Financial Wellness in the Holiday Season

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Regardless of what holidays we choose to celebrate, December can be rough on budgets, especially for college students. Between travel expenses, winter break plans, going out with friends to celebrate the end of the semester, and buying gifts, we often quickly spend much more money than we may have planned. Americans spend more during winter holidays than any other time of the year. Back-to-school shopping and sales during winter holidays make up about 20% of all retail throughout the year!

It’s especially important during this time of the year to prioritize financial wellness, which involves setting and achieving both long and short-term personal financial goals. Everyone’s financial status and goals are different, depending on income, wealth, spending, debt, values, etc., and are situated within our society’s financial and economic context.

Take some time to think about your finances.

How much do you have to spend?

How much do you need to save?

What are the most important things for you to spend money on or save money for?

Here are some ideas to keep your budget happy this season!

  1. Practice mindfulness. Being mindful means paying attention to what you are doing, noticing your thoughts, sensations, and the world around you without judgment. Research shows that mindfulness can actually help you make better decisions.
  2. Set a budget. What’s important to you? What are you going to need/want money for? Decide what you are able to afford based on your priorities and values, and then stick to it. Check out this list of apps for budgeting tools.
  3. Make a list and check it twice. This will help you stay focused on what you need and avoid purchasing on impulse. Check out these strategies to avoid impulse purchases!
  4. Try DIY gifts! Homemade gifts are wonderful both for your budget and for adding that personal touch to let your family and friends know how much you care. Need some inspiration? Here are 50 of the best DIY gift ideas.
  5. Give of your time. Some of the best gifts are things you can do for or with another person. For those of us that are craft-challenged, here are some great alternatives.
  6. Host a potluck. If you want to get together with friends, consider having a potluck instead of going out for an expensive meal. This way, you don’t have to get everyone to agree on a restaurant, and you’ll spend a lot less. Maybe try out a pizza potluck – everyone brings their favorite ingredient to share (just make sure someone brings the crust!). Instead of spending $20+ on a meal at a restaurant, you’ll spend less than $5 on your topping—plus, it’s a lot more fun!
  7. Be careful with credit card purchases.Having a credit card can be great for building credit, but it’s especially important during this time of the year to make sure we’re able to pay off the card on time at the end of the month. It’s also a time of year when our schedules are different than normal, so be sure to set a reminder for when you need to pay your bills. If you struggle with spending too much when you use a credit card, try only taking cash when you go shopping.

The end of the semester can be stressful with exams and final papers, and worrying about money can just make everything more complicated. Do yourself a favor and lessen some of the stress by prioritizing your financial wellness!

This blog was updated from November 2015 and written by Kaitlyn Brodar. Kaitlyn was the Program Assistant for Resiliency Initiatives at UNC Student Wellness and a Master of Public Health graduate student with a focus in Health Behavior at UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. She previously worked in cognitive psychology research on post-traumatic stress disorder after earning her bachelor’s in Psychology at Duke University.

Why Therapy Is Not For Me (but actually might be)

1. I want to get through it on my own.

We live in a society that places a lot of value on independence, but in truth, we are interdependent. Each of us does need other people to some degree. Participating in therapy is not a passive process. You are not “attending therapy”, or “getting therapy”.  Therapists are not administering something to you. Therapy is an active, collaborative process of figuring out life. Therapists do have some specialized knowledge about mental health, but we act as guides, not fixers. In fact, but of the unique aspects of therapy is that therapists act as guides, not as fixers.

2. If my friends and family can’t help me, how will someone I don’t even know help me?

Friends and family play extremely vital roles in our lives, and there is no substitute for those types of relationships. Often the people in our life have a vested interest in what we choose to do or in what direction we move. The role of a therapist is very different. When you go to therapy, the first task is for the therapist to be able to understand your hopes and goals, because your agenda is our agenda. Sometimes family and friends have the tendency to try to make things better for you. Therapists are trained to help you find the tools to make things better for yourself.

