We wear electronic devices like clothes–close to the body and constantly looking at them. Yet, spending more and more time on mobile phones and computers can hurt our eyes with blue light, one of the primary sources of electronic damage to our eyes. Blue light glasses, which are said to block harmful blue light from electronic screens, have become more popular as more aspects of our lives are online. But are blue light glasses as effective as advertised?
With the promotion of opticians, more and more people are choosing to buy nearsighted glasses with a blue light blocking layer, or professional blue light blocking glasses. “When I bought my glasses, they said they would block blue light, but my nearsightedness is getting worse,” said Ziang Zhang ’24.
Blue light refers to high-energy, short-wave light with a wavelength of 385nm ~ 505nm. （nm is nanometer；100 nm=0.000003937008 inch） In the visible range of human eyes, this light is blue when observed by human eyes, thus the name blue light. Blue light is divided into harmful and beneficial blue light. Harmful blue light can penetrate the eye directly to the retina and macula, causing irreversible damage to the eye, including nearsightedness. Our eyes are the most intolerant to blue light in the 400-440 nanometer band, so current manufacturers mainly block blue light in the production of anti-blue light glasses. But the blue light produced by the electronics we are exposed to now ranges from 450 nanometers to 490 nanometers, and thus the anti-blue glasses have little protection.
The science on blue light glasses is still uncertain. There have been individual studies that have reported that blue-blocking glasses can prevent or slow axial growth. “Other studies have shown that blue glasses do absolutely nothing to prevent myopia,” said Dr. Jully Sang, Attending physician of Zhongshan Ophthalmic Center, Sun Yat-sen University.
“The Academy does not recommend any special eyewear for computer use,” said Rahul Khurana, a clinical associate professor of ophthalmology at the University of California at San Francisco and a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
And there might be some concerns because there are inconsistent standards for blue light glasses on the market. Using the wrong kind of blue light glasses may cause some color differences, which can increase vision loss or eye strain.
But still, Khurana said, you should pay attention to the health of your eyes, especially as blue light can cause visual fatigue to some extent for long-term computer users. The advice is that it is more important to pay attention to the rest of your eyes than to prevent blue light. “Since blue light wakes us up and stimulates us, too much blue-light exposure late at night from screens can disrupt our ability to fall asleep,” Khurana said.
“Maybe, with the blue light glasses, my sleep has gotten longer, but it hasn’t changed that much,”Ziang Zhang 24’ said.
As the pandemic spreads, more schools switch to online instruction, more professors are exposed to computers, and younger children need computers to study. If there is no connection between nearsightedness and blue light glasses, should children and the elderly wear blue light glasses?
“Clinically we do not recommend patients to wear blue glasses,” said Jully Sang. “I don’t think children and the elderly need to wear blue glasses. They need more rest.”
When Donald Trump entered the White House in 2017, he signed an Executive Order that put a Muslim ban into effect. Sarah Childs, Associate Dean and Director of the Center of Multicultural Affairs at St. Michael’s, was working at UVM’s Mosaic Center for Students of Color at the time and had multiple Muslim students. She had to act fast to figure out what this meant for her students. It was one of many signs that these students would be marginalized under this administration. For those who were student visitors here, the message they weren’t welcome was becoming clear.
There are a few major policies and mandates that affect international students, yet the students have no say in who is making these policies and mandates. Around 20 million immigrants in the U.S. were voiceless during the 2020 presidential election. This does not include the 1,316,067 college student visitors on an F-1 visa, they are not categorized as immigrants. Other student visitors in the U.S. are here through a green card or are undocumented. All students that fall into these groups are unable to vote in a presidential election.
“Honestly from the outside, it’s hard to stay motivated to keep up with politics because I don’t have a voice in it, but I have to because I know it affects me,” said Jenna Harrison ’22, a Canada native.
“ In 2017 there were a lot of efforts in Vermont to organize rights workshops through organizations like the ACLU. I would go because I worked with a lot of students whose countries were on the ban list, I had to be informed for their sake,” said Sarah Childs, Associate Dean and Director of the Center of Multicultural Affairs. The Muslim ban was among the first of the policies that international students were going to see influence their opportunity to get an education, yet it is not the most recent.
