By: Victoria Libby M.S.Ed., Psy.D.
If this transition into the school year is harder than you anticipated, you are not alone! Here are a few ideas that can improve both your mental and physical health. Consider trying at least one. You may be surprised at what a difference it makes!
It’s not too cold yet and the foliage is incredible right now. Being outside in nature for just a few minutes a day can be very helpful in reducing stress. Remind yourself to notice what parts look beautiful to you and why.
Boost Your Connections:
There are clear health risks to feeling lonely and great benefit from feeling seen and having a sense of belonging. So make connecting with other one of your priorities.
Call a friend. These days it can feel really odd to pick up the phone and not just send a text or snapchat message to someone. However, those forms of communication don’t bring the same connected feeling as an “old school” phone call.
Take yourself to on-campus event or find a student organization to be a part of
Use the USM app to find campus events.
The ROCC holds groups throughout the week and offers substance-free activities throughout the year; check their website for a full schedule!
Counseling Services is offering 5 student groups during the fall semester – Bold Arrivals (freshman support), Mindful Walking, Chill Skills (anxiety management & mindfulness), Self-Compassion & Happiness, and Relationship Recharge. Call the office for schedule and details!
Veterans Services, Sullivan Gym, a place for active service members & military veteran community to gather
The Student Diversity Center offer safe spaces for intercultural students and the LGBTQ+ community,
Commuter Student Association centered in Woodbury in Portland, etc.
GCAB (Gorham Campus Activities Board); The Husky Hut of Lower Brooks in Gorham hosts events most weeknights and some weekends – check their schedule for more info!
Move Your Body:
Regular exercise improves both mental and physical health. Find an exercise buddy and commit to trying a class together or doing a workout for at least 30 min.
Everyone has their own sweet spot for the amount of sleep that helps them feel rested. Shoot for somewhere between 7 and 9 hours. Getting this amount provides the greatest health benefits
Exposure to Light:
Maybe you are someone who feels more down in the colder months. You could have symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It usually comes back up in the late fall and early winter and is more common in northern places like Maine. Consider the use of Light Therapy. At the Libraries in Portland, Gorham and Lewiston there are light boxes available just for this. The light boxes come with directions and are easy to use. For more information see Dr. Little’s article http://usmfreepress.org/2019/01/29/working-on-wellness-seasonal-affective-disorder-and-light-therapy/