During my undergraduate career, I quickly realized how difficult and stressful college life would be. I was riddled with stress – getting assignments done on time, pressure from myself to get good grades, and participating in multiple activities just because I could. Before long, I began to feel stretched so thin that I could barely function at times. The American College Counseling Association has noted that the percentage of college students seeking counseling services has increased quite greatly in recent years. The fact is, the pressure to succeed in classes while also balancing your social life is real.
So why should college students reach out? I believe that literally anyone can benefit from therapy. There is no shame in getting help or guidance if something does not feel right or is too overwhelming. College students can benefit greatly from reaching out to their student services or local clinicians.
I believe that there are 5 really good reasons to try therapy while in college.
Therapists will let you vent about what is going on and be an unbiased person to talk to on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.
Learning coping mechanisms and skills to get through tough days.
Working through past traumas that may be negatively impacting your life.
It can boost mood by helping you feel more secure in your journey through health and healing.
It can help to improve grades. When you feel better you are more likely to be productive and focus on your classes.
College can be rough, but it also can be incredibly rewarding. If you are like me and struggle with managing everything, then maybe it is time to reach out.
I understand how challenging it may be to find the time and to talk about some of these things. Therapy can provide a chance for self-exploration and a decrease in distressing symptoms. It is normal to be apprehensive, but know that therapy is a great resource and can be useful for anyone no matter the circumstances.
“Hi my name is Stephanie Grobstich, and I’m a marriage and family therapist at Cedar Rapids Counseling Center. Here are some ways that you can cope with anxiety symptoms, a lot of my clients come in and they chat with me about anxiety symptoms. One of the things that has been brought to my attention is that a lot of people Google search how to calm anxiety or what even is anxiety. And anxiety is one of those things where it affects everybody differently, meaning that one person may experience it in a little bit of smaller way versus another person where it may be more debilitating and there’s many different forms of that. What I kind of tell my clients is that it’s not one size fits all, as far as how to calm that anxiety. Unfortunately, there’s no magic potion that we can give you that’s going to cure all of your anxiety symptoms, no one’s figured that out yet. It’s really just what is going to work for you.
A lot of clinicians talk about mindfulness. What this means is, being able to be with yourself in the here and now focusing on what’s going on for you without necessarily judging yourself in the process. I feel like we do a really great job of being self-critics and kind of knocking ourselves down a peg or two. And so, using mindfulness can really allow you to be in the here and now and focus on what’s going on for you. Anxiety just isn’t simply mental, it can be very physical as well. A lot of my clients tell me that they feel increased heart rate, increased breathing, you know, you start sweating, you start not feeling so great in your stomach and stuff like that, so it really focuses on everything. Another tool that’s really great if you are feeling pretty intense stress and anxiety, there are some really wonderful apps out there, like Calm, Headspace and Insight Timer that really can help you in those moments to kind of calm yourself down which can be super convenient and useful whenever you kind of feel those symptoms maybe creep up.
So, if you are experiencing anxiety or anything that’s troubling you or causing you some concern, please know that it’s okay not to be okay. It’s okay to say, I’m not fine, but I’m working on it and that’s really important. Know that there are people out there like us therapist at Cedar Rapids Counseling Center that would be more than happy to work with you to try to figure out what’s going on to alleviate some of that stress, and to get that, ‘I’m not fine, I’m working on it’ too, ‘I really am fine, I’m doing really well’, and that’s what we want to see for you. If you are experiencing any symptoms of anxiety that are causing any concern for you or causing you distress or even if you would like to chat with someone about any coping skills or just developing different things for you, please feel free to reach out to me via our website or give us a call. We’d be happy to chat with you and set up a time for sessions just to see if we can help you through this journey with anxiety and get you feeling better.”
Depression can be a very serious mental illness that can negatively impact a person’s life. That being said, it goes just beyond being sad and lacking motivation.
Depression can attribute to sleeping problems, appetite changes, and other physical ailments. Another thing to note is that symptoms vary from person-to-person, meaning that two people with depression may feel differently.
Depression can have a long duration and impact relationships, careers, and everyday tasks. Common indicators of depression can be noted as:
Taking little enjoyment in life.
Little to no energy level.
Appetite changes. Eating too little or too much.
One thing to note is that depression is not a choice. One cannot will themselves into a positive mindset and they cannot just “get over it.”
Depression is far worse than the average sadness. It can be all-consuming. In very severe cases, depression can lead to increased suicidal thoughts and self-harm.
Men and women also can have differences in the presentation of depression. Hormonal changes have been known to play a role in depression symptoms for women. While men are more likely to experience anger, aggression, and risk-taking behaviors.
