Stressed Out College Student Resources

stressed

This is the time of year when students everywhere are getting stressed out.  Not only is this unhealthy, it’s unnecessary to stay stressed!  Many college students have made it to graduation in one piece, and you can too!  The key is to get a handle on stress and keep a clear head.

Luckily, we have some lovely ladies who have already put a lot of thought into handling stress!  The college blogging community is a great resource for students no matter where you are or what you study.  Stay calm.  Don’t stress.  You can do this!

Don’t Freak Out

Whether you’ve just started to feel the stress of the semester, or you are up to your neck in papers and tests, this is the first thing to remember: don’t freak out!  Anxiety will not make things any easier for you.  The following posts are really helpful for reminding us all to not freak out when the workload starts piling up.

Handling A Busy Semester from buckeyebliss.com

Dealing with Overwhelm in College from collegewithcaitlyn.com

Productivity

Next, comes productivity.  Being organized and efficient with your time is so important for preventing stress in the first place.  Taking a few minutes to get organized can really help the amount of work you get done in a day.  These posts are all about organization and productivity.  Hopefully, this will help you prevent stress in the future!

How I Stay Organized from collegewithcaitlyn.com

9 Productivity Tools You Must Have on Your Home Office or Study Desk from michelleadamsblog.com

10 Ways to Be More Productive Right Now from laughswithoutfear.com (that’s right here!)

Destress

Honey, you need to take some time for yourself every now and then.  If your school work is taking so much of your time and energy that you are neglecting yourself, you need to rethink your priorities.  School won’t help you out in the long run if you destroy yourself in the process.  These posts should give you some ideas on how to destress and take care of yourself.

Activities to Unwind and De-Stress during the Semester from thecosmicroad.com

5 Things to do When You’re Stressed from kaylablogs.com

Great Ways to De-stress from lilieandviolets.wordpress.com

 




My Focus Words for This Season

season

Fall is upon us!  With September comes the changing of seasons.  For me, I am now fully in the season known as my sophomore year of college, and it has certainly been a transition!  I am sure many of you are entering new seasons of your own.  I’d like to share with you something that may make all of our transitions a bit easier.

This past summer I decided on two focus words.  One word I would be giving up, the other I would be incorporating into my life.  I knew that choosing these words didn’t mean an immediate change in my life.  I knew I would fail at times, but this was something I chose to go through with God.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is- His good, pleasing, and perfect will.”  -Romans 12:2

Changing our character is not something we can do by our own power.  God wants this to be about how He can change us into better versions of ourselves.  Choosing focus words for a season is simply a way to channel our thoughts and focus our actions toward something specific.

My Words For Last Season

This past summer I knew that God had to do some serious work on my heart if I was going to do my job as a Bible Camp counselor.  I was feeling completely drained from my last semester of college and I found it hard to invest in my relationship with God.  I didn’t feel like I was in a place to do God’s work.  My focus words were a way that I could reconnect with God.

Resentment

In a college setting, you are bound to run into people that you don’t understand.  No matter what you are studying, I guarantee that you will be running into people that you don’t get along with.  However, I thought that the resentment I was so ready to give out to others would suddenly go away once I got to camp.  The camp community is the best community I’ve been a part of, so surely I wouldn’t resent any of my coworkers, right?  Wrong.

If resentment is a problem for you, you must first realize that it is your problem and not anybody else’s.  This resentment I was harboring was poisoning the relationships I was building with my coworkers.  I grew continually concerned about how I was feeling towards.  The reason I found it easy to resent my coworkers was because I was used to resenting others.  I had allowed resentment to be a part of how I understood people, and that didn’t change just because I wasn’t at college anymore.

So resentment was the word I chose to give up to God this summer.  Every time I felt annoyed with someone, I would pray for God to take this resentment away from me.  Before long, I found that the familiar feeling of resentment was gone!  I can vividly see how God answered my prayers and changed my heart.

Spirit

Going into this season of my life, I remember believing that I was not someone that God spoke to very much.  This was false thinking on my part.  I now firmly believe that God speaks to everyone, we just have to learn to listen to him.  This summer I wanted to learn how to listen to God.

