Are you feeling off-balance, not like yourself? You are not alone. Covid-19 has brought with it stress, anxiety, and fear about the present and the future.
Important Statistics about the Mental Health of College Students:
We know that college students can struggle with the stability of mental health. One major research study shows that 75% of current college students say that they need help with mental health problems or emotional problems.
80% of college students report they feel overwhelmed by their responsibilities.
More than 50% of college students have suicidal thoughts.
40% of college students with issues involving mental health do not seek any help.
Approximately 75% of mental health issues are established by age 24, meaning many mental health issues arise for the first time during college years.
That’s a lot of college students struggling with some really tough situations. Remember those times that you feel incredibly alone? Those times when you it feels like no one understands? This shows that you’re not alone. And, that enough people are experiencing it so some of us understand.
Coping Strategies That Aren’t Helpful For College Students
If you are having issues coping with stress, anxiety, fear, or depression, you are not alone-not by a long shot.
When faced with stress and anxiety, it is easy to fall into unhealthy patterns of dealing with the situation or coping. Unhealthy or unhelpful forms of coping are:
Alcohol use and abuse
Binge eating or not eating enough
Sleeping too much
Too much social media
Doing nothing but playing video games
Any of the coping mechanisms listed above may help you temporarily escape or avoid your feelings. At the time, it could seem like this action could solve the issues you’re dealing with. But, your feelings of anxiety, fear, or sadness will come back. Unfortunately, they may come back stronger than before. However, there are some things that you can do that will be beneficial.
Actions That Can Build Resilience
So, now we know what it isn’t helpful. Instead of unhealthy coping, look for ways to build resilience. Resilience is the capacity to recover from difficulties, change, or misfortune. You want to build activities or actions into your day that promote resilience and good overall mental wellbeing.
21 Positive ways to cope with stress, anxiety, fear, and depression during Covid-19 and build resilience:
1. Reach out to your parents for support. They know you better than anyone. Tell them you are having trouble with your mental wellbeing. They will be able to remind you of your strengths. Your can rely on these strengths to build more resilience.
2. Get outside in the sun for a little while. The vitamin D from the sun will lift your mood.
3. Have a gratitude practice. Yes, there are many difficulties and issues to navigate right now. But there is always something in your life for which you can be grateful. Find those things. Focus on them.
4. Take care of your body and your mind. They work together or against each other and they can not be separated. What you put into and do to and with your body affects your mind. What you fill your mind with affects your physical health.
5. Eat well and regularly. When your body is at rest, your brain uses 25-25% of the body’s energy. Your brain needs energy for you to be at your best academically. Your body needs fuel to be at its best physically. You want to build your immune system by treating your body well.
6. Exercise. Exercise is good for your physical wellbeing and for your mental wellbeing.
7. Limit your social media usage. Social media can be such a time suck. Not only that, but in difficult times when you are down or lonely, seeing someone else on instagram “living their best life” does not help.
8. Acknowledge your loss. This is a big one. This is big for freshman who are not having their first college experiences anything like they imagined, as well as, returning students who remember a different kind of college experience. Acknowledge and grieve your loss.
9. Pay attention to your stress levels. Some signs your stress levels are high:
- Aches and pains
- Trouble sleeping
- Fatigue or low energy
- Change in appetite
- Digestive problems
- Rapid heartbeat
10. Get enough good sleep. If you do not get enough sleep, your immune system will suffer. If you do not get quality sleep, your immune system will also suffer.
Some ways to get better sleep:
- Cut down on caffeine, especially at night.
- Turn off screens at least an hour before bed.
- Limit alcohol intake, especially before bed.
- Exercise. By no means, this doesn’t mean you need to run 5 miles every day. But movement is very helpful.
11. Limit your news intake. AND make sure you are looking to reputable sources for your news. There is so much misinformation and sensationalizing going on that it is hard to know who to trust for information.
12. Look for Opportunity. What does this different time offer in the way of opportunity? More time for exercise and self-care? Whenever one door closes, another door opens.