It was ruled on November 15 by a federal judge that the DACA rules under Trump’s administration are now invalid. DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, allows students a path to go to school in the U.S. from different countries according to Childs. Homeland Security secretary, Chad Wolf, on July 28 suspended all new applications to DACA, halting 640,000 people from studying in the United States. This all came falling down when a federal judge recently ruled that Wolf was not legally serving when he signed off on DACA. Therefore the suspension will not be upheld.
Decisions made by the Trump administration surrounding the global pandemic also severely affected international students’ ability to study in the U.S during 2020. The New York Times reported 50,000 permanent slots would be blocked because of the 60-day ban on green cards put into place this April. Families all over the world scrambled during this time. Green cards can take years to obtain and the process ultimately cost families thousands of dollars. No matter what status international students fall under, the actions made by a presidential administration can have major impacts on their lives.
“Trump says many things that irritate the Chinese government. My family was concerned about what the relationship would be like in the future if he got elected again, that could directly influence me being here,” said Anonymous, a China native and international student on an F-1 visa at St. Michael’s. People from all over the world tuned into this presidential election. For those who have loved ones studying here, the results of the election were important.
“Depending on where people are from, it matters to them what their home country’s relationship is with the U.S.,” Childs said, noting that students from other countries have varying opinions on the 2020 election, ranging from support of Trump’s second term to hoping for Biden to win. “This is in terms of trade policies, history with the U.S. military, and past international conflicts.” Some nations such as Mexico and Turkey have a poor relationship with America because of Donald Trump, others favored his politics and were rooting for a second term.
“A lot of people from other Asian countries equate Trump with being anti-China. They admire him for being able to stand up to a relatively powerful force in the East,” said Hazel Kieu ’22, a Vietnam native.
“There are plenty of foreign-born Indians who are in support of Trump because of nationalism. The current prime minister of India is a nationalist and Indian people find commonalities between the two leaders,” Childs said. While some students may find parallels between U.S. politics and that of their own country, others are left to grapple with the complexities of the American electoral process.
“My cousins and I talk about their American friends and how they will chat their ear off about politics no matter what side. In Canada I don’t really see any heated political discussions like the ones that happen here,” Harrison said, who currently is on a green card while attending school in the U.S. She has dual citizenship in Italy and Canada and is unable to obtain citizenship in the U.S. because of this. Living back and forth between Canada and the U.S. Harrison has noticed a major difference between the political landscapes of the two. The word that constantly comes to Harrison’s mind while thinking about American politics she said is “controversial.”
This controversy has especially been prevalent over social media platforms. People have not shied away from tearing apart the opposing political party on Facebook and Instagram. Media is how the majority of the globe gets its information about American politics. Does the constant fighting over social media take away the validity of American politics for people watching from other countries?
“Since moving to the U.S. in 2016 I have come to realize that politics are much more sensational in an advertised way than like genuine politics, it makes me not want to participate because I think a two-party system isn’t realistic,” Kieu said, an F-1 visa holder. Hazel Kieu grew up in Vietnam and came to Maine to attend highschool. The 2016 election was her first glimpse at American politics. She said that what she has witnessed appalled her.
It was the aftermath of Trump’s victory that Kieu found most shocking. “There is so much more conflict here than the general American picture that is portrayed globally, that was an eye-opening moment for me. It’s when I realized that the whole friendliness and hospitality of the U.S. is a lie, it’s simply a front.”
After the new restrictions were announced by St. Michael’s President Lorraine Sterritt, including rules such as remote classes for the rest of the semester, no in person activities or athletics, no gatherings, and no on or off campus guests, many students and their families say that the new protocol comes too late.
These types of full-on lockdown type restrictions should have been implemented at the start of the semester, they say, instead of after the damage has already been done with77 total cases of COVID-19 over the semester and a current four active cases in isolation. Although SMC has given students the option to leave before the scheduled pre- Thanksgiving date, not every student has the luxury of leaving campus early, and many are stuck in a locked-down state fearing they will be infected.
“A little fear is not a bad thing,” said Patricia Siplon, director of the Public Health program and an advisor to the Covid Action Network that works with students. Students should be slightly scared of the events surrounding the cases since this is still a very serious virus and “a little fear counters denial,” Siplon said. Students should not lose sight of the dangers that the virus can pose not only to themselves personally but to the community at large.
“We were mostly stuck inside of our houses, with the lingering $250 fine rule for having any guests to be careful about,” Myron Prograis, the class president for juniors, who chose to leave campus earlier than expected. “Everything on campus is closed,” he said and he is still staying in touch with his friends on and off campus through Snapchat and Facetime.
