Tag Archives: anxiety

Stress Levels and Mental Health in College Students

College students usually get stressed when they have major tests in their classes. And it seems that stress levels spike when midterms and finals are approaching. However, most students feel stressed almost all of the time. It is said that one out of five students say they feel stressed most of the time (1). Stress can cause other mental health issues like anxiety disorders and depression. Stress, along with these other mental health disorders, has major effects on students’ day to day lives, and even their future.

It is said that stress is a precursor to anxiety or depression disorders. According to the National Alliance on Mental Health Illness, almost two-thirds of students drop out of school due to mental health reasons (1). Suicidal thoughts may be involved with these disorders. And 95 percent of suicides committed by students are related to anxiety and depression (1).

stressed student
“Stress, along with these other mental health disorders, has major effects on students’ day to day lives, and even their future.” Photo from: http://www.autismafter16.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/article_large/article-images/iStock_000010063963Small_0.jpg

Stress, anxiety and depression levels in students have risen dramatically since the 1980s (2). This means that there is also an increase in those going to their university’s mental health centers, if they are provided. According to Boston University statistics, in the 2014-2015 school year, students seeking psychiatric evaluation went from 120 students to 134, and those coming in because of a crisis increased from 647 students to 906 students (3). It’s happening all over the country. The Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors found that 73.1 percent of counseling center directors reported an increase in the severity of student mental health concerns (3).

Radford University has a Student Counseling Services office located in the basement of Tyler Hall. They offer individual, couple and group psychotherapy, medication evaluations and management, professional consultations and other services (4). Their offices are open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and their phone number is (540)-831-5226.

Mental health is one of the things that college students should take care of, especially in times of great stress. So, if you or someone you know is going through a rough patch, definitely try to make an appointment with the Counseling services; it could help you before things get too bad.

1 – http://stress.lovetoknow.com/Statistics_on_College_Student_Stress 2 – https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/theory-knowledge/201402/the-college-student-mental-health-crisis  3 – http://www.bu.edu/today/2016/mental-health-college-students/  4 – http://www.radford.edu/content/student-counseling/home.html

Anxiety Catalyst

The airport has always been a catalyst for my anxiety. The walk to the small plane, the trot up the stairs. I could die, ya’ know.
Sitting down in my window seat, I whisper, “At least I can see the clouds.”

The 6-month-old next to me should be kicked out for disrupting the small peace found looking out of my prized window.

airplane
“The 6-month-old next to me should be kicked out for disrupting the small peace found looking out of my prized window.” Photo from: https://www.scienceabc.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/airplane.jpg

A man with duck shoes stomps through the small isles. I imagine he doesn’t know his circumference. The empty seat next to me is praying for its vacancy, but all in vain. He smells.

A three-hour flight, next to a man that smells. Great.

The window seat has its disadvantages. The corner where one’s feet would go is rounded, allowing for virtually no foot room. In a fair assessment, the ceilings are 6 ½ foot tall, allowing little room for error.

The longest flight of my life had to be next to a man with incomprehensible body odor, a 6 ½ metal ceiling, and an infant screaming beside me.

All-Nighter

Sleep doesn’t come when I call anymore.

Maybe I’ll rub the tired from my eyes,

And write another thousand words before the sun rises.

I’ll let myself lose a dozen hours in a back-lit screen.

Just because it feels meaningful when compared with the alternative:

Lying in the cloying silence,

Inventing patterns on the off-white ceiling.

 

There is no heartbreak this time,

No creeping anxiety that drags at the back of my mind.

The weight of the cosmos is no heavier than it ever is.

Nothing to fix, nothing to blame.

These words may be the only meaning I ever find in it,

And even they won’t come easy.

night sky
“I’ll pretend every waking hour had been my decision So I can wear the dark circles under my eyes like some badge of honor.” Photo from: https://pixabay.com

Another all-nighter?” he asks,

And I return his well-intentioned smile.

I’ll pretend every waking hour had been my decision

So I can wear the dark circles under my eyes like some badge of honor,

As though my bone-deep exhaustion was a marker of academic fortitude.

But there is no significance or triumph in the reality

That rest has become some unruly beast,

And sleep doesn’t come when I call anymore.

