Get some sleep!

At this point in the semester, we start to see a lot of really tired students. They are pulling all-nighters, taking long naps in the middle of the afternoon and feeling completely off with their sleep schedules. When we ask for details about their sleep, we’re not surprised to learn that they are exhausted!

Sleep is one of those things that you can’t really appreciate until you don’t have it. Anyone who has experienced sleep deprivation for long periods of time can tell you that it impacts your whole demeanor. You get snappy and aggravated, cry inexplicably, or lose it over the most minor details. It can also exacerbate the symptoms you might experience if you are already coping with anxiety or depression. It is one of the first suggestions we make when trying to focus on healthy habits and making positive changes–get some sleep!

So here are the recommendations from the National Sleep Foundation–now, we promos_insomnia_small_horizontalrecognize that they don’t necessarily coincide with your stereotypical college lifestyle. But there are pieces, that when really prioritized and included in your daily routine, can make a huge difference!

  • Avoid napping during the day; it can disturb the normal pattern of sleep and wakefulness.
  • Avoid stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol too close to bedtime. While alcohol is well known to speed the onset of sleep, it disrupts sleep in the second half as the body begins to metabolize the alcohol, causing arousal.
  • Exercise can promote good sleep. Vigorous exercise should be taken in the morning or late afternoon. A relaxing exercise, like yoga, can be done before bed to help initiate a restful night’s sleep.
  • Food can be disruptive right before sleep; stay away from large meals close to bedtime. Also dietary changes can cause sleep problems, if someone is struggling with a sleep problem, it’s not a good time to start experimenting with spicy dishes. And, remember, chocolate has caffeine.
  • Ensure adequate exposure to natural light. This is particularly important for older people who may not venture outside as frequently as children and adults. Light exposure helps maintain a healthy sleep-wake cycle.
  • Establish a regular relaxing bedtime routine. Try to avoid emotionally upsetting conversations and activities before trying to go to sleep. Don’t dwell on, or bring your problems to bed.
  • Associate your bed with sleep. It’s not a good idea to use your bed to watch TV, listen to the radio, or read.
  • Make sure that the sleep environment is pleasant and relaxing. The bed should be comfortable, the room should not be too hot or cold, or too bright.

Pretty challenging, right? But we think some of those changes can be done! Like….

  • Try not to get your schedule too far off on the weekends, so that when your 8 am class comes around on Monday, you don’t have to readjust after sleeping in all weekend.
  • Get some lamps or fun strings of lights to decorate your room so you don’t have to use the fluorescent overhead light.
  • Create a regular bedtime routine and stick with it. Listening to relaxing music, using a nature sound machine or reading a novel can help ease into sleep mode. We even have a number of free app downloads for music and nature sounds on our website under the Self Help tab. One of my favorites is Relax Melodies, where you can actually layer several sounds to create your own unique mix.
  • Try to set a cut-off point for caffeine during the day. Yes, Starbucks does make decaf!
  • Get your work out in early, in order to avoid the stimulating endorphins from exercise too late in the evening. Yes, working out is important, but maybe not starting it at midnight…

Check out just a few of these to stay caught up on that much-needed sleep!

Happy Friday, Pirates! Have a safe and healthy game weekend :)

Mental Health Awareness Week

Welcome back from Fall Break! We are wrapping up Mental Health Awareness week and have enjoyed seeing a great media focus on mental health resources and support. Hopefully you got a chance to check out some of our featured websites this week, like NAMIBring Change 2 Mind, NO STIGMAS, and Healthy Place.

We were also so excited to be a part of the first annual Pirates Keepin’ It Positive Mental Health Awareness Fair! We partnered with Ledonia S. Wright Cultural Center for this event, and we appreciate all of the campus and community organizations who came out to support us.

Yesterday, October 10th, was National Depression Screening Day, and we had planned an event for Wright Plaza. However, due to the wet weather, we have postponed it until next Friday, October 18th. Please come out then and learn more about depressive

NDSD2013symptoms and resources on campus. You can also take an online screening through our website (under Online Screening on our main page) or just click here.

