9 Smart Ways To Reduce Back To School Stress

9 Smart Ways To Reduce Back To School Stress

It seems like in a blink of an eye summer has ended and back-to-school is calling our name.

Saying goodbye to summer is always bittersweet, and getting back into school mode can be a stressful transition — especially when we’re used to the long and oftentimes lazy days of summer. You could be stressed about having to get back into the classroom (are midterms really that close?) adjusting to dorm living or commuting, new social situations, and more. Luckily, we have some tips below that can help reduce some of these common anxieties so you can make the most of your new semester.

Remember: The start of the school year is a chance to begin anew and kick off the school year in good spirits. A new semester is a path of exciting opportunities that will give you room to grow, allow you to make new friends and solidify current friendships, and become more confident in yourself. There’s a way to shift a stressed mind to one that is more optimistic and excited. Here are some tools to help you ease your mind.


9 Ways to Reduce School Stress

Here are nine tips you can incorporate today to make this start of the school year less stressful and more fun.


Get on a new sleep schedule. There’s a good chance your summer sleep schedule is different than your school sleep schedule. While it might be hard to say goodbye to long nights out and sleeping in, it’s important to get your body on a new sleep schedule that accommodates your classes, activities, and still allows you to get those 7-8 hours a night. Don’t wait to get on a new schedule, and try your best to keep this schedule every day, no matter when your first class starts. If you go to bed and wake up at the same time every morning, your body will better adapt to this sleep schedule and you’ll feel less tired and more energetic throughout the day.


Tackle your assignments in manageable pieces. You might find yourself easily overloaded with essays, papers, exams, and reading assignments. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, try to break your work down into management portions. For example, if you need a read an entire book in a week, focus on how many pages you need to read a day. If you have to complete an essay, don’t sit down to try and write the entire thing in one go. Set yourself smaller goals, like research, write an outline, and complete an introduction paragraph. You can also reward yourself after you finish each milestone!


Don’t rush your mornings. School mornings are notorious for being rushed; how fast can you chow down on a bowl of cheerios in the dining hall before making your 8AM class? Or worse, some skip breakfast in order to get extra sleep. Instead, we recommend making the most of your mornings and slowing down. Give yourself ample time to wake up, make a cup of coffee or tea, and even find time for meditation, journaling, or any other morning routine that calms your mind before getting thrown into the chaos of the day. Then, be mindful of breakfast, and choose something with a good mix of protein and carbs to keep you satisfied and to give you a good boost of energy. This could be a veggie omelette, bowl of oats, or some whole-grain toast with almond butter and jam.


Start with a fresh wardrobe. There’s nothing like a little retail therapy to turn lemons into lemonade. To start school off on the right foot, treat yourself to some new clothes and accessories. This could be a fun pair of shoes or sneakers, a new backpack, or even a killer pair of sunglasses. Focus on what makes you feel confident, comfortable, and authentic. Who knows, you might become more excited for your 8AM math class if you’re pumped to wear a brand new jacket.


Organize supplies. Get all your papers, pencils, bags and other supplies in order! You’ll probably be bombarded with a lot of “books”, too: textbooks, notebooks, Macbooks, and book-books. Set up your desk area so all your supplies are easy to reach and are organized in a way that helps you, versus causes you more stress. A decluttered desk often leads to a decluttered mind.


Journal about last year. When you’re kicking off the new semester, a helpful thing you can do is remember and recall all the wonderful experiences that happened during your last school year. Find a moment to journal about the good times — the class events, your favorite teachers, the evening parties, and all the new and cool things you learned. Forcing yourself to literally write down good memories from school will help get you excited and eager to relive those experiences in the semester ahead.


Breathe! Whenever you’re under stress, one of the most convenient tools you can use is your own breath. If you find yourself getting anxious, try closing your eyes and inhaling for a count of five. Hold your breath at the top for five seconds, and then exhale for five more counts. Do a few rounds of this and see if your heart rate starts to go down. You can also incorporate mindful breathing in your daily life, whether that’s through a meditation practice or going to a yoga studio.


Find a good extracurricular. If you’re one of those bookworms who spends most of your time in the library, remember that school is an experience that goes beyond your classes. Try to join an activity as a way to meet new people and put your physical body or creative mind to work. This could be a range of things, from a club sports team to a music group, art club, or advocacy group.


Plan a long weekend away. Treat yourself to a weekend away to decompress, unplug, and have something to look forward to when you’re in the middle of cramming for your next exam. Luckily, there are a handful of holidays in the fall, and your school might even have designated days off where you can go away for a few days to hit the restart button.