Anxiety

Fluttering, falling, fading,

Once green leaves stained yellow with groundless fears,

Buffeted and shaken by rains that once

Wouldn’t have even been noticed.

One by one the leaves die of terror,

And the branches are left bare.

But instead of doing anything,

The tree lets it happen.

The more the leaves fall,

The less strength there is to hold on to the ones left.

The wind tries to help,

Tickling branches in ways the tree once loved.

But without leaves, the wind feels harsh and exhausting.

tree

“One by one the leaves die of terror, And the branches are left bare.” Photo from: www.staticflickr.com

 

 

Branches snicker, snap, and groan

At the innocent wind.

The bare bony fingers reach towards the sky,

Scraping against the blue in desperation.

But the sky never says anything,

And only the rain that was already coming

Responds to the cries.

Soon there is nothing

To protect from the coming ice,

And all that remains

Is to do

Nothing.

How you react to stress is vital for your health

The fact that stress and negative emotions can raise the risk of heart disease is evident, but the reasons why this occurs are not explicitly known. One possible rationale that connects stress to heart disease is an impairment of the autonomic nervous system — an instance of an individual’s typically self-regulated nervous system being led astray.

Nancy L. Sin, a postdoctoral researcher in the department of biobehavioral health and in the Center for Healthy Aging at Penn State, and colleagues desired to discover if everyday stress and heart rate variability are connected. Heart rate variability is the change in intervals between sequenced heartbeats, and a measure of autonomic regulation of the heart.

Depression and major stressful occurrences are indisputably dangerous for health, but less consideration has been taken to the health consequences of frustrations and hassles in everyday life. Before this study, not very many studies had explored the relationship between heart rate variability and everyday stressful occurrences.

Nani_screaming_into_a_pillow
“Depression and major stressful occurrences are dangerous for health.”

The researchers examined information gathered from 909 participants, involving day-to-day phone interviews during eight consecutive days as well as the results from an electrocardiogram — a test that checks for problems with the electrical activity of your heart. The participants were between the ages of 35 and 85 and were drawn from a national study. The study’s discoveries were reported online in Psychosomatic Medicine.

Throughout the day-to-day telephone interviews, participants were requested to describe the stressful occurrences they had encountered that day, ranking how stressful each occasion was by picking “not at all,” “not very,” “somewhat” or “very.”

Additionally, participants were questioned about their negative feelings that day, if they were feeling either angry, sad or nervous. Participants reported, on average, experiencing no less than one stressful event on 42 percent of the interview days, and these events were, in most cases, rated as “somewhat” stressful.

Sin and colleagues discovered that the individuals who reported numerous stressful occurrences in their daily lives were not automatically those who had lower heart rate variability. No matter how many or how few stressful occurrences participants faced, it was those who rated the occurrences as more stressful or who encountered an increase in negative emotions that had lower heart rate variability. What this means is that these people might have an increased risk for heart disease.

Rates of depression and anxiety normal in supported transgender children

According to a new study published on February 26 in Pediatrics, transgender children who are given the opportunity to socially transition, to change their hair, clothing, and use their preferred pronouns as well as preferred names, had the same rate of depression and anxiety as two control groups of cisgender children.

Image from healthywomen.org
A mother who fully supports her transgender child. Image from healthywomen.org

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These discoveries question the “long-held assumptions” that mental health issues in transgender youth are unavoidable, and some go as far as considering being transgender as a type of mental disorder.

The researcher, UW assistant professor of psychology and lead author Kristina Olson, noticed that in her experiment, 73 children, ages 3 to 12, had levels of depression and anxiety no higher than two control groups, which consisted of the transgender children’s siblings and other cisgender children of the same age. “Their rates of depression and anxiety were significantly lower than those of gender-nonconforming children in previous studies,” says Olson.

The research not only involved the children, but also the parents, having them fill out two short surveys asking the frequency of their children experiencing depression or anxiety in the last week.

The research said that the levels of depression regarding transgender children was an average of 50.1, essentially the same as the national norm, while their anxiety rates were 54.2, only a bit higher than the national average.

Researchers understand that “positive mental health among study participants might be explained by factors other than parental support.”

They know that the possibility of a parent making their child seem happier than they are is great, but they plan on creating future studies to investigate those possibilities.

