As we get closer to the end of the semester, it is important that mental health remains a top priority. Emma Druckmiller, a junior here at Concordia, was asked what her main stressors are at this point of the semester. She says mostly housing arrangements and upcoming finals:
“The first thing that comes to mind is housing stuff. I just got an apartment so moving and coordinating all of that, on top of finals, is a lot.”
To give herself a break, Emma says she enjoys working out and journaling. “I love working out. Working out clears my head for a little bit and gives me a break. You do not have to deal with anything while doing that. I also like journaling a lot. I write down my worries and when I look back at them, they almost look silly since things tend to work out fine. So, working out and journaling are things that help me.”
Concordia has many great mental health resources; Emma says she is a fan of Evelyn’s Place and the comfort dogs. “Freshman year I went to Evelyn’s place every day. I have not been recently because it is far away from me now. Also, whenever I see the comfort dogs I give them a pet, they brighten up my day.”
Looking for some tips to stay focused and optimistic? Here are four things you can do to help get through the end of this semester!
- Ask yourself, how am I feeling today? In an article written by Bob Livingstone, a licensed social worker, he says that by asking yourself questions, you learn how to be introspective. “You will learn to be introspective. Introspective means the ability to look inside yourself in a non-judgmental way. It is a way of assessing one’s thoughts, feelings, and spirituality from an objective place.” Many times, our minds are occupied by thoughts such as final grades, exams, and assignments, which block us from understanding how we are truly feeling. So, take a moment, stop what you are doing and allow yourself to understand how you are feeling.
- Make sure that you are providing your body with its basic needs. It is vital that you are eating nutrient-rich foods and drinking enough water. This ensures your brain and body can work to their best ability. According to healthline.com, certain foods can help promote academic performance: “Although an overall healthy diet is most important for keeping your body and brain nourished and ready to take on difficult tasks, research shows that certain food may be especially important for brain health and promoting mental performance.”
Some of the recommended foods are berries, which contain anthocyanins which may improve mental performance by increasing blood flow to your brain. Nuts, packed with nutrients such as vitamin e and zinc for brain health, are also a good option. Foods containing omega 3s provide essential fats that play a significant role in brain health.
- Give yourself a break. Even when you feel like you have a lot to get done, make sure you take time out of the day to do something you enjoy. Whatever it is, remember that you deserve to have fun. According to Cornell University, taking breaks can increase productivity.
“Research shows that taking purposeful breaks (anywhere from 5-60 minutes) from studying to refresh your brain and body increases your energy, productivity, and ability to focus.”
However, it is not recommended to hop on social media, it is better to find activities that give your mind a break. Some examples are meditation, going for a walk, organizing your workspace, calling a friend, or expressing yourself through creativity.
- Lastly, kick your stress or anxiety to the side by saying positive affirmations. In an article written by Ronald Alexander, PhD a mind/body psychotherapist, he says “An affirmation can work because it has the ability to program your mind into believing the stated concept.” Alexander says it’s best to start with a list. “Make a list of what you’ve always thought of as your negative qualities. Include any criticisms others have made of you that you’ve been holding onto. When you write out the recurring belief, notice if you are holding on to it anywhere in your body? For example, do you feel tightness or dread in your heart or stomach?” After that you can begin to write out affirmations. “Now write out an affirmation on the positive aspect of your self-judgment.” Alexander recommends saying your affirmations aloud for five minutes, three times a day.
Here at CUW there are many great resources available for students seeking help or simply in need of some relaxation, including:
- Counseling Center
- Falcon Peer Support Network
- Sensory Room
- Evelyn’s Place
For more information:
—Ruanda Diaz is writer for The Beacon, the official student newspaper of Concordia University Wisconsin. She is a Junior pursuing a degree in Mass Communications.