Take one — of all — of these tips into consideration as you head full-force into the new school year. You’d be surprised to realize that a few, small and subtle changes can really lower your stress levels and make you feel excited to tackle the semester in high spirits!

Brain-Boosting Foods for Back to School

Brain-Boosting Foods for Back to School

With the start of the semester among us, it’s important to focus not only on studies. What you eat can have a significant impact on your energy levels, mood, and yes — even your mind. This article is going to dive into eight brain-boosting foods that are essential for learning, memory, alertness, and more. Your report card will thank you.

Before we dive into all that, though, it’s important to strive for a balanced diet filled with fresh produce, lean meats or other sources of protein, and foods that limit preservatives and sweeteners. This may be tricky if you don’t have full control over your diet (say, you have a dining hall membership). Still, you can be choosy about what options you go for; head to the salad bar instead of the fry station, go to a natural grocery store and cook in a kitchen, or ask for the ingredient list of foods that are prepared on campus.

With a little bit of work, you can weed out the stuff that will do more harm than help. Now, let’s look at eight specific foods and ingredients that go the extra mile to help boost your brain and make you feel even sharper in the classroom.


Boost Your Brain With These Foods


Oatmeal. For breakfast, skip the instant oats and go for whole or steel cut oats, which will help keep you full way longer than the sugary stuff. Oatmeal fuels the brain, satisfies hunger, and is also quite tasty, keeping your body and mind in full-force throughout the day. Oats also contain something called choline, which the body needs in order to produce a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. Acetylcholine helps with both learning and memory. Steel cut oats tend to be less processed than other oats, so if you see them as an option, go for it! For extra brain power, top them with blueberries, which we’ll dive into next.


Blueberries. These little berries pack and punch when it comes to nutrients and brain power. Blueberries are known for being chock-full of antioxidants which are key to improving memory, aiding in cognition, and helping combat aging. In fact, one study found that a group of elderly participants who had mild cognitive impairment drank blueberry juice every day. After three months, scientists saw improvements in their brain function. Top your morning oats with a healthy handful of blueberries or eat them straight out of the carton.


Turmeric. Spice up your brain power with this impressive super-spice that has a ton of health benefits. If you’re a big fan of curry, then you’ve definitely eaten turmeric before. It’s a yellow spice from India that is used in many Indian and East Asian dishes but is easily transferable to meals you can make right here at home or on campus. Turmeric’s super-star compound found within its root is called curcumin, which helps protect against aging, increases blood flow, and even helps with stress and anxiety. Turmeric has also shown to help prevent diabetes, arthritis, and Alzheimer’s. Grab the spice at any grocer, and add it to your scrambled eggs or stir-fried vegetables. Use it in a soup, or give the trending, wildly popular Golden Milk drink a whirl. Every now and then, you can also indulge in some Indian or Thai take-out.


Eggs. In my opinion, eggs are a completely satisfying meal for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. (Forget an apple a day, and try an egg a day?) It has that same nutrient as oatmeal, choline, which has helped eggs earn a name in the cognitive world as a “brain food” that may protect against cognitive decline. Eggs are also filled with protein and a healthy dose of good fats and are naturally sugar-free. There are countless ways to cook with and eat eggs. To get you started, try an eggwhite patty on a whole-grain English muffin for breakfast, enjoy a veggie frittata or quiche for lunch, and top a poached egg on a brown rice bowl filled with meat or other protein, and lots of fresh vegetables.


Fatty fish. Don’t be scared of healthy fats! You need ‘em for learning and memory, due to the omega-3s found in healthy fats that are busy building new cells in your brain. Yummy and good-for-you fatty fishes include salmon and tuna. These fish have also been shown to improve mood, reduce stress, and sharpen our cognitive ability. They may even help reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, both of which are cognitive and memory disorders. Have some friends over for a dinner party and cook a filet of salmon or tuna right on the stovetop. For a quicker option, you can also purchase the canned options; just make sure to read the label to ensure there are no unnecessary additives.


Coffee. Okay, this is not a “food” perse, but we had to include this for the coffee lovers out there! The caffeine found in coffee — and yes, this the same caffeine found in green tea — comes to our rescue by increasing alertness, improving our mood, and sharpening our concentration. It’s easy to over-do it with caffeine, though, so try to stick to one cup a day, and drink it in the morning. Opt for black coffee or a shot of espresso over lattes filled with milk and sugar.


Dark chocolate! We had to include an indulgent treat on here. Luckily, dark chocolate is not only delicious, it’s also packed with important nutrients that have shown to be good for our brains. Dark chocolate can help with our focus and concentration, protect our brain against aging and oxidation, and helps with our overall brain help. How? The flavonoids found in cacao (which is found in dark chocolate) are super potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents which are known for being beneficial for the brain.


