What to do over winter break

Winter break is coming up very soon and I think everybody can agree they are looking forward to leaving the school this Friday. Though you can only imagine two great weeks of lounging and relaxing, what are you actually doing? Here are a couple of ideas that may inspire what you will do this winter break.

  1. Relax and take advantage of the break. Ever since school started, it’s hard to go one day without saying you’re tired. This may be the break you were waiting for to catch up on some much needed sleep. Also, just relax and hang out. School is pretty fast paced and any extra curricular activity only helps to fill up your schedule, leaving barely any time to just sit down or do anything with your loved ones. So if it’s possible, try your best to build in some time to wind down this winter break and do whatever you’d like to. 
  2. Hang out with friends. In general, it can be kind of hard to make time during the week or the weekends to hang out with your friends, especially the ones that don’t go to the same school as you. So maybe you could find a time during break to get together and catch up. 
  3. Do something outside and have fun with the snow. Going outside, especially with snow on the ground, may not appeal to everyone’s interest but for those who like outdoor activities, do something outdoors. You could try something new like skiing or snowboarding, or something more fun based like sledding or a snowball fight. This also gives you the perfect excuse to get all your friends together for a good laugh. 
  4. Stay inside and take the opportunity to make some hot cocoa. A warm fire, blankets, and a comforting cup of cocoa is always a great idea considering the conditions outside. Maybe just take a moment this break to get as content as you can and relax in the comfort of your own home. 
  5. Find the balance between relaxed and lazy. Though winter break sparks a sense of laziness in everyone, don’t let it get the best of you. Some teachers will still be giving out homework during break, so don’t put it off and just get it done as early as you can so you don’t have to worry about it. Also, make the most of your break and do more than just camp out in your room doing nothing. And if you take part in a sport, don’t skip practice for poor excuse like sleeping in or just not wanting to go. Stay on top of what you have to do, but still make sure you relax over the two week long winter break. 

How to manage stress

There is no doubt that at one point or another you have most likely felt stressed about something, or maybe even someone, making your life a little more difficult. Unfortunately, it can be incredibly overwhelming but there are ways to help you work around it.

So, here are a couple of minor things that you could do to help yourself out, especially during the school year. 

One day at a time. It is extremely important to only take one day at a time to avoid stressing yourself out and getting overwhelmed about something that can not be changed. Saying a week is seven days is harder to process rather than just taking on the day when it comes.

Stay calm and breathe. I think everyone can understand when everything gets so piled up that sometimes you just need to stop and breathe. The thing is, being stressed has no benefits whatsoever. It is not pleasant to do anything when you feel overwhelmed, so the best way you can help yourself out is just by remaining as relaxed as you can. This doesn’t mean you should be lounging around on your couch, but instead just trying to figure out a way around whatever is working you up and finding an achievable solution. 

Do something that makes you happy. It might help if you can take your mind off whatever is making you stressed. You could start by doing something that you enjoy or surround yourself with people you know make you happy. This way you can find better things to influence your mind set and spend less time focusing on the negative stuff going on in your life. 

Organize your life. School can be a very stressful and fatiguing time of the year, not to mention what goes on outside of school in your personal life. The worst part is trying to remember everything you need to do in a day, such as your schedule, homework, and extracurricular activities. It may not be this way for everyone, but it can’t hurt to try writing stuff down. Whether you would prefer to write in a planner or journal is a personal opinion and should be based on what you can keep up with and enjoy doing the most. 

Should you get Disney+?

I think it was no secret when Disney came out with Disney+ on November 12, 2019. But, though it sounds packed with an endless amount of shows and movies, should you get it?

First of all, Disney+ is a streaming service recently launched by Disney. It has a variety of shows from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic. It is packed with hours of classic Disney movies and series from many years ago, as well as newer content. Specifically, it has about 500 movies and 7,500 TV shows. 

To be fair, Disney has done a really nice job at making Disney+ affordable for many people. At $7 per month or $70 per year, it’s less expensive than Netflix’s cheapest option at $9 per month. Also, unlike Netflix, they do not charge extra money for quality changes. 

Personally, one of my favorite benefits of Disney+ is its ability to download. All of the shows on Disney’s streaming service have a small button that you can click that allows you to download them. This means that for road trips or vacations where there may not be internet or a bad connection to WiFi, you could just download what you’d like to watch on the app and have it available any time, anywhere. 

Disney+ will also be adding content as it continues to be used. Many newer shows will also appear after their appearances in the theater and as a home-video, including movies like the realistic version of Disney’s The Lion King.