So I prayed to become closer with the Holy Spirit, and wouldn’t you know it, it worked!  I recently read that we should pray as though God has already answered our prayers.  This is especially true when it comes to knowing God more.  That is all He wants for us: to be continually pursuing Him!  While I experienced a lot of growth in my relationship with God this summer, it doesn’t mean I won’t stop praying for the Holy Spirit in this new season.  I am much more aware of how God talks to me now, and I can’t wait to see where we will go together!

season

My Words For This Season

Now I am in a very different season of life.  Every new season deserves a new focus.  For me, it seemed obvious that these are the words I am meant to focus on this season.  I know it won’t be easy, and I will definitely fail at times, but with God’s help, I know anything is possible!

Shame

I think this is a more prolific word for embarrassment, or in Delaney-terms, awkwardness.  I don’t want to be embarrassed about living out my faith.  The challenge is that I don’t really know what that looks like.  What does it look like to truly live a life without shame?  I am excited to see what God does this season as I surrender this word to Him.

Peace

I am so excited that this is the word I will be taking on this school year!  I have already witnessed a whirlwind of emotion and stress with me and my classmates, but I have chosen to focus on He who give us peace instead!  When I feel the weight of this world (or at least the weight of my classwork) I cling to this verse-

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” -John 14:27

I am so excited to see what God will do in this season of my life!  Is this something that you have ever done?  If so, I want to hear about what it was like for you to choose focus words for a season of your life!  What words have you chosen for this season?

season

Why Every Blogger Should Read “Big Magic”

why every blogger should read big magic inspirationWhen I was a new blogger I thought I would never run out of ideas.  I think that’s the reason why most of us start blogging- because we have ideas.  That’s great!  Whether you are inspired by fashion, food, finances, or fob watches, we are all lucky to have the opportunity to write about the things that excite us.  Feeling inspired is simply wonderful, but in case you haven’t figured it our yet, inspiration doesn’t happen all the time.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched bloggers bust out three posts a week while I’m still trying to think of a single idea.  The wealth of inspiration I thought I had soon dried up.  The ideas just weren’t coming.

Then I read “Big Magic” and everything changed.  I love a good inspirational book, but this book completely blew away my expectations.  I hadn’t even gotten to the 3rd page and I was already near tears.  Immediately I could see how this book would not only help me in theatre, but blogging as well.  In fact, I think this book could help everybody.

What is “Big Magic”?

Author Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) describes Big Magic as the relationship between a human being and the mysteries of inspiration.  In other terms, it means creativity.  The book is divided into 7 brilliant sections: Courage, Enchantment, Permission, Persistence, Trust, and Divinity.  These chapters serve as a guide to creative living beyond fear, which is the ultimate goal for Elizabeth Gilbert and anyone who reads her book.

Liz (I always called her Liz when I was reading this book 🙂 ) fills the pages of Big Magic with stories of her own struggles and triumphs in her personal journey to creative living.  She has gathered a multitude of vivid examples in a stunning narrative that will leave everyone feeling inspired.  Big Magic is nothing if not empowering to the creative soul.  I could go on and on, but I think it’s best if I just tell you the most important things I took away from the book.

Top 5 Things I Learned

My perspective on inspiration has certainly shifted because of this book.  What I love most is that Big Magic doesn’t just give you inspiration, it teaches you how to use it.  I cannot express how full this book is of ideas, so I narrowed it down to the most impactful things that I took away from it.

1. Fear is not needed

Who among us does not have some degree of fear?  I believe that bloggers have their own special brand of fear.  Fear of not reaching our goals, fear of criticism, fear of taking a risk, or fear of investment.  However, living a creative life doesn’t leave any room for fear in our work.

“I also realized that my fear was boring because it was identical to everyone else’s fear.  I figured out that every one’s song of fear has exactly that same tedious lyric: ‘STOP, STOP, STOP,STOP!'”

We are tied down by fear.  It is the force that compels us to behave like everyone else and avoid taking creative risks.  The sooner you learn to let go of fear, the sooner you will feel more at ease and more pleased with the work you have done!

2. Education does not always equal creativity

I am pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, however, Liz allowed me to see that achieving my degree is not the key to my life as an artist.  Like many other creative souls, I enjoy studying something I love and I can see how it will benefit me.  However, I have now chosen not to let the weight of my future fall on the education I am getting now.

“…I worry that what students of the arts are often seeking in higher education is nothing more than proof of their own legitimacy- proof that they are for real a creative people, because their degree says so.”