We hope that awareness weeks like this one will help to reduce the stigma of seeking help for mental health services or allow more people to feel comfortable talking about their own mental health concerns.

 

Final push before Fall Break

Are you feeling to pressure? We are! We know that this is one of the most hectic weeks coming up, as students are preparing for mid-terms, big projects and lots of stress! We have seen that reflected in our office and our clients, and we wanted to spend today focusing on some positive coping skills to help address that extra anxiety you might be feeling.

For some students, this point in the semester is the “wake up call” that their current schedule or routine isn’t working for them. Maybe they haven’t really had to study before, or they didn’t have a specific way of keeping track of assignments in a planner or calendar, just assuming they could wing it. Fall Break is a great time to get back on track! Take a couple of hours one day to figure out where you are with your classes. Sit down and write down the remaining tests, assignments, projects, etc. in your preferred planner/calendar. If you don’t have one yet, get one! Decide if you want to use one on your phone (like the built in calendars in most operating systems) or one that can be

google-calendar_logoaccessible from your phone or computer, like Google’s calendar. Some people still prefer paper planner or schedule books, and that’s okay, too! Just commit to one and transfer the rest of your syllabus into it. You will start to see patterns when professors are going to assign certain tests or projects, and if several coincide, you can go ahead and plan on how you will stagger your work on them. (That means not procrastinating until the last minute…)

The Pirate Tutoring Center is also a great place to start if you feel like you need some support in study skills or time management. Take a few minutes to calculate your current grades in your classes, and figure out where you need to focus the most energy and effort.

Some other ways of beating stress are finding healthy routines that allow you to get rid of that extra tension and nervous energy. It might seem counter-intuitive to try and add more things to your schedule, but when they are healthy habits that will make your feel better, it’s worth it! Go for a walk on the Greenway this weekend, starting at the bottom of College Hill and trekking over 1.5 miles to Greensprings Park. Check out the kayaks,

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corn hole and beach volleyball over at the North Rec Complex! Take a break tonight with Pirate Night at Mendenhall, where you can design your own license plate and play trivia games with your friends (not to mention free midnight breakfast–yum!)

 

These breaks will help you stay refreshed and ready to tackle your homework after enjoying some of the fun activities campus and the surrounding community has to offer. As always, if you need to talk to someone, don’t hesitate to call and ask for an appointment with one of our counselors. We know what a hectic time this can be and we are here to help students through it and to get you connected to the resources that can offer additional support.

Have a happy Friday, and GO PIRATES! Beat the Heels!

Busy times ahead!

The end of September and beginning of October has always been a busy time for our office, and this year is no different! We are excited to collaborate with several other departments on campus for some of these upcoming events. Make sure to mark your calendars so you don’t miss them!

Next week we have our 2nd presentation for our fall FYI series, which is a Wellness-Passport event. This presentation will be focused on anxiety and panic attacks, a concern that we have noticed is increasing with our students. If you are interested in learning more about how to address anxiety or help a friend coping with panic attacks, please come out on Wednesday, September 25th at 12 pm or 4 pm to Mendenhall. The first presentation is in Room 221, and the 2nd one is in Great Room 3. These typically last about an hour and are a great way to get a Wellness Passport stamp AND learn more about a very common issue.

We will also be joining the Ledonia Wright Cultural Center for “Careers in Counseling for the Multicultural Student.” This event will be held on Monday, September 30th, from 5:30 pm until 7 pm in the Croatan Green Room. This panel presentation will feature representatives from social work, rehab counseling, counselor education, psychiatry, marriage and family therapy and other counseling professions. Students wanting to learn more about various careers and counseling and the options for graduate programs will definitely benefit from this event! Students interested in attending should e-mail LWCC@ecu.edu to RSVP.

