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Topper 101

How to Keep Up Your Mental Health as a Student

Topper 101 with Gigi Lemberg

Gigi Lemberg ’20 received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from WKU and is now completing her master’s degree in social work. She is also a graduate assistant and helps with a clinical trial that is funded by NIH. Lemberg is an International Student Diplomat.

Being a student can be tough, so it is important to take care of your mental health. In this post, you will find some tips on how to deal with anxiety, how to not feel guilty about doing things for yourself, tips for self-care, and finally how to deal with loss.

Anxiety

The way the human brain works is that it wants to be in control. If we do not have that control or there is some uncertainty in situations, we start to feel anxious. To deal with anxiety, we have to focus on the things we can control and not on the things that we can’t control. For example, you can control how you respond to some situations, how kind you are to others or you can control your thoughts and perspectives. However, you cannot control what other people do. So, do not stress about things that are out of your control and just focus on things you can control. 

Anxiety might look like:

  • Irritability
  • Obsessive behaviors
  • Overscheduling or overworking
  • Overindulgence
  • Dizziness or numbness
  • Sleepiness or insomnia
  • Lack of concentration
  • Avoidance

To deal with anxiety, we have to focus on the things we can control and not on the things that we can’t control.

How do reduce anxiety:

  • Focus on your breathing
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Focus on the present moment only
  • Accept that you are feeling anxious
  • Do something that you enjoy doing
  • Drink lots of water
  • Write down your thoughts and feelings
  • Question your thoughts
  • Avoid things that give you anxiety
  • Use positive self-talk
  • Go where you feel peace

Productivity

It can be hard to be productive when working or taking classes from home. To not feel guilty about doing something for yourself during this time, I suggest you get organized. You can use a planner or a to-do list. At the beginning of every week write down in your planner on each day what you need to do, or make a to-do list for each day. After you have crossed out everything for that specific day, you do not have to feel guilty about binging on a Netflix show or doing something else for yourself. 

Just remember to do one little thing for yourself every day to keep you sane during this time. 

Self-care

It is important to engage in self-care all the time. There are many different ways you can self-care and take these little brain breaks that help you get out of this routine everyday life. You can bake, paint, work out, go for a walk, read a book, listen to music, etc. There are so many things you can do. Just remember to do one little thing for yourself every day to keep you sane during this time. 

Types of self-care:

  • Physical – nutrition, exercise, sleep
  • Mental – mindfulness, self-talk, therapy
  • Emotional – gratitude, triggers, journaling
  • Spiritual – meditate, yoga, nature
  • Intellectual – read, learn, hobbies
  • Environment – clean, safety, decorate
  • Social – boundaries, connection
  • Financial – budget, save

Dealing with loss

It is okay to feel sad or upset about these things. Even though bigger things are happening in the world right now, this is not taking away from the importance of some of these things you missed out on.

Many of you missed out on some things because of the Covid-19 pandemic, and it is okay to feel sad or upset about these things. Even though bigger things are happening in the world right now, this is not taking away from the importance of some of these things you missed out on. These things were important to you and you might have waited for them for a long time, so it is okay to feel any type of feelings you have. Don’t bottle up your feelings, cry it out, and feel all the feelings. 

How to deal with loss:

  • Cry it out
  • Talk to somebody
  • Feel all the feelings
  • Engage in self-care

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