[Whoops: This was queued to post yesterday while I was driving from New York back to Indiana but something went wrong. Here’s the post one day late!) Welcome back from Spring Break! (groan)
With the end of the semester looming in the near future, it can easily seem like you have to be GO-GO-GOing all the time. But spending hours on end doing homework or chores can make you sluggish and sad, or can lead to an epic stress-induced meltdown (not that I’ve ever had one of those of course). Taking breaks can give your brain time to mull concepts over subconsciously and increase your mood — thus making you actually more productive overall. Taking a 5 – 10 minute break every 45 minutes or so can really help you get lots done and also take care of you, which is, after all, your priority. 🙂
But what can you do in 5 – 10 minutes? Well, lots…
First things first, SET A TIMER. Use your cell phone or this free online hourglass.
Avoid “starting” a TV show (aka, getting sucked into a 45-minute-episode), taking a nap, or anything that could end up making you feel crummy or sluggish rather than energized.
Here’s a Five-Minute Desk Yoga routine to stretch your muscles relax, and wake up.
Make yourself a cup of tea or coffee and a healthy snack.
Walk around the block.
Listen to a favorite song.
Read a few pages of a fun book.
Watch a funny YouTube video.
Try a calm.com guided meditation (2, 5, or 10 minute options as well as longer ones).
Write out your frustrations or stresses about school in a journal.
Send a quick email to a loved one.
Cuddle a pet or stuffed animal.
What’s your favorite mini-break?
Interesting Links: The Right Way to Take a Study Break, The Psychology of Getting More Done, A Year of Productivity on breaks, Zen Habits on breaks.
This is the first post in a new series, Self-Care Sunday. Every week (er, hopefully), I’ll be posting different ideas about what you can do to take care of yourself. Since this is the blog of SACS, many of these ideas are survivor-focused — things that survivors of sexual violence can do to take care of themselves. But self-care is an important skill for everyone and many of our ideas will apply no matter what your situation is.
This week I’m focusing on using technology for self care — specifically using your laptop or smartphone. The internet provides us with so many resources, but sometimes it’s hard to find what you are looking for because there are so many different options out there. I’ve combed through a lot of websites to bring you what I think are the top 5 websites and top 5 apps for self-care, although please add more ideas in the comments — I’m sure I’ve barely seen 1% of the options!
Top 5 Websites For Self-Care
- The Quiet Place Project has a variety of different “rooms” you can visit. My favorite is the thoughts room, where you can type out everything that’s bothering you and watch as the words burst into bits and fall away. It’s great when you’re frustrated or sad about a situation and don’t know how to express it.
- Calm.com has a variety of different backgrounds and sounds, such as a beach at sunset, a rainy day under a tree, or snow falling. They also provide guided relaxation exercises ranging from 2 to 20 minutes — perfect to fit a mini-vacation into your busy schedule!
- This I Believe is a project of personal stories shared via public radio, the internet, and published books. You are never too old to enjoy a story. Visit this site to listen to 3-minute-long audio clips of people sharing their personal beliefs and stories.
- Orsinal games by Ferry Halim. These free online games have adorable graphics and gentle background music. They are a great way to have a bit of mindless fun for free online. My favorite is Winterbells.
- WeaveSilk is a site that lets you create beautiful drawings on a plain black background while relaxing music plays.
Runners-Up: Calming Manatee and RainyMood.Com
Top 5 Smartphone Apps for Self-Care
- RelaxMelodies: This awesome app allows you to combine different sounds into your own mix of ideal relaxation music. You can also overlay it with music from your personal collection, as well as binaural beats created to help you sleep, relax, or concentrate. It has timers and alarms so you can use it for a nap or even a full night’s sleep. There is a free version or the premium is $2.99. (Personal note: This is my favorite app ever. I use it to take naps, sleep, tune out ambient noise when working on campus, or create a soothing atmosphere when I am at home reading or journaling.)
- Moody Me: A cute mood tracker app that is easy to use. You can include symptoms (such as fatigue), photos of what makes you happy or sad, and events that may effect your mood (such as getting your period or breaking up with a significant other). It automatically creates graphs so you can see how your mood has changed over time.
- Take A Break!: I used this app all the time when I had a sometimes very stressful job back in New York. It includes two guided meditations, one seven minutes, and one thirteen minutes long. You can overlay nature sounds as well as music, depending on your preference. The 7-minute one is specifically designed to be a work break so you can do it anywhere (no lying on the floor, etc.). Taking a ten-minute break for a meditation and healthy snack is a great way to cope with stresses of school and life — in a short enough time frame to fit into your busy IU schedule! It is 100% free. 🙂
- FlowerGarden: This fun, relaxing game lets you cultivate your own flower garden. There are gentle nature sounds, mini-challenges to keep it interesting, and the option to create and email/text bouquets to your friends and family! A sweet, relaxing, and totally addictive game. Free or paid version $2.99. (There are in-app purchases but you can definitely get by without them.)
- POETRY: If you have a few minutes and want to read a little something, this is the perfect app. You can search poems by mood, subject, or title/first line. You can also shake your phone for a random poem. Even for those who don’t know a lot about poetry, it’s super easy to plug in “sad” and find a poem that is sympathetic and comforting, or “happy” for days when you want to share your joy. The app makes sharing easy, with options to Facebook, Tweet, or email your poetry finds. Totally free…and totally awesome.
Runners-Up: Fig and Think A Good Thought
One last thing: I wanted to take some time to highlight the amazing app Circle of Six. This app is an amazing way for you and your friends to keep each other safe. Program in your “Circle of 6” — up to six people you can count on to be there for you when you really need it. The app then offers several buttons: Come Get Me, Call Me, I Need Some Advice, and Danger. They automatically send texts to the people in your circles asking for help — a safe ride home or an easy excuse to duck out of a situation. I Need Some Advice connects you to information about healthy relationships. The Danger icon calls hotlines or a pre-programmed emergency number that you select. Learn more at www.circleof6app.com.
Remember to take care of yourself this week, Hoosiers! Don’t hesitate to contact me with questions, thoughts, or suggestions for what you’d like to see on the blog.
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