Life is MESSY and Life is HARD

I’ve had a pretty challenging past 24 hours.  And, being only human, I have felt very frustrated and quite miserable.

Miserable

This morning, a variety of events took place that really challenged me. It all felt like just too much. (I am sure that you can identify with that feeling – feeling completely overwhelmed by life’s challenges). I was about to phone a friend and ask them to come and find me and just hold me while I sobbed. But, before I did, something ‘dawned’ on me, or, should I say, I had a bit of an epiphany:

  • Life is hard – and experiencing this is something experienced by all living beings;

Life is hard for everybody

  • Sometimes, life is going to be particularly hard – but these do not last forever;
  • Compared to many people in the world, my life is absolutely fantastic; and

The suffering of others

  • That I need to make a choice – to allow myself to have a mini-meltdown, or, to choose to carry on driving and do the things that I need to do.

Choose to keep going

 

Of course, we are all entitled to our emotions. There ARE going to be times in which we feel that we just cannot carry on. There will be situations in our lives that will cause us great sadness or great stress.

 

But, just as certain, there will also be GREAT moments. Life will also sometimes be good. There will also be situations that bring us immense joy and satisfaction.

Life will be beautiful

 

In Italian, there is an expression ‘La vita e’ bella’ – this means ‘Life is beautiful’.

 

Oprah Winfrey (the famous US TV presenter) would often ask her audience ‘what do you know for certain?’.

 

Well, one of the things that I know for certain is that life is  incredibly difficult, and, life is also incredibly beautiful. 

 

I would like to end today’s post with a short reference to quite a beautiful story that appears in the Christian Bible, in the Jewish Torah, as well as in the Muslim Koran

All three of these Holy Books tell us of how Joshua and Caleb were amongst a group of 12 people sent by Moses to go and report on what things looked like in the land of  Canaan.  When the group of people returned to give Moses their feedback, 10 of the 12 people gave really negative opinions about what the situation was like in Canaan. The main feedback given to Moses was that Canaan was ‘Eretz Ochelet Yoshveiah’  [Hebrew for ‘A land that devours its inhabitants]. However, contrary to that negative feedback, Caleb and Joshua said that Canaan was in fact ‘Eretz Zavat Halav U’Dvash’ [Hebrew for ‘A land flowing with milk and honey’].

Why do I mention this story? Well, today I choose to believe that my life is going to contain ‘milk and honey’. And, that I am ready and waiting for the good stuff  (‘milk and honey’).

 

Wishing you all a happy day!

Take care of yourselves.

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10 Tips for Beating Procrastination

Have you ever had so much on your plate that you had no idea how to get started? Don’t worry – you are not alone!  Leaving things for the last minute can be extremely stressful, and can often lead to having to pull unnecessary all-nighters, or having to deal with emotional breakdowns.

Beat procrastination

This blog post is meant to ease your fears and help you beat stress, because having those meltdowns is not worth it. Remember that most of the time, things work out just fine. So let’s get started.

10 ways to beat procrastination:

  1. Know your tasks:

It’s very easy to lose motivation when you have no idea what is expected of you. So, before you start any of your work, make sure you understand the instructions and what you are meant to do.

  1. Get moving:

One of the best ways to free yourself from procrastination is to change your scenery.  Try this: Start your day bright and early,and go for a walk around the block or do some stretches to get the blood flowing through your body. This will change your mindset completely and will help when you need to sit down with your work.

  1. Set a time:

Setting a time for yourself to work can be very effective. For example, 25 minutes is a good length of time to keep focused. After every 25 minutes of concentration, take a break and do something completely different for a short period of time, before getting back to your work for another 25 minutes. This allows your mind to re-energise.

  1. Motivation buddies are vital:

It is the best feeling when you know that people are there to support you.  So when you feel like you are slipping into procrastination, your motivation buddy will be a great help to get you back into the swing of things.

  1. Ask for help:

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Whether it is help from a tutor or a friend, having someone explain things to you can be very useful. At College SA, we give all our students access to a personal tutor. This tutor is available via telephone, e-mail, or Skype, and will attend to any study-related queries that you may have.

  1. Give yourself a break:

Try not to be too hard on yourself if you cannot get out of the procrastination slump for one day. Just work harder the next day to get things done.

  1. Get enough sleep:

You cannot have a full productive day if you go to bed late. You need to recharge at the end of each day, so remember to get at least 6 hours of sleep each night.

  1. Say goodbye to social networks:

Social networks can be very distracting. In order to focus on your work, you need to be strong and turn off all social networks during work time.

  1. Wake up early:

The advantage of waking up early is that it is quiet – giving you time to concentrate and get some work done.

     10.  Relax:

Try to remember that you will be okay! If you fail, it isn’t the end of the world. There are always second chances.

How to Study: Tricks, Tips, Techniques and Methods

It’s a couple of days before the exam (maybe even the Saturday before the big test on Monday) and you are staring at that thick textbook just lying there in front of you. The book seems like a slab of granite – immovable, oppressive, and weighing you down.

How do you start studying? How do you keep it up? How do you succeed, and how do you make studying more enjoyable?

I’ve been a student myself (a couple of times, actually). Studying is hard, I know. But you can make it easier for yourself.

I looked back at what helped me succeed. I searched far and wide and did some research, and I came up with a list of 10 tips, tricks and techniques that will help you get through.

So here we go!

  1. Make summaries

I know, it’s even more work that you’ll need to do. But you will be extremely grateful that you made the effort in the end! Summarise your course content using headings, subheadings and bullet-points.