“One of the best ways that a student can start to connect with others again is to “create a schedule for yourself, reach out to friends and family with phone calls, Facetime, Zoom, and attend any of the virtual activities being offered through Res Life, CAN!, MOVE, and Bergeron,” said Kathleen Butts, the Director of Counseling at the Bergeron Wellness Center. Some other apps and communication forms that are popular include Discord, Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook messenger.
During such a time of disarray and separation Butts said that the best options are to “Avoid blaming. Do the best you can. Notice the small good things in your life. Remember that we are all in this together and that we are all making it up as we go and doing the best we can in a difficult situation.” She also suggests that you help others. “If you have a friend in quarantine or isolation, reach out to them regularly to check in on how they are doing and to see if you can get anything for them.”
For students who are worried about what could happen to them if they are stuck on campus during Thanksgiving break Butts sid s that “we will work together with Residence Life and those students to determine what the needs are and respond to them,” Students should also remember that their professors are struggling too, they are feeling stretched and tired” just as many students are. Ms. Butts talks about how the staff that she has “spoken to care very much about our students and are concerned for their physical and mental health. Everyone is looking forward to a time post-covid-19 when we can have a more “normal” campus experience.”
Vermont’s COVID-19 protocols continue to change after the recent spike of cases raises concerns for the state, putting Vermont into the same restrictions that St. Michael’s College has imposed in recent weeks.
On Friday, Nov. 13, Governor Phil Scott announced in his press conference several new measures to slow the spread of the Coronavirus for the state of Vt. Although the state of Vt has had success with keeping the cases of COVID-19 under control, recent fatigue has caused cases to rise.“I want to be clear, we’re in a new phase of this pandemic. The days of very low risk are over,” said Scott.
As of Nov. 23, Vt has had a total of 3,629 cases, resulting in 63 deaths. “We continue to see a rise in cases… going from an average of 25 per day last week, to 72 cases reported Wednesday, 109 reported Thursday, 84 reported today. We’re definitely moving in the wrong direction,” Scott said. Since the press conference on Nov. 13, the Vermont Department of Health has reported more than 700 new cases.
To decrease the rise in cases, the state has banned all multi-household gatherings, including indoor, outdoor, public, or private. Indoor service and gatherings at bars and social clubs are also banned, and all restaurants must stop serving indoor service at 10 pm.
The Vt Department of Health discovered that the majority of the recent outbreaks in the state are being traced back to private social gatherings, such as baby showers, or tailgates, or other events where multiple households are getting together, while not socially distancing or wearing masks for a prolonged period of time.
“Since Oct. 1, 71 percent of the cases that are associated with an outbreak, are associated with an outbreak from a private party or a social gathering,” said Vermont Health Commissioner, Dr. Mark Levine, in the same press conference, on Nov. 13.
Due to this rapid increase in cases, and people beginning to let their guard down around COVID-19 guidelines and protocols, Governor Scott said, adding, “We have no choice but to restrict social gatherings.”
“I know this is incredibly difficult and frustrating, especially with the holidays right around the corner but it’s necessary,” Scott said. With less than a week until the Thanksgiving holiday, these new measures leave many people scrambling to downsize and change their plans.
“This will be the first year I’m not going to my Grammies for Thanksgiving. Usually, there would be around 25 people in the house for the holiday but obviously we can’t do that anymore because of the new guidelines and because she is more vulnerable,” said Mikaela McMahon ’21, Manchester, Vt.
“My Thanksgiving plans changed this year because we always see family in Long Island, but due to the new COVID measures, we have to stay in Vermont this year,” said Ryan Rogge ’23, Bennington, Vt.
“I was going to go to my grandparent’s house, which is just in Burlington, but my grandma’s sister has pulmonary fibrosis and since it’s getting bad here again we shouldn’t go. Plus with the governor’s new mandate we can’t go anyway. Now we just have to stay home and not do much,” said Nacole Barrett ’22, Colchester, Vt.
In addition to the ban on social gatherings, on Saturday, Nov. 14 starting at 10 pm, all bars and social clubs were to close all in-person service. Restaurants can remain open for indoor service until 10 pm every night, however, parties must be sitting with people from the same household. Bars, social clubs, and restaurants are facing new protocols because these are the places where people are unmasked due to eating or drinking, and not socially distancing, Scott explained.
