Winter Is Coming: a Student’s Guide to Seasonal Affective Disorder

sadafWinter is Coming: a Student’s Guide to Seasonal Affective Disorder

by Shafer Higgins

As the days grow shorter and the nights grow colder, many of you may be feeling low on energy, less motivated, and just generally down in the dumps. You’re not alone; according to psychologytoday.com, as many as 10 million Americans suffer from what is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, with 10 million more reporting milder versions of some of the symptoms. The symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder, which often goes by the rather cheeky acronym SAD, include: tiredness, irritability, oversleeping while never feeling rested, appetite changes (particularly increased craving for carbohydrates), as well as loss of interest in activities and feelings of hopelessness similar to depression. While its exact causes remain a mystery, SAD appears to be at least in part a result of lower sunlight levels in the Winter and Fall months, a particularly inconvenient time for students as the worst of its effects can coincide with final exams and projects. If symptoms of SAD become severe enough, medical attention should be sought. However there are many simple and easy to implement methods to help avoid or alleviate symptoms of SAD.

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Physical Exercise

Getting just 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise 4 or 5 times per week can do wonders for relieving symptoms of SAD. As one of the main features of SAD is low motivation, getting out and exercising to combat it can seem like a veritable Catch-22. But have no fear, “exercise” can mean something simple as a brisk walk. Try to time this walk around midday when that scarce winter sunlight is at its most plentiful. Speaking of sunlight…

 

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Light therapy

As noted earlier, one of the primary causes of SAD is thought to be the relative lack of sunlight in the colder months of the year. Sunlight is essential for healthy functioning and is instrumental in the regulation of your biological clock as well as levels of the neurotransmitters serotonin and melatonin, both of which have a hand in mood levels and sleep patterns. The lower quantity and quality of sunlight during SAD’s dark reign can be alleviated by what is known as a light box, an extra bright lamp meant to mimic the spectrum and intensity of sunlight. A review of some of the best light boxes available can be found here: http://thesweethome.com/reviews/best-light-therapy-lamp/.

One drawback is that they can be rather pricy for someone on a student’s budget. Depending on the severity of the problem, merely making a conscious effort to expose oneself to sunlight as much as possible during the day may be sufficient. Admittedly, a trek outdoors can be a daunting prospect in the dead of winter. For those short on cash and patience for the cold, there may be a solution: while not medically proven, some studies have suggested that exposure to normal artificial light in high doses may be beneficial. Which essentially just means making sure you are spending time in well lit interiors whenever possible.

 

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Get more vitamin D

One of the main benefits of sunlight is that it provides the human body with much needed vitamin D which is essential for, among other things, the warding off of sluggishness and depression. However sunlight isn’t the only source of this essential vitamin. It can also be found in common foods such as salmon, tuna, mushrooms, eggs and any vitamin D fortified milk.

Vitamin D supplements exist as well, though it would be cost effective and doubly beneficial to simply integrate these relatively cheap and healthy foods into your diet as poor eating habits can have adverse effects on mood and energy levels.

 

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Aromatherapy

It is widely held that smell is the sense most strongly associated with emotions, and this recognition could account in part for the explosion of aromatherapy in recent years. Exposure to certain essential oils, particularly bergamot, lemon, and most citrus-based oils, has been shown to elevate mood and sense of well-being. While it is one of the less scientific methods to combat SAD, it is also cheap, easy and poses little to no risk and therefore certainly worth a try.

 

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Stick to a schedule

Maintaining a consistent daily schedule, especially with regards to sleep, can be particularly difficult for students who often have irregular daily schedules. But as erratic sleep patterns are a leading factor in SAD, it’s worth trying to regulate your day as best as you can if you find yourself afflicted with the “winter blues”. Waking up and going to bed around the same time every day has beneficial effects on your sleep. Even eating meals at regular intervals has been shown to stave off weight gain, which is a common side-effect of SAD.

 

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Keep a journal

SAD mimics many aspects of depression, such as loss of interest and motivation as well as feelings of hopelessness. Journaling for around 20 minutes a day can be a useful and straightforward way to exorcise negative feelings as well as activating parts of the brain often left unstimulated during extended periods of low mood.

These are just some of the simple and low cost lifestyle tweaks that can be implemented in the battle against Seasonal Affective Disorder. Stay warm and stay chipper, folks. Winter is coming.

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5 Pretty Obvious Reasons to Not Pass Judgement

Children’s naive understanding of the world allows them to live and learn freely, openly and,  until they begin to compare themselves to others, without judgement. I am envious of kids abilities to say whatever they feel, ask any question, and do so without fear of what others will think.