3. It’s not that bad. I’m not crazy. Therapy is a last resort for me.

People participate in therapy for a wide variety of reasons.

Sometimes things in their lives are pretty bad when they initiate therapy.

Sometimes they start treatment because they aren’t feeling fulfilled, or because something in life feels “off”. They want to not simply get through each day, but instead want to thrive. Sometimes students come to therapy because they are aware that academic stress is unavoidable and they want to learn strategies to manage it before it starts to create problems. At UNC Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), we work with people throughout the whole spectrum, between preventing problems before they start and treating issues before they begin.

Mental Health is similar to physical health in that it is often a quicker, easier process if you take a proactive approach. I often hear from students who have recurrent depression that the first episode was the worst, in part because they didn’t know to take action until things felt completely unmanageable.

Stigma is real. Often times we are socialized to have some negative feelings towards individuals with mental health disorders and towards seeking mental health treatment. Where have you heard some of those messages? What do you believe? How might you overcome the stigma associated with seeking services?

4. Therapy is too _____________________ (Expensive, Time Consuming)

There is no arguing with that. Participating in therapy definitely takes time (typically 45-60 minutes weekly). It also may require a financial investment. Although CAPS brief therapy services are free, there are times when students may start off with or transition to a community provider, where there will likely be a copay.

Often when I meet with students, their symptoms are impacting their ability to be as successful as they could be academically. Their friendships or relationships with loved ones may be impacted. Anxiety, for example, could make it extremely difficult for a person to concentrate and learn new material, and to seek frequent reassurance from friends, or to avoid social situations altogether.  Also, some of the symptoms they are experiencing are painful. They are in real distress. Can you relate to this? How are the issues you are having impacting your quality of life?

If one part of the equation is the cost/time/effort, please remember to include the other side of the equation- the impact the symptoms are having on your well-being.

In Conclusion

Therapy is not for everyone. But therapy is helpful for some people, and it just may be that it could be helpful to you. But don’t take my word for it! See if therapy can help you. The best way to get something out of therapy:

  • Come in with some goals in mind.
  • Ask your therapist questions.
  • If you don’t feel as if the first person you see is a good fit, work with someone else.
  • Monitor your symptoms and your progress toward your goals, and work with your therapist to get the most out of your time together.
  • Be open with your therapist about any concerns you have about the therapy process.

If you would like to initiate therapy or simply talk with a clinician more about your options for mental health services, please walk in to CAPS between the hours of 9*-12 and 1-4 M-F (8-5 if you have urgent concerns). *Friday morning initial appointments begin at 9:30 a.m. 

 

Originally posted August 6, 2013. Revised and updated 2016. 

FLASHBACK FRIDAY: 11 Healthy Things to Do For and With Your Partner During Finals

I will keep this short so you can go back to studying.

As you know, finals are here.  Having a significant other during finals can provide critical social and emotional support during this stressful time.

Here are some things you can do to support your partner during finals:

  1. Support them in their efforts to refrain from Facebook, Twitter, and texting.
  2. Make them study food (peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, trail mix , or egg and cheese on a biscuit!) to help them stay focused.  Not eating enough during stressful times can increase fatigue, and being hungry can be a distraction from studying.
  3. Save their favorite study spot while they are taking a break or an exam.
  4. Offer up your place to study if they have loud roommates.
  5. Do their laundry so they can sleep a little longer.
  6. If you are stressed, find a constructive way to share that stress with them without stressing them out too.
  7. Take care of their pet while they study in Davis all day so they do not have to worry.
  8. Make them a care package with healthy snacks, batteries for their calculator, and highlighters.  This may brighten their week 🙂
  9. Try not to share germs if you have the flu or a cold.  Tips on handwashing can be found here: http://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/
  10. Give them a hand, neck, or back massage to relieve tension from all that typing.
  11. Encourage them to take study breaks, get exercise, and plenty of sleep. All of these things are critical for remembering facts and doing well in stressful situations.