“We’re asking Vermonters to do the right thing here. They’ve done it before. In the initial stages of the pandemic, Vermonters stepped up, they did the right thing. We had this under control,” Governor Scott said. “We have to do all we can to take this on and protect ourselves. I know we can do this but it’s going to take all of us in order to be successful.”
You may only have one or two roommates with you for Friendsgiving this year with the new Vermont COVID-19 policies to prevent social gatherings, but even then, you can make the meal affordable.
In preparation of Friendsgiving I recently headed out for ingredients and found myself scouring through seemingly endless aisles of one grocery store after the next. Just yesterday, feeling defeated by the limitless options of stuffing brands just one store offers, I checked my bank account. That prompted me to go with the cheaper, off-brand stuffing.
A friendsgiving is an honorary holiday that consists of all the delights a traditional Thanksgiving offers but is celebrated with friends rather than family. Like many college students, I have reached a point in the semester where funds are starting to run low. Don’t let this deter you from having a friendsgiving when you have affordable options that will allow you to have a Thanksgiving dinner feast all within a college student’s budget.
Make Friendsgiving potluck-style. That way everyone saves some money and everyone can contribute to the dinner. “Our Friendsgiving is going to be a potluck. We’ll focus on the main dishes but everyone that’s coming is bringing either a side dish or dessert.” said Colby Nadeau, a young Burlington resident. “This is definitely going to save us all some money, they’re also not the best cooks so I’m excited to see what they’ll end up bringing to the table.”
A potluck is a fun and easy way for everyone to get involved in the holiday. It’s also a fun way to share different takes on traditional Thanksgiving dishes. “[At Trader Joe’s] There’s lots of different options for any dietary needs and they’re all very affordable.” said Astrid, a Trader Joe’s employee. “There’s anything from vegan options to gluten-free options and turkeys of every size.”
Grocery stores like Price Chopper and Costco also offer affordable deals when you buy in bigger quantities. Try grocery shopping at these places with friends, this way, you and your friends can share the cost and split the bulk of food amongst yourselves.
There are many grocery stores in the area that have good food at an affordable price. Trader Joe’s, Price Chopper, Hannaford’s, and City Market are just to name a few. “Our bulk program here at City Market is a great way to save money, especially when it comes to herbs and spices. Instead of buying a lot of one product that you’ll only use only once or twice, our bulk program allows you to scoop out and only pay for what you need.” said Carrie Putscher, Assistant Outreach and Education Manager at City Market. “Our Co-op Basics Program is essentially designed to lower the price on hundreds of items throughout the store, including our local and organic foods. We want to have high quality staples be accessible to every shopper.”
All college students understand the financial struggle, but there are plenty of ways to shop that will allow you to not have to miss out on fun activities, like having a Friendsgiving. “I try to limit my spending to only things I need, like, food, gas and hygiene products. As a student, it’s hard to make it through a year off a summer job’s earnings. One way I am able to do this is by transferring money each month from my savings to checking and only spending what I transfer.” said Andrew Wood ‘21. “For me, it’s good to keep track of my spending so that I can be in the position to afford special occasions like a Friendsgiving or night out at dinner.”
It seems simple: bake some tasty treats when stressed to let your mind focus on something more fun and enjoyable. But can baking actually relieve one’s stress? A study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology suggests that people who frequently take a turn at small, creative projects report feeling more relaxed and happier in their everyday lives.
The study followed 658 people for two weeks and found that cooking or baking made the group feel more energized about their day and upcoming events. St. Michael’s College students also find baking to be a helpful way to relieve stress.
“Whether it’s painting, making music, [or baking], there is a stress relief that people get from having some kind of an outlet and a way to express themselves,” Donna Pincus, an associate professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Boston University told HuffPost.
With finals just around the corner, you can feel the overwhelming power of stress building up around students. Senior Stephanie Brunelle, a double major in Education and Religious Studies, finds that her go-to stress reliever for this time of the school year is baking some sweet treats in her kitchen in the New Building.
Brunelle’s obsession with baking started at a very young age. “When I was around the age of five, I remember going to my grandma’s house for Thanksgiving and the smell of her pies would hit me right when I walked in the door,” Brunelle said, adding that she often helped make the famous ‘Brunelle Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie.’ “My mouth waters when I even think about this pie,” Brunelle said. The pie includes an oreo cookie crust with thick chocolate pudding poured inside, then creamy peanut butter melting into the pudding, topped with a smooth chilled cool whip. “My mom had to literally hold me back from eating the whole pie, that’s how good it was,” Brunelle said.