As we learn about the world and grow into teenagers and adults, we develop ideas of what is right and what is wrong based on a variety of external and internal influences. The sequence of events that happen in life will affect based on your reaction to them.

This is the same in our relationships with people. In life, people will come and go. This could be someone you fall in love with, an acquaintance, or someone who walks past you on the street. How you react and interact with these people shapes how you move about in the world.

To put it simply and hopefully not to cliche, how you view others around you stems from how you feel about yourself. If we could all remember how we felt as children  perhaps we could recall the genuine simplicity of interacting with others and improve the way we view each other.

I have come up with five reasons why you wouldn’t want to judge someone before you chat with them.

  1. Imagine how much someone else knows. No one knows everything, everyone has interests, and everyone likes to share what they know with others. There is endless power in knowledge and unless you think you know it all, there is not a single person you will meet who cant teach you something. If you’re open to it, you will always be pleasantly surprised. “Normality is a paved road: It’s comfortable, but no flowers grow.” -Vincent Van Gogh 
  2. There isn’t a person you wouldn’t love if you could read their story. People are fascinating, everyone starts from nothing and over time becomes a unique personality with a unique story. You don’t have to love listening to peoples life stories to appreciate how different we are and how far we’ve all come.
  3. The power of positivity is simple. It feels better to feel good and feels worse to feel bad. Thinking negatively, especially in regards to people, will likely evoke negative feelings in and about yourself. Seeing the good in others and being understanding of people, will allow you to recognize and feel good about your own qualities. Positivity grows exponentially faster than negativity and is significantly easier to put your energy into.
  4. What are you afraid of? While people may come from different backgrounds beliefs and understandings, it will only benefit you to try to understand the why behind their ways. If you are confident in your own values, there should be no fear of the unknown. “When the roots are deep, there is no reason to fear the wind” -African Proverb
  5. You’d hate for it to happen to you. Considering how smart and capable you are, you have a lot to offer and it would be a shame for someone to overlook that based on a judgement. When others engage with you, be kind, be honest, and be yourself. It wont always work out and you wont always agree but if both parties can take away something different or new, then that’s a win.

Remember to love each other despite differences, ask questions if you don’t understand, and use your powers for good. At the end of the day it’s honestly so much easier.

Something to consider,

Niki

 

 

5 Reasons Why You Don’t Have Abs and How to Get Them


5 Reasons You Don’t Have Abs

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1: You’re too fat. burn-fat-q_rotator

Problem

Your abs are never going to show if you have too much fat covering them. Start by reading my blog 5 ridiculously easy diet strategies for fat loss. Basically, abs are made in the kitchen. No amount of cardio, crunches, or creatine will give you abs if your diet is shit. Get your diet under control and you will finally see the cuts you’ve been wanting.

5 Ridiculously Easy Strategies for Cutting Body Fat

2: You’re terribly inconsistent.images 

Problem 

Change is hard. That’s true for everything you do. What is the hardest part about change? Sticking to the new change. Whether thats your new workout regimen or your diet consistency is key. You can’t expect to crash diet or hit the gym hard for 3 weeks and look like the next cover of Muscular Development. These people look the way they look because of YEARS in the gym and YEARS doing everything right in the kitchen.

Solution

So, with that said find a workout program that you can reasonable accomplish, and a diet strategy that makes sense of your lifestyle and stick to it. Don’t change for 6, 12, or even 18 weeks. After then, reevaluate. You don’t have to pick the hardest 7 day a week, macro controlled strategy. Even 3 days a week consistently with consistently good eating will show changes. The biggest thing here is just look yourself in the mirror and be realistic. Set SMART goals. Specific, measurable, attainable, realist, and time orientated.

3: You’re doing ‘abs’ too muchunknown

Problem

I have multiple gripes with this one. First off i’m not saying that training the core is bad by any means. It is in fact absolutely necessary. But not amount of extra core work will ever get you abs. In fact, most core work is relatively low intensity and will not burn too many extra calories. Another thing to think about is when you train the musculature with resistance the muscle will grow. Now, for men this isn’t necessarily a bad thing but no women wants a thick mid section even if its full of muscle.

Solution

Instead of trying to pump your abs up like Arnold everyday try thinking about having STRONG abs. A few good exercises are the turkish get up and the kettle bell wind mill. Try doing these in sets of 3-5 reps and get strong. Then spend the rest of your workout doing some HIIT conditioning. I provide some examples below.