I’m glad she said it because somebody had to!  I see people every day in my department that need to be reminded that school does not have the final say in their futures.

I think bloggers are an excellent testament to this idea.  I mean, have you ever heard of someone getting a degree in blogging?  No.  Yet people are continually succeeding in this field without a specific diploma.  Your past experiences and your creative vision are all the education you need.

3. You need to give yourself permission

If you think a diploma is the only thing that can give you permission to be creative, think again.  People like to look for permission from their family, their friends, their schedule, their career, or even their past experiences when the only person that can allow you to be creative is you.  The best way to write your own permission slip is to embrace the idea of creative entitlement.

“Creative entitlement doesn’t mean acting like a princess, or acting as though the world owes you anything whatsoever.  No, creative entitlement means believing that you are allowed to be here, and that -merely by being here- you are allowed to have a voice and a vision of your own.”

I think creative entitlement is a struggle for most bloggers at some point in their career.  When you compare yourself with other bloggers who have been going at it for twice as long and seem to have 10x the traffic, your sense of belonging can be skewed.  Learning to find permission from creative entitlement means that you are content with expressing your own voice no matter how loud it may be.

Related: Why Everybody Should Be A Diva

4. Don’t make your creative works support you

I believe many bloggers share this focus!  Who doesn’t want to earn a little cash from all the work you pour into your blog?  As college students, it can be especially appealing to have your blog pay your rent.  I think we would all rather work at home than work in a cafeteria.  However, our dear friend Liz says to be cautious about this.

“There is no dishonor in having a job.  What is dishonorable is scaring away your creativity by demanding that it pay for your entire existence.”

Of course, making money off of your blog isn’t a bad goal to have.  You just can’t expect it to be a genie in a bottle that grants all your wishes.  The moment it becomes more of a job than a source for creativity, our inspiration suffers.

5. The back-door creative method

“Einstein called this tactic ‘combinatory play’ -the act of opening up one mental channel by dabbling in another.  This is why he would often play the violin when he was having diffuculty solving a mathematical puzzle; after a few hours of sonatas, he could usually find the answer he needed.”

This is perhaps the most impactful message I have taken away from this book.  Liz provides several examples of this “back-door-creative-method” as I like to call it.  Ulterior creative methods can range anywhere from gardening to painting to playing ukulele to soap making.  As bloggers, we cannot rely on our blogs as our only outlet for creativity.  If we do, our creativity will suffer.  Investing in other creative outlets has been nothing but a good experience for me and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to feel more creative!  For myself, I have taken up playing guitar, word art, and even a little bit of watercolor.  What I like best about these hobbies is that I haven’t put any pressure on myself to impress others.  I am simply playing.

inspiration

So Why Read It?

You are not a creative person because you are a blogger, you are a blogger because you are a creative person!  You will be most happy when you abandon fear and embrace the creative gifts you have been given.  Even if you are not a blogger, I would totally still recommend this book.  Why?  Because everybody can live a creative life in some way!  Personally, I found that this book was exactly what I needed to invite inspiration into my life and embrace my creativity.

I hope this was helpful and inspiring for you!  Have you read Big Magic?  If so, I want to hear what you thought about it!  What are some other inspirational books that you would recommend?  I am always looking for new suggestions. 🙂

Where Am I This Summer?

 

where am i this summer?

Here’s the warning: Laughs Without Fear is on hiatus for the summer.

I really hate it, but the fact of the matter is that I simply will not have a lot of time to work on the blog this summer.  This makes me pretty sad because blogging is a blast and I will miss so many things about it.  I love interacting with readers and sharing tips with other bloggers.  I LOVE finding new blogs to read.  I am particularly fond of the college blogging community that I have grown to be a part of.  Not to mention, I love seeing my traffic increase, which certainly isn’t going to happen while I’m away.

The good part is that I get to go back to camp!  (Insert happy-dance here!)  For my second summer at camp, I am pretty sure it’s going to be twice the fun!  Camp is amazing, but it is a full-time commitment.  The camp I work at is an overnight camp, so the staff lives on site and we always work on the weekends.  In fact, I may only have the chance to go home one or twice the whole summer.

