Navigating the Curveballs

By: Amanda

Sometimes life throws you curveballs. As a student or a working professional, whether it is through illness, injury, or essentially anytime you need to take time off, it is crucial to know what your options are in both school and work life. Here are a few areas to look into:

Meet with your Academic Advisor
Academic Advisors are a wealth of knowledge just waiting to be tapped into. They can help to understand options when going through sticky situations. Their job is literally to aid in keeping students on path towards graduation. Take advantage of your assigned advisor, after all it is a free resource built in to your tuition. 🙂 No matter what the situation, you can count on your advisor to have the answer to your question, or be able to direct you to where you can find the answer. Depending upon the situation, they may suggest a medical withdrawal. As daunting as this process may seem, open communication with your academic advisor will help all run seamlessly.

Image: looking down on colorful pens in a jar on a grey background
Text: Navigating life's curveballs

Medical Withdrawal
With proper approval, a medical withdrawal on a student transcript is not something that will make or break a student’s academic career. There are three main steps that go into a medical withdrawal. First, a petition must be made. Through a petition on the OneStop website you can cancel all classes or individual classes, depending on the situation. Keep in mind, that if only one class is canceled, there should be a brief explanation why one class is being canceled and not others. On the last page, you can have your advisor recommended the withdrawal. Second, there must be a medical supplement form submitted. This is simply a form filled out by a Medical Professional with specific dates and information. Finally, keep in mind a tuition refund. Adjusting credit load can alter tuition, as well as financial aid. This is the most complex part of the process and if not done right could potentially make a student owe money. Make sure to set up an appointment with OneStop to work out the fine details.

Family and Medical Leave Act
FMLA requires employers to provide job secured unpaid leave for all excusable medical and family reasons. In order to be eligible for FMLA the employee must be at the business for at least 12 months and work at a company that employs 50 or more employees in a 75 mile radius. As college students who will be soon entering the workforce, it is important to have knowledge in this area and be fully versed in all rights.

Counseling Sessions
Remember that through UMD each semester you get 10 FREE counseling sessions with your tuition. This is almost one counseling session per week. No matter what you are going through, know that you are not alone and there is always someone here to talk. Once you’re out working, your company may also have an Employee Assistance Program the provides consultation and referral services in counseling and a number of other areas. Here’s what is available to UMD employees, as an example.

Life throws difficult curveballs and situations our way often and it is important to know how to deal with them. These resources are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to resources offered. The first step is to meet with an advisor or your supervisor and see what is available for you!

Of Possible Interest:
Disabilities in the Workplace – all our blog posts on the topic
Productivity & Wellness – all our blog posts on the topic

Read Amanda’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Jessica Lewis

Changing Your Mindset

By: Rachel

Sooner or later, it seems like we all reach that point where we’re ready to be done with the semester, and we don’t care who knows it. It’s all we seem to talk about, and sometimes it’s even reflected in our work. The reality is, you’re going to face seasons like this throughout your life. Perhaps you’re just sticking out your job for two weeks until you can move on to the next one, or you’re just gliding through the last few days before your week-long vacation. Maybe right now you’ve got your eye on that diploma regardless of the GPA attached, or you’ve determined these last few weeks are just an inconvenience (albeit busy!) that must be endured, because your mind is already preoccupied with summer.

In my opinion, one of the biggest contributors to living a successful life is finding joy in the present moment. So many of us get caught up in what’s less than ideal about our current lives, and we believe things were so much better in the past or they will be in the future. Often times, we were complaining just as much then and we will just as much in the days to come, unless we change our mindset.

Image: colored confetti on brown stone background
Text: Change your Mindset

I’d like to offer you a few practices that might help you change your mindset to help you make the best of every situation you find yourself in. It’s important to recognize that not every aspect of life is ideal or healthy. There are times where enduring feelings of negativity might be a sign to take a different path, change majors, or find a different job. But, even the path of your dreams will have a few rocks in it; the key is not to let them trip you up.