Brunelle feared that her roommates thought she was going crazy in the Fall with how much she was stress baking. “I made apple crisp twice a week, but I don’t think they cared because there were never any leftovers,” Brunelle said.
Brunelle is not the only student on campus who finds comfort in cooking meals or a yummy dessert that reminds them of home and eating with their family.
Growing up as a triplet with two brothers, Kaelyn Oliver, who graduated in May, did not always see eye to eye with her brothers. The one thing they could always agree on was when their mom cooked “Mommy Surprise.”
“It’s only elbow pasta, meat sauce, and cheese, but she’d always tell me and my brothers that it was her special recipe and we would go crazy over it as kids,” Oliver said.
Oliver makes “Mommy Surprise” once in a while when she’s really missing home due to the stress of being a psychology major in her last year of college. “I’m not necessarily the best cook, but I enjoy cooking dinner every night and it is just a nice break from studying or the craziness of a day,” Oliver said.
As Thanksgiving quickly approaches, Matt Mosher, who graduated in May, and sophomore Matt Schreiner both get their favorite holiday meal soon: homemade stuffing. “My mom makes a homemade crescent roll stuffing and it’s the best thing about Thanksgiving for me,” Mosher said.
Mosher confessed that he can’t make it himself as well as his mom does, but he does think that baking is a good way for some people to relieve stress, just maybe not him.
“I think for the people who can cook or bake it can be a great stress reliever. I personally dislike cooking because I’m so bad at it that it usually stresses me out more,” Mosher said.
Schreiner said he has never attempted to bake his mom’s homemade sausage and apple stuffing, but when he does bake, he finds that it brings him a way to escape the world and get away from the stress of hockey and school.
“Cooking definitely brings me good vibes, when I make something my mom makes it also makes me feel good and that I’m at home,” Schreiner said. So what does he make?
International student, who also graduated in May, Emilia Laffin’s go-to holiday meal is the raclette, a French dish made with melted cheese. “It reminds me of where I grew up and all the good times I spend with my family and friends at dinner,” Laffin said.
Being from Chamonix Mont-Blanc, France it is much harder for Laffin to find the correct ingredients to make home-cooked meals. “Most of the meals that I love from home are made with cheese and it’s impossible to find the same cheese here and at home,” Laffin said.
While Laffin doesn’t feel she’s the best cook and it typically causes her more stress, “In my opinion, cooking can be a good way to release stress if you are actually good at cooking,” Laffin said.
Twice baked potatoes keeps Jillian Perry ‘22 from going over the edge. . “It’s been a family tradition since I can remember,” Perry said. The melted cheese dripping down the side of a baked potato drizzled with warm crispy bacon and fresh cut green onions always gives Perry the feeling that she is home with her family.
“Me, my sister, and my brother all go crazy when we can smell our dad cooking it on Thanksgiving,” Perry said.
“I always cook meals that remind me of home. I think it has more meaning to me because it reminds me of my family and our traditions and knowing I always have a good time when I am with my family,” Perry said.
