Tackle the Blues

For an upcoming Crow’s Nest article, I recently attended the stress management discussion hosted by Dr. Anita Sahgal and Dr. Sara Leslie.

I have to be honest; I was disappointed that no students showed up. If I did not go to write an article about it, only one person would have sat through the discussion.

While jotting down notes and quotes, I learned that stress is individualized – not a new concept to me, but a refreshing one.

In times of stress, it helps to know that organization, talking out problems with friends and family and exercising are a few ideas to make the world stop – at least for a minute.

I have always been an advocate for positive de-stressing. A semester away from graduating, I have to admit that I am a veteran of good, wholesome de-stressing.

Take a look at tips and tricks suggested by experts Sahgal and Leslie in my approaching article. But for now, here are a few of my personal de-stressing tips that came in handy during my four years as a student.

1. Power naps – The point is not to fall asleep but to rest. I know it is difficult to do but get comfortable somewhere, close your eyes, focus on your breathing and nothing else. Know that it is possible to clear your mind for at least 15 or 20 minutes. I power napped many times in my car.

2. Clean. Clean. Clean. Clean something – anything. Cleaning helps to clear the mind and it gives you a sense of control. Do not clean something that is going to frustrate you more – like the blinds or the garage. Throw out the junk in your car or reorganize your closet.

3. Favorite Foods. When I am stressed I like to make my self happy by doing something I like to do. Cooking and baking my favorite foods helps me feel replenished.

4. Reassurance. I think that stress is often produced by self-consciousness or a lack in confidence. Talk to a close friend or family member who will tell you your positive characteristics. Make sure you can trust a person who will tell you the truth and not what you want to hear.

5. Let it all out. Cry, scream, run 10 miles or vent to someone you trust.

6. Pin point. Try to put a finger on what exactly is bothering you. Understanding the problem will help you to solve the issue.

7. Beach. Imagine currently living in Maine and stressing out. We live in Florida people, and it’s sunny with a high of 75 right now on Nov. 15. Go to the beach! Relax.

8. Get out of the library. I know that Nelson Poynter Library is a home away from home to most of us. But get your nose out of the books for a few moments. Taking breaks in between studying always helps me to stay focused.

9. Evaluate your relationships. Having an ongoing fight with someone? Feel jealous, angry, bitter or spiteful? Figure out how you will deal with it. Don’t let it linger because everyone else will see that dark cloud hovering over your head.

10. Set priorities. I will never forget this valuable piece of information: work now, play later. If you get in the routine of doing so, I guarantee you will feel accomplished and less stressed. Yes, easier said than done. It takes strength and motivation.

When it comes to stress, remember to assess your problems and feel good inside.

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The Ultimate Beach Makeover

In an attempt to escape the ravages of homework, I set out to see the new Beach Walk in Clearwater.

Those familiar with Clearwater Beach know two things: It’s a major tourist attraction in desperate need of additional parking and it is laden with contruction. These two factors definitely kept me from visiting the beach in the past few years

But now, I’m in love with the place.

The new Beach Walk gives the beach a whole new appeal. It is a winding, paved walkway with a original look, as if someone placed plastic bags over the cement, lifted them up and left crinkles to give the cement a unique texture. Lined with mini light poles, sunset will give the walkway a romantic ambiance.

Beach Walk is a great place for a first date. Pick up an ice cream cone at Barefoot Beach House, walk down to Pier 60 where there is free entertainment and then watch the sunset. (Men, you can thank me later for the cheap-date pointers.)

The best part about my Beach Walk experience, other than dragging my mom with me, was looking at the enormous sun-dial in the middle of the walkway. I take that back. The best part was when a man walked up to us and asked if the sun-dial was working. Enough said there.

And the most surprising part? How fresh Clearwater Beach looks. More sea oats, sand dunes, Bird-of-Paradise and palm trees made me feel like I was in Hawaii and Miami simultaneously. There is plenty of seating, especially in the new medians that, according to my Mom, look like mini Central Parks.

Parking still seems to be an issue even with new metered spaces along the median. There is a new parking lot on the south end of Beach Walk that is still under construction.

There are showers along Beach Walk that all share an adorable eccentricity; a plush-looking sea turtle sits atop the showers. The turtle is sitting on one shower and on another he is in a dancing position.

As much as Clearwater Beach changed, the old beach aura that we all know and love still exists. Sun-baked babes continue to play volleyball, get henna tattoos at a pagoda, eat at the same beach-side restaurants and browse the artisan vendors on the boardwalk pier.

The entertainment is all around and the beach is a prime spot to people-watch. Besides New York City, it is one of the few places to see Captain Jack Sparrow and a man dressed in military garb, painted in a bronze shade and standing as a statue within 20 feet of one another.

Do not worry. Clearwater Beach maintains its classic features.

My mom said it better than I could: the beach had a major face-lift.