Give stress the boot: how to maintain good mental health during a pandemic


Photo Courtesy of Mindful.org

Story by Felicia Parks/Contributing Writer

The mind is the most powerful tool you have at your disposal.

During this time of stress and uncertainty in the face of the pandemic, it is more important than ever that we take necessary steps to be sure we are maintaining our mental health.

Jessica Gann, a counselor at Middle Tennessee State University’s Counseling & Testing Services, is only one of many mental health professionals feeling the struggle this pandemic is causing. Numerous mental health professionals are seeing a spike in need for mental health services and help during this time of self-isolation.

At MTSU, although the Counseling & Testing Services center is closed, all counselors are still providing care remotely. You can call the front desk at 615-898-2670 and they will put you through a screen to see what you need and set up counseling sessions through Microsoft Teams, a virtual, secure video platform. Phone sessions are available in instances of technical issues.

In addition to taking advantage of counseling services, there are steps student can take to ease the strain of quarantine at home.  Gann said that taking a few moments out of every day to focus on our mental health is key.

“Finding ways to stay connected right now is really important, because I think it is the disconnection that will definitely increase the loneliness that can soon slip into that depression,” she said.

One way that students can use their time to help balance these high-stress moments is through mindfulness. Mindfulness is a technique that can be used to help manage stress, anxiety, and even physical health. Gann is also the facilitator for the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workshop that is currently at MTSU.

“Mindfulness is being here in the present moment. We are non-striving, we are not giving ourself a hard time. So, essentially we are learning some of those basic principles and then applying it to the practice,” said Gann.

Within the practice of mindfulness there are so many techniques to be learned. One of those is tapping, something Gann herself has tried and finds helpful. Even if a bit unconventional, and perhaps not a technique your counselor would use, it is something you can do in the comfort of your own home.

Gann described the technique in more detail.

“Tapping, Emotional Freedom Technique is the technical term for it (which is when) you are tapping on specific meridian endpoints of the body while you are talking through how you are feeling. You are acknowledging all the stress and anxiety about what you are feeling then you switch to the positive cognition.” She continued, “It’s probably not for everybody but I think there is some definite benefits for practicing.”

Apart from with these resources, there are so many more students can take advantage of if they need guidance. Below is a general list compiled by Gann and the staff of MTSU’s Counseling Services. It’s full of resources to help you stay your best, strongest self during uncertain times.

List of resources:

MTSU Counseling Services

CCPS: Center for Counseling and Psychological Services

Contents Under Pressure: Stress Management:

To keep up with managing the stress that comes along during the rest of the semester, Counseling Services is offering you an opportunity to learn some techniques to manage stress and self-care. To sign up and receive the link to join this meeting, please contact Jo.Christian@mtsu.edu

TAO Therapy Assistance Online

Crisis Lines:

Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255,

Mobile Crisis at 1-800-704-2651,

Text “HOME” “START” “HELLO” to 741-741

Free Apps for your phone:

Calm

MindShift CBT

Breathe2Relax

Self-help for Anxiety Management

Headspace (2-week free trial, then $9.99/month for students)

YouTube (Of course! The Honest Guys are a recommended channel from Gann)

Please remember, reach out to the people in your life and stay connected during these times! Find ways to keep your mind busy and strive to focus more on the positive things to help reduce stress. All of the above resources are just a few tools you can use to help maintain good mental health. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask if you need it.

 

To contact Lifestyles Editor Brandon Black, email lifestyles@mtsusidelines.com.

For more updates, follow us at www.mtsusidelines.com, on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines and on Twitter at @Sidelines_Life.

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