Easy Tasty Feel Good Meals
Shortbread cookies by Stephanie Burnelle ’21
Ingredients: 1 cup of butter, 1 cup of powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon of vanilla, and 2 cups of flour
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350℉
Step 2: Grab a bowl
Step 3: Place 1 cup of butter, at room temperature, into bowl
Step 4: Pour 1 cup of powdered sugar into bowl
Step 5: Pour1 tablespoon of vanilla
Step 6: Add 2 cups of flour into bowl
Step 7: Mix well
Step 8: Roll out small pieces of dough into circle and place them on pan with enough room to expand
Step 9: When done rolling dough, put in oven for 8-10 minutes at 350℉
Step 10: When cookies are done baking, leave them out to cool for 5-10 minutes
Buff-Chick Dip by Cana Courtney ‘21
Ingredients: ½ cup of mozzarella cheese, ½ cup of hot sauce, ½ cup of blue cheese dressing, 1 pack of cream cheese, and 2 large chicken breasts of a pack of chicken strips
Step 1: Preheat oven to 350℉
Step 2: slice up the 2 large chicken breasts
Step 3: Spread 1 pack of cream cheese into a baking dish
Step 4: Layer chicken on top of the creamcheese
Step 5: Layer ½ cup of hot sauce
Step 6: Drizzle blue cheese dressing on top
Step 7: Sprinkle ½ cup of mozzarella cheese over blue cheese dressing
Step 8: Bake for 25 minutes at 350℉
Gluten Free Banana Bread By Megan Doherty ’21
Ingredients: 3 ripe bananas, 1 cup of white sugar, 1 egg, ¼ melted butter, 1 ½ cups of gluten-free all purpose flour, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, 1 teaspoon of salt, and cinnamon
Step 1: Preheat oven to 350℉
Step 2: Mash up the bananas
Step 3: Pour all of the wet ingredients into the mashed bananas: sugar, egg, butter
Step 4: In a separate bowl mix dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon
Step 5: Combine wet ingredients with dry ingredients
Step 6: Bake 45 minutes – 1 hour @ 350℉
Pasta with Mushrooms and Spinach by Kaelyn Oliver ’20
Ingredients: 1 Box of rotini pasta, mushrooms, spinach, butter, olive oil, salt, pepper, and red chili flakes
Step 1: Boil rotini pasta 10-12 minutes
Step 2: Sauté mushrooms and spinach for 3-5 minutes
Step 3: Strain pasta when fully cooked
Step 4: Add mushrooms and spinach
Step 5: Add butter and garlic flavored olive oil
Step 6: Add a splash of salt, pepper, and red chili flakes
When Kelly Cullen ‘21 finds herself having trouble sleeping, which seems to be happening more often these days due to the pandemic, she finds herself reaching into her desk drawer where she keeps her essential oils and drops some lavender in her diffuser.
When our minds are more stressed it depresses not only our mood, but also our immune systems. Cullen, like many college students right now, in such uncertain times is looking for new ways to de-stress with she like many others is turning to more holistic methods of relaxation, one of these methods is aromatherapy.
Aromatherapy is the inhalation or bodily application of essential oils which are derived from plants for therapeutic purposes. It works through the olfactory system, which includes all of the cells and physical organs involved with or relating to the sense of smell according to healthline.com.
“The olfactory is the only direct link to the limbic system which is the emotional center for the brain. The emotional center of the brain basically rules cognitive and intellectual function as well as emotional and hormonal function” said Leyla Bringas the founder and owner of Lunaroma in Burlington, as well as a certified aromatherapist.
Cullen is a frequent user of essential oils for aromatherapy “I use essential oils because they help to relax me or to uplift my mood. I think that the smells are very comforting and relaxing especially after a long day of classes or work.”
Essential oils are not exclusively related to relaxation. According to Bringas ach scent has a host of different effects both emotional and cognitive. Some essential oils relax the nervous system and others enliven the nervous system. Some are specific to memory, some are specific to relaxation. The same scent can have differing effects depending upon the person.
“It is a personal choice. The citrus family of essential oils like lemon, grapefruit and orange as well as those in the mint family are energizing for some people and calming for others, “said Sarah Klionski who is the Assistant Director of Counseling at the Bergeron Wellness Center.. “ Lavender, jasmine, chamomile, lemon grass, vanilla, cinnamon and rose can be calming for some and energizing for others. It can be fun to try out different combinations of scents as well”
“I tend to use lavender because it smells nice and I have heard it reduces stress levels which I think everyone needs especially right now. I use lavender oil almost every night but especially if I am having trouble sleeping or if I have something stressful like a test the next day” said Cullen.
not all stress comes from the same root cause therefore different scents may work better for different specific root causes to your stress.
“Sometimes people deal with stress because they have trouble focusing,” Bringas said. “ If you have trouble focusing it’s not that you’re stressed out because you have anxiety, it is more that your mind is not focused and you don’t have the mental agility to get your work done so then it begins accumulating and then you become stressed because of that. So when we read that scents like lavender or chamomile are great at relaxation a lot of people think ‘Well at work, I am really stressed out so I need something that is going to relax me.’ But sometimes it is not the case that you need relaxation but that you need focus or clarity.
“It really depends on what the source of the stress is for what oils would be best” said Bringas.
There are many different methods for using essential oils these include diffusing the oil, spray forms, roll ons, inhalers, lotions, and even putting the essential oil in a base oil such as coconut oil and applying it directly to the skin. The method used is up to the person and what they feel works best for them.