But the thing is, being at camp is hands-down the most fun way to spend the summer.  Over the course of last summer, I became best friends with my coworkers.  I got to work outside and go to the beach every day.  Most importantly, I got to spend the whole summer talking about God and experiencing him touch the lives of hundreds of people.  Plus, the food is superb.  How could I not be excited to go back?

Living the camp life isn’t always easy, though.  For example, we work some pretty long hours.  When you live in a cabin with your campers, you are basically working 24/7.  There are always projects to work on and places to clean.  It can also be a very emotionally taxing job.  We strive to create an atmosphere where kids are not afraid to talk about their lives and their relationship with God.  Sometimes these kids have been through more than I could ever imagine.  Lack of sleep and emotional roller-coasters make for a pretty tough, but fulfilling job.  If you are thinking about working at camp, here are 10 Reasons Why You Should Be A Camp Counselor.

Here is what a typical day at camp looks like:

7:00am- Staff devotions.  I think it’s so important that we have this time together and with God to prepare for our day at camp.

8:00am- Breakfast with the campers.  Depending on the number of campers, meals can take a long time.

9:00am- Rotations.  The counselors and campers do some activities around camp like boating, hiking, low ropes, etc.  During this time, the kitchen crew cleans up breakfast and the lifeguards do work projects around camp.

10:30am- Chapel.  I love this part!  During morning chapel, we usually hear a staff member give their testimony and from someone about a mission trip that they’ve been on.

12:00pm- Lunchtime!

1:00pm- Afternoon game.  Usually involving face-paint and a lot of running.

2:00pm- Free time until dinner.  Campers can go to the beach, the craft cabin, rock wall, or any other activity around camp.  Staff is usually working at one of these activities or on their break.

6:00pm- Dinnertime.  Before dinner, anybody who has received mail has to embarrass themselves in order to get it.

7:30pm- Evening chapel.  For this chapel session, we get to hear from the amazing speaker that stays the week with us!

9:00pm- Night game! Again with the face-paint and running, except it’s always more exciting in the dark.

10:30pm- Cabin devos.  Counselors are with their campers in their cabins or somewhere around the camp.  Lifeguards, kitchen crew, and other staff usually have some adventure at this time.

11:00pm- Lights out.  Maybe.  Pranks are always a possibility.

So, in case you’re wondering what I’m doing this summer, this is the gist of it.  I couldn’t be more excited to return to camp, but I will miss working on the blog.  I may be posting every now and then, but I will really have to see how things work out.

What are you guys up to this summer?  If you are a blogger, what are you planning to work on?

How To Choose A Good Profile Photo For Your Blog- And How Not To

how to choose a good profile photo for your blog

These days, every good blog has a small bio of the author usually near the top of the page.  Usually, this bio contains the first photo that a visitor sees on a site.  The best blogs show a friendly face to the people who are kind enough to visit their blog.  Think of it as a first impression!

Being a theatre major, I like to put things into actor-terms.  Think of your profile photo on your sidebar as a headshot that an actor would use when they are auditioning for a role.  Essentially, you are a blogger auditioning for an audience.  When an actor prepares a headshot, they make sure that their photo is an accurate representation of their features.  As a blogger, you want your photo to represent not only your features but your personality as well.

Let me tell you, seeing a bad profile photo of a blogger on their site is a such a turn off to me and other readers.  Not choosing the right profile photo can cause a disconnect between you and your audience, and your readers won’t feel connected to your blog.  Make sure your sidebar photo encourages a connection between you and your readers as if you were meeting them in person.  Here is a compilation of common mistakes that I see bloggers using in their profile photos.

How Not To Choose A Photo

The Serious Sunglasses

What’s wrong: Well, first off we can’t see your eyes if you use this photo. You will see that not having a clear view of the eyes is a recurring problem. People like to wear sunglasses in their photos because it might make them “look cool”, but it also adds a touch of mystery to the photo. Anybody could be behind those shades. That, combined with a slight pout, can make for a pretty fierce photo. However, your audience doesn’t want to see a mystery, they want to see you.

how to choose a good profile photo for you blog the serious sunglasses

 

i'm so cute when i look at the ground

The “I’m so cute when I look at the ground”

What’s Wrong:  What better way to look adorable than by smiling to the ground, right?  However, this photo doesn’t really give us a good view of your face.  You can’t see your eyes and your features get distorted because we can only see this viewpoint.  Think of it this way: If Snapchat couldn’t put a filter on your face, you probably shouldn’t use that photo.

