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Reducing Stress

Finding Balance

There are a lot of factors that impact our mental health, including sleep, diet, social interactions, academics, and more.  Effectively managing each of these is an essential part of maintaining wellness.  In moments when you are feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or anxious, a helpful first step is to ask yourself some of the following questions:

  • How much sleep did I get last night?
  • When was the last time I moved my body?
  • When was my last well-balanced meal?
  • When was the last time I connected with a friend or family member?
  • How long has it been since I took time to enjoy a hobby or activity?

Read the following tabs for helpful information on these topics. These resources and steps are designed to be a starting point for maintaining wellness. Many of us struggle with mental health illnesses like depression, anxiety, and other conditions that need care and attention beyond the steps listed below. For these situations, consider scheduling an appointment with UWEC Counseling Services.  

If you or someone you know is considering suicide or self-harm, reach out for help.  

  • National Suicide Prevention Line - dial 988
  • Crisis Text Line – Text HOPE to 741741 
Sleep

Sleep helps our brains function effectively.  When we do not get enough sleep, it is more difficult to manage routine situations we encounter throughout the day.  Instead of quickly figuring out a solution, we can get confused and start feeling overwhelmed with anxiety and stress. In other words, it may seem worth it to stream one more episode of a show instead of going to sleep, but those decisions negatively impact your mental health.

  • Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening as it can make it difficult to fall asleep. Alcohol can also have a negative impact on your sleep as it interferes with REM sleep and healthy brain activity during the night.
  • Going to bed and waking up around the same time every day helps you regulate your body clock, making it easier to fall asleep and wake up well-rested. 
  • Keep your phone out of your bed. Limitless content, scrolling, and blue light from our devices keep our brains alert and make it difficult to wind down into a restful sleep pattern. 
  • Keep your room cool, dark, and quiet. If you share a room with a roommate, have a conversation about managing these conditions in your room to help you both have quality sleep.  
  • Avoid studying or other work-related activities in your bed.  
  • If you don’t fall asleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed and do a quiet activity without a lot of light exposure. It is critical to avoid getting on your phone or other devices. If hungry, try a light, healthy snack.  

Here are some websites to explore for more information on the importance of sleep in maintaining wellness.

Movement

Establishing a habit of movement is critical to maintaining good mental wellbeing.

  • Our bodies are best able to manage stress when we are active for at least twenty minutes a day.  This could include walking from lower to upper campus, singing up for an exercise class, or playing a club sport.  This movement helps our immune system and mental health by releasing feel-good endorphins.
  • Spending time in nature can also have a positive impact on mental health. With beautiful spaces throughout campus there are opportunities all around us to enjoy the outdoors.  Consider taking a walk on Putnam Trail or other local parks.
  • Click here to explore fitness and wellness options on campus.
Healthy Diet

You may have heard the expression "you are what you eat." Indeed, you may have noticed that some foods make you feel energized while others leave you feeling tired and unmotivated.  A healthy diet isn't about looks or weight loss, it supports positive mental and physical health. Try to maintain a balanced diet and limit high-sugar snacks to the occasional treat. Doing so will help keep you focused and energized throughout the day.

  • Click here for practical information on eating healthy.
  • Click here for some information on portion sizes.
Connection

Interacting with friends and family help us maintain our mental health, especially when we start to feel overwhelmed during the semester.

  • If you are looking to add to your support network on campus, consider exploring student organizations, club sports, volunteering in the community, and attending university events or those hosted by your dorm.  
  • Explore the links below for additional information. 
Relaxation

It can be difficult to balance our academic and employment responsibilities and still time to relax. Still, it is important to set aside some time during the day to decompress.

  • This could be taking time to close your eyes and take deep breaths in a quiet space or watching some ridiculous show to make you laugh.
  • Perhaps you have a relaxing hobby like drawing that helps you find a sense of peace.
  • Try the Rest Nest, located on the 5th floor of McIntyre Library. This space has a great view of the river and offers fun and relaxing activities for students to enjoy. You can also interact with peer support specialists trained to talk with other students.
  • Consider starting a practice of mindfulness. Learn more here.
Check out the following videos for additional wellness tips!

Works Consulted:

https://sleepeducation.org/healthy-sleep/healthy-sleep-habits/

Elizabeth Markle. "Four Things to Do Every Day for Your Mental Health." Retrieved from https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/four_things_to_do_every_day_for_your_mental_health

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/depression-and-exercise/art-20046495

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