You can also relieve finals related stress by watching a movie, taking a walk, playing video games, or taking a nap together.   Yes, sex is a stress reliever too – but  be sure you talk about it first and are using a form of contraception, or it could be a bigger stressor than stress reliever !

If you have additional suggestions Tweet, Facebook, or comment below.

Happy Finals! You can do it!

How Being YOU Can Reduce Stress

I always joke with my coworkers that they have to watch what they say around me because I believe everything that I hear.  And, although I think it is important to draw on other people’s experiences to shape your own success, at the end of the day you are the only person who knows what is best for you.  As a follow up to last week’s stress-free blog, I’d like to leave you with four more tips focused on how being YOU can lead to a productive and carefree school year. Continue reading

FLASHBACK FRIDAY: 3 Ways to be a Better Student

We consistently hear from students that academics are their biggest stressor, which makes sense.  I mean, that’s why you’re here—to get a world-class education, right?  And that means learning to study smart, which may be simpler than you realize.  One of my high school teachers, Ms. Dawson, had only 3 rules in her class, but they really summed up how to get the most academic bang for your buck, no matter what the subject:

Show up.

According to Woody Allen “90% of life is just showing up”, and this idea definitely applies to school.  You are much more likely to get something out of your classes if you go to them.  Even if you don’t take any notes or listen to the lecture, at the very least you may absorb some important random detail that ends up on the final or catch that announcement about a paper extension or extra credit opportunity.  The secret to good grades is not just knowing the material; it’s knowing your professor.  Professors are people just like us and the tests they write reflect their own knowledge and teaching style.  And the best way to get to know your professor?  That’s right—class.

Think.

Now I know I sound like Captain Obvious when I say this, but school requires thinking.  And thinking is hard.  Thinking means processing and applying information, not just memorizing and regurgitating.  So, you have shown up to class—great start!  Rather than feverishly typing out the professor’s every last syllable, take a few moments to think about what you are hearing.  Ask yourself questions like: How would I apply this in a real world context? What are the implications of this? Or If I were to write a test on this information, what questions would I ask?

Being able to ask and answer questions like these will put you way ahead of the game when it comes to studying for a big exam.

Look at your book.

Ok, so the days of having to lug textbooks around and review them during class are over.  But the sentiment behind this rule still applies today.  Now you’ve come to class and you are thinking—awesome!  The next step is focusing on what is going on IN class and tuning out everything else.  Ever been in that lecture class where all the laptop screens in front of you are flickering between Facebook, gchat, and Sakai?  If the professor hasn’t changed the powerpoint slide in 20 seconds, do you start fumbling for your phone or google searching articles for that poli sci paper due tomorrow?  Multi-tasking may seem like the way to get everything done, but recent research suggests that chronic multi-taskers may be LESS productive.[Multitasking May Not Mean Higher Productivity http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=112334449]  Those that stay focused and tuned in during class are more likely to retain the information longer.  I mean, you have to be in class anyway, why not get the most out of it—turn off the phone, close those tabs, and keep looking at the powerpoint slide even though you’ve already read over it twice.  Think of it this way: the more you can focus during class, the less time you will spend studying out of class.  That means fewer late night cram sessions and more time for FUN!

Now you know Ms. Dawson’s 3 rules for success—Show up, think, and look at your book.  Simple, right?  The hardest of course is consistently applying these rules, and sometimes these 3 things won’t be enough to ensure success in all classes.  Luckily, UNC has a multitude of resources to help you find ways to study smart:

 

Here’s a great place to start if you are struggling academically and not sure what you need:

http://www.studentsuccess.unc.edu/

 

For help with studying or free tutoring, visit the Learning Center:

http://learningcenter.unc.edu//

 

For help with writing a paper or application essay, visit the Writing Center:

http://writingcenter.unc.edu/

 

If you think you might have a learning disability or ADHD:

http://www.unc.edu/depts/lds/

 

And, if you need to talk to someone about managing your stress or personal issues, we are here for you. Come to Counseling and Psychological Services between 9am and noon or 1pm and 4pm to see a counselor without making an appointment.

http://caps.unc.edu

 


 Updated September 25, 2015 to reflect accurate contact information for Counseling and Psychological Services. Previous version included the former name of the service and a link that did not go to the CAPS page directly. 