  • One of my favorite ways to find joy in where I’m at in life right now is to ask myself what I’ll miss about it years from now. Sure, college can be a struggle, but when I look at my calendar and get stressed about the jam-packed days that never look the same as the next, I picture myself as a 50-year-old pining for the days that were filled with variety, and it makes me appreciate my current life a little more. I’m sure we all got sick of eating every meal in the Dining Center at some point, but I knew the day would come where I’d run out of fun meal ideas and dread washing the dishes, so I made the most of it.
  • I’ve found it extremely helpful to have close relationships with people of a wide variety of ages. These people can lend you perspective, and while the problems in your life right now might loom bigger than any others you’ve ever experienced, people with more life experience can usually assure you that what seems like the end of the world actually isn’t. It’s like that insurance commercial, they know a thing or two, because they’ve seen a thing or two. They might not always know best, but having friends who have already survived college or their first years in a full-time job can tell you what things are not worth working yourself up over and other things that are worth pouring your energy into.
  • Practice gratitude. Many of you have probably heard of the 21 Day Gratitude Challenge, where you write down 3 things you’re grateful for every day for 21 days. Scientists say this is long enough to form a new habit. The point is, regularly recognizing the aspects of your life you can be thankful for means you’ll be more likely to embrace even the trying times with gratitude.
  • Taking a step back and reminding yourself of the reasons why you’re on the journey you are can be a great way to recenter your mindset. Maybe you really struggle with school, and you can’t wait to be a counselor holding appointments where you’re able to help people. Well, you know you’re probably going to need a degree to do that, so focus on the end goal, and try to make the most of each step along the way. Perhaps you don’t love the types of job positions you find yourself in now, but you know you have to put in your time to earn the kind of position you really want. Give your best to that role, and try to focus on the aspects you enjoy.

I truly hope you’re able to use these tips to embrace the last few weeks of the semester (and your life as a whole) by appreciating the present moment. Sometimes all it takes is a little change in your mindset.

Best, Rachel

Of Possible Interest:
Productivity & Wellness – all our blog posts on the topic
Slowing Down During Spring Semester
Healthy on the Job – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Read Rachel’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Chris Barbalis

4 Tips for When You Realize You’re in Over Your Head

By: Amanda

This past Fall I went into my sophomore year full of energy and anticipation like I was lining up to hit a home run at the plate. Freshman year I dipped my toe in the water with my classes, but now this was it, sophomore year was my time to dive in head first and get involved on campus. I attended the activities fair and put my name down on every sheet I could get my hands on. Yes, this all was very fun and of course, it was a good way to meet new people, but about halfway through the semester when my classes started to get difficult I began to see signs that I was simply spreading myself too thin. When I would be in one place, I was constantly thinking about my mile-long to-do list or what I had to do afterward. Although I had everything planned on Google Calendar, I was always paranoid, wondering if I was potentially missing a meeting I should be at. On top of all of this, I felt I was missing the essentials in life: quality time spent with friends and family, and time spent alone with myself. After discussing my issue with a few co-workers, I began to realize this type of situation is happening to students all the time. There are four key actions to take when you realize you are in over your head.

colorful square tile background. Text: 4 tips for when you realize you're in over your head - cordially back out of commitments, plan it all out, enlist help of others, know you're not alone.

CORDIALLY BACK OUT.
Backing out is something that everyone hates doing, it might make you feel like a flakey person, and could even be comparable to a break-up. First and foremost, it is absolutely crucial to end on good terms. If at all possible, talk to the group/person face-to-face and explain to the situation. Open communication is key. Be honest about what is going on, admit your own wrongdoings and apologize if needed. Ending on a favorable note makes it easier in the future if you have to work with the group/person again.

PLAN IT ALL.
Whether it be an old-fashioned planner, Google Calendar, or Microsoft Outlook, find a method of planning that works best for you and stick to it. Sometimes seeing everything laid out can help you to figure out what is realistic to accomplish.

ENLIST HELP.
Take a step back and reevaluate your tasks. Yes, I am sure some of them need to be done by you and only you, but is there a possibility you could get a co-worker or roommate to help you with the others? By even delegating one task from your to-do list, a slight weight may be taken off your shoulders.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE.  
At the University of Minnesota Duluth, we are given twelve free counseling sessions per semester. Take advantage of these. Talking with an external source can be an aid in finding clarity. Additionally, pinpoint the type of stress that you are having. Is it career stress? Drop in and see us at the Career and Internship Services office. Financial Stress? Go see what the OneStop can do for you. Trouble taking tests? Disability Resources is waiting to help you.

Although my sophomore year Fall semester may not have gone as planned (well, when do things ever go exactly as planned??), I was able to learn key life lessons. Know that it is possible to be fully involved on-campus, work, do well in classes, and have time for yourself when you plan accordingly and learn how to say no. It’s time for you to stop overworking yourself and a get a grip on your life.

