Part 2: Maintaining your mental health
Online and Podcast Editor
As Broward College Seahawks prepare to be successful for the fall semester, it is important that students are aware of ways to maintain their mental health.
We discussed in Part One: Understanding what mental health is in the midst of chaos, what mental health is to grasp a clearer understanding. We can build on the knowledge that Dr. Keny Felix, Broward College adjunct professor and licensed mental health counselor, contributed in Part One to add ways to maintain our mental health in the midst of chaos in this follow- up article.
According to a Harvard article it states that the American College Health Association has performed studies that show 63 percent of college students have suffered from “overwhelming anxiety.” According to the American Institute of Stress, 80 percent of college students have reported feeling stressed.
“We all can face different levels of stress…” Dr. Felix said.
It is no secret that college can provoke stressful and anxiety filled feelings, situations and circumstances. Add a global pandemic, an upcoming controversial election and social injustice on top of starting a new semester… and it can feel as if we are drowning in the noise of the world.
Although it may feel overwhelming at times, we can make the conscious decision to intentionally choose to maintain our mental health each day through paying attention to these aspects.
Dr. Felix suggests strategies to maintain our mental health because “how we think leads and contributes to our emotions, and how we feel impacts how we behave.”
Dr. Felix stated, “it is important to first look at how we are thinking about what is impacting us right now.” He re-emphasizes the idea of acknowledging that we are living in a “challenging season,” but that it is not a “permanent reality.” It is easy to have negative thoughts, however a way that we can combat negative thoughts when they seep into our mind is asking ourselves the questions of “What can I do today to respond to what’s before me?” This may look different for each and every person. However, it is important to shift our perspective to a more “balanced outlook” of embracing the difficult season but believing that it will pass.
The first idea that Dr. Felix introduced was the idea of someone that we can “share with, trust and encourage.” He states how “it is important to have individuals in our lives that we can share with.” This will ultimately help build our support system.
The second idea that he introduces is the idea of finding an organization to volunteer at– of course one that is following social distancing protocols.
“It will help place your mind somewhere else and give you the opportunity to serve,” he suggests.
The third idea that Dr. Felix adds to the social aspect is “taking time to develop your communication skills and conflict resolution skills.” The idea of “learning to talk” while practicing “assertiveness while also practicing active listening.”
We can practice this though “stating what we need, what we want and what we feel but doing it in a way where we are respecting the other individual.” The practice of active listening is to listen to understand.
At times, life can feel lonely. However, the reality is that we are never alone. You can find support whether that be from a friend through texting or calling, a parent/ guardian, a mentor, or a therapist.
Dr. Felix expressed the importance of asking for help while stating, “Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength because we recognize that we need someone walking alongside us.”
There are several details involved with behavior. It is important to exercise regularly because “how we maintain our body affects our overall mental health.” There are several benefits to exercising and by taking the initiative, “it will release those endorphins that helps to sooth our body.”
The next behavioral idea is to “practice relaxation.” A form of relaxation is called progression relaxation— where you can practice tightening your muscles and then releasing them to help relax yourself.
A healthy diet will contribute to not only your physical well- being but also your mental well-being, helping to fuel all aspects of the body.
Dr. Felix emphasized that while having a structure of organization is important because “we strive better when there is some type of order that we are following on a day to day basis.” It is also important to find ways that you are able to have fun. Whether that be with the immediate people in your house or virtually.
The type of spiritual focus may be different depending on the student. Therefore, students can focus their mind on their “sacred text” to rely on their faith. Spirituality is considered a “positive contribution” as there can be a focus on meditation/ prayer.
I have often heard of our minds being compared to our bodies when we workout. We are working out for a reason; whether that be to strengthen our body, to tone our body or for a respective sport. There is a goal, a purpose and an intention.
Our minds are the same way and need special care and attention in all four ways to function at the best of its ability.
According to a recent student services email that was sent on July 15, 2020, Broward College is “providing psychological and psychiatric counseling services to its students at no charge.” The email went on to state that “these services are provided by Henderson Student Counseling” and does not need a referral with each student receiving up to six counseling sessions for free. The phone number to call is 954-424-6919. You also may email them your contact information via email at student counseling firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information and specific details refer back to your BC Outlook email inbox from Student Services email with the subject being “Free REMOTE Mental Health Counseling for Broward College Students’ ‘ that was sent on July 15, 2020.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by the current circumstances, you may also click here to see how Broward College is willing to help through the Seahawk Outreach Services.
If you need help right now, do not hesitate to call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. Your life matters. You are valued. You are loved.