This study was a part of the TransYouth project that Olsen founded. It’s the first large study of transgender youth in the U.S. It contains more than 150 transgender children and families from about 25 states, and Olson is still recruiting more participants.

Technology that monitors stress level

In the realm of innovative wearable technology, monitoring fitness and movement is commonly the primary objective. Wearable tech created to tally steps, monitor workouts, and hit more reps has well and genuinely become the standard but be that as it may, in the course of the past twelve months, there’s been an enormous increase in gadgets built in order to keep our minds in check, just as much as our bodies. Recently, a product has been manufactured that strives to assist individuals in managing their anxiety and stress amid their everyday lives.

New wearable technology monitors stress-level, not fitness. Image from CBS Boston.
New wearable technology monitors stress-level, not fitness.
Image from CBS Boston.

The consumers simply clip Spire to their jeans or bra and the device monitors the patterns of your breathing to figure out whether they’re relaxed, centered, or strained. If the breathing speeds up to an excessive amount, the device will buzz and a message will be sent to your iPhone telling you to take a deep breath. “That simplicity of the feedback is what makes it so applicable and what makes it so actionable in daily life,” clarified Spire co-founder Neema Moraveji. “You can take a deep breath without stopping what you’re doing, without distracting from what you’re doing.”

While technology may add to current stress and anxiety levels, Moraveji says there’s no sensible escape. “The question became: ‘how could technology change and improve our state of mind?’” Notices are delivered, as necessary, so consumers can monitor and contrast their activity levels and perspective everyday.

As a doctor, Liz Scheufele perceives how essential the right sort of breathing can be, “the exercise of deep breathing, to bring you out of that tense state, I think that’s highly valuable.”

“I think it’s great”, Peter Kazanjy expressed, who is a loyal Spire user. He says it has made him more aware of his breathing and everyday stress and anxiety degrees. “You kind of notice things like maybe I’m hunched over and I’m not doing as deep breathing through my diaphragm as a I should be.”

Spire may assist in directing your breathing and you’ll have the capacity to be more in control. In any case, it costs about $150 and it is not considered a medical device.

What consumers and speculators truly want to know, is whether wearable technology intended to monitor stress actually helps or hinders with regards to better and a more full comprehension of the physical side effects symptoms of anxiety and stress.

How to deal with anxiety in college

Everyone can feel anxious about final exams and deadlines for papers, but those only come periodically throughout the semester. Other, simpler, things can make someone anxious such as day-to-day homework, social life issues, and anything from being alone for too long to being around too many people too often. Anxiety can take over someone’s mind so that they constantly second-guess themselves. It can be difficult going through college with anxiety. There are some ways to really control it and keep it under control.

 

Anxiety can make someone feel sad and nervous all the time. It can affect how they do in school and how social they are around friends. One of the most important things to remember when dealing with anxiety while away at college is that if you don’t want to be alone, you never have to be. There is always somebody you can call whether that be your family, friends from home, or friends at school some one wants to hear about what’s making you anxious and feeling unsure. On the flip side of that, if you do want to be alone, there is always a door you can close the rest of the world out of and take some time to reflect on yourself and have some alone time.

Another key factor to remember in calming down your anxiety is that everything will be okay. Whether you’re worried about school, a job, or your social life things will eventually all work out. If you get a bad grade it won’t be the end of your world, or if you’re a few minutes late to work it won’t get you fired, and if you have an awkward encounter with peers it won’t kill you. Things happen in life that are uncomfortable but the important thing is to push past it and keep going with the rest of your life because everything will turn out okay.

Whatever anxiety you are dealing with or struggling through, you can get through it by keeping these things in mind and just reminding yourself you’re going to be okay in the end!

You should go to therapy. Trust me.

Have you ever thought about going to therapy? Maybe you’re thinking “I don’t need to go to therapy. Isn’t therapy for people who are really struggling with intense issues or they’re just crazy?” Well that isn’t necessarily the case. Yes, a lot of people who are in therapy are struggling with depression, anxiety, or other mental issues; however, therapy is simply an outlet for people to talk about their problem, whether they’re anxiety driven or not.