Of Possible Interest:
How to Say NO
Productivity & Wellness – all our blog posts on the topic
Self-Care 101
Healthy on the Job – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Read Amanda’s other posts

Photo source: Unsplash | Andrew Ridley

Midterm Madness Mental Health Tips

By: Heidi

Editor’s note: in our office we see mental health as a critical component of your overall career path. While these tips are directed toward college students, they’d be helpful for people who are no longer in college. 

I think as students we can all agree we’re at the point in the semester where projects are piling up, the assignments are never-ending, and trying to finish your to-do list feels like being on a hamster wheel. I’m all about trying to see the best in a situation so I found some great mental health tips that therapists give their patients in times of stress.

Now more than ever as a student is it important to work hard towards school but also take the time for yourself and your mental health. Here are some tips to take on to get through these next few weeks.

Small orange flowers with sky in the background; Text: Tips for managing mental health

Try writing your thoughts down
Take 5 minutes or so a day to write down your thoughts, feelings, or ideas. This can help you process emotions you encounter throughout the day and destress from it all.

When you’re super stressed and overwhelmed, see if there’s any way to put a positive spin on it
With so many deadlines as a student, think about how the stress of it is actually helping push you to get it done.

Counter negative thoughts with positive ones
If you’re feeling like you can’t finish everything on your plate, recognize your hard work and all that you’ve accomplished that day. For times when you’re feeling you’ll never be able to make it happen, remind yourself with a positive thought that you always finish what you start.

Have a self-care arsenal
Everyone has certain things or coping mechanisms that give them a boost when they’re feeling crappy whether it’s taking a bath, watching a YouTube clip, or putting on your favorite pair of sweatpants. These may be small tips, but it will give yourself something to look forward to after a long day.

Ask yourself “and then what?” when you’re stuck on an anxious thought
Push your thought process forward by forcing yourself to think ahead. For example, if you keep worrying about receiving a bad grade on an exam, ask yourself what are you going to do to prevent it or what will you do to boost your grade after the exam.

Even though the end of the semester can be a stressful time for us all, keep in mind that all of your work will get done, focus on one thing at a time, and take a little bit of time each day for yourself.

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Heidi’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Masaaki Komori

Using Creativity to Disconnect

By: Heidi

How often do you take the time to disconnect? Like really disconnect away from your phone, computer, constant notifications, and email. In this day and age, we are constantly surrounded by technology as it is how we communicate, used for school, and work. Because of this, we are in constant connection with our friends, social networking notifications, and email. Although this is really beneficial, it can be detrimental to our health as we are always able to be reached nearly 24/7.

Using creativity to disconnect - sketchbook on desk with watercolors

Now that you’re thinking about how often you disconnect, ask yourself, how often do I take the time to slow down. Like really slow down as in the to-do list can wait, the kitchen doesn’t have to be spotless, you didn’t get home as early as you wanted because you stayed after class to catch up with a friend type of slow down.

I wanted to bring this to your attention because I often find myself being in a state of #1 constantly connected to my phone and #2 not always taking the time to slow down.

So you find yourself in the same boat struggling to disconnect and to slow down and enjoy the moment or day that we have.

I propose to you take to make the time in your day whether it be ten minutes or one hour to explore and pursue your creative outlet. Yup. That’s it. A creative outlet. Why? Because all humans, whether you believe it or not, were meant to create. Creating something can mean so many different things. This can consist of dancing, painting, photography, doodling cartoons, playing a musical instrument, baking, gardening, and more. Whatever it is that you choose, allow yourself to have fun with it, share it with others, and not place an expectation on it that it has to be this perfect thing. For example, have you seen the Netflix show ‘Nailed It?’ These people are on a baking competition show trying to recreate these really intricate cakes done by professionals and the people trying to recreate them bake out of a hobby. The thing is, these cakes turn out laughably bad but that’s the point. It doesn’t matter how bad the cakes turn out, they all had fun (or were stressed by the pressures of reality TV…who knows) during the process.

When you become so engaged in an activity you enter ‘flow mode.’ During this flow mode, you lose track of time and get lost in it allowing the pressures and anxiety of daily life to melt away.

It is unfair to deem ourselves as creative or uncreative. You owe it to yourself to make the time to explore a creative outlet as this will allow you to disconnect and be better for your overall wellbeing.