Summarising will help you in 2 important ways:

  • It will help you internalise the work as you put it in your own words.
  • It will make it easier and faster for you to study the work, as you will have short synopses of the course content.

Make summaries as you go through the work the first time. Then, when exams come, you are going to have a much easier time studying and revising.

  1. Learn the concepts first

It is important that you grasp general concepts before learning the details.

If you try to memorise details without fully understanding how they fit into the theme or topic, you are most likely going to forget them!

Understanding the general concept first will allow your brain to remember the details and facts as they relate to it.

  1. Change location

This is a great tip that often worked for me. Tired of studying? Change your scenery. Go study in a park, at a coffee shop, or even just in another room. Go get some fresh air, and take your books with you!

Not only will this refresh your mind, but studies have shown that changing locations increases your likelihood of remembering things you learn. Memory is connected to environment.

This is also a benefit of distance learning, as it affords you the opportunity to study wherever you want and wherever you feel most comfortable.

Change your studying environment

  1. Study with someone

This is one of the fears that most correspondence students have: the fear of studying alone. But just because you aren’t in a classroom with peers, it doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from studying with someone! Ask a friend or family member to quiz you on your work.

And if you get stuck, College SA provides an excellent student support system that you can use: e-mail, Skype, or call your tutor for help.

5. Find your study method

I used to draw little pictures in the margins of my notes to help me retain the information. Some people benefit from drawing diagrams or mind maps.

Study methods - mind map

If you are struggling to keep the information in your head, maybe you just haven’t figured out which approach suits you best.

Remember: You aren’t necessarily bad at memorising things – you are mostly likely just using a study method that isn’t working for you!

6. Goals

This is a great motivational tool. Set yourself daily study goals. Then determine how many study sessions you’ll need each day, and how much you’ll need to learn in each session.

This will help you overcome procrastination, as well as allow you to pace yourself for greater ease and relaxation. You’ll feel much more prepared when you’ve got some structure in your study routine.

7. Reward yourself
If you keep to your goals, reward yourself. This is a great way to stay motivated and disciplined.

Studying incentive: When you reach a gummy bear, you get to eat it.

8. Take breaks
Don’t exhaust yourself in one session. The rule is 15 minute breaks every hour. But this rule is more of a guideline: you can make your own schedule. I used to take a 15 minute break every half an hour, in fact!

Just don’t fall into this trap:

Study for ten minutes. Reward self with two hours of pointless internet use.

Find a pace that works for you, and then stick to it!

9. Get enough sleep

Too many students cram for exams the night before. This is not a great idea, as the more tired you are, the less information your mind will retain.

Make sure you get enough sleep during your study time, as well as the night before the exam.

And again: don’t only sleep! Remember to stick to your study schedule.

10. Enjoy it!

I’ve been roommates with a number of different students – all studying an array of different courses. One thing I noticed is that studying was easier for those who enjoyed their subjects. This is why you should choose a study direction that you are actually interested in! What is the point of studying a subject if you don’t actually enjoy the work?

Do you really want to make a career out of something you don’t like? You don’t have to! Find your passion, and studying will become much easier.

Once last thing…
Don’t stress so much! Stress will not only hamper your memory retention, but will often paralyse you when you actually need to be studying.

So, take a deep breath. Relax. And remember:

Everything will be okay

Just Dance

I have recently been under a lot of stress, and it has taken its toll on my health. It made me think about how pointless it is to stress about things that are out of my control. Stressing about it will not make it go away, nor make it easier. In fact, the stress makes it harder. The more anxious I get, the more difficult it is to deal with the situation.

People tend to tell you “don’t stress” or “stop stressing”, but it is often easier said than done. No-one on this earth can possibly understand or comprehend what you are going through. Stress and anxiety are basic human reactions to painful, unwanted or uncomfortable situations. If this is a reality, then how do we overcome stress?

“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” – William James

William James said that we can fight stress by choosing one thought over another. We can choose to think about other things, force ourselves not to dwell on that which makes us weary, anxious, stressed, depressed or angry.

Instead of being angry or anxious about the approaching storm, rather be excited that you will get to smell the rain. Instead of stressing about being stuck in traffic, appreciate the beauty around you, or sing along to that golden oldie playing on your car radio.

Holding out your hands in the rain

“The truth is that stress doesn’t come from your boss, your kids, your spouse, traffic jams, health challenges, or other circumstances. It comes from your thoughts about these circumstances.” – Andrew Bernstein

I salute Andrew Bernstein for exposing the real reason for stress. The root cause of our stress does not lie in events or bad circumstances, but in our reaction to them. We must all realise that we are living in the present. It’s not about yesterday or tomorrow, but now. Therefore, stressing about yesterday or tomorrow is pointless. By stressing about days to come or days that have passed, you are deliberately letting your life pass you by, without living the life that you deserve.

We were not placed upon this earth to stress, or to be angered, sad or anxious. Yes, being human means that every so often we might experience these emotions, but we should not allow them to define us.

“Happiness is a choice. You can choose to be happy. There’s going to be stress in life, but it’s your choice whether you let it affect you or not.” – Valerie Bertinelli

Today I challenge you to forget about your problems, and focus on the positive aspects of life. Do not worry about what will come or what has gone. Today is a beautiful day. Feel the sunshine, feel the rain, listen to the sound of the ocean and listen to the sound of the birds in the garden. Throw your hands up in the air and just dance!

Sunset_Party_Dancing_Girl_Silhouette

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