There is a good chance that there is something you will enjoy watching on there. After all, it was announced they reached over 10 million people that have already subscribed. 

So, in the end, I would definitely recommend this to anyone who is interested in the content that Disney produces. If you subscribe and pay the monthly fee, you can cancel at any time. If you don’t know whether or not you should, there is a seven day free trial that might help you to make up your mind. 

Joining a sport

Joining a sport, especially at school, can be nerve-racking but brings many bonuses. If you’re contemplating whether you should or not, read the following benefits that may help you to decide. 

  1. Feel more connected to the school. Joining a sport may make you feel closer to the school. Not to mention how being part of a team, representing Highland Park, will hopefully help you to perceive school as more of a positive thing too. It is not a lifetime commitment and only lasts a matter of weeks. It’s not about being the best, but instead applying yourself and enjoying whatever you choose to do. 
  2. Meet new people. Meeting new people is definitely a big part of joining a sport in general. The bonus of meeting them through a sport is sharing similar hobbies and interests. For many people, meeting people on a sports team is the easiest way to connect and share a friendship with because you are all part of one team. You all will likely share one common goal to work hard and get better at the skills, or times, you want to achieve during the season.
  3. It’s all just for fun and the experience. Lastly, and personally, a very important reminder is that joining a school sport is to have fun. It is not supposed to be something you feel like you have to do because it is all just for your own enjoyment. It is okay to feel nervous about putting yourself out there and doing something you enjoy, because you are worried that you are not considered good enough. There are little to no limitations in joining a school sport for a reason. 

So, please consider some of these reasons if one of the sports coming up intrigues your interest. Also, keep in mind that this may be your only one of the few times you are able to participate in a school sport, so just try it out and hopefully you will have no regrets in the end!

What to do this Halloween

Halloween pumpkin head jack lantern with burning candles. Image taken from: https://www.istockphoto.com/photos/halloween?sort=mostpopular&mediatype=photography&phrase=halloween

October 31st is right around the corner. Lots of people have their decorations up and costumes ready.

So, what are you going to do for Halloween? If you aren’t sure how you want to celebrate, take a look at the four ideas listed in this article. 

Go trick-or-treating. To an extent, age shouldn’t matter if there is free candy involved. If you want to go out one last time, then honestly, just do it. There may be some people who criticize you, but the fun you have will make memories for years without end.

Also, just a tip if you do wear a costume, your best option might be one that covers your face. That way some of the most critical candy passer-outers don’t know what you look like and would not really have the ability to assume your age.

And, try your best to go to the houses that aren’t as busy. Any houses that don’t have many visitors often pass out more than one measly candy bar. 

Pass out treats. If you are the kind of person that finds pleasure in making others happy, this could be pretty fun for you. Not only can you stay inside during the cold October night, but you will be able to see all the little kids that come “trick-or-treating” by your house in their cute, and sometimes creepy, costumes.

But be warned, never leave out a bowl of candy on your step. All it takes is one group of kids to come and raid your whole bowl with a “please take one” sign on it. 

Do the tricking. If there is anytime to scare someone, no doubt it should be on Halloween. There are always questionable decorations, weird setups, and a variety of costumes, and kids walking around looking for candy, all while it’s pitch black outside, so use this all against them to give them what they have been asking for all night. 

Watch scary movies. There is no shame for anybody on Halloween who choose to shut off all the lights in their house, make some popcorn, and watch a scary movie. If anything, this holiday is the best time to do it. There are countless numbers of Halloween-themed movies that could fill up your schedule for about the next year.

How to avoid getting sick at school

School can be a difficult place to go for five days every week and when the season of sickness comes around, it doesn’t get any easier. Here are a few tips to help you avoid getting sick, or a few precautions to follow to prevent others from catching viruses that travel around the school.

Get enough sleep. It has been scientifically proven by scientists and conducted experiments, that individuals who get more sleep are less likely to get sick from a simple cold or more complicated virus. But why? Nobody is exactly sure, but sleep, especially for about eight hours, offers a sort of protection from the day to day common cold lurking just about everywhere in a busy place like school.

Wash your hands. I think it is common knowledge that washing your hands is an important thing to do because it gets rid of the germs on your hands. But, making sure you wash your hands regularly, especially during the school months, is very important to avoid getting sick.

Everything you touch throughout the day most likely has been utilized prior to you being there; a prime example being the desks we use. So, please wash your hands for the sake of your own health and everyone else’s. 

