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Counseling Office News: Mental Health Newsletter We Are Here To Support You!

Tips to follow FOR self-care

Carve out time. This is the basic prerequisite for just about all the ways to take of yourself. You need time, and it has to be part of a daily routine. It’s not always easy to set time aside with everything going on in life, but learning to carve it into your schedule is necessary. If you start now, it will become a habit. Many of the activities below don’t require a lot of time – some only take up 15-20 minutes in your day. It’s the regularity that counts.

Meditation. Mindful meditation has proven to change the structure and function of the brain, and it’s a fabulous way to promote relaxation while reducing anxiety, depression, and stress. It can be learned in–person with an expert, or online (there are plenty of YouTube instructional videos or smartphone apps).

Yoga. Yoga and other types of Eastern methods of activity involve stretching, improving flexibility, connecting mind and body – all of which are helpful for stress reduction and wellness, and have been used extensively for thousands of years (videos are available online).

Exercise. Working out comes in many forms. There’s training for strength, endurance, and aerobic activity (getting your heart beat up). But simply walking 2 miles a day is great exercise – plus it gets you outside! Exercise not only gets you physically fit, but it’s a natural way to help decrease depression and anxiety.

Get some sleep. Easier said than done, but sleep deprivation is detrimental to a person’s thinking, and their physical and emotional state. Most young people need eight to nine hours of restful sleep to function at their best. Try to have as regular a sleep schedule as possible, and you’ll generally find that your “biological clock” will remember when to fall asleep and wake up.

Creative expression. Choose a creative outlet to convey your thoughts and feelings. This could be journaling, writing poetry, painting or drawing, doing photography, dancing, or playing music. The key here is channeling your emotional state through an art form. And, don’t strive for perfection! Simply immersing yourself in creative arts can ward off adverse thoughts and feelings.

Play with a pet. If you are lucky and can have a pet, there may be few better ways to foster self-care. If you have one, you know what I mean. Cuddling with a pet, taking care of them, and feeling their unconditional love is something we rarely experience on such a consistent basis.

Meet and communicate with friends. Research has found that meeting with peers and talking about what’s going on with you — including past events you’re still processing — prevents burnout and promotes well–being. And the activities don’t have to be just talking. Things like doing art projects together, playing with slime, or gaming (Dungeons and Dragons is having a huge comeback!) all work.

Appreciate nature. Think of the times you enjoyed a great sunrise or sunset, took a scenic hike, rode your bike in a park, played in the snow, or just took a walk around your neighborhood. There is something to our relationship with the outdoors that makes us feel good, if we can allow ourselves a few minutes not to rush.

Turn off smart phones (at least for part of the day). It’s hard. But really, you don’t need it on constantly, as if it’s stitched to your side. You can take a break, even for just part of the day. How many texts, Instagram stories or other digital communications do you need to see immediately? Very few! Once you try it, you may actually find it refreshing to have a break from the constant notifications.

Do something for someone else: Our brains are wired for giving. In fact, the chemicals released by the brain during the process of giving is far more rewarding than when we receive gifts. Joining din even small local efforts, such as in community centers, soup kitchens, geriatric life centers, children’s’ hospitals or after–school programs – all foster the feeling (and reality) that you are making a positive impact on another person’s life.

Bottom line: In all times, we need ways to help maintain our ability to cope. Self-care techniques are fundamental for preventing stress before it strikes, and are fundamental for sustaining our equilibrium during hard times.

Resource: The Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds

Ways To Cope During This Time

1. Value yourself:  Treat yourself with kindness and respect, and avoid self-criticism. Make time for your hobbies and favorite projects, or broaden your horizons. Do a daily crossword puzzle, plant a garden, take dance lessons, learn to play an instrument or become fluent in another language.

2. Take care of your body: Taking care of yourself physically can improve your mental health. Be sure to do the following: Eat nutritious meals; Drink plenty of water; Exercise, which helps decrease depression and anxiety and improve moods; and Get enough sleep.

3. Surround yourself with good people: People with strong family or social connections are generally healthier than those who lack a support network. Make plans with supportive family members and friends, or seek out activities where you can meet new people, such as a club, class or support group.

4. Give yourself: Volunteer your time and energy to help someone else. You'll feel good about doing something tangible to help someone in need — and it's a great way to meet new people. You can use the VolunteerMatch website to find local places to volunteer your time

5. Learn how to deal with stress:  Like it or not, stress is a part of life. Practice good coping skills: Try One-Minute Stress Strategies, do Tai Chi, exercise, take a nature walk, play with your pet or try journal writing as a stress reducer. Also, remember to smile and see the humor in life. Research shows that laughter can boost your immune system, ease pain, relax your body and reduce stress.

6. Quiet your mind: Try meditating and/or mindfulness. Relaxation exercises can improve your state of mind and outlook on life. In fact, research shows that meditation may help you feel calm and enhance the effects of therapy.

7. Set realistic goals:  Decide what you want to achieve academically, professionally and personally, and write down the steps you need to realize your goals. Aim high, but be realistic and don't over-schedule.

8. Break up the monotony:  Although our routines make us more efficient and enhance our feelings of security and safety, a little change of pace can perk up a tedious schedule. Alter your jogging route, plan a road-trip, take a walk in a different park, hang some new pictures or try a new restaurant.

9. Get help when you need it:  Seeking help is a sign of strength — not a weakness. And it is important to remember that treatment is effective. People who get appropriate care can recover from mental illness and addiction and lead full, rewarding lives.

Resource: The University of Michigan Health Services Website

Virtual Calming Room

Mindfulness helps people to become more aware of their thoughts, feelings, and body sensations so that instead of being overwhelmed by emotions, they are better able to manage them. Practicing mindfulness can give more insight into emotions, boost attention and concentration, and improve relationships. For information on mindfulness click here. Click the video above to try the 5-4-3-2-1 mindfulness exercise.

Breathing exercises can help you relax, because they make your body feel like it does when you are already relaxed. Deep breathing is one of the best ways to lower stress in the body. This is because when you breathe deeply, it sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax. Click the video above to try a guided breathing exercise.

Many students struggle with focus and concentration in schools. This can be attributed to different factors but typically influences student grades, behavior and attendance. To better understand trouble focusing and how to improve, click here.

Experiencing stress and anxiety can happen anytime. If you need support at your fingertips - there's an app for that. Click to read about 8 calming apps.

Have you experienced trauma during these troubling times? Yoga and mindfulness tools can help to support your children through the effects of trauma. Click above to access a Trauma Tool Kit focused on using Yoga to deal with stress.

Calming Photo

Need additional Support?

CRISIS Resources available 24/7 for emotional support: If you are in Crisis (ANY painful emotion, for which you need support), to connect with the national crisis center, text HOME to 741741. Within minutes, a crisis counselor will text you back to start a conversation. Suicide Prevention Hotline @ 1-800-273-8255.

Resources from SAMHSA- The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) established a Disaster Distress Helpline (1-800-985-5990) to help those in need of immediate counseling related to the current public health crisis. People can call the helpline or text “TalkWithUS” to 66746 to be connected with trained professionals from the closest crisis counseling centers in the nationwide network. Additional resources and information from SAMHSA can be found on their website.

Credits:

Created with images by kristamonique - "snowfall winter snow" • kinkate - "wintry backcountry skiiing ski tracks" • TanteTati - "man bridge lonely" • enriquelopezgarre - "people night winter" • Quangpraha - "boats sea coast"