FLASHBACK FRIDAY: 10 Day Challenge – It’s Time to UNPLUG!

This blog post was originally published on November 22, 2013 and was written by Jani Radhakrishnan.

A 2013 Mobile Consumer Habit survey reported that 72% of U.S. adults that own smartphones keep it within five feet of them the majority of the time. [Mine is currently about 8 inches away from my computer!] That same study reported that out of 1102 respondents, 55% USED their smartphone while driving, 33% while on a date, 12% in the shower, and 20% of adults ages 18-34….during sex. O2 released a study that indicated that the ‘phone’ function on a smartphone is the fifth most frequently used function. In fact, the study reports that smartphones now replace alarm clocks, cameras, televisions, and physical books.

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Image from cdn.physorg.com

Have you seen this creative video representing our addiction to phones?

Or read this news article about a San Francisco train shooting where “passengers were too distracted by phones to notice the shooter’s gun in plain sight”? With all this new ‘connectivity,’ we are not actually connecting to the world and the people around us. In fact, surveys indicate that 13% of cell phone owners pretend to use their phone to avoid interacting with people around them.

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Image from teamsugar.com

The other day, my phone died while waiting for the bus [It was horrible!]. So, rather than staring mindlessly in to space, I made some small-talk with a guy heading to Carrboro and told him he could take the J and not wait 45 minutes for the CW. It felt good. It got me thinking….

It’s time to UNPLUG! I have come up with a 10 day challenge, and I invite you to try it with me. Since we all have work, school, and social lives, I have fairly realistic expectations. Still, I think we can semi-unplug from the world more often than we think. So, here it is:

Jani’s 10 day Challenge of Unplugging

  • Day 1 Friday: When you’re out with a partner or friend, make a deal to keep your phones in your pockets, bags, etc.
  • Day 2 Saturday: It’s the weekend! Do not check your work or school email accounts. Not even once.
  • Day 3 Sunday: Invest in a watch! Since it is Sunday, maybe you have some time to go find one. This way, you can check your watch for the time instead of your phone.
  • Day 4 Monday: Read the DTH or a hardcopy of some magazine or newspaper to check out any local events happening this week.
  • Day 5 Tuesday: Do not spend all day at a computer. Time yourself so that every hour, you get up and walk around for about 5 minutes. During that time, say hi to a colleague, another student, or a friend. Whatever you do, do not take your phone with you.
  • Day 6 Wednesday: While eating meals, keep your phone in a separate room, on silent.
  • Day 7 Thursday: At work, your room, or the library, open your email only twice per hour. [Coming from someone who permanently keeps the email tab open while on my computer, I know this will be my biggest challenge]
  • Day 8 Friday: When you are watching television, and a commercial comes on, do anything other than pulling out your phone.  Maybe even jumping jacks!
  • Day 9 Saturday: If the weather is nice, enjoy the outdoors! Go for a hike or to the park, and leave your phone at home or in the car. [If you do not feel safe, keep your phone with you but do not look at it!] If it is rainy or cold outside, enjoy a hot beverage of your choice and a movie in the comfort of your own home, and turn your phone completely off during this time.
  • Day 10 Sunday: It is the last day of the challenge and I am hoping that tomorrow we can return to work or school feeling completely rejuvenated and ready to take on the world. What are we going to do to celebrate? Find a moment to answer a text with a phone call or Skype date instead of another text.

[TIPS for Success: Hey iPhone users, did you know there is a function on your phone called “Do Not Disturb” that will save incoming calls, messages, and alerts for later until you unlock your phone?]

