Holidays are quickly approaching. With
the season comes struggles, from finding the
right present for your sister to keeping the
peace during the political debate holiday
known as Thanksgiving.
The stress of family life comes when days
are shorter and nights are longer. The winter,
especially in valleys such as ours, can have a
big impact on mental health. We can’t absorb
as much vitamin D, which has a bigger impact
than some may realize.
The Utah State University Eastern campus
has counseling and student support groups to
help out during this difficult time. Our school
has four counselors, all trained to help find
the right therapist for your needs.
The student support group provides the
opportunity to talk and share experiences
with people going through similar things. The
support of people our age can be crucial; it
can help you to make some friends on campus.
It can be very difficult to find a group of
people to call friends. But the support group
offers the perfect opportunity to create those
Sometimes, we just can’t make it to either.
Maybe the support group is at an inconvenient
time, or schedules are too full for therapy.
Some of us are too uncomfortable to take the
brave step to attend group, or even to have
a one on one with a professional who is a
stranger. In that case, there are ways to cope
with stress, anxiety, depression, etc. from the
comfort of the dorm.
We’ve heard these things bunches of times:
Distance yourself from the stress. Eat a wellbalanced
diet, exercise, get good sleep. But a
well-balanced diet may be the last thing on
your mind when the world feels like its crashing
in on itself. And, good sleep requires not
being stressed, and yet, not sleeping causes
stress and the cycle continues.
A good practice is meditation. Don’t scoff
at the idea because of your preconceived notion
of meditation. It comes in many forms.
There is the type you see all over TV screens,
of course, the kind when a lady with a nice
voice guides breathing exercises. Others have
you listen to fancy music. But meditation can
be as simple as playing your favorite album,
of any type of music, and just thinking. Lay
on your bed, sit on the floor, turn the album
all the way up and just close your eyes. Lose
yourself in the music, clear your brain of all
your distractions. Not only does this help you
destress, it can help you to fall asleep.
Another popular stress reliever is writing
— also known as journaling. It sounds
weird, maybe stupid. But writing down your
thoughts just as they come to your head, no
filter at all, is an amazing way to get all your
feelings sorted out.
Maybe your parents yelled at you for not
doing well in school, maybe you didn’t get
back to them as soon as they wanted. Everyone’s
first reaction is to get defensive and fight
back. After the worst has passed, take out a
journal or any piece of paper and write down
everything. If you want, throw it away when
you’re finished. Keeping it is not important.
Getting thoughts out can lead to a healthier
conversation in the future.
A similar form of expression is art. Painting,
drawing, whatever it may be. Go somewhere
private and draw out your feelings.
Maybe it looks like nothing later, just a bunch
of colors splattered on a page. But drawing
anything you want free of judgement can relieve
stress in and of itself. Taking the time to
get your feelings out, whether through writing
or drawing, helps get poisonous thoughts out
and no longer stuck in your brain.
Try something as simple as taking a bath. A
bath bomb you’ve been saving, or put essential
oils or soaps that smell nice. Set up a bath tray,
watch a movie. And just relax. It resets your
brain and takes away the edge. Play a game.
Take the time to do something for yourself
for no reason except to relax.
Take time for yourself. Just for you. That
may be therapy, or group, or sleeping in. Take
the time and your smile will be a little brighter.