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Student Blog: Overcoming Anxiety and Depression

Tips for living in stressful times

Student Blog: Overcoming Anxiety and Depression

Hello friends. This year has already been a tough one, and despite everything, the world turns and we are expected to fulfill our responsibilities. I wanted to take this time to step away from writing about theatre and help us all become more in tune with our bodies and minds. Realizing your own needs is incredibly important during these thoroughly unprecedented times, and taking care of yourself should be a number one priority. I won't list all of the terrifying and discouraging events that are going on right now, not to mention our personal burdens. Instead, I want to discuss what we can do to keep ourselves going in the right direction. I'm writing this for myself and anyone else who may be going through difficult times personally, and I'm writing this for every person on this planet. No one is completely immune to the current state of affairs, so please take time for yourself.

Talk with Yourself

When was the last time you sat and asked yourself, "What do I need?" Take a moment, sit back, close your thoughts to the stimuli around you, and check in with your body and your mind. It's likely that there's something you can do to better the situation you're in. Do you need company or alone time? Are you eating well? Are you hydrated? Do you feel clean? Are you holding tension? Have a conversation with yourself about the things you need, and address those needs to the best of your ability. If you haven't slept, but you're stressed about studying for an upcoming midterm, it's likely that a nap will help you retain the material later. If you haven't eaten and your blood sugar is low, you won't be able to focus. Taking your human needs into account is incredibly important to going through life right now. When things are hard at every turn, do the easier things like showering and eating lunch. If those things are hard, find alternatives. Instead of a whole shower, wash your face. If you can't bring yourself to eat lunch, have several smaller snacks throughout the day. Anything is better than nothing, and those small actions can add up to help you feel better overall.

Do Things You Enjoy

There's a lot to do, and I completely understand that, but giving yourself the opportunity to have fun is going to be immensely helpful in improving your mood and outlook. Personally, I spent most of this past week trying to do things I usually love, but I felt like I couldn't enjoy anything. I felt incredibly hopeless, but now that I am thinking about my actions in response to my emotions, I'm realizing that even though it seemed like doing those things didn't help, they probably did. I could have stayed inside, completely alone, upset and hurting, but I spent time with my friends and took to the outdoors, which is something I generally enjoy. Despite not feeling happy, I know doing those things benefited me more than if I had laid in bed for a week, no matter how much I may have wanted to. Now, I'm still not myself, but I'm more optimistic that this feeling will pass and I can go back to enjoying the things I love. Go do what makes you happy, even if it doesn't make you happy in the moment. Sing, dance, act, read, draw, sew, run, play video games, hang out with friends, whatever usually makes you feel good. You will find that over time, you'll get back in your groove.

Take a Break

I know that life doesn't stop just because you do, but if you don't take a break when things start to go sideways, life will make you take a break. Overwhelming stress and a heavy schedule is a recipe for illness and burnout. Talk to your professors and boss, and let them know what's going on. Take mental health days when you need them. Remind yourself and others that you are human, and humans need rest. If you can't take a break from everything, do only the necessities, and be sure they are truly necessary. Remember that you have the right to be tired. Remember that rest is productive for your body, mind, and goals. It's unlikely that you have ever dealt with the situation our world is in today; you don't have to know how to handle it. Sometimes our emotions can take days or weeks to sort out, but take time to sit with them alone so you can purge the ones that are holding you back.

Talk Through It

I am a huge proponent of therapy, and I think everyone could benefit from it if they were open to trying it. If you have the means, I highly recommend seeing a therapist. Unfortunately, that's not a reality for many people. It can be expensive, and it isn't always covered by insurance for those that have it. Even if it is, it is stigmatized, and some may not be allowed to go because of their living situation. Many college campuses have free talk therapy options, which is great for students that are currently attending in person. There are also online alternatives such as 7 Cups, which is a website and app that allows you to anonymously talk to volunteers about the problems you're dealing with. There is also Confidist, MellowTalk, HearMe, BlahTherapy Chat Hub, and more. You may want to confide in a friend, but be sure to take into account their mental health state as well. Understand that they are going through the same global crises as you, only with different personal issues. Always ask if it's okay to vent beforehand, and ask permission to talk through your feelings. This can help avoid putting a strain on your friendship.

I hope some of these tips were helpful for you, and maybe you can pass them on to someone else who may be struggling. Our situation is hard to process, but taking the time to know what you need can help you along. I hope things get better for you and for all of us.

Stay safe, happy, healthy, and hydrated,

Jana Denning

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