Going to a therapist was one of the best decisions I ever made. I began going to therapy because I was dealing with anxiety and struggling with my sexual identity; however, after I figured all of those things out, I continued to go because it was one of the most therapeutic and relaxing experiences I have ever had. I was allowed to talk about things, drama and other stressors, without the back and forth you have to have with your friends. I sat there for an hour as she listened to me talk and talk and my crappy friends and my messed up parents and she gave me advice and support. With friends, they can say “I’m here for you” and all those other cliche phrases but you know deep down that they have their own lives to deal with and they’re just waiting for their turn to talk. With therapy, the therapist sits there and talks to you like you’re friends but doesn’t expect anything in return from you. They are simply there to help guide you in the right direction and make sure that you are going to be okay. It’s fulfilling and relieving.

And how does that make you feel?  Photo from healthcommunities.com
And how does that make you feel?
Photo from healthcommunities.com

The best part about going to therapy is they know nothing about you. They don’t know anyone else’s side of the story and they don’t know the history of you or anyone else in your life. When you complain about someone or something, they have zero bias on the situation so they can give you honest and genuine advice about the situation. They tell you how it is based on the information you give them. With friends or parents, they usually understand the whole situation or have known the other people in the scenario, making it harder for them to stay unbiased. If you’re choosing between talking to a friend or a therapist, I’d go with therapy every time.

I understand that therapy isn’t for everybody; however, if you’ve never tried it what’s the harm? You may discover that you love it and it helps you more than any friend ever could or you could realise that you hate it and you never want to go back again and that’s okay too. Whatever the outcome may be, try therapy. It made me a happier person.

5 things you didn’t know about living with anxiety

Having anxiety can be hell for the person living with it. For those who don’t have it, this article will help you understand what those who do have anxiety go through. There are a lot of ideas behind what anxiety looks like, but there are a lot of things we don’t talk about.

  1. Picking

When many people think of anxiety, they think of nail-biting. Often in television shows, especially cartoons, nervousness is expressed through nail-biting. I’ve been a nail-biter since I can remember. However, there are other ways we cope with anxiety physically.

Trichotillomania is a disorder which causes a person with anxiety to pull out their hair. Dermatillomania is when a person with anxiety picks their skin. For the past year or so, I have picked my legs to shreds. It honestly looks like I walked into a mosquito nest. During a recent doctor’s visit, my doctor noticed my scarred legs. She said, “you definitely have anxiety. I can tell because a lot of my patients with anxiety pick their legs or arms.”

It’s an ugly truth to anxiety that we may cause physical harm to ourselves, whether we know it or not. Skin-picking and hair-pulling is dangerous because if it leaves open wounds, you risk infections such as Staph.

  1. Panic attacks are more than just crying

The image that often comes to mind of a panic attack is usually of that person crying hysterically. Although that may be the case, not all panic attacks are the same.

When I’m having a panic attack, it feels like my body’s on fire. I become irritable and feel this intense sense of urgency. When someone is having a panic attack, often their fight or flight mode gets switched on. For me, this is often more towards the fight side. I become extremely aggressive when I’m having a panic attack. I’ve said things I would never say to someone when I’m my “normal” self.

For others, anxiety attacks can mean extreme confusion. As their sense of urgency is heightened, collecting their thoughts and assessing a situation can become extremely difficult, if not impossible.

  1. Panic attacks don’t just happen in stressful situations

I’ve had panic attacks in high-stress situations such as the last few moments of crunch time during finals week. However, I’ve had even more panic attacks in situations that shouldn’t be stressful at all. For example, I had a panic attack in my sleep once. It manifested as a horrible nightmare that I was being eaten alive by insects. It felt so real, when I woke up I flailed my arms in an attempt to get the imaginary bugs off of me. I was also in a pool of sweat and tears, and I was breathing so hard I thought my heart might explode.

Even in extremely relaxed states, anxiety can attack.

The thoughts are endless with anxiety Photo from psych2go
The thoughts are endless with anxiety
Photo from psych2go     

 4. Anxiety doesn’t discriminate

Mental illness is often thought to be more a women’s health issue. Women are more likely to seek help for anxiety, but that doesn’t mean men aren’t afflicted. Although women are more likely to be diagnosed with anxiety disorders, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are more anxious than men. Due to societal expectations of masculinity, men are less likely to seek help for mental illness. As a result, men are much more likely to commit suicide.