So, what happens if I have some of the indicators? Address the issue by either contacting your doctor or a mental health professional. Depression is not something that has to be dealt with alone. By reaching out for help, it can alleviate some of the negative symptoms and lead to increases in overall well-being.
How many times have you felt as though someone in your life has pushed you to your limits or made you feel very uncomfortable?
These might be examples of those people pushing your boundaries. Boundaries are the limits between you and another person. Healthy boundaries are set to help you become more mentally and emotionally stable.
They are a very critical component of self-care.
Setting a boundary can sometimes feel like an impossible task. Many people are resistant to change and can negatively react when you feel the need to place a boundary with them.
So how do you know when you are implementing boundaries? How will it feel when doing so? Over my time working with individuals, I have created a list of things that my clients have felt when choosing to set their boundaries with others:
It is not my job to fix others.
It is okay if others get angry.
It is okay to say NO.
It is not my job to take responsibility for others.
I do not have to anticipate the needs of others.
It is NOT my job to make people happy.
Nobody has to agree with me.
I HAVE a right to my OWN feelings.
I AM ENOUGH
Do not feel guilty for setting boundaries.
They are essential for our overall well-being, and just like we actively look to include other elements into our lives, like exercising and eating right, this is no different. It may take time, and that is fine, but your future self will appreciate the effort.
Being critical of oneself is all too easy in today’s world. Between television, movies, and social media platforms, it is no wonder that self-esteem is taking a direct hit.
It is easy to begin to compare yourself to other people. You are wanting what they have or how they look, driving your confidence down in the process. People who receive constant critical and negative assessments from friends and family see this occur as well.
Self-esteem (also known as self-worth) is an integral part of success and motivation. Having low self-esteem can dramatically affect your relationships, career, education, and even health. On the other hand, having too much can create a sense of an inflated self-importance, which is equally as damaging.
What are the warning signs of having low self-esteem?
You believe that others are better than you
You find it difficult to express your needs
You focus on your weaknesses
You frequently experience feelings such as shame, depression, or anxiety
You have a negative outlook on life
You have an intense fear of failure
You have trouble accepting positive feedback
You have difficulty saying “no”
You put other people’s needs before your own
You struggle with confidence
If you fit into any of those, you may be dealing with decreased esteem in yourself.
So, what does this mean?
Are you doomed forever to have low self-esteem?
Throughout my time as a therapist, I have observed things that help increase self-esteem levels in individuals who were struggling.
Below are some of my findings:
Become aware of negative self-talk (put-downs and self-criticism)
Change the story that you’ve created of yourself- adjust your thoughts and beliefs
Avoid comparing yourself to others
Learn to forgive yourself and others
Remember that you are not your circumstances
Set appropriate boundaries with others
Exercise and participate in regular self-care activities
This list is by no means exhaustive. It can be utilized to get the ball rolling in the right direction again. It can be challenging to change the perceptions that you have of yourself. It does not happen overnight, but it is possible.
Therefore, with hard work and self-compassion, self-destructive thoughts and beliefs can be unlearned, and self-esteem increased.
Here are some resources that you can use to go deeper into self-esteem and develop a better narrative of yourself.
Anxiety and stress are some of the most common problems that enter through my therapy doors. This year has been no exception.
Between adjusting to life in a pandemic to natural disasters, stress and anxiety are very present. The “best” part of these two problems is that they affect everyone differently, making it tricky to combat them at times.
Throughout this year, I have noticed that parents and children/adolescents are particularly vulnerable to stress and anxiety. So what can you do when it seems inevitable at this point?
I think it is essential to understand what anxiety and stress can do to your body. Drs. Dan Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson lay this out nicely in their book “The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind.” They note that increased stress and anxiety can increase heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure. It also affects our abilities to think and make judgments.
In their book, they state that having these problems is like “flipping your lid,” meaning that instead of thinking with the parts of the brain that control rational thinking, you are left with the more primitive parts that are in charge of making you feel big emotions and act on instinct.
Strategies To Overcome Anxiety
Now that we have a better understanding of it, what can you do to decrease these two issues?
Know that these are normal things that people face every day.
Make sure that you understand your limits (knowing when to take a break); burnout is real for both parents and children/adolescents.
Self-care!! I cannot express this concept enough. Make sure that you are doing things that increase your overall life satisfaction and well-being levels. It doesn’t have to be anything too much, but merely taking the time to listen to your body can be extremely helpful. Below, I have included some great apps that can be utilized to help!
Talk to someone! My job as a therapist is to listen and understand. If anxiety and stress are being persistent and driving you up a wall, talk with a mental health professional. We are here as a resource for you!