If you are at school when you are sick, take precautions to prevent contaminating other students. If you are sick you know how awful and fatigued you feel constantly for days on end. So, if you are sick, everybody, including your fellow peers and teachers, would appreciate it if you could cover your mouth when coughing, cover your nose when you sneeze, and throw away your own tissues. These minor actions could prevent others from catching the same sickness and save them the hassle of being a sick mess for a week or so.

Stay home if you are sick. Lastly, if you believe you should stay home because you are sick, then you most likely should. Nobody knows exactly how you feel, meaning you have the best opinion of the right solution for you. Also, missing one day of school is not going to ruin your whole school career. It would help everyone, including yourself, to rest for a day so you can come back feeling better.

If you do get pushed out the door in the morning, when you know that school is not a great idea for the way you are feeling, the nurse’s office is always open and a great place to go to figure out what is going to work best for you.

Negative effects of the school chairs

School may not be the most comfortable place on Earth in many ways, but does one contributing factor really have to be the back-aching chairs? Unfortunately, at the end of the day, the bus seats are more comfortable than what we are expected to sit in all day long. 

Rarely do people know the actual effects of these chairs, but I am about to inform you of a few of the real consequences they produce. 

It may be quite blunt to say that focus is interrupted by school chairs, so let me explain. School should be about learning, usually that requires you to pay attention to what your teacher is trying to communicate, but by the end of the day, I am usually more busy trying to get even the slightest bit comfortable.

In those minutes, or even seconds, that your focus has been modified, you can miss little notes or messages from the class itself. Some might think connecting those two things is a reach, but doesn’t it make sense?

Secondly, the chairs provide no support whatsoever. All the chair backs cut-off way too short to fit an average-sized teenager’s back. Eventually, throughout a class, this can cause your neck to bend forward, putting a strain on your lower back. 

These “small” problems can possibly even cause long term back and neck issues after hours, days, and years on end. Not only is it uncomfortable, but it also affects your posture in a negative way and potentially can give you frequent headaches. 

Unfortunately, budgets are fairly small to allow schools to be able to change the chair situation easily. That’s one of the two main reasons for these undersized, plastic chairs. The other being that they are pretty durable. They don’t need to replace them often and they fit the low budget. 

As schools try and adjust to become a more appealing place, by serving healthier lunches and adjusting to different techniques in the classroom for learning purposes, the school chairs should be a priority just as important to the school board. 

3 products you didn’t know threatened the environment

Though the message is clear about the overwhelming use of plastics, some other product’s consequences are not quite as widely known. To be more knowledgeable, for the sake of the Earth, continue reading about these three deceiving products. 

1. Soap

You may want to think twice about what kind of soap you are using the next time you wash your hands. Contrary to what you may think, soap is actually a substance that threatens the environment because of a toxin, triclosan, contained in it.

Case in point, the chemical is very persistent. It does not die off by water treatment, meaning that it can reach the oceans and other waterways. Not only does it destroy a bacteria within bodies of water, but the very bacteria that makes up the base of the food chain. 

Luckily, in September 2016, there was a ban issued towards triclosan. It was said the products containing the chemicals were not ideal or safe for long term use.

Unfortunately, there are still soaps, deodorants, and kitchenware containing the toxin that should be avoided. 

2. Chopsticks

Do you think of chopsticks as a harmless wooden utensil used for eating? Sadly, you are mistaken, because China’s forests are sacrificing 1.18 million square meters to produce enough wood/bamboo to meet the demand, per year. 

Chopsticks were once a product, but should now be considered a habit. As demand for chopsticks goes up, 20 million trees in China’s forests come down. Each tree is used to make 4,000 chopsticks, meaning China is producing 80 billion chopsticks per year. Sadly, this factual number goes far past the 57 billion chopsticks, per year, that China’s national forest bureau estimates are produced. 

3. Sunscreen

Sunscreen, the goody two shoes of all substances, isn’t what it seems. Sadly, there is a salty secret behind the misty spray or white lotion you choose to use. 

The oceans are greatly affected by humans and all our plastic and chemical usage, and this is no different. Sunscreen is suppose to prevent harm and damage to humans, but in the oceans it seems the coral and marine life are facing the ugly reality of sunscreen. 

A common chemical known as oxybenzone, which is the main ingredient in sunscreen, is extremely toxic to young coral. The coral reefs’ development is affected by the toxin, which also damages their DNA. Their defenses against ocean bleaching is also lessened from exposure to oxybenzone.