This season involves many changes for all of us—our living situations, our physical routines, even our access to the freshest food. Our regular lifestyles have been upended for a bit, but there are still key things we can do to be taking care of ourselves. Here are not only some tips and tricks, but also some important resources that you can take advantage of during this time apart.
Taking care of your mental health
The Counseling Center knows that now more than ever, you may be in need of support and assistance. To start, here are some things we can all do to take control of our mental health and protect ourselves from what seems like it could be an inevitable “overwhelm.”
It’s important to note that we are not helpless in light of current news and events; we can always choose our response. If you are struggling, here are some things you can do to take care of your mental health in the face of uncertainty:
- Separate what is in your control from what is not. There are things you can do, and it’s helpful to focus on those—wash your hands, remind others to wash theirs, take your vitamins and limit your consumption of news. (Did we really need to know what was happening on a cruise ship we weren't on?) Try to focus on your immediate sphere and doing what you know is wise, given the current circumstances and guidelines.
- Do what gives you a sense of safety. This will be different for everyone and it’s important not to compare yourself to others. Make sure you differentiate when you are isolating based on the potential for sickness versus isolating because it’s part of depression. Try to stay in touch with how you’re feeling and why you’re making certain decisions.
- Get outside in nature while avoiding crowds. Many people are taking advantage of the nature that is surrounding them by taking walks and getting fresh air. Exercise also helps both your physical and mental health. Just be sure that while you’re soaking up the great outdoors, you’re practicing social distancing and maintaining six feet of space from others.
- Challenge yourself to stay in the present. Perhaps your worry is compounding—you are not only thinking about what is currently happening but also projecting into the future. When you find yourself worrying about something that hasn’t happened, gently bring yourself back to the present moment. Notice the sights, sounds, tastes and other sensory experiences in your immediate moment and name them. Engaging in mindfulness activities (like prayer and meditation) is one way to help stay grounded when things feel beyond your control.
- Stay connected and reach out if you need more support. Talk to trusted friends about what you are feeling. If you are feeling particularly anxious or if you are struggling with your mental health, reach out to a mental health professional for support. You don’t have to be alone with your worry and it can be comforting to share what you are experiencing with those trained to help.
List adapted from American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
Counseling Center: current services
We are in this together and help is always available. In an effort to do everything we can to offer immediate relief in an ever-changing landscape, the Counseling Center is shifting our service model to provide supportive coaching online for students effective immediately, free of charge.
Due to the many logistics of licensing, HIPPA and FERPA compliance regulations, we will be unable to provide our regular mental health assessments, diagnosis or treatment recommendations regarding your ongoing care. However, a supportive coaching model allows us to offer 30-minute nonconfidential sessions online immediately to assist with:
- Support in processing current stressors, adjustments, transitions, losses, grief and fears.
- Support in creating daily structure and self-care within the new social distancing recommendations and remote learning format.
- Assistance and support in identifying mental health resources and treatment in your area and online.
- Support in processing decision-making and problem-solving.
- Support and assistance in identifying resources for your academic, social, emotional, spiritual and physical needs.
To request online support, complete our online intake form.
If you’re feeling alone and struggling, you can also reach out to The Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741 or National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.
Tips for staying well-nourished using mostly shelf-stable options
We’re not going grocery shopping nearly as often, but that doesn’t mean we need to resort to full-blown all-day snacking (as tempting as it may be!). Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re out of your regular routine and not presented with the full buffet of options that you’re used to in Lane!
- Eat at least three meals a day–remember that food is medicine!
- Eat as many fruits and vegetables as possible. Tip: fill half of your plate with as many colors as you can! Also, it’s a myth that frozen vegetables aren’t good for you. They are frozen at their peak freshness so all key vitamins and minerals have been preserved. Do what you need to do and keep those colors on your plate!
- Eat protein in the amount of the size of your palm (1-2 palms)
- Eat about a tablespoon of healthy fat, like olive oil, coconut oil, grass-fed butter, olives or avocado.
- Avoid sugar and processed foods as much as possible as they lower your immune system by up to 50 percent! Changes like this can help keep everyone extra protected right now.
- Limit foods that can contribute to inflammation in your body, like grains and dairy.
- Supplement with Vitamin D, Vitamin C, probiotics and Zinc to help keep your immune system strong.
- Drink plenty of water. A good rule of thumb would be approximately one-third to one-half of your body weight in fluid ounces.
- Bored being stuck inside? Stretch those creative muscles and use this opportunity to try a new recipe or food!
How to move when your movement is restricted
Maybe social distancing has crippled your gym routine or stalled your group exercise classes. That’s ok (for now)! There are lots of ways to remain active and healthy, even when we’re all more housebound than normal. Here are just a few ideas:
- Stay active
- Go for a walk or a run outside, if you’re able
- Enjoy moderate exercise (outside or in your living room) for 15 to 20 minutes a day
- Get inspiration from free resources here and here
- Sleep well
- Get seven to nine hours of sleep a night
- Use black-out curtains, a sound machine and a weighted blanket for a deeper sleep
- Block blue-light on your devices to combat eye fatigue and headaches
- Turn off devices two hours before bed
Adjusting to new living arrangements
Some of you now have new roommates if you’ve moved back in with your parents or are living with a friend or another family member. Living stress can distract from a healthy learning and mental environment. It could be helpful to sit down with the people you are living with now and discuss some of these expectations so you all can be on the same page and open up a dialogue for good communication. Here are some ideas:
Ask your "roommates"
- What are your expectations around cooking and kitchen cleanliness? This can include doing dishes, cleaning up from meals made and taking out the trash.
- Is there a current rhythm to laundry? What are the expectations around laundry? This can include what to do if someone else’s laundry is still wet in the washer, and whether others can move your laundry when it’s finished.
- Are there any unspoken rules I should know about? For example, is there a designated spot for shoes? What do we do with grocery bags? Do you recycle? Where can I leave my purse or backpack?
- How would you like to handle grocery shopping and necessities like toilet paper or paper towels?
- What are the bathroom expectations? Can I leave toiletries on the sink?
- If I need to talk to you about something or confront you on something, what is the best way for me to do that in a way that you will hear?
Communicate your needs to your “roommates”
- In order to have a healthy study environment, I need _____________________.
- As an introvert, I need _________________ amount of time alone. It’s nothing personal; it will just help me to be a better roommate.
- As an extrovert, I really value time with people. Especially in this time where I feel disconnected from so many people, it would be helpful to me if we could ___________.
- I know there might be things that I do that are out of the norm for this home environment. If you need to confront me about something, I respond best when __________.
- When I’m stressed I ________________. It always helps me when those around me __________________.
- These are some healthy habits that I have put into place into my life. I wanted to let you know about them in case you’d like to join me in any. (For example, daily Bible reading, working out, cooking healthy meals, listening to music, contemplative listening, journaling, etc.)
Still need help?
Residence Life is still available as a key resource for you, so keeps the lines of communication open with your RA and/or RD! They care about you and look forward to hearing about how things are going.
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