My hope is that together, we can all unplug from this world and be in the moment for at least 10 days and continue some of these habits for our minds’ sake. You will be happier, your friends will be happier, and your mental health and boss or professor may be happier, too!

~JR

FLASHBACK FRIDAY: Avoiding the Stress Competition and 6 Other Tips for Surviving Finals

This blog was originally posted on April 30, 2012 and was written by Sarah Weller. Also check out this post by Bob Pleasants for more study tips or The Learning Center for finals week services like Study Boot Camps, Academic Coaching and Peer Tutoring!

Finals period! Oh what a wonderful time of year!

Sike. Let’s just be blunt. Finals. Period. Sucks. It’s a stressful time of year. End of story. There is really no way that a 2 week period testing your knowledge on ALLLL the things that you learned during the past 14 weeks could be anything but a little stressful.  But there are some ways to make it suck less, and maybe to even harness some of that stress for good.

  Above all- Don’t Engage in the Stress Competition at all costs!!!

Person 1:“I’m so stressed. I have 2 papers, and 3 finals to go. I’ve been up since, like, 6:30 this morning.”

Person 2: “Uh, me too. I’ve had like 6 cups of coffee today. I only got like 3 hours of sleep.”

Person 1: “Oh yea, I only got like 2.5. I had to finish that take home we had due for biochem.”

How often have you been hanging out with friends during high-stress times like finals period and suddenly found yourself in a similar conversation, wherein, one person’s stressors just feeds off the other’s. BEWARE! While this might seem like simple commiseration, it only serves to perpetuate an atmosphere of stress! In fact, let’s all actively FIGHT the stress competition. When you find yourself beginning to engage in a Stress Competition, immediately say something nice. Something positive. Do jumping jacks. Make a scene. ANYTHING but engage in the stress competition- for serious.

Oh and here are 6 other handy tips for finals times…

1.       Make a Schedule: Sound familiar? You’ve probably received this advice on repeated occasions, but it’s a good suggestion, so it bears repeating. Many times, stress stems from trying to squeeze too much into too little time. By setting out a schedule, you help to structure your time, ensuring that you’re not left at the 12th hour with 20+ pages to read/write. (Bonus: By creating a schedule and using your time wisely you have more time for #3 and #4!)

2.       Prioritize: Much like making a schedule, prioritizing helps you to avoid that last minute cram.

3.       Avoid Productive Procrastination (Or Procrastination At all): Personally, I often try to do smaller easier tasks, while ignoring my looming larger assignments, something a friend of mine calls productive procrastination. While this might seem like at least I’m getting something done, it really just causes me extra stress when I have to scrabble to finish the BIG assignments in the end. Those little assignments aren’t going anywhere, and they’ll be just as easy when you’re done with the big one. Same thing for procrastination at all. It’s only going to sneak up on you in the end. Facebook, Twitter, that trip to Taco Bell will still be there when you’re done (and can even serve as a pleasant reward for finishing!)

4.       Take Care of Yourself: I CANNOT repeat this enough. If your body is not well, your mind is not well. Deprive it of the essentials– sleep, nutrients from good food– it’s just not going to perform the way you want it to, and you’re not going to perform the way that you want to. So treat your body right. Take care of yourself.

5.       Don’t Forget Balance: Staying balanced during finals period can be hard. But don’t forget to intersperse some of the activities that really make you happy in between papers and study sessions.

6.       Set Realistic Goals: Know what you can and cannot do. Finishing an X page paper in X amount of time might be realistic for some, but not for you. Use this knowledge to help guide you in #1 and #2.
Any other great suggestions on avoiding finals time stress?