Anxiety doesn’t care if you’re physically fit, either. Although diet and exercise may help curb anxiety symptoms, no amount of either will cure an anxiety disorder.

Age also doesn’t seem to matter in terms of the prevalence of anxiety. Children are just as likely to suffer from anxiety, but less likely to be treated, as many times anxiety in children can be considered a “phase.” Although for many children, anxiety directed towards certain situations may just be phases, it’s important that they are monitored. Children can be prescribed medication for anxiety, but Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is also a very useful tool in allowing children to live normal and healthy childhoods.

  1. There isn’t a “one size fits all” treatment for anxiety

When it comes to treating anxiety, there are a million options out there. I’ve been urged to try everything from therapy to gluten-free and organic diets. The option I’ve found that works for me is medication. When I first became “public” about my anxiety, I had a lot of people messaging me recommendations for various therapists, medications, exercise programs, and so much more. Although I’ve found yoga to be a useful tool in calming my anxiety after a long week, I immediately decided to try medication. Anxiety runs in my family, and I know my mother, aunt and sister had positive experiences with medication.

Although medication works for me, I’m in no place to tell you what the “best” option is for someone seeking treatment for anxiety. Honestly, no one is in that place but your doctor. I will say, however, if you know anxiety is in your genes, talk to your family members. Chances are, they’ve found something that works for them, and because you share genes, it may work for you.

Anxiety affects 28.8% of U.S. residents over their lifetime. Although that may seem like a small number since we’re in the minority, that means we’re nowhere near alone. Anxiety can feel very isolating. Although few people experience anxiety the same way you do, there are a lot of people who know how you feel. Now more than ever there is a better understanding of the crippling forms of anxiety, and getting treatment can be scary but it’s much easier than it’s ever been.

What smoking means today

Smoking hasn’t always had a huge stigma in society. It use to be something everyone did. In the office, the bars, in restaurants, everywhere really. It was something that everyone just did, regardless if they wanted to or not.

Back in the 1950s, smoking was at an all time high because it was cool and cheap. Actors like James Dean and Audrey Hepburn were never seen on screen without a cigarette in their hands or mouths.

Everyone was influenced by famous people in the 1950s and 1960s and because smoking cigarettes was cheap, cool, and socially acceptable, everyone did it.

Nowadays, however, smoking is much more controversial and stigmatized. Most people think smoking is disgusting, a habit that will kill you the second a cigarette hits your lips.

I think this change occurred because more medical information was released about cigarettes, telling consumers that cigarettes can cause cancer, heart disease, lung disease, and many more effects. However, what most people don’t seem to take into account are the effects of that alcohol can have as well.

People like to lecture smokers how on they can kill you, but don’t take a second to step back and look at themselves and the bad habits they have. Cigarettes may have more short-term effects, but alcohol can kill you in the long term.

Smoking, since the 1950s, has also become much more expensive. In the 1950s, a pack of cigarettes cost 25 cents. Today, on average, a pack of cigarettes cost $5.25.

No wonder people don’t smoke as much anymore;it’s way too expensive.

People rather spend that $5.25 on the dollar menu at McDonald’s, killing their arteries and increasing their risk for heart disease, than buy a pack of cigarettes. See what I did there?

Just because cigarettes are more direct with their health risks doesn’t mean that fast food or alcohol is any better for you. Fast food is a silent killers in a way, since they don’t tell their consumers out right what the effects of their products can have.

Simply because cigarette companies are legally bound to tell their consumers about the effects, people think cigarettes are the killer of all things when in fact they are just honest with their side effects.

1950s cigarette packaging Photo from Vintageadbrowser
1950s cigarette packaging
Photo from Vintageadbrowser

The stigma around cigarette smokers is mostly judgement and false opinions on those who smoke. People think that smokers are scary, rude, disgusting, and many other negative adjectives when that simply isn’t true for everyone.

Everybody smokes for different reasons whether it be to handle stress, anxiety, depression, or whatever reason, and this is personal to the smoker. People judge too quickly and don’t think about the reasons behind the actions of people. Think before you judge someone and get rid of the stigma. It is unnecessary and simply unjust.