13. Be creative. What are socially distant ways you can connect with friends and family? Have pizza out on the quad with a few friends keeping your distance.
14. Stay connected. Isolation during times like this only makes matters worse. Find ways to stay connected to the ones you love. Ride bikes together. Go one walks or runs, spaced apart.
15. Practice mindfulness. Genuine mindfulness. Take some time to yourself, slow down, and notice things around you.
16. Concentrate on your capabilities. Focus on what you can do right now, not what you can’t.
17. Focus on what you can control. Take action toward what is important to you. Then let go of the rest.
18. Self-care. Take time for self-care/stress relief. If you’re not sure what self-care activities work for you, take some time to experiment.
19. Check the pressure of your internal balloon. Check in with yourself and your friends. How do you feel?
20. Do something that boosts your mood. If you are feeling low, do something you enjoy.
21. Find something to look forward to. Even though there are many things we can not logically plan right now, you can plan something fun to look forward to. Maybe it is a small gathering with friends in which you each pick up your favorite take out and dine outdoors.
When Is It Time To Talk To A Therapist?
1. Unhelpful thoughts. When you feel like your thoughts or feelings are out of control, especially if they are affecting your studies, relationships, or your own sense of well-being.
2. Struggling with change. You are having trouble transitioning from living at home to living at school.
3. Developing a dependence. When you are relying on the unhealthy coping actions mentioned earlier: Alcohol, drugs, binge-eating, not eating, not sleeping, or sleeping too much.
4. Questioning your abilities. When you are overwhelmed or confused. When you just don’t feel like you are handling life like you normally do.
5. Difficulty with time management. You are disorganized and not managing your time well.
6. Poor self-confidence. You have low self-esteem or lack confidence.
7. Excessive worrying. If you are worrying more than usual, staying in your head, not present.
8. Suicidal ideations. If you are having any thoughts of harming yourself or others.
College Is Hard, Especially Right Now
College students can be such a difficult time, even without Covid-19. Your views are changing so rapidly. You don’t know who you are or what you want your future to look like. The highs are higher and the lows are lower. It is hard to know where to turn for help, especially when it looks like everyone else has it all together. You have gone from someone making all of your decisions for you to being faced with new decisions every day. It is easy to get overwhelmed.
Online Therapy For College Students Can Help
I get it. There’s a lot going on. It can feel really isolating. But, you’re not alone. I can help. I specialize in counseling for college students in Alabama. And whether you are in school at Auburn University, the University of Alabama, UAB, Birmingham-Southern College, Samford University, or any other college in the state, I am here to help you. I offer video online therapy anywhere in the state of Alabama. My current college clients are able to schedule therapy sessions around their schedule of classes and activities. They are also able to enjoy therapy from the comfort and privacy of their dorm rooms and apartments. No one sees them coming or going to therapy.
I have so many college students who come to my practice (in-person or through online video counseling), who are:
Feeling unclear about the future
Having problems with time management
Don’t know what they want to study or what they want to do after college
Lack self-esteem and self-confidence
Depressed or anxious
My Approach To Counseling for College Students
These same clients leave my practice feeling organized, confident, with a strong sense of direction about their future.
I will help by listening to exactly what you are experiencing. Then I will help uncover what has been getting in your way or causing your problems. I will ask the right questions to uncover what you really want your life to look like, even if you don’t know what that is right now. Then we will create a step by step plan of action to get you there. When making this plan, we’ll focus on what is working well for you and what can be improved. Most importantly, we’ll create a plan that works for you in your life.
Begin Counseling for College Students in Alabama
So, I hope you liked what you read. Whatever you’re going through, I can help. I’ve helped many people in counseling for college students in Alabama. I often work with college students through online therapy at Auburn and U of A. I also offer anxiety therapy, depression counseling, and counseling for young adults. In addition, I offer online therapy and counseling for professionals. When you’re ready to start working with me, follow these steps:
2. Speak with Kathryn, your therapist
3. Start your journey to feeling more in control.