Summer Recreation tips from Campus Rec

Summer Recreation Tips

The days are longer, the sun is hotter, and the lake is calling. Welcome to the beginning of summer in Southern Oregon! As the weather gets increasingly warmer, outdoor recreation becomes more and more appealing. While outdoor activities offer many new and exciting ways to have fun, we at Campus Rec want to share some tips on how to stay safe and healthy so you can make the most of your summer.

Use Sunscreen
This one’s probably obvious, but significant amounts of sun exposure can lead to sunburns which can cause both immediate discomfort and an increased chance of skin cancer. Make sure to frequently reapply sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) and cover sensitive skin by wearing lightweight, protective clothing as much as possible. Wearing sunglasses with UV protection and a hat can also help minimize sunburns and exposure. The reflection of the sun in bodies of water is a common way to get burned without realizing it due to the reduction of body temperature that swimming induces, so be extra careful when swimming. Get all your “burning” questions about sunscreen answered at the American Academy of Dermatology’s website.

Bring the Bug Spray
Summertime is when many insects come out of hiding, and they can be particularly bothersome when enjoying the outdoors. Mosquito bites, in particular, can be unpleasant and produce itchy bumps on the skin. In order to avoid insect bites, use bug spray as a repellant. There are a few options when it comes to insect repellants, including natural sprays such as lemon eucalyptus oil, as well as synthetic repellants like DEET. While DEET is very effective, it is best to avoid over-application and to wash treated skin after returning indoors. DEET is generally unnecessary when protecting against mosquitos who do not carry diseases such as malaria which can be found in parts of Asia, South America, and Africa. However, more natural repellants usually need to be applied more frequently to remain effective, so don’t forget to bring them with you when heading out.

Stay Hydrated
Don’t forget to take regular water breaks and seek out shade to rest in while spending time outside in the summer. The U.S. National Research Council recommends drinking 64-80 oz of water per day on average, and you might need more depending on your level of activity. Although you may not feel thirsty, spending hours in the sun can lead to muscle cramps, lightheadedness, and fatigue which are some early signs of dehydration or heat stroke, so make sure to check in on yourself frequently.

Stay Hydrated Summer recreation tips

Communication is Key
It’s always a good idea to have another person with you when adventuring outdoors. Also, make sure to let someone else know where you are planning to be. Send a quick text to your parent, roommate, or friend letting them know where you’re going, and when you’re planning to be back. Additionally, plan ahead and know the conditions – cell service and GPS access aren’t always available (especially in Southern Oregon), so we recommend screenshotting or printing off any directions you need.

Avoid Poison Oak
Poison oak is EVERYWHERE in Southern Oregon. Most outdoor recreation areas near Ashland have a lot of poison oak, and brushing up against the leaves can cause an itchy, blistering rash. Keep an eye out for short plants with oak-shaped leaves in a triangle pattern (“leaves of three, let them be”). A good way to prevent touching poison oak is to just stay on marked paths and trails. If you do happen to break out in a rash from poison oak, calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream can help calm the effects and reduce the itch.

Check for Ticks
Along with poison oak, ticks are common in Southern Oregon. Ticks can carry Lyme disease (plus, they’re just gross), so it’s important to check for them after you’ve been outdoors. Inspect your clothes and your entire body, especially your ankles, between joints, behind your ears, the back of your neck/hairline. Taking a shower and throwing your clothes in the laundry can also help get rid of ticks. Remember to check your furry friends if you take them out, as well. Check out this article from American Forests for more info on preventing and getting rid of ticks.

Read About Wellness and Self Care During Finals

Wellness and Self-Care During Finals

It’s that time of year again: finals. The end of the term can be super stressful for students and the words “self-care” tend to get thrown around a lot. But what is self-care? While it might be associated with long baths, face masks, and staying in bed for Netflix marathons (all of which can be hard to justify with looming deadlines), self-care just means taking time to make sure that your overall wellness isn’t being sacrificed to cram for tests and write essays. Read on for some tips for staying well during the busiest time of the year.

Keep Drinking Water
While it might be tempting to drink nothing but coffee and energy drinks during quiet week and finals, not getting enough actual water can be detrimental to your focus and productivity. Your brain needs water to keep cognitive performance high; without it, you can start to feel cranky, tired, and foggy. If you don’t already have one, invest in a reusable water bottle (you can find one at the bookstore, the Landing, or pretty much any grocery store in Ashland), and carry it with you in your bag. If you don’t think you can completely stop your caffeine intake, make sure to at least drink some water before and after each round of caffeine.

Work Intentionally
The amount of work and studying that happens during the end of the term is overwhelming for a lot of students. Tackling big projects can be daunting, especially if you feel like you need to complete them all at once. However, figuring out ways to break the work down into smaller, more manageable tasks can help. Instead of putting “write paper” in your planner, try breaking it down into “write intro,” write argument 1,” write conclusion,” etc. Focusing on smaller pieces at a time can keep you from getting overwhelmed and panicked. Also, if you’re having trouble concentrating (i.e. picking up your phone and scrolling through Instagram every 30 seconds), try setting a timer. Commit to working for 15, 20, 25 minutes at a time, then take a five-minute break. Every couple of hours, take a longer break to grab food, exercise or relax. You can download an interval timer to your phone, or use a website like TomatoTimer to help stay on schedule.

Get Your Heart Rate Up
Exercise can be a great way to increase your energy, and clear your mind during stressful times like finals. Spending some time on a treadmill, playing some pickup basketball with your buddies, or crushing a challenging climbing route is the perfect way to take a break and re-direct your focus to something other than homework. Plus, the end of the term is the perfect time to visit the Student Recreation Center since it tends to be much less busy during the last two weeks of classes. Don’t have time for a long workout? Try walking across campus instead of re-parking your car, or doing some simple yoga in your dorm room.

Get Organized
It’s hard to be productive when your space feels messy. Take five minutes before sitting down at your desk or in your bed to tidy up – clear away dirty plates and cups, throw away any trash, and make sure you have all your materials within arm’s reach. In addition to your physical space, try to organize your mental space as well. Write down deadlines in a planner, use your Google calendar or your phone to set reminders for tests, and make a checklist of everything you need to get done. Knowing what your schedule is and how your deadlines fit together will help you plan and avoid forgetting important things during a busy week.

Laugh
Each time you laugh, endorphins (the chemicals that make you feel good) flood into your brain, and your levels of stress hormones drop. This makes laughter an excellent way to help manage stress and boost your mood during busy times. Laughter is easy to incorporate into a study routine – watch a funny YouTube video during your study breaks, find a relatable meme to send in your group chat, or schedule time to hang out with your friends or roommates.

Make Time for Mindfulness
Like “self-care,” mindfulness is a concept that might be familiar, but not completely understood to some people. Practicing mindfulness is simple – it’s checking in with yourself, and being aware of your thoughts and feelings. Intentionally practicing mindfulness through meditation, breathing routines, and exercise like yoga can reduce anxiety and help calm and re-focus your mind. Try downloading a mindfulness app like Calm or Headspace to learn techniques and practice guided meditations, or search “breathing exercise” to find a quick visual guide to focus your breath. Plus, if you need a quiet, relaxing space on campus to check in with yourself, try visiting the Oasis in the Student Recreation Center.

Remember, self-care looks different for everyone. Not everything on this list might work for you, and that’s ok! The most important thing is to figure out the best way for YOU to manage your stress and to make time for yourself to work on your wellness, especially when you feel overwhelmed. Now get out there and crush those finals!