not participate in religion. The problem stemming from some schools is a lack of respect for fellow students and teachers who share different beliefs.

    I grew up going to a school that was heavily geared towards Christianity and was in a southern town. 

    I acknowledge that this does not mean that all schools in southern towns act in the same way. There were instances where students felt threatened by the idea that another student could stop in the middle of class to participate in their faith. The students began arguing that if one faith should have a certain right, then all faiths should have it. While this is not necessarily a wrong theory, its painted in hatred and misunderstanding.

    The angry students failed to see that they had just as many opportunities to practice their faith as the other students and even sometimes more freedom.

    Students who need to pray at certain times of day were given that right. The students that followed separate faiths in which they were not required to pray at specific hours of the day were not given that courtesy, because they were not religiously bound to it.

    Christianity in many forms is practiced in schools. Some of which are:

    -Fellowship of Christian Athletes clubs (which I discovered were not exclusive to athletes despite the name),

    -Meet Me at the Pole days once a semester or once a year,

    -Religious music within choir groups,

    -Bowing their head and pray in the middle of the day at any time.

    Practicing my religion never once scared or worried me. It was the dominating faith at my school. There were kids in my school who believed differently than me.  They wanted to practice their faith without harassment. However, they were met with anger and fear.

    As for the argument that some religions are dangerous to students, try being a little more informative before making such accusations.

    The law requires public schools to allow students to participate in their religion. This is true unless certain aspects of their religion are harmful to the student body. If someone’s beliefs were truly harmful to you, then it would not be any different than another student bringing a weapon or harmful words to school. Schools have a code of conduct rules. Regardless of religion, weapons, harassment, or any kind of harmful act is obviously prohibited.

    Consider what you are doing if you try to prevent another student from participating in their faith. You are not only harassing them, but you are causing harm to their learning abilities. They just want to get through school just the same as you. If you disagree with something they say, think about how they must feel when you talk about what you believe.

    Here are some links to check out regarding your rights:

    Religious Freedom in Public Schools: https://www.aclund.org/en/news/do-you-know-your-religious-freedom-rights-school

    Department of Education Religious Protections: https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/us-department-education-takes-actions-address-religious-discrimination

    Are you the victim of harassment? https://www.employmentlawyernewyork.com/news/latest/religious-harassment-am-i-a-victim.html

    Identifying religious discrimination: https://www.adl.org/education/resources/tools-and-strategies/religion-in-public-schools/clubs

     

    Check out some of your school’s clubs to see if one matches with your beliefs. This will help you find some friends that you can relate to. Try also sitting in on other religious gatherings to understand the other students better. This goes for all religions (if you are comfortable enough to do so).

    If you would like to share your opinion on this topic, please leave a comment below this article. It is important to have open discussions about these types of things because it leads to change that sometimes betters our environment.

  • School

    Tips For A Stress-Free Semester

    Tips for Studying!

    Tips and Pointers for a Stress-Free Spring Semester

    By Uzma Issa, GirlSpring Springboarder

    It’s that time of the year again!

    It’s the time people enjoyed the winter break, it’s a new year, and school comes creeping from around the corner. People finished their midterm exams and the second semester is about to start. I don’t know about you, but I struggled with the first semester, one main issue is the problem of time management. Everyone procrastinates on assignments, putting it off until the last minute. So how can we improve our time management skills for the new year?

    I’ve had the problem of procrastinating, not wanting to do work in the moment, and pushing off assignments to finish later.

    This causes problems because I end up pushing too many assignments to finish later not giving me enough time to finish. I’ll end up staying up late or doing my homework the morning it is due.

    I have gotten better at completing assignments on time and this is how:

    1. Look at all the homework you have and evaluate how much time it will take and the difficulty of it.

    2. Create a schedule for yourself.

    3. In the schedule, vary the difficulty of assignments so you don’t have to do 2 hard or time-consuming assignments back-to-back.

    4. Include breaks to eat, use the bathroom, or leisure.

    5. Try to include a bedtime. So if you end up not being able to finish your homework in time, you cannot stay up late. Sleep is vital to our health.

    6. Stick to the schedule. If you finish something faster than you anticipated, then you may do other things or get a head start on your other assignments.

    One thing to keep in mind is that everyone needs sleep.

    As kids or teenagers, our brains are still developing; they need sleep to function properly the next day. If one goes to sleep extremely late in the night trying to finish homework for a class the next day, that person most probably will not be able to stay alert and retain the information taught in class because of their fatigue. Nationwide Children’s claims that on average, teenagers get around 7 hours of sleep, but need about 9 hours of sleep.

    Here are a few ways you can get the sleep you need:

    1. Maintain a regular sleep schedule, sleep and wake up at around the same time every day.

    2. Try not to oversleep on the weekends. It may seem beneficial, but it will be harder to get back into your sleep schedule for the weekdays.

    3. Take short, early afternoon naps. They are quick but will energize you to do work later on.

    4. Limit screen time before bed.

    5. Try to minimize screens or Bluetooth devices in your bedroom.

    6. Cut out caffeine.

    An additional note to realize is that our phones are huge distractions.