“Personally, I tend to use a diffuser most often, but I also have used roll on oils as well as room sprays” said Cullen. An essential oil diffuser is a device that disperses essential oils into the surrounding air, filling the room with the desired therapeutic scent.
“The method depends on who you are, for example if you are a student and you are on the go a lot, an inhaler can be really great since it is so portable. It can also be as easy as putting on a hand lotion and smelling your hand. But, there are also the more aggressive methods such as inhalation, diffusing, or roll ons” said Bringas.
When purchasing essential oils for aromatherapy make sure that they are actually a pure oil made from plant matter and not a synthetic oil made in a lab.
“There is a lot of adulteration in the industry as the average person does not know what real rose smells like or real lavender smells like. Synthetics are super common as they are a lot less expensive. It is my belief that plants are here to help us grow and heal as well as to find balance. I feel that there is a nurturing and nourishing component to something beautiful that you are smelling rather than something synthetic which can be assaulting to your senses” said Bringas.
“I really like the brand Young Living for essential oils since I have researched different essential oil brands and they seem to be reputable as well as selling pure essential oil, not any of the fake stuff,” said Cullen.
“Anything ,especially for students, that can help with dealing with such a weird world is important. Relying on things like essential oils that are healthy and things that are going to make your body and mind more balanced are important because everybody needs a little bit of help right now” said Bringas.
“I definitely find myself turning to essential oils more in such a crazy time and would recommend it to other students looking to destress or increase their mood in a natural way” said Cullen.
Have you noticed that, with most classes now being held virtually, you have been spending more time indoors looking at a screen? Nowadays, people have been farther apart than ever before. Social gatherings must be limited and masks are required in all public spaces. This has greatly reduced our social interactions with one another. By turning to our screens we have tried to fill that void.
Have you been more tired or stressed lately? When was the last time you read a book merely to read a book? Reading can improve mental health, knowledge, and even help you sleep more. “Reading has been shown to put our brains into a state similar to meditation, and it brings the same health benefits of deep relaxation and inner calm,” according to the South African College of Applied Psychology “Regular readers sleep better, have lower stress levels, higher self-esteem, and lower rates of depression than non-readers.”
My generation has lost interest in reading for pleasure. Distractions like social media, Youtube, and The Office keep us entertained without needing to ever pick up a book. But what benefits come from scrolling down Instagram for the hundredth time in a day? Trying to decide whether to rewatch Outer Banks or Schitt’s Creek on Netflix? But what if, rather than mindlessly looking at another screen, you could pick up a book and lose yourself in it for an hour?
With classes being hosted on Zoom, our smartphones always at our sides, and video game consoles one button press away from hours of fun, we are constantly looking at screens and, as a result, increasing our stress. We have been led to believe that reading should not be fun. Our high schools made us read books that we weren’t interested in. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne is a beautiful book but our high school teachers tore it apart and made us analyze it. And then they made us talk and write about the books we weren’t interested in. And then they graded us on our essays and quizzes on the books we were not interested in. Reading classic literature is important and it can even be fun, but high schools usually go about assigned reading incorrectly. But this piece isn’t about remodeling the high school learning system. It’s about reading for pleasure and good health.
Trust me, you can find a novel, biography, non-fiction, mystery, thriller, or horror book that will pique your interest. Pick up a short story or novel and see where that takes you. Start reading and hopefully, you get so lost in the book that when you look at the time it’s been two hours since you started and you are already halfway done with it. Discovering that special book can lead to finding a favorite author or genre and then you will be on your way to reading for pleasure. If you find yourself struggling with Zoom class or spending unproductive time on your phone or laptop, reading is exactly what you need. Maybe you can’t fall asleep till 1 AM and it’s affecting your school work. Try picking up a book and reading before bed. I promise after reading a couple of pages, you will find yourself dozing off earlier than usual. In the morning you will wake up with more energy which will help you stay more productive throughout the day.