A glimpse inside depression

Depression hurts, Cymbalta can help.

Maybe it can, but this isn’t an ad for a common depression medication.

I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety since I was in 8th grade. I hid it for years – the self-harm, the suicide attempts, the overwhelming hopelessness. I was diagnosed junior year of high school with depression and bipolar disorder, after one last, too-close suicide attempt.

My counselor found out via an anonymous tip and proceeded to take every last measure of making my life a living Hell. I won’t go too much into this, but to make it short – I spent an entire day in school at the guidance office, crying to my dad about how I didn’t want to make it so hard on him.

If you’ve met me, I’m a pretty normal, happy gal. But once you take a closer look, you’ll find out I’m nothing like who I portray myself to be.

I walk around campus, down hallways and stairwells, and think that everyone’s looking at me – judging me. I try my hardest to get from one place to another as quickly as possible.

“Normal” daily chores and tasks are harder for me. I struggle to get things done. I tell myself that everything is going to be alright, and I can get through it. Homework stresses me out. I get so anxious over little things that don’t matter, and try to do my best in everything I can. But I still procrastinate, I put off every single thing until the last minute, unless I know it will take me more than one all-nighter to do it.

Depression can follow you like a dark cloud Photo from dezzandcarol
Depression can follow you like a dark cloud
Photo from dezzandcarol

I find it hard to find basic meaning in everything I do. I ask myself “Why?” “Why am I doing this?”. I question myself, even things that I am supposed to enjoy doing – I don’t. Everything has become a load on my back, and I thought college would be better. College is supposed to be fun, right? But how am I supposed to “Get Involved”, if I have too much homework and too much anxiety?

I have to keep telling myself it will get better. I have so much in life to be thankful for, and so much to look forward to.

If you’re like me, don’t give up. Keep your chin up, and your head high. Take it one day at a time, and you might just turn out alright.

 

 

Get your (control) freak on, or maybe not

For a long time, I’ve been a control freak. I absolutely loathe the feeling of not having control in a situation. Lately, however, I’ve started to learn that not having control is okay.

There are many events that we experience as humans that are completely out of our control. Deaths, breakups, or the loss of a friend or pet  all make it easy to feel that our lives are spiraling out of control. It’s easy to blame ourselves for different tragedies. We ask, “why me?” or “why not me?” when we become ill or lose a loved one. Focusing on these negative things, however, is toxic.

Are you controlling others? Graphic from Mother Nature Network
Are you controlling others? Graphic from Mother Nature Network

When we live in the past and spend time worrying about events that have already occurred, enjoying the present situation can be extremely difficult. While going through a hard time, we often forget the simplest of pleasures — such as the sun on our skin or simply being alive.

Recently, I went through something that made me stop in my tracks. For a long time I was imagining my future in a certain way, and couldn’t imagine it any other way. Unfortunately, the Universe (or whatever) had other plans, and now my plans are impossible. In the past, when going through similar situations, I would spend days or even months trying to put the pieces back together. For a moment, I found myself doing the same this time. Once I looked around at the things I still had and put the event to the back of my mind, I felt like my life could resume.

When things don’t go the way we want them to, we often put our lives on hold. It’s okay to take time to heal, but I believe the healing process is quickened when we don’t let the situation control our lives. The downside to being a control freak is that it can be really hard allow things to fix themselves. Instead, we often sit and stew over thing.As a result, we make the situation much worse.

It’s important to allow ourselves to relax –whether or not we have control. Sometimes simply taking a step back from the situation,may show that things aren’t as bad as we have ourselves convinced. Letting go can be extremely freeing and rewarding — and often, allows the situation and stress to resolve itself.

[PODCAST] From Our Perspective: Mental Health on Campus

In this installment, the Whim staff talks about mental healthcare on RU’s campus. We voice our concerns about lack of availability or priority placed on some of the most common health concerns for college students today.

Leave a comment with your feedback on this topic or your ideas for future topics and we’ll give you a shout-out in our next From Our Perspective.

We aren’t psychic

A large amount of students leave high school thinking that they need know their future career. This is due to the education system often telling students that everything they’re doing is leading up to college. Each class is supposed to prepare you for the next and so on, until the end-all-be-all moment when you get to college.

