Thursday, December 13th, 2018

Letter from the editor: Take care of yourself

Posted on November 19, 2018 in News, Perspectives
By USM Free Press

Photo courtesy of American Psychology Association

By Julie Pike, Editor-in-Chief

An article from this week’s issue that covers a recent workshop on managing stress and anxiety has reminded me of the importance of taking care of yourself first.

College students have a unique set of responsibilities to deal with. Of course it’s stressful having a full time job and supporting yourself, but try piling on a full course load on top of that.

In the span of a week college students are faced with a myriad of obstacles that can all be stress inducing. Whether it’s lack of sleep from staying up late to write an essay, getting into a heated argument with your significant other or finding out you failed a test you spent hours studying for, we have to deal with a lot.

When attempting to manage our stress and anxiety, I believe it truly begins with ourselves. This is something that often gets overlooked when we are stretched thin for our time each day.

I personally want to work towards making time for myself each and every day, and I hope that my fellow students will join me. Together we can work on reducing our stress and anxiety.

Psychology Today lists six ways that you can take better care of yourself. The first is to recognize changes in mood or behavior. The sign of a change could be different for everyone, from an increase in fatigue, a loss in appetite, or the feeling of something just being off. Once you’re able to know when you’re feeling down or in distress, you can begin to figure out where this feeling is coming from.

The second strategy is to create a balance between your work life and your personal life. Make sure you take breaks when needed from work or an assignment, regroup yourself, clear your head, and you can come back to it later. You won’t be able to perform well in work or school if you aren’t feeling okay personally. This could be as simple as taking a walk, read a book, or just sit down and have some quiet time to yourself, without distractions.

The third, and the one I can personally vouch for, is to maintain a sense of humor. The saying that laughter is the best medicine is actually true. Being able to laugh at yourself or a situation, even when it’s not the best, can completely change your mood. Laughter can release stress hormones, as the article states. Make time to watch your favorite comedy show each week.

The fourth strategy is to make time for friends and family. This may seem like an obvious one, but it’s still important to keep in mind. I know how easy it can be to simply go to work and school and come back home and crash, it’s something I do often. But I also know that if I make plans to hang out with friends or my family after work, I’m going to feel a lot better. Spend time with those who care for you. Better yet, talk to them about how you’re feeling. Let the stress of your day come out. That’s what they’re there for.

The fifth strategy is to find a self-absorbing activity to do each day or a few times a week. This is something where you can really focus on you. Find a workout class you love, and stick to going each week. Make time to write in a journal or blog about your day or things going on in your life. Ultimately, find something that you enjoy doing, something that you can look forward to after work or class each day.

The last strategy listed is to find a place to work or live that supports a culture of self-care. You want to be in an environment that isn’t going to bring you down, but provide support and resources. If your boss or manager is a constant source of stress to you, for the sake of your mental health it would be worthwhile to find a new job. Likewise in your place of residence. This is especially true for college students who live in dorms. You are surrounded by people everyday and most have roommates. Consider whether your roommate is a good fit for you and express any problems or concerns to your RA or RD. You want to feel comfortable where you sleep every night, and you deserve to.

Some of these suggestions are small steps and others might require big leaps, but they all serve the purpose of supporting your mental health. At this time of year we could all use some help in reducing our stress and anxiety, and I encourage everyone to follow these strategies. Your future self will be thankful you did.

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