Our Yoga for Total Wellness class has begun and already has a regular group of

yoga class2013attendees. If you’ve ever wanted to try yoga to address stress and anxiety, this is the class for you! Our counselor Diane Bradshaw leads this weekly hour-long class at the Student Recreation Center and in the Allied Health Sciences building. The SRC class meets on Tuesdays at 12 pm, and the Allied Health class meets on Thursdays at 10:15 am in Room 1506 in Laupus Library. Please contact our office for more information.

And in case you missed it, we have created a couple of helpful videos for the CCSD and new clients. We have often heard how hard it is to find our office and there can be some confusion about how to make the first triage appointment. Our new YouTube channel includes some short videos that provide students with this information. We are also open to making other videos as well, so let us know if you have some ideas for how we can promote the center and our services.

Hope everyone has a great week, and we can’t wait to see you soon at one of these events!

National Suicide Prevention Week wrap-up

This week we’ve been participating in National Suicide Prevention Week, an annual event designed to raise awareness and educate the community about resources available for those considering suicide and the friends/family who want to help. We have learned so much about the mental health community and all of the amazing websites, services and support networks that are specifically designed for young adults. Here are a few that we’ve featured this week:

Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which includes a site where you can send free e-cards to friends, as well as their sister site designed for young adults, You Matter.

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To Write Love On Her Arms, who shared their inspiring theme for this week: “You Cannot Be Replaced.”

And the Trevor Project, a website designed specifically for LGBTQ teens and young adults that includes a 24 hr hotline, text and chat service where students can immediately contact someone.

 

We also featured Lifebuoy for our Free App Friday post, but that is only one of dozens of apps that can be helpful to someone coping with suicidal thoughts. You can also check out Operation Reach Out and the Hope Box for other options.

And we hosted a table in Wright Plaza for World Suicide Prevention Day on Tuesday, where students could learn more about these resources and write messages of hope to friends and loved ones to share with the campus community.

We heard some really powerful stories from those who stopped by on Tuesday and are so grateful for those who shared how suicide has affected them. Hearing how students have lost parents, relatives, friends and loved ones–and even listening as students shared their own stories of depression and suicide attempts–lets us know that what we’re doing is important. We only hope that these events and awareness weeks will help to reduce stigma and encourage students to talk about suicide, letting others know when they need help. Any of the above resources are awesome to visit and share with friends, as well as visiting the Counseling Center on campus or calling the ECU Police to contact our after-hours counselor overnight or on the weekends. All of the information about making a first appointment or using crisis services can be found at our website.

Finally, we want to feature a video that’s been making the social media rounds. It’s a little long–about 11 minutes, but so worth watching. Kevin Breel, at 19 years old, shares what we hope this generation will internalize and normalize. That talking about depression, about suicide, about anxiety and other mental health concerns–that all of that is okay and should be accepted and supported and shared. Because when there is an open dialogue and people know that it’s okay to let their guards down and share how they’re doing–how they REALLY are feeling–that that’s when we can help save lives and change the overall culture, reducing stigma and showing the world that this conversation is important and necessary and crucial to helping students.

We’ll be back next week with more information about what we have planned for the rest of September. Thanks for reading, and go Pirates!

 

The CCSD

Welcome to Mind Over Matter!

For a while, we’ve been toying with the idea of creating a blog for the Center for Counseling and Student Development, as an opportunity to share more information with our students, fellow staff and faculty members, and their families. We have learned over staffbuilding072the past few years that social media and the web is where it’s at! And for an office that focuses so much on face-to-face interactions and talking in person with our clients, that can be a little challenging to do. However, we’re up for trying and hope to use this blog to expand on resources, events and other bits of information we have tried sharing via Facebook and Twitter up until this point.

We imagine that this blog will highlight common mental health concerns that we’re seeing on campus, as well as upcoming programs that we’d like to share. We also hope to include more videos, links to helpful websites, and share our own thoughts about how students are coping with events during the semester. We’re open to suggestions, though, and would love to feature student groups, collaborate on themed “awareness weeks” or “days” and simply find more ways to connect with the Pirate nation.

Thanks for reading, feel free to follow us and share this with those who might be interested!

 

The CCSD