    We may not realize it, but many people use their phones more than they realize. Many people probably know this, but on the new iPhone update, there is a feature in Settings where you can track your screen time, notifications, pick-ups, and more. There is also an option to keep limits on apps you use a lot. So, I recommend setting a time limit on your phone so you can concentrate on other goals and be less distracted. Also, set a bedtime on your phone, so you don’t use your phone after a certain time, allowing you to get better sleep. Some people use their phone as a stress reliever, but it’s not the best option.

    People should partake in different stress-relieving activities such as drawing, coloring, knitting, creating something, cooking, or exercising that helps them take their mind off of stressful ideas.

    During breaks, you take from assignments, or after a stressful day, you should take some time out for yourself to do something you enjoy doing. Self-care is an important part of life and you should not spend the whole day overworking yourself but to take time out to take care of yourself. If you have lots of assignments to do or work to catch up on, do not try to do everything all at once, non-stop. Take breaks to energize yourself and do something you enjoy – then work some more.

    Overall, these are a few things that might be helpful for the second semester of this school year, or life in the future.

    I know some of these tips helped me and I am still trying to improve my time management. Good luck to everyone in school and I hope you found this article helpful!

  • School

    How to study for the ACT / SAT

    Junior year is considered the hardest year and most juniors’ biggest stress is studying for the ACT or the SAT. Now, for most standardized tests, the best way to prepare is simply to practice. This article is here to help you guide yourself for studying for the ACT / SAT and to give some guidance on preparation.

    First, assess your current situation. Have you taken the test yet? If yes, then you know your starting point and what you’re trying to build off of. If you have not taken the test of your choice yet, then take a deep breath and remind yourself that you have many times in the future to take the test over again. You probably have plenty of time to study and prepare.

    Second, sign up for your test. Most of the time, the sign-up deadline is roughly a month away from the test date. This would be a good time to either: purchase a practice test book or find a good practice program online. I know that Khan Academy provides a good SAT practice program, and many people have given good reviews with inspiring scores. Any old practice book will work also. You can easily buy one at a bookstore.

    Third, set up a practice schedule. If you don’t think you will need to study that much, then limit yourself to only 20-30 practice problems every few days. If you don’t think you’re going to do very well, then I would recommend 25 practice problems a day. With this schedule, you can easily finish a practice test in a couple of days.  If you record your answers on a separate sheet of paper, you can retake the same test and avoid buying another book after finishing it.

    Fourth, make sure to check your work. Most practice booklets have an answer key at the end of each test and explain each answer. Read the descriptions of why things are right! It helps to build connections and will strengthen your smarts on why a certain answer is right.

    Note: Standardized tests L O V E short and concise answers. If you’re in the English / reading portion of your test and it asks for a replacement statement, go with the most concise answer.

    Fifth, its the day before the test. On this day, don’t do any practice! You have been working so hard for the past month or so, and before the big day, you need a break. Make sure to print out your ticket, and have the directions for your testing center. Pack your bag with what you plan to bring to the test, eat a nutritious dinner, and go to bed early. I don’t mean wildly early, just enough so that you can get 7-8 hours of sleep.

    The next morning, wake up early enough to eat a good breakfast. Not just a pop tart. Get some protein and carbs so you have the brain energy to make it through all of the test. Leave your home early enough to reach your testing center with a few minutes of extra time to find your testing room and settle in. Before the test, take a deep breath and remember all the practice you have done. You are ready to conquer the ACT / SAT!

  • School

    Academic Communication

    Academic Communication

    My second semester of tenth grade, I came down with mononucleosis, which is also known as “the kissing disease”. This illness is much more than people think it is and caused me to miss nearly six weeks of school. During that time, I kept in contact with all my teachers. They sent me email copies of homework assignment and reading lists. When I came back to class healthy, I was on the same page as the other students.

    Whether you are in public school, private school, or are going to an umbrella campus for home school, you will need to be able to communicate with your teachers. If you’re sick or don’t understand the material your class is covering, just stay after class or write your teacher an email. Some schools don’t have email available to you for communicating with your instructor, and in this case, you may need to speak with them during class or write a note. Here are some writing samples for communicating with teachers:

    1. Composing an email: 

    Dear Mrs./Ms./Miss./Mr. Teacher,

    I am emailing you concerning [insert whatever it is you are having problems with]. If you have any helpful tips on how to stay on top of my academics during this time, please let me know. {add any ideas you have for staying on top of the issue]. I am available to meet with you to discuss this in person if needed. Thank you for your time.

    Thank you,

    Your Name

    1. Composing a note: 

    Mrs./Ms./Miss./Mr. Teacher,

    [go right into your current issue] I.e. “It has come to my attention that the recent project we are working on is due on a day that I will be out of town. Would it be okay for me to submit it early?” [or give alternate requests/suggestions].

     

    Thanks,

    Your Name

     

    From experience, teachers are more likely to help you out, or be understanding of your situation, if you get in contact with them. They just want to know that you are okay and that you are willing to do what is needed to stay on track.

    Here are some outside references to help with academic communication: