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How to De-Stress Student Life

How to De-Stress Student Life

You complete your exams, hand in all of your assignments and then just like that the break is over and a new semester has begun. As a student, it can be difficult to manage the demands of school with work, family, friends, etc. Here are 5 tips to feel less overwhelmed as a student..

1. Know the signs

Many of us know when we have too much on our plate and we are feeling stretched too thin or “not like ourselves.” Warning signs that you’re overwhelmed may include:

  • Irritability and moodiness
  • Anxiety and/or panic attacks
  • Problem sleeping
  • Loss of Motivation/Lack of Energy
  • Loss of focus/concentration
  • Drinking too much, smoking, overeating, or using drugs to self medicate
  • Physical symptoms such as headache, chest pain, stomach problems

2. Find a Balance

It may seem that between all the readings, assignments, tests, quizzes, discussions, classes and studying, you couldn’t possibly have time for anything else. The thing is, it’s important to have a life/school balance. Believe it or not, it is essential for optimal academic functioning. Focusing primarily on academics and neglecting other factors such as sleep, exercise, eating a balanced diet, socializing with friends, etc. can actually lead to a decline not only in academic performance but overall health and wellbeing. Don’t feel guilty about getting lost in a series on Netflix for a while—time for yourself is important. It’s all about balance!

3. Use School Resources

Use your school resources. For example, if you find yourself wondering where to start, learning strategists can help you learn to manage time and address procrastination issues and stress. For some students transitioning from high school or having difficulty keeping up, they can help you develop new strategies, including active studying, reading and note-taking, and exam preparation, improve your research, writing, and presentation skills.

Join a study group! You are not the only one looking for support. Forming an informal study group or joining your school’s Recognized Study Groups (RSGs) can help you connect socially with other students, increase understanding of course material, compare class notes and prepare for tests and exams in a supportive, collaborative environment.

4. Seek Support

Sometimes feeling overwhelmed means something more. Often times, admitting you need help and then seeking the support can be a difficult task. If you are dealing with a disability that is causing barriers to your academic success, find out if your school offers Accessibility Services.  Accessibility Services can support students with a permanent or temporary disability (such as ADHD, ASD, learning disabilities, and/or mental illness) navigate their disability and related barriers, provide appropriate accommodations, facilitate peer support and interactions, and provide various academic and social opportunities.

5. Enjoy yourself!

Have fun! This time will fly by so fast and be over before you know it. Take in the whole experience. Get involved with some clubs on campus, attend social events, and get involved with the school community. This is the time to learn new things both in and out of the classroom.

How To Transition At The End Of A Relationship

How To Transition At The End Of A Relationship

One of the hardest transitions is adjusting to the end of a relationship. The end of a relationship can represent many different kinds of loss, beyond just the loss of that person: loss of dreams, loss of support, connection and loss of a picture of what you thought your life was going to be. These feelings of loss can feel so intense and final that it is often difficult to see past the moment of suffering and heartache and on to a happier future. Here are a few steps to help move forward and recover from the end of a relationship.

Take time to grieve the relationship

It’s okay to feel hurt, anger, resentment, cheated. Feel what you’re feeling. Let yourself express the pain you feel. Worden’s (1991) model of grief argues that we have ‘tasks’ when we grieve. The TEAR Model of Grief illustrates the four tasks of mourning. These include:

  1. To accept the reality of the loss
  2. Experiencing the pain of the loss
  3. Adjusting to a new life without the lost person
  4. Reinvestment in the new reality

Just like the stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance), nobody can tell you how long to grieve the loss of your relationship. It takes time and is unique to you.

Write a forgiveness letter

Often times what keeps us from moving on and reinvesting in new realities is the feeling of a lack of “closure”. Once a relationship ends, often times we no longer have a connection to that person. This can leave us with unresolved feelings and emotions, especially if the relationship ended abruptly. A great way to process through these emotions and gain closure is to write a forgiveness letter. It is not easy to forgive those who have mistreated us, but it can be instrumental in healing deep wounds and letting go of anger. This tool is used in cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT). Mind Over Mood: Second Edition: Change How You Feel by Changing the Way You Think, by Dennis Greenberger and Christine A. Padesky has a forgiveness letter worksheet that can be used to help you write your forgiveness letter.

Take time for self

The time following a break-up can be a great space for self-reflection. Take some time to reflect on what you want and what you don’t want in a relationship. It may be helpful to ask yourself what you have learned from the experienceWriting this down can help you reflect on answers so you can access them as you move forward. These reflections can help in your next relationship. It may be helpful to work with a therapist to process through feelings of grief, self-esteem, abandonment, dependency and boundary issues. Seek support immediately if you notice an increase in alcohol or substance use, cutting or suicidal thoughts as a means of coping with the heartache.

Reconnect with friends

The end of a relationship may not only help us reconnect with ourselves, but it may also allow you the time to reconnect with friends and family. We can sometimes get so involved with our romantic partners that they become the focus at the sacrifice of other people or things. Having a strong support system is important when you are struggling with the end of a relationship. Your support system can be a great source of encouragement and positivity to help you to recover. It may just be the support you need to remind yourself that you are an awesome person worthy of love.

Be fair to your new partner

The end of one relationship and the start of a new relationship can bring its own set of challenges. Unresolved feelings from the ended relationship can seep into your new union and create tension. Be fair to your new partner, do not let them pay for the sins of the past partner.

