• Prioritize Your Mental Health During Quarantine

    by Margot Banen

    An electric piano against a wall where a tapestry hangs and a hanging plant.

    Throughout my life, I’ve always struggled with anxiety. Anxiety can be hard to cope with on even the best days, but during quarantine, many people have seen declines in their mental health. Even as some quarantine protocols begin to lift, feelings of isolation can linger. In order to help cope with the struggles of quarantine, I’ve talked to my friends, family, and my therapist to create a small list of suggestions that may help people who are struggling.

    Going Outside

    In many cases, just being outside has helped a lot of people. Even though it’s often cold where I live, I try to take at least a quick 10-minute walk. It consistently helps to improve my mood and clear my mind. Being in the sun, even just briefly, will drastically change my mindset about the day.

    Working Out

    If going outside maybe isn’t the best option for you right now, or it’s just not possible, working out is the next best thing. Not everyone likes to work out, which is totally fair. When everyone first went into lockdown, many people gained “the quarantine 15” -- I know I did. And that’s perfectly ok! This was a very stressful and strange time for everyone, there is no shame in weight gain.

    Working out doesn’t mean you have to get insanely sweaty or overexert yourself. Nowadays, you can work out from the comfort of your room. A workout can be as simple as 10 minutes of abs or light cardio, like high knees, burpees, or butt kickers. My personal favorite is yoga, which I can do easily with a guide from a YouTube video.

    Working out can boost your energy and help with reducing stress, anxiety, and depression by increasing your self-esteem and cognitive functions. If you work out for at least 16-18 minutes, you’ll release endorphins which help to put you in a better mood.

    Listen to Music

    If you just don’t have the time or energy to work out, you can always use the universal language of music. There is not a person in this world who doesn’t listen to music. What’s so amazing about music is how quickly it can change your mood. When I’m feeling especially anxious, I put on songs to sing along to. This not only helps draw my focus away from my anxiety or the panic attack I may be having, but it also helps to regulate my breathing in an easy and fun way.

    Music can also provide an outlet for people. It can help someone feel less alone in their emotions or use it as a release from them. You can even write your own music or lyrics to help to help organize, catalog, and dissect your emotions. It’s a really healthy and creative way to get in touch with yourself.

    And So Much More

    There are so many ways to combat the stresses of quarantine and create an environment for yourself that is healthy and fun. Some people love to read, others like to call up friends and talk for hours, and others like to bake. Whatever it may be, always know that with everything going on there is always someone you can talk to if you’re struggling, whether that be a friend, a family member or a therapist. Remember that you are never alone.

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  • Let's Talk About It: Find mental health support through campus resources

    by Rachel Riley

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    Sometimes college life gets overwhelming. As the end of the semester draws near, many of us are not only in over our heads in homework assignments, we are also coping with wrapping up our coursework and finals online. Did you know that most colleges offer free mental health counseling? However, only 10-15% of college students actually seek help from these sources. Currently most campuses are not able to provide in-person counseling sessions, but many have found a way to provide tele-mental health counseling via phone consultations and face-to-face video conferencing to their currently enrolled students. 

    Turn to an unbiased source

    There are no requirements for seeking help and the point of these resources is to keep you sane, balanced, and healthy. As college students, we tend to turn to our friends for guidance, though speaking to an unbiased person who is not involved with your day to day activities might be a refreshing way to deal with your stressors. Finding ways of de-stressing and reaching out for help can be scary, but let’s talk about it!

    Understand your options

    When you are stressed, it can be difficult to find ways to relax. Some people tend to lean towards activities such as yoga, exercise, or meditation. These are all active ways to calm your mind and focus for a period of time. But what happens to us when we feel the weight of the world on our shoulders? It happens to everyone once in a while, but it is essential to understand the options and resources available to you. 

    Get help in person or virtually

    A high percentage of four-year universities offer free mental health counseling directly on campus. These services are likely to be little to no cost to any student seeking someone to talk to. The counselors in these facilities are licensed, professionals ready to help you every step of the way on the journey to mental recovery. However, you do not have to be in crisis to seek help. If these services are provided on campus – whether in person or virtually – they are available to every student attending and the counselors are eager to provide help with any circumstance brought to their attention.

    While mental health can seemingly be a scary topic to talk about, especially your own, it is important to know that you are not alone. College can be a hard time for some students, and universities are actively helping to make the transition and hardships easier. Take advantage of your university’s resources to help yourself become the best version of you. It can be startling at first, but go talk about it!

     

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  • Talk to Someone; We'll Get Through Together

    by Ebony Ellis

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    It was in my African American Literature class, when I realized I wasn’t alone. I looked around at my peers and noticed that the majority of the class was not present, mentally. After my professor took attendance, the class began to engage in small conversation. She stated with concern in her voice “It seems like everyone this semester is going through something. I just hope that you all get through alright” (Amaris Howard). It made me realize that I was not the only one who seemed to be in some indescribable mood that involved unproductiveness and hopelessness. Thankfully, I found my way and want to share with you my story and advice.

    As a community, the students of Harold Washington College should start utilizing the resources that can assist with our mental health and emotional well-being. We receive email notifications about “reboot sessions” and newsletters that draw attention to the wellness center located on the tenth floor, but the thing is most of us never took advantage of them. There are flyers all over the school and each elevator has a weekly schedule of events around Harold Washington, many involve the wellness center.

    The wellness center has monthly events planned for students, covering a variety of topics. Whether it be self-defense classes or counseling, I encourage you to check out your wellness center for help, regardless of what you issue is. Those things are planned so we can use them.

    Each of us has something going on in our lives that was affecting us and possibly our performance in our classes. Some of us came from poor families, others are grieving death, and some maybe going through an illness or breakup. There are many people who are under stress about the current political climate. Not to mention, some of people who are self-inflicted with the doubts and stigmas that come from attending community college as opposed to a regular university. We are all to indulged in the luxuries of our phones and being isolated individuals. Do not be the one to keep all of your emotions bottled in, it can cause more harm than good.

    Whether, you are dealing with depression, stress from classes, or mourning the death of a family member or friend, understand that you owe it to yourself to have someone to listen to you, so you can feel better, and continue to progress in your life. Stop what you are doing and take a deep breath! If you feel like you can’t talk to family, friends or even your favorite professor, do yourself a favor and schedule a confidential appointment inside of the wellness center. Understand that whatever you may be going through, you are not alone; and more importantly your feelings and opinions matter.

     

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