For many of us the first place we check when looking for a gift for our loved ones is either Amazon or another large online shopping site. Amazon and other online shopping, though convenient, often comes from halfway around the world, and contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and global warming, which is one of the biggest threats facing our generation. Shopping from local stores for gift and purchasing gift cards to local farm to table restaurants, helps support your local economy while also helping the environment
Sam Handy, managing partner of Grazers in Williston couldn’t be more proud of supporting local farmers and his farm to table restaurant. When starting Grazers seven years ago, the farm to table movement had just taken off. With no farm to table options outside the Burlington area Sam and his other partners knew that they wanted to bring the opportunity of local, clean food to the people in Williston and the surrounding area. “What’s cooler than knowing your grass fed burger traveled less than 25 miles? Or that the veggie burger you are eating was made by a Vermont business 10 minutes down the road? Or your produce was grown right down the road? You are directly impacting people in your community and allowing them to be successful.” said Handy when reflecting on why it was so important to him to start a local farm to table restaurant. (paragraph) Farm to table restaurants have become some of the most prominent restaurants in the state of Vermont, and have become a staple to the state economy and state reputation. Buying and eating local has quickly become the expectation for Vermonters, with many being advocates for the betterment of the community and environment alike. “Supporting the local economy has to be the most important part. We are also extremely proud of the reputation we have built in the community. People support us because we support local farmers, cheese makers and beer producers. The food is also going to be more fresh and less processed so it not only tastes better but it is better for you.” This holiday season, support your local restaurants like Grazers by purchinging a gift card, it not only helps local businesses but also is healthier for the consumer and the environment in the long run.
It’s easy for many of us to forget about picking up a gift or two for your furry friends during this holiday season. You can support local businesses when shopping for them as well. Rescue Pup Cookies is a local dog cooking business located in Underhill, VT run by owner Julia Johnson who strives to provide your dog with the healthiest snacks. “The toxic chemicals that are put into foods to preserve them, along with using toxic fertilizers on our fruits and veggies, so many people and animals, are overloaded with toxic chemicals.” says Johnson “I dove into researching everything on how to make our products as healthy as possible for our customers and our dogs. Being organic is also very important to us, our chicken’s and chicken eggs that we use for the cookies will be organic certified soon along with our home grown pumpkins. We use ingredients from Maine, Oregon, New York and New Hampshire; all USDA organic certified”.
When thinking about great gift ideas, try to support and shop at your local businesses and restaurants for gifts for the entire family. This way you can reduce the emissions of greenhouse gasses, along with supporting local families. Consider businesses like Grazers and Rescue Pup Cookies who are ever so passionate about supporting other local businesses and can guarantee the cleanest and healthiest meal possible for you, your family and four-legged friends.
This year the holidays are coming with the added challenge of the pandemic. Many of us share gifts of gratitude during this time of joy and marvel at the decorations inside and outside our homes. But rarely do we stop and think about the impact our gifts have on the planet.
Unfortunately, we are so accustomed to enjoying the holidays at the expense of the Earth however, it’s simple and easy to adapt to a healthier holiday for the planet. Some of the easy to-do’s are as simple as picking out a real christmas tree and starting a new tradition of planting a new one, along with becoming a bit closer to nature by spending more time outside.
A new holiday tradition that you can do to actively help save the environment is just going outside and enjoying the winter season (Cowan 2020). Go on nature walks with your family, friends or even a dog or two. This will bring you closer to the people you love while practicing social distancing as well. Bring everyone together before your annual holiday meal and go on a walk to enjoy nature. This way people will be hungry when you return and ready to sit down for the holiday feast. Another tradition that your family can adopt to further benefit your local community and wildlife is planting a new evergreen tree each holiday season. Planting a tree together will symbolize the value of nature, and you also will be “returning ” a tree for “taking” one as your annual Christmas tree.
Many people think that cutting down a christmas tree each year is bad for the environment, but it is actually the exact opposite. Although plastic trees could be used for years, many people throw them out after only a couple of uses, once they become less attractive from repeated use. Fake trees are made up of petroleum products (PVC) which last forever. Once these trees are discarded, they sit in landfills where they never decompose. Getting a live tree from a local farm helps the local community and they are a renewable resource, regularly replanted each year. They also contribute to good air quality, and ninety percent of all leftover christmas trees are sent to be repurposed into mulch. This mulch is usually then used to local gardeners and landscapers, to make your community a more beautiful place come summer time.
As you see it’s easier than you might think to make your holiday a little bit more “green” this holiday season. It’s important to think about the environment as well when we are getting together to reflect on what we have to be thankful for this holiday season. It’s as simple as coming together a little bit more in nature, going on a walk and maybe planting a small tree while you’re at it. Along with making it a new family tradition of going to your local tree farm and cutting down your own natural Christmas tree.