The relationship that ended will not be your last relationship. Mourn the loss but also celebrate what you’ve learned about yourself in the process. An ending of one chapter is often the beginning of a new one.

What the caterpillar calls the end of the world the rest of the world calls a butterfly — Lao Tzu

How To Choose The Right Therapy For Me

How To Choose The Right Therapy For Me

So you’ve decided to step into the adulting world and make the difficult decision to seek help. Now what? It can be an uncomfortable experience to be vulnerable with a complete stranger. Even harder sometimes, to figure out what type of therapy is right for you.

You’ve probably heard a bunch of different terms like holistic, mindfulness, CBT, and self-care. What does this all mean and how can it help you find a therapist?

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to therapy, and the professional that works well for someone else might not work as well for you. Here are 5 therapeutic modalities (approaches) to consider:

Solution Focused Brief Therapy — SFBT

SFBT is a goal-directed collaborative approach. It focuses on the present and future, focusing on the past only to the degree necessary to gain an accurate understanding of the person’s concerns. The focus is on identifying the individual’s goals, generating a detailed description of what life will be like when the goal is accomplished and the problem is either gone or coped with satisfactorily.

Duration: As the name implies therapy is brief. Average is usually 4- 8 sessions.

Structure: SFBT is future-focused, goal-directed, and focuses on solutions, rather than on the problems.

Effective Treatment For:  Students who are experiencing behavioural concerns or academic/school- related concerns. It has also proven effective as an approach to family therapy and couples counselling. SBFT may not be recommended for those who are experiencing severe mental health concerns.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy — CBT

CBT focuses on the development of personal coping strategies that target solving current problems and changing unhelpful cognitive patterns (e.g. thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, behaviours, emotions). CBT is an action-oriented form of therapy focusing on specific problems. The therapist’s role is to assist the individual in finding and practicing effective strategies to address the identified goals and decrease symptoms of mental health issues. CBT is based on the belief that symptoms and associated distress can be reduced by teaching new information-processing skills and coping mechanisms.

Duration: A typical CBT program usually consists of 6–18 sessions. Some booster sessions (after 1–3 months) might follow.

Structure: Often brief, direct, and time-limited treatments for individual psychological disorders that are specific technique-driven.

Effective Treatment For: Depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), tics, substance abuse, eating disorders, borderline personality disorder, OCD.

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy — DBT

DBT is a therapy primarily designed to help people suffering from personality disorders. This approach works towards helping people increase their emotional and cognitive regulation by learning about the triggers that lead to reactive states and helping to assess which coping skills to apply in the sequence of events, thoughts, feelings, and behaviours to help avoid undesired reactions. DBT assumes that people are doing their best but lack the skills needed to succeed, or are influenced by positive or negative reinforcements that interfere with their ability to function appropriately

Duration: DBT is a longer-term therapy. The average length of time that an individual stays in the DBT program is 2 1/2 years. Sessions are aimed to help the person generalize their skills into their lives, support them while they do trauma work (if necessary), and get them closer to their long-term goals.

Structure: DBT focuses on the client acquiring new skills and changing their behaviours with the ultimate goal of achieving a “life worth living,” as defined by the client. Usually done through skills curriculum either in individual one-on-one or group sessions.

Effective Treatment For: DBT is used primarily in the treatment of suicidal ideation, borderline personality, self-harm, substance dependence, eating and food issues, depression, and PTSD.

Interpersonal Psychotherapy — IPT

Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) is a brief, attachment-focused psychotherapy that centres on resolving interpersonal problems and symptomatic recovery. IPT is based on the principle that relationships and life events impact mood and vice versa. The aim of IPT is to help the person to improve interpersonal and intrapersonal communication skills within relationships and to develop social support networks with realistic expectations to deal with the crises precipitated in distress’ and to weather ‘interpersonal storms’.

Duration: Usually 12–16 weeks.

Structure: Highly structured and time-limited approach. Employs homework and structured interviews and assessment tools.

Effective Treatment For: Depressive disorders, substance use disorders, eating disorders, grief/loss, conflict in significant relationships, difficulties adapting to change, difficulties from social isolation.

Mindfulness-Based Therapy

Therapeutic approaches grounded in mindfulness promote the practice as an important part of good physical and mental health. Mindfulness-based stress reduction, designed to deliberately focus a person’s attention on the present experience in a way that is non-judgmental. Mindfulness and mindfulness meditation focus on becoming aware of all incoming thoughts and feelings and accepting them, but not attaching or reacting to them. This process is known as “decentering” and aids in disengaging from self-criticism, rumination, and dysphoric mood that can arise when reacting to negative thinking patterns.

Duration: Can be done in individual one-on-one sessions or in a group session. Usually 8 sessions.

Structure: Mindfulness-based approaches are most commonly delivered through the use of mindfulness meditation. During mindfulness meditation, the therapist will typically guide the client to direct their focus on the present moment.

Effective Treatment For: Addressing stress, chronic pain, cancer, anxiety, depression, eating and food issues, psychosis, bipolar, panic attacks, attention deficit hyperactivity, PTSD.

 

So there you have it! Go with the approach that you think suits your needs best, but keep in mind some therapists are trained in several different techniques and use an eclectic approach to therapy. In other words, they use elements from a range of therapeutic approaches, with the goal of establishing a course that is personally tailored to you. One size does not fit all!! Many therapists take a holistic perspective, approaching the person as a whole being, helping them to gain awareness of the connections between emotions, thoughts, physical experiences, and spiritual understandings.

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