Walnuts. Go nuts for nuts — seriously. Out of all nuts, walnuts rein supreme as being the best for our brains. They have a high amount of an Omega-3 fatty acid called DHA, which is known for improving brain health and cognitive performance while helping to combat cognitive decline. That’s not all: Walnuts are also a great source of protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Don’t overdo it, though — you only need about seven walnuts a day to reap the benefits. Add them to that bowl of steel cut oats in the morning, and throw a handful in a ziplock to snack on when hunger strikes in class.


Give your brain a little boost by incorporating these foods, beverages, and ingredients into your daily meals! It’s easy to get creative with it, too, putting a little fun into your food. See if you can get all eight into your diet in a day, or have friends over for brain-boosting breakfast — yes, this means you can have chocolate for breakfast. All in all, simply be mindful of how you can get these foods into your diet more frequently that you might have in the past, and see how that impacts the new school year. Bon appetit!

10 Study Hacks Every College Student Needs

10 Study Hacks Every College Student Needs

Wishing you were still lying on the beach in the summer? Yeah, us too. But there comes a point where we have to get back to studying. Being a college student is challenging enough so why not make it easier with some simple hacks. We’ve got the study hacks you won’t learn in a lecture hall.



No, not for Halloween or Prom, but for the day. The act of getting dressed up (as if you were going to leave the house) signals to your mind that you have something to accomplish that day. But we know comfort is just as important, so dress up in something cozy – it’s all about balance! Why not pair some simple black leggings with a fancier blouse to give the effect of a chic look.


Credits to Benjamin Franklin for this one, but… “if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” When you have an assignment coming up, break up the assignment into little tasks. Then, plan when those little tasks need to be completed. Pro tip: Set the due dates for the little tasks by working backwards from the due date of the actual assignment.

Be sure to also give yourself wiggle room! Plan on having your work done in advance just in case. You never know if a task is going to take longer to complete than anticipated (which is often what happens).



Some people like to study with background music and others don’t. As always, we suggest doing what works for you! If you like to work in a silent space, work in a quiet environment or listen to white noise. If you prefer hearing something in the background, we recommend listening to alpha wave. Shy away from any music that has lyrics in it because the brain struggles to process lyrics and do work at the same time!



You know when you get a notification on your phone/computer and the buzz goes off, there is no resisting. You go to check your notification, get distracted by something else, and somehow end up spending an absurd amount of time procrastinating. Putting your phone on airplane mode will make you more productive and stay focused.



The Pomodoro Technique – a time management method that uses a timer to break work up into sections. We know it’s hard to give studying your full attention when you study long hours, so it’s important to block off your time! Spend 50 minutes studying and then give yourself a 10 minute break (or whatever time frames work best for you).


We’ve all heard about it, but how does it actually work? No, eating salmon (thanks to the fatty acids!) will not give you photographic memory or equations to all those math problems. However,  eating nutritious foods will help your brain function more optimally. When you want to reach for that candy bar, think about if it will help or hurt your mental clarity.

A lot of studies have found that foods like blueberries, nuts & seeds, avocados, and even dark chocolate are great for the brain! But we know eating those foods as it is can get quite boring, so we’ve collected a series of foods that will keep you fueled and focused. Even better, these snacks won’t be turning heads when you eat them at the library!



Learning by teaching. When teaching someone else, it will show you what concepts you know like the back of your hand, what concepts you kind of have a grip on, and what concepts you have no idea how to explain.

Also, when studying with other students, try to study with the “right” people, a.k.a. no one who is going to distract you and take you off track!



“Sleep is for the weak,” right? No! When you’re sleep-deprived, you can’t focus, which means you’re not going to be able to learn properly. Also, sleep helps strengthen memory, which is obviously necessary when you’re trying to retain information.



Move in a way that makes your body feel good. Running, weights, yoga, walking, swimming, barre, cycling… the possibilities are endless! And, no. You don’t have to slave away at the treadmill for hours to get in a “good workout.” You don’t even have to be drenching in sweat once the workout is done to call it a “good” workout! Taking short walks between study breaks can be just as beneficial. It is all about finding what works for your body. The body was made to move, so honoring that by exercising will aid in new brain cell growth! Not to mention, other side effects of exercising include boost one’s mood and sleep!

Same old thing making you feel uninspired? If so, switch up your studying environment! Libraries, coffee shops, study rooms, or parks are a few places you could go to study. Don’t want to leave the library? No worries! Just find another area in the library and it’ll feel as if you’ve entered a new space (because technically you have).


Article courtesy of Kira Bernhard