4: Your conditioning sucks3c51bb38-2181-48ed-a17d-d4c3099cfd9e-jpg-_cb320658952__sl300__

Problem

Some people like to finish off their workouts with a little extra ab work or some time on the treadmill. I applaud the effort but, this isn’t getting you anywhere fast. Instead, try some HIIT conditioning. I recommend no more than 15 min total work time at the end of strength training days and no more than 30 min total work time on conditioning only days. You can follow this up with some low intensity work on a bike, treadmill, elliptical, etc for a little extra burn if you’d like. Again, the goal here is to get rid of fat so you can show off the muscle you’ve worked so hard for.

A few things to try

Strength day finishers:

Airdyne bike ladder:

Maintain your rpm’s (Beginner 80+ rpm, Intermediate 85+, Advanced 90+, Maniac 100+)

You’re going to want to watch the timer and follow this time pattern:

Work:Rest

15:15

30:30

45:45

60:60

45:45

30:30

15:15

Conditioning Day work sample:

Try and EMOM (Every Minute on the Minute). You start your first set when the clock is at 0. You will end somewhere around 30-35 seconds (hopefully) then take the rest of that minute to rest. Then start on the next full min (1:00) perform the next set, so on and so forth for prescribed time.

25 min EMOM:

5x:

15 Burpee

70 Yard trap bar farmers walk

20 KB Swing

20 Push ups (If push ups aren’t your thing, try substituting mountain climbers for sets of 60)

12 KB Goblet Squats

EMOM’s are a great way to get your heart rate up and get a little extra strength work in at the same time. This will have you reaping the benefits of your workout for a lot longer than the 25 min work time.

If you’re unfamiliar with any of the movements, Youtube is your friend.

5: You’re not lifting heavy enough, often enough.

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No better way to get the fat burning fire started and keep it going all day than with some heavy compounds. Exercises like the squat, bench press, deadlift, and standing barbell overhead press tax the system like no other. Not only do you burn calories while doing theses exercises but the load is so sufficient on your system that it will take your body days to recover. This means the majority of calories in are put towards recovering the body. Not many unused calories to sit around and sore up as fat.

Lifting heavy will allow you to retain muscle mass while you’re getting cut up. More muscle = a higher metabolic rate. What does this mean? You burn more calories while essentially doing nothing. When you lift heavy you are telling your body, I  NEED this muscle and in return your body will retain it. Remember, you need muscle in order to see muscle. Nothing will piss a guy off quicker than having worked his ass off for 6 months to get those golden abs and realize he has no delts, traps, biceps, or quads.

If you can manage 3 strength days/week try this for your heavy stuff:

Monday: Squat 6×4

Wednesday: Bench Press: 5×5

Friday: Deadlift 6×3, OHP 5×5

Follow these exercises up with some assistance work around the same muscle groups.

Montana: by a Northern Californian

screen-shot-2016-10-04-at-8-47-46-amIt is no secret that the majority of the University of Montana student body is made up of Montana born and raised students (we’re talking 74% in-state). It is also no secret that there are “Keep California Out!” signs on everyone’s lawn (not really).

“Oh where are you from?” – Seemingly interested older Montanan

“Sacramento, California!” – Me

“…I’m sorry…” – Now uninterested and bitter older Montanan

“I’m not 🙂 Thanks for having me!” – Smiling me

Take a minute to listen up. I may not speak on behalf of the rest of the Californians in Montana, but I have a perspective I’d love to share. The second I stepped on University of Montana’s campus I knew that it could be my home away from home. The city of Missoula, hell the state of Montana, felt like hugging someone that you haven’t seen in years. I’ve been here for 4 very short years and no, I don’t plan on staying, but yes I will be back to visit. The reason being that it offered the experience of a lifetime for this particular time in my life.
For anyone who’s interested, University of Montana allowed me to step away from most everything I knew in Sacramento (yes I had seen snow, every year in Tahoe minus the recent winters). I was able to clearly establish my values as a young adult, assess the type of future I wanted, and walk away with some of the best friendships I will have for a lifetime.
You see, us Northern Californians appreciate tall trees, snowcapped mountains, cleaning our campsites and wandering to find that adventure just doesn’t end. I can single-handedly agree that California has some extreme undesirables. But so does Montana (hello Meth Capital), so does Colorado, so does New York, and Wyoming and every other state you can name. How do you think Arizona feels hosting all the frail Montana old-timers looking for warm retirement? Probably a mix of “stay in your own state” and “please contribute to our economy; look we have handicap approved EVERYTHING!”

I’ll leave on this note. The amount of times that people think that I’m a Montanan prior to asking is remarkable. Let’s just say I’ve had to convince just about everyone I meet with a valid California drivers license. My experience with those who are excited to have me is what makes Montana “the last best place”. The nay-sayers couldn’t keep me out if they tried.

By: Lia Sbisa, proud Sacramento Native and Montana Visitor