Welcome to the official blog of UCSC Counseling and Psychological Services!

We are the UCSC community’s resource for counseling, wellness, and mental health concerns. Follow us here to learn more about upcoming events, health and wellness topics, our staff, and updates from the counseling center.

The CAPS blog is written and managed by the CAPS Peer Educator Program, with guest posts by staff and students. Our amazing Blog Coordinator for the 2018-19 year is Peer Educator Madison Wright!

Click the about tab to learn more about CAPS, and what we can do for you!

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CAPS Student Hero: Isabella Mena

Hey slugs! This week’s student hero is our peer educator, Bella! It is Bella’s first year working with our program, but she quickly became a valuable part of our team. She is very kind, authentic and not to mention stylish! If you want to see her in action, she will be facilitating our Stress Less Workshop this Friday!

What do you do regularly to relieve stress?

To relieve stress, I typically take time to myself to do things I enjoy such as go to the gym, go to the beach, or hang out with some of my friends. I think that no matter how busy you are, it is important to put some time aside for yourself!

Tell us something you’re passionate about outside of school (clubs, hobbies, interests, volunteering, activities, etc.)

Outside of school, I am really passionate about staying active. I really enjoy going on hikes, going to the gym, and just being outdoors! I really enjoy being in nature and appreciating the beauty around us.

If you could share one thing you would like your peers to know about CAPS, what would it be?

If I could share one thing with my peers to know about CAPS is that your Peer Educators are here for you, and most importantly, happy to be here!

The Importance of Self-Love

Self-care is something that has gone viral in the media. People love the idea of taking time to relax and take care of themselves. But what about self-love? It doesn’t have this same reputation as self-care, but it may be the most valuable self-care that there is. In this post, our peer educator, Bella, outlines what self-love is and also talks about how to practice it.

The Importance of Self Love

by Isabella Mena

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Self-love is confident, warm and caring. It’s the complete acceptance of who, and what you are – the appreciation and affirmation of yourself.

It’s the unconditional support, self-care, and compassion you give yourself that ultimately translates to good health, great self-esteem, happiness, total balance and well-being.

Therefore, I feel that self love is necessary to living a healthy lifestyle, and a fundamental value that can generate inner peace and positivity.

What Self Love is NOT:

Self love is not that desperate need to be better or more deserving than others. It is not being selfish or vain. It is not conditional on certain desired outcomes. And it’s not the exaggerated sense of importance that