There’s a rush of excitement to get away from parents and become whatever a student wants to be when they enter RU. However, there’s an underlying panic in every student’s mind: What next? Of course, that thought can result in people taking drastic measures.

We don't all have a crystal ball. Graphic by Danielle Glumsic
We don’t all have a crystal ball. Graphic by Danielle Glumsic

Such negative ways to handle this includes abuse of various things, like drugs and alcohol. Hopefully, a student will learn to deal with the pressure of college without turning to things that can physically harm them. When it comes down to it and the clock of the Associates degree finally ticks down, the panic really sets in.

Before choosing what to do for the next few years, a student must set their eyes on a major. As they’ve been told, this major will set a student up for their future career and, maybe, what they’ll be doing for the rest of their lives. However, this isn’t a good way to think, when the very notion of the future causes your stomach to twist into knots.

The problem is that students think that they have to have it all figured out. If they don’t have a plan, then they feel like they’re falling behind, or they’re inadequate. This really hurts self-esteem and is a destructive way to think. Those are some ways that students end up switching their majors so many times during their time at school.

It can be a smart choice to switch to a more enjoyable major, but it isn’t always financially possible for some. This is why some choose to quit school altogether, because it is simply easier to give up than to stick with their major or pick a new one. School expenses are nothing to brush off.

It can be very frustrating to try and keep up with the your peers; however, you are what’s important. Finish college in the way that best benefits you. If that means only taking three classes per semester, then do it. If you need time off to decide what really interests you, take it.

Nobody’s perfect

You’ve heard that phrase dozens of times, but it’s true: nobody is perfect. Everyone gets stressed. That’s the way humans are. The good news is that there are many ways to handle your stress levels. The first step is to acknowledge that you can’t always function at 100 percent. Mistakes happen and that’s okay.

In your relationships, don’t walk on eggshells. If something is bothering you, let others know. It causes a high level of anxiety to hide your true feelings. It’s healthy to communicate how you feel about a situation and it brings about more solid relationships when you are able to be honest with another person.

Physical aspects also affect your mental state. Getting regular sleep and exercise can do wonders to help your state of mind. In addition, a healthy diet goes a long way. If there is too much going on for you to handle, trim the fat. Cut out unnecessary activities that eat away possible relaxation time.

A 19751
“You’ve heard that phrase dozens of times, but it’s true: Nobody is perfect. Everyone gets stressed.”

If you haven’t already, ask yourself this question: Where does my stress come from? Often enough, it comes from trying to control the impossible. For example, you can’t control your professor that loves to give out pop quizzes. However, you can control yourself. If you learn that you have a spontaneous professor, always be prepared for that class by studying beforehand.

Be realistic about what you are capable of. You can’t do everything, nor be in two places at once, unless you have a cloning machine. Organize your schedule as such. Factor your bills into this stress management exercise as well. Keeping track of your money and where it needs to go can prevent future economic crisis and panic.

Focus on things that you like to do. Do what makes you happy. There are many hobbies that’ll make you forget your troubles and unwind. Some choose to unwind by using alcohol or drugs. However, those are only momentary distractions. It’s important to learn what really helps you the most, even if you have to go through some trials and errors. For example: meditation, jogging, yoga, and counseling. No matter where you go, your mental state will follow you, because you haven’t yet broken your pattern that causes you distress. Solve your problems, instead of hiding them.

Don’t forget that there are professionals here on campus you can talk to for free. You can make an appointment with a counselor in the lower level of Tyler Hall.

 

Rescue a dog and they’ll rescue you

I recently made one of the biggest decisions of my life. It was something I decided to do to benefit my mental and physical health. It’s something that’s going to take a lot of responsibility and dedication, but I’m ready for it. This week, I decided to adopt a dog.

Many argue that college is no place for a dog or that I’m young and not ready for the responsibility that comes with being a dog mom. I’ve already gotten a lot of discouragement from family and friends and as I write this, I don’t even have my dog yet! I’m well-aware of the responsibility that comes with being a pet owner. I realize this dog isn’t going to be like my pet rat that I can leave in a cage all day, feed, and give minimal attention (only because she doesn’t seem to like people too much).