WORKOUT WEDNESDAY: The Importance of Good Posture

by Emily Wheeler

 

You sit down at your desk to start that paper that you’ve been procrastinating for the entirety of Fall Break: for those first 15 minutes of staring blankly at the empty Microsoft Word page on your computer, you’re sitting up straight, your back against the back of the chair, and your feet are on the floor. By the time you come up with a thesis, you’re sitting on one foot you’ve tucked under the other leg and the distance between your face and the computer screen has been cut in half. By the end of the introduction, it looks like the Hunchback of Notre Dame is sitting at your computer, and by the end of the first page, you’re just typing a million ”g’s” because your face is laying on the keyboard. Good posture isn’t found on the priority list of most college students, but it can have a drastic impact on your long-term health.

Maintaining good posture means sitting in a way that allows your bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons to all be in proper alignment so that no particular area or part of your body has an unnecessary amount of stress placed on it. Proper posture prevents joint and muscle pain that can become almost permanent over time as the stress causes damage to your body. Improper posture can increase your risk of arthritis and even limit proper organ and nervous system function if you’re constantly hunched over so much that your torso is significantly shorter than it should be.

ID-100148426Holding poor posture on a regular basis can be a result of both weak muscles and overly tight muscles. Stress and long hours of sitting in the same place, working on a computer, for example, can cause the neck, shoulder, and back muscles to tighten up and encourage bad posture as we hunch and lean and sag to try to compensate for the tension we’re feeling. If your abdominal muscles are weak, your posture will also suffer significantly because the core muscles are essential for supporting the spine and even aligning the hips as you walk and sit, which is just another reason to be sure you’re making time to incorporate some core strengthening exercises into your routine.

It seems like we often recognize bad posture when we see it or feel it, but could you demonstrate perfect posture if you were asked? Proper posture is different if you’re sitting, standing, lying down, or exercising. Here are some tips for improving your posture no matter what you’re up to:

If you’re sitting:

Start by lengthening your torso and “sitting up straight.” You’ll probably be surprised at how much you were just slouching without even realizing it! Roll your shoulders back to relax them and align them with your hips, and place your feet flat on the floor so that your torso-to-thigh and thigh-to-calf angles should both be 90 degrees. Make sure you’re not holding tension in your shoulders and keeping them up too high or hunching them forward toward whatever you’re working on, even though it’s always quite tempting.

If you’re standing:

Your ears, shoulders, hips, and ankles should all be in one lovely straight line for optimal standing posture. It’s best to stand with your feet about hip-distance apart instead of with feet together or spread widely. You’ll also want to keep your toes pointing forward, avoid locking the knees, keep equal weight in both legs or shift back and forth slightly, and keep the spine long and straight. Think about how in movies, children are taught to maintain proper walking posture by walking while balancing a book on their heads. There really is benefit to keeping the chin up and parallel to the floor, because it helps to keep your back straight and your shoulders down and back, as well!

If you’re sleeping:

Maintaining good posture while sleeping can be extremely difficult because it’s always just easiest to lay the way that feels most comfortable instead of sleeping in a way that’s best for your spine. I’m always tempted to sleep sprawled out on my stomach, but this is actually one of the worst positions in which to sleep according to the American Chiropractic Association. Sleeping on your stomach can cause the spine to be curved backward more than it should, causing unnecessary strain on the back muscles and that unwanted soreness in the morning when you finally try to roll over. The best ways to sleep for your spine and muscular health are on your side with a pillow between your legs, or on your back with a pillow under your knees. These sleeping positions might take a little getting used to, but can actually be quite comfortable if you’re willing to give it a try, and can help you to sleep better by reducing stress on your body.

If you’re exercising:

When exercising, posture is more commonly referred to as “proper form,” but is just as important as during all other times of your daily life. During weight lifting exercises especially, it’s important to keep the shoulders and shoulder blades down and back and the chest and face up and forward, as they would be when you’re standing. Make sure that you learn the proper form for any exercise before you attempt it or do that exercise regularly to ensure maximum benefit and minimal damage to your body. If you feel that you have poor posture in your daily life, incorporating gentle muscle-strengthening exercises into your week, such as yoga or light weight lifting can help you gain the strength to naturally hold your body in a healthier position. Superman and cobra poses and exercises can be great for strengthening weak back muscles and stretching out the abdominals, and the Warrior yoga poses can be good for stretching out your hips if they have that achy feeling after a long day of sitting.