Of Possible Interest:

Read Heidi’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Tim Arterbury

The Art of Maintaining a Busy Schedule

By: McKenzie

Sometimes maintaining a busy schedule can feel impossible. Many students in college work and are involved in extracurricular activities, in addition to classes, making it incredibly difficult to continue this busy lifestyle. But fear not, as a seasoned pro at accidentally overworking myself I have some tips and tricks that help me keep it all together (and avoid overworking myself).

Tips for Maintaining a Busy Schedule

Get enough sleep
It is recommended to get 7-9 hours of sleep per night. This is something you should definitely avoid slacking on. When I worked overnights I used to schedule when I would get sleep to make sure I was getting enough rest. You can’t perform any task as well as you want if you are falling asleep while doing it.

Keep a calendar
When you’re a busy person it is often hard to keep track of all the things that you’re doing. I have found it best to start a calendar. You gain the skill of time management and it helps you to anticipate how much time you have for the little things like homework or even a nap before class.

Make time for food
Food is fuel! Not only should you be eating enough but you should also be mindful of what you’re eating. While I am an avid lover of pizza rolls I am also sure to be considerate of my portions as well as what I am putting into my body. You will get out of it what you put into it.

Always make time for yourself
The most important time of any day is the time you dedicate to yourself. We all need a little bit of me time and practicing self-care is a really great skill to develop. Any schedule is manageable if you make time to do whatever it is you love to do.

Of Possible Interest: 

Read McKenzie’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Jessica Arends

Self-Care 101

By: Alissa (Disability Specialist & Guest Blogger)

Editor’s Note: Today’s post continues the collaboration we are doing with the Disability Resources office on the UMD Campus.

Hi there everyone, Alissa here from UMD Disability Resources returning to post some helpful tips on one of my favorite topics ever, SELF-CARE. You might be thinking, oh but I am so busy and I don’t really have time for self-care? Then chances are, you could probably really use some 😉 Ask yourself: “What have I done today that feels nourishing, supportive and inspiring for my well being, my joy?”

In this post, I am going to focus on some helpful self-care tips I like to practice along with other helpful tips that may be useful for yourself. Beginning to practice self-care, you need to remind yourself that you truly deserve it and you are WORTH it.

Self-care simply speaking is basically any set of practices that make you feel rejuvenated, relaxed, or nourished in either a physical, emotional, spiritual, or all of the above state of mind! Self-care is simply putting time aside to recharge in a way that is really meaningful and helpful to you and there are ton of different ways to do so.

For me personally, some of my favorite self-care activities are practicing mindfulness meditation, yoga, exercise, walking and playing with my dogs, taking a bubble bath, and simply curling up on the couch to watch some of my favorite tv shows.

One of the biggest hurdles to practicing self-care is basically figuring out what works for you as it is something we naturally don’t think about as much as other life duties and responsibilities. We need to make self-care a priority just as we do brushing our teeth or making our beds in the morning. Self-care should be a part of your daily routine. One way to think through a self-care plan is to ask yourself who, what, and where make you feel safe and supported.

Some other important questions to think about are: Who are the people that you can surround yourself with who will make you feel supported? What are some activities that you can do that bring you a sense of calm, and where are the places that you can go to feel safe and comfortable?

Here’s how to start your self-care practice:

  • Start Small. If you don’t already have a self-care regimen in place for yourself, remember to start small. Savor a cup of tea quietly, listen to your breath for 5 minutes each day, walk out in nature, take a bubble bath, or play with a pet. These can all be small, yet meaningful ways to take care of yourself.
  • Put Yourself First. You can’t give to others if you don’t first give to yourself. If you are wearing yourself ragged, you will be giving to others from a very fragile and sensitive place. It will likely be with agitation, frustration, fatigue, and even stress.
  • Adjust accordingly. Because self-care is not a one-size-fits-all reality, and individual needs vary, we have to be willing to adjust and readjust our needs and priorities along the way. Remember self-care is a practice that is ongoing, lifelong, and requires constant attention and intention. Some days will be easy, other days will feel impossible.

If you can do one thing (at minimum) every day that rejuvenates you, then these baby steps can really add up! I know you can do it! Always put yourself first and prioritize YOU. Self love is very important, you got this!

Of Possible Interest: 

Read other posts Alissa has written