The reason I wanted a shelter dog is that they seem to know that you’ve saved them, and  show a wild amount of gratitude. My brother and his wife adopted a beagle named Copper. Copper is the sweetest, most loyal, and thankful dog ever. You can see the love and thankfulness in his eyes.

When I announced to my friends and family that I wanted to get a dog to help me cope with my anxiety, many of them asked if I was getting a puppy. I love puppies very much but I decided to look for a dog who was a little bit older. Puppies are cute, but they’re also very needy. They also don’t give me quite the warm-fuzzy feeling that shelter dogs do. There’s something so specifically special about a dog who’s been through so much.helter dogs often have wounds that we can’t see as a result of being abandoned by their previous owner. Although these issues may be a burden for some owners, I see it as an opportunity to help the dog heal their wounds, while also helping me heal mine.

Animals are very intuitive creatures. They know when their owners are sick, sad, happy or just need some extra puppy kisses. A friend of mine recently got a puppy and after spending some time sick in the bathroom, she got into bed and her puppy laid his head on her stomach. When I was a kid and  I was sad our dog, Heidi, would always come sit by me. I remember crying while sitting on my porch, with Heidi just sitting by me, letting me hug and pet her.

There’s very little research on what it is that makes dogs so therapeutic. However, people suffering from depression, anxiety and other psychological disorders reap many benefits from owning a dog or cat. Whether it’s the increase in exercise that dogs come with, or just having a dog to pet, there are undeniable benefits. I’m very excited to see where this journey with this dog takes me. Hopefully, I’ll see some of the benefits that are so common among those who opt for an emotional support animal.

dog
“Many argue that college is no place for a dog or that I’m young and not ready for the responsibility that comes with being a dog mom.”

Mental health is just as important as physical health

We’ve all had to call in sick before, or bring a note to a professor as physical evidence that you were ill. But sometimes being mentally ill or just worn out is legitimate excuse, and needs to be treated as such. I know recently, I’ve really needed a mental break. But where’s the sympathy for those whose illnesses aren’t visible to the naked eye?

I recently visited a psychiatrist to discuss the fact that I’ve had panic attacks rather frequently over the summer. He nodded and agreed that you never forget panic attacks, because although they aren’t nearly as dangerous, it’s a lot like having a heart attack. They leave you physically and mentally exhausted. If you have a panic attack early in the day, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to recover and continue your day as if nothing happened, a lot like a heart attack.

Stress can really affect students. Graphic by Danielle Glumsic
Stress can really affect students. Graphic by Danielle Glumsic

Unfortunately though, most of the time a panic attack isn’t going to be a valid excuse for work as a heart attack would be. I recently had a very severe panic attack while I was at work. My boss had to take me to the side and bring me cold water as I slowly calmed down. He even asked if I needed to call someone or if I wanted to go home. Somehow, I fought through it and finished the work I needed to do, but he quickly sent me home. Almost as soon as I got home, I was passed out in my bed from being so exhausted.

Panic attacks can be very severe. I realize that heart attacks are very severe and I’m not downplaying them at all; however, I feel the need to emphasize that panic attacks should be taken more seriously. Most of the time it’s not so simple as “you need to calm down.” My most severe panic attack lasted about an hour and I was completely inconsolable. All you can really do is breathe, drink water and wait for it to go away.

In my experience, when I’m mentally off or an having a panic attack, being productive is pretty much impossible. Much like when you have the flu, all you want to do is lay in bed and wait until you feel better. A lot of times it’s better to make yourself get up and be productive to get your mind off of things, but it can be extremely difficult, and sometimes impossible.

So why do so many employers or teachers not accept “mental health days” as viable excuses? I suppose many people don’t believe what they can’t see. It’s a lot easier to see a runny nose or sore throat. Also, mental episodes aren’t really contagious, even though attitudes sometimes are. Working in a restaurant, you can’t contaminate a dish with anxiety like you can with germs.

It’s hard being one of these people who truly has a hard time getting out of my mental “funks”. It’s upsetting that mental health days aren’t viable excuses, all because you can’t go to MedExpress and get a note confirming you’re simply having an off day. Mental health needs to be treated sensitively. In my opinion, mental health can be even more important than physical health because a lot of times, your mental health affects how you feel physically and vice versa.