Taking Good Care of Yourself

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Taking Good Care of Yourself

What To Do If You Are Feeling Down And Out (Or Someone You Know Is)


Jim Bauer, Personal Counselor at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, MI

Some well-intentioned family member or friend may have told you that college would be “fun” or “easy” because you’re so “smart” and “bright.” Now that you’re actually in college, you may be feeling the opposite—more alone, vulnerable, anxious, and, maybe, not as smart as you once thought you were.

This is normal. The experience of higher education is intended to be challenging. Many students want to make as great an impact as Galileo did, but the pressure to build upon 2,000-plus years of theoretical physics can be overwhelming. It’s no surprise that we become frustrated about our abilities. We live in a drive-through-window culture. We expect more, and we expect it faster. The pressures we face (social, academic, financial, etc.) can be hard to bear at times.

Know that you’re not alone. Difficult feelings are part of adjusting to a new environment, dealing with academic expectations, and meeting new people. Chances are that the feelings will disappear like light in a black hole. If they don’t, here are some things to consider as you explore how to feel better:

● Are you eating a balanced diet with plenty of vegetables, fruits, and water?

● Are you consuming too much caffeine? Two hundred milligrams per day (just over two cups of coffee) is considered a safe dose, but I suggest using caffeine sparingly.

● Are you on any new medications?

● When was your last blood test? Have your thyroid and vitamin levels tested. Deficiencies in these areas can cause feelings of depression.

If you’re in relatively good health and maintaining a balanced lifestyle, but you’re still feeling lousy, you may have something else going on. It may be a good idea to connect with your school counselor, a support group, your family doctor, or a local mental health therapist if you are:

● Feeling depressed

● Overly anxious

● Overly sensitive

● Losing interest in things you used to enjoy

● Experiencing changes in your sleep

● Having difficulty concentrating

● Noticing a drop in self-esteem

● Struggling with changes in physical energy

● Worrying excessively

● Having difficulty controlling your thoughts and actions

● Feeling increased anger or irritability

● Having thoughts of suicide

If any of this sounds familiar, it may be a good idea to contact someone who can help. If you’re feeling depressed and having thoughts of suicide, please contact someone as soon as possible There is hope, and you can feel better (see resources below).

If you’re a friend, professor, family member, or anyone else concerned about someone showing some of these signs, please say something to that person. Gently provide your observations, express your concern, and ask if he or she is okay or needs some help. Say, for example, “Hi John. I’ve noticed that you have not been engaging in the classroom discussions like you used too. You seem to be more tired than usual. I’m not sure what’s going on for you, but I’m concerned, and I wanted to check in with you. Are you doing okay? Is there anything going on in your life that you’d like to talk about or need some help with?” //

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