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  • College Students Can Try Yoga to Relieve Stress and Anxiety

    by Aathira Balu

    A woman sitting at the top of stairs, back to the camera, legs crossed and arms overhead in a yoga pose.

    Stress and anxiety are something everyone has to deal with at some point, whether it be social matters, academics, change, or just everyday life. Stress tends to run especially high with students balancing class, work, clubs, friends, family, and more. Finding a way to cope and minimize stress is imperative for a healthy life. I have found the best way for me to cope is through the practice of yoga.

    Why Start Yoga?

    Yoga is a practice of both the physical and mental minds and is a great way to integrate a healthful approach to your day-to-day routines. Yoga not only has great health benefits, but can also help reduce stress and anxiety. The practice of yoga can even help reduce the risk of chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure and heart disease. It also helps with increasing one’s flexibility, strength, and breathing capacity. Even though yoga is considered very safe, if you have any ongoing health conditions (such as arthritis, balancing issues, etc.), make sure to consult a doctor before beginning.

    Here are some things to keep in mind when getting started!

    On-line vs. In-Person

    There are many different types of yoga courses and classes that you can attend either online or in person and both have their benefits. For example, online practices can be low cost or free, plus they can be available on-demand for whatever fits into your schedule. In-person classes offer more personalized interaction with the teacher and may lead you through a more structured work out.

    Whether you select online, in-person, or a combination of both types of classes, plan out your week and find times that you know will be best for you to take a break and relax with some yoga. As a beginner, try and aim for 30-45 minutes as a full practice. As you get more advanced, 30 minutes can eventually become 90 minutes.

    Equipment

    Along with creating your own practice schedule, there are certain equipment/materials that people use when practicing, including things like yoga mats, blocks, straps, yoga wheels, etc. If you are a beginner, you can use what you have around your house such as the carpet instead of a mat, pillows to substitute as blocks, and a belt or long strap of some kind to serve as a yoga strap.

    When creating your own yoga workout, practice moves and positions that are most comfortable for you. Explore more simple starting poses to help you become more comfortable with the positioning, like child’s pose, bridge pose, plank pose, tree pose, etc. Modify them depending on your comfort, skill level, and/or any health conditions you may have.

    Benefits of Yoga

    The world of yoga is an amazing one that includes meditation, vibration, and devotion and is something that everyone should try out. Just as with learning any new skill, beginning a yoga practice requires a lot of patience. Start slow and be willing to learn and try new things; it takes time to become comfortable with this way of life. Good luck on all of your yoga journeys and always remember to stay calm and work hard.  

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  • Transitioning to a Plant-Based Diet

    by Logan Collins

    A collection of a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables.

    When becoming independent and going off to college you are faced with a lot of choices, especially ones involving nutrition. Nutritional choices include things like calorie intake and the type of foods and nutrients you are putting into your body. These decisions can have a big impact on things like the amount of energy we have or our mood. Recently I made the decision to transition to a plant-based diet. Here’s my experience with changing my diet and effects it has had on my everyday life. 

    Uncovering the Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet

    Last semester, I took a class called Plant-Based Living. By the middle of the semester, the class had fully convinced me to transition my diet to plant based. The key motivator that made me want to make this change was how plant-based diets can help improve mental health disorders and stress.

    During my studies, I learned that the majority animal products contain arachidonic acid, which can cause general inflammation in the brain. There is a direct link to inflammation in the brain and chemical imbalances of neurotransmitters causing depression and anxiety.

    Plants and vegetables contain antioxidants and phytochemicals which can repair damage and decrease inflammation in brain cells, while also restoring balance to neurotransmitters. Phytochemicals are known as a natural antidepressant that increases levels of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. 

    Making the Change

    After all the research I had done I decided to change my diet to see if I noticed a difference. The transition to vegetarian hasn’t been very hard since there are a lot of plants you can get protein from to replace meat. For example, I have been eating more tofu, chickpeas, and seitan. Plus, the protein you get from plants is better for you than the protein made by animals. After just a month of eating a vegetarian diet I felt improvement in my energy level and my overall mood. 

    Examining the Results

    Going vegetarian has helped push me outside of my comfort zone in terms of cooking and meal prep. Using social apps like TikTok has been a great resource for me to find quick and easy vegetarian recipes to try. One of my new favorite dishes is “ratatouille.” This is made completely from vegetables like eggplant, peppers, tomato, and squash. If you’ve seen the movie by the same name, the reaction the food critic has when tasting the dish is spot-on!

    Overall, my plant-based diet has had an overwhelmingly positive impact on my physical and mental health. They aren’t wrong when they say “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” so make sure you’re eating plenty of fruits and vegetables! 

     

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