The good news is that you are completely in control of your posture, and it’s never too late to make great changes to improve your health and comfort! It can be so hard to pay attention to something as seemingly simple as the way we stand, sit, or ever sleep, but just developing this healthy habit can have long-lasting benefits to our overall health. In addition to improving your skeletal and muscular health, proper posture can also help you to simply look more respectable in a meeting, classroom, or interview setting and portrays a confident appearance as opposed to an apathetic, tired appearance if you’re slouching over the table in your seat. Comfort is important, but before you curl into a tiny ball in one of the comfortable chairs in the library, consider giving a day of good posture a try to improve not only your health and long-term comfort, but to create a setting of wakefulness and focus as you sit down to finish that paper!

Sources:

  1. http://www.livestrong.com/article/78788-posture-important/
  2. http://www.kansaschirofoundation.org/goodposture-article.html
  3. http://www.acatoday.org/content_css.cfm?CID=1452
  4. freedigitalphotos.net

Inner TLC and Your Physical Health

Stress Free Zone
Stress Free Zone

We’ve all been there. Yep, the mid-semester slump. That time of the year when your balanced diet, workout goals, and pursuit of healthy living are thrown out of the window and replaced with junk food, long hours sitting in front of the computer, and a desire just to survive midterm exams and papers. You may find that your energy levels are low, you’re easily distracted, not sleeping enough or sleeping too much, and overall, just not feeling like yourself. If this describes you, it just might be time to engage in some self-care, or what I like to call, inner TLC. Continue reading

Backyard Yoga: Your Guide to Ultimate Relaxation

Get ready to stretch, flex, and maintain inner peace – all at once! By doing yoga, you are taking part in a mind and body practice begun thousands of years ago. Numerous scientific studies tout the health and wellness benefits of practicing regular yoga. We wanted to see what all the hype was about, so we headed outside to get our yoga on! Unlike machines, weights, or a gym membership – doing yoga is free. You can do it almost anytime, anywhere.

Yoga requires very little equipment. In fact, most poses can be done with only a yoga mat. Yoga, as with any exercise regimen, should only be performed if you are well enough for physical exertion. Remember – you do not have to do anything you do not feel comfortable with! Check out the following popular poses, gathered from the web.

ss_FI0507WWFAL001Downward Dog

1. Begin this pose on all fours, with your hands below shoulders, and knees under the hips.

2. Slowly move your hands forward and spread your fingers apart.

3. Move your body into a V-shape by curling your toes and pressing your head inward. Your knees should be bent slightly, with your feet shoulder-width apart.

 

 

 

ss_FI090106TRYIN002Tree Pose

1. Stand on one leg and position the sole of the other foot inside the other thigh. Maintain a forward-facing body throughout.

2. When you have balanced yourself, bring your hands in front of you in a prayer pose.

3. As an alternate, extend your hands above your shoulders, reaching fingers to the sky.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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1. Lie on the mat facing downwards. Place your thumbs directly underneath your shoulders. Extend your legs together behind you, with the tops of the feet on the ground.

2. Flex your pelvic muscles, tuck your hips inwards, and flex your glutes.

3. Raise your head and shoulders up and outwards into the cobra pose.

 

 

 

 

To take full advantage of yoga, perform these poses in a peaceful environment. Take your water bottle along, and sip regularly to stay hydrated. For an added bonus, practice deep breathing with 7 full counts on the inhalation. Stretch before and after doing these poses to keep your muscles supple and healthy.

Bring your yoga habit back to campus! Campus Rec offers several yoga class opportunities per week taught by trained fitness instructors. Check out the UNC Camps Rec Calendar and find a free class to attend!