With the fall semester coming to a close, and the winter months closing in on the Taylor campus, stress and anxiety tend to run rampant amongst the student body.
Mental health is often pushed to the side as individuals focus on a strong academic finish; oftentimes, this mismanagement of mental health can lead to more issues than problems. In an article published by the American Psychological Association (APA), it was found that over 41% of college students struggle with anxiety, and over 36% struggle with depression.
In the current environment in which we find ourselves, there’s even more triggers for anxiety and other mental health ailments. Between coronavirus, the election, and rigorous academics, students find the winter months — primarily October through March — to be harder than other times of the year.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a disorder that primarily sets in due to a lack of sunlight. This, of course, is directly related to the smaller amount of sunlight available during the midwest winter months.
In an Echo article published in Feb. of 2020, Jenny Schamber, former interim director of the counseling center, pointed out the issues that arise when an individual is struggling with SAD.
“It’s very different than just having the ‘winter blues,’” Schamber said. “Someone who is experiencing this disorder is struggling with a type of depression.”
At times, repetitive feelings of sadness or discouragement may be written off as just “the winter blues” or “a bad day.” While at times this may be true, at The Echo, we would encourage you to seek help from a trusted friend or family member if you are experiencing overwhelming feelings of despair or sorrow.
The campus counseling center also serves as an excellent resource for anyone who may have questions or concerns about mental health.
“It is important that we notice and take (care) of our physical and mental health since each one impacts the other,” wrote Kathy Chamberlain, director of the counseling center. “I typically encourage people to focus on the whole self-heart, soul, mind and strength. In Luke 10:27, Jesus told others to love God, others and ourselves in order to inherit eternal life. It is a beautiful reminder that we are to love and care for ourselves just as we are to love God and others.”
Chamberlain encourages students to analyze four different areas of health: heart, soul, mind and strength.
Focusing on these four areas — derived from Jesus’ teaching “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind” — motivates individuals to understand themselves in every area of life, not just in regards to mental health.
To understand the heart, you must understand your personality and emotions, Chamberlain said. Engaging with the soul comes from being spiritually disciplined. Understanding the mind is important for “acknowledging our thoughts and then determining which of those thoughts are worth agreeing with and which thoughts we need to reframe.” Finally, keeping up our strength relates to remaining physically active.
“Research shows at least 10 minutes of movement each day helps to decrease anxiety and depression,” Chamberlain said. “Fuel your body. The brain needs to be hydrated and fed to function properly so do not neglect your water and food intake. Get sleep. Your body and brain need to rest and refuel when you sleep.”
As finals week quickly approaches, the counseling center is looking to provide even more resources to students in helping with stress and anxiety.
For more details on how to stay healthy in all areas of your life, check out the counseling center’s resource center.