Have you ever had one of those days where you feel like you’re trapped inside your mind? You just can’t shake the negative thoughts, and you are fixated on a single idea, or maybe just a few of them. Sometimes, this process is normal, and it can just be a result of stress. Other times, however, it can be a symptom of something worse, something like anxiety or depression. On college campuses, mental health issues are rampant, not only because the transition from high school to college is difficult, but also because the pressures faced by students are ever changing and ever growing. As students, we are expected to complete a great deal of work in a short span of time while squeezing in extra curricular activities and social time with friends. Something has to give, so sometimes sleep and good nutrition, among other lifestyle choices, are thrown to the wind, leaving students often feeling weary and hopeless.
While a certain degree of stress is normal, sometimes even considered positive in terms of a motivational factor, excessive stress can be a sign of failing mental health. At CHEW, we are always looking for innovative ways to make life just a little easier here at Hopkins. Today we want to help you get help, either for yourself or for a friend, if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed. Let’s be honest, Hopkins can be a stressful place. It’s a challenging school to say the least, and being a double major with pre med requirements to fulfill myself, I can speak to the fact that my free time is severely limited, mostly by virtue of my class choices and my extracurricular involvements.
In terms of stress management, I have tried pretty much everything from meditation to self hypnosis to taking a power nap to going for a run. I’m a girl of extremes, I really have to go to the far end of the spectrum to get even minimal results, part of it, I think is because I am so driven to the point of self deprication. What really calms me down is a session of Bikram Yoga. If you don’t know what that is, it’s yoga in a 105 degree room, sometimes around 40% humidity, and it’s really intense. One session can burn upwards of 800 calories, according to recent research. I’m not one to enjoy fitness, but Bikram is the kind of activity where I can go in screaming and crying about what a difficult exam I took, and I come out silent, at peace, and less inclined to go searching for an ice cream sundae to drown my sorrows. At this point in the semester, though, I can’t go to Bikram as often as I’d like to, and I definitely am feeling really down on myself. When it’s really hard to find coping strategies, I know there are a lot of places on campus that are there to support me. For those of you that don’t know, I’m going to make a list, and I’ll share my thoughts on each of them. My hope is that from this little blog, you’ll be able to figure out ways to supplement your daily life with means of coping. Don’t fall prey to the stresses of school! Coming from someone who suffers daily with two very difficult mental health issues, I can honestly say that it’s possible to be healthy AND maintain a near-impossible courseload.
So let’s start with the basics…
• The Counseling Center- Open Monday-Friday, 8:30- 5 PM, the Counseling Center has become a second home to me during painful times. You can walk in for emergency appointments if you really need one (yes, I have done this before), or you can schedule an appointment just to talk to someone. You don’t have to have a specific mental health concern, a lot of times it just helps to have your voice heard. The therapists and psychologists at the Counseling Center can also teach you personalized coping techniques for those moments when you’re really down.
• APTT- APTT is open Sunday-Thursday, and located in the AMRs. I have never been there, but my RA is a member of APTT, and so are some of my close friends. Members of APTT are especially kind and thoughtful. You can go to APTT and just vent about anything and everything. Peer listeners are trained to, well, listen, and make sure that you are able to get whatever you need out of that venting session. They also know how to put you in touch with whatever you may need outside of APTT.
• Academic Advising- I talk to my Public Health advisor pretty regularly, not just about the classes I want to take, but also about how I’m doing. I think of her as extended family, and share a great deal of personal information with her, mostly because I know she is very much invested in my success. If you feel like your schoolwork is compounding difficulty in your personal life, go to your advisor!
• Your professors- They aren’t here just to give you tests to take, homework to complete, and stress to drive you nuts. If you ever feel overwhelmed, the first thing you can do is email your professors and tell them that simply. When I went through a rough patch last semester, I opened up to my professors, and told them that I needed some time to take a step back and would need to spread my work out over a little bit of time to get myself together. It worked out and I actually did my personal best last semester, despite everything going on in my life.
• The Deans- I meet with Dean Sheppard pretty regularly, just to talk about my life and how Hopkins can help support me as I go through college. The whole point of having Deans in the Student Life Office is to make sure that students lead healthy and fulfilling lives. Don’t be afraid to call in and make an appointment to chat about what Hopkins can do for you! The Deans, both in the Student Life Office and in the academic offices are incredibly nice and impossibly concerned about your wellbeing.
• CHEW- Located in Levering, the CHEW office has a myriad of informational pamphlets and items to offer to you in terms of stress management. One of the more obvious features of CHEW is the Stressbusters group that offers those incredible back rubs that can really change my outlook on a day. CHEW also sponsors HKB and PEEPs. PEEPs are all trained Peer Health Educators who can talk to you not only about their personal experience, but also some tips we’ve learned from our training! Don’t hesitate to walk into the CHEW office and take a proactive stance on your health! Better yet, you can find PEEPs pretty much anywhere on campus. We’re here for you!
I know there are tons more resources available to you on campus, but I think that this list is a good start. By talking to pretty much anyone on this list, you can find out more about how to make college a healthy, happy and fulfilling experience not only for you, but for your friends too! I hope I will have the chance to write again soon.
Aishwarya, member of PEEPs