 

The Longshot Profile

What’s Wrong:  Well, don’t you look cool!  However, your audience couldn’t really recognize you if you decided to wear a different outfit.  Remember, your audience should be able to have a clear view of your face.  Not that this is a bad photo, it just doesn’t give your audience a clear introduction to your face.  Save it for Instagram.

how to choose a good photo- longshot profile

 

how to choose a good photo- i'm too cool to look at you

The “I’m too cool to look at you”

What’s Wrong:  This photo presents an immediate disconnect from your audience.  Even if there were no sunglasses, your focus isn’t at a place that would be easily relatable to your audience.  Honestly, it looks like you have better things to do.

 

The Shameless Selfie

What’s Wrong:  Selfies (no matter how good) don’t present the kind of professional atmosphere you want if you plan on running a successful blog.  Be aware, we can always tell when you’ve taken a photo yourself.  Always.  Simply grabbing a friend to snap a couple pics of you in some good lighting is miles ahead of the Shameless Selfie.  Also, don’t have a duck face in the first photo your readers see of you.  Please.

how to choose a good photo- shameless selfie

 

how to choose a good photo- i'm gonna punch you in the face

The “I’m gonna punch you in the face”

What’s Wrong:  Who doesn’t love a good serious photo?  It makes us all feel pretty epic sometimes, but use caution!  If you look like you want to punch your audience in the face, they won’t feel very welcome on your blog.  I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve visited a blog with a serious photo of the author and thought “Dude, stop taking yourself so seriously.”  Lighten up!  Think of your profile photo as a friendly “hello!” welcoming your audience into your space.

 

The Neck

What’s Wrong:  A close cousin of The Cut-off Eyebrows and The Half-Face.  As they say, the eyes are the window to the soul, so make sure you show your sparkling eyes!  If someone runs into you, they won’t recognize you because of your collarbone.  Never cut off any part of your face in your profile photo.

how to choose a good photo- the neck

 

how to choose a good photo- the over edit

The Over Edit

What’s Wrong:  This is an easy trap to fall into, but never over edit your photos.  Adding filters and upping the saturation may to wonders for your complexion, but it looks fake.  Over edited photos make it look like you’re trying to hide from your readers.  People respond to authenticity, so don’t be afraid to not look perfect in a photo.

Choosing a good photo

Just like there are so many ways to choose a bad photo, there are equally as many ways to choose a good one.  With that being said, here are a few pro-tips when it comes to the profile photo on your blog. 🙂

1)  Your photo does not need to be perfect.  In fact, your audience may find comfort in being assured that there is a really human running your blog

2)  Use the same photo across all your social media accounts.  It easier for your followers to find you all across the internet if they can immediately recognize your photo.

3)  You are part of your brand.  Having a face to associate with a brand is essential when you are growing your blog.  People are willing to trust someone who is ready to show their face.

Here are some pretty amazing bloggers that really intrigued me with their profile photo on their blog.

 

Kayla | kaylablogs.com
Kayla is one of my favorite bloggers, and I think her headshot is just stunning!  You can clearly see her whole face and she is smiling.  Not to mention the overall photo has a bright and brilliant color that enhances the theme of her blog.  This is a great example of a professional photo!

how to choose a good photo- kayla

 

how to choose a good photo- kels
Kels | kelssays.com
Kelsey is another college blogger who started blogging about the same time I did.  Honestly, her profile photo is one of the reasons I keep coming back to her blog.  She just looks so happy!  I can definitely see her positivity that she portrays in her blog coming out through her photo.

 

Ivy | perfectlyambitious.com
Ivy is another blogger who started her blogging journey about the same time I did, and I must say, she is killing it!  Her friendly face is just the beginning of the community that she has created around her blog for bloggers and other people with chronic illnesses like her.  Way to go Ivy!
how to choose a good photo- ivy

 

how to choose a good photo- brooke

Brooke | www.chasingmyarrow.com
I am a pretty new follower of Brooke’s blog, but I just couldn’t ignore such a great profile photo.  I particularly like her Wonder Woman stance in her photo.  This is a great example of showing off some of your personality in your photo, but still keeping it welcoming and professional!