Adapted from information provided by the University of Oregon Counseling Center
As we were preparing for this installment of the Counseling Center Newsletter (Fall 1004), we were discussing some of the issues that may be effecting students here at NDSU this fall. We thought about all the students who are returning from Iraq. We thought about the families of those students returning and about the families of those students who have already left. We also pondered the huge adjustment International Students are undertaking as they start their adventure here at NDSU. We also have all of our freshman and transfer students adjusting as well. And of course, the rest of us are attempting to adjust to the new school year. It definitely seems like fall brings with it a theme of transitions. We thought it might be helpful to include some information in the newsletter to help you manage these transitions. So, here are some tips for you . . .
- Acknowledge your thoughts, feelings, reactions (at least internally) without making a judgment (i.e., I am really feeling sad; I am angry, scared; I am feeling inadequate, etc.)
- Ask 'what might be going on for me?' 'What does this situation remind me of?' Invite your thoughts to go wherever they want to in order to get as much awareness/insight as possible. Sometimes a person experiences strong emotions that seem like an overreaction; it might be possible that the present circumstances provoke an emotional memory of a previously stressful/painful situation. To recognize this connection might allow you to have a better understanding of your present situation. If you worry about something excessively (obsess) and/or engage in compulsive obsessing, etc. what might be the real worry, fear...that gets masked by your conscious, obsessional thoughts?
- Reassure yourself that whatever you think or feel is alright even if it is negative; there is a difference between thinking and feeling something and acting it out which may not be healthy, constructive or acceptable. Thoughts/feelings do NOT equal actions. Ask yourself, given your feelings/thoughts, what would be helpful right now? What might you be able to do to comfort yourself and/or to deal with the situation constructively.
- Remember previous adjustments; e.g., when you first moved away from home...imagine what you felt like when you were, for the first time alone in your room, had to face a day on your own. Note your feelings, thoughts...how did you deal with it, what was comforting to you?
- How do you generally deal with stress? What else could you do to soothe/take care of yourself? (e.g., make a list of activities)
- Do you ever use drugs, alcohol, or food to help yourself 'feel better?' If so, what could you do instead?
Also, here are some general tips for mental health on a daily basis . . .
- Exercise regularly.
- Pay attention to your nutrition, eat regularly.
- Interact/have contact with a person.
- Learn/try something new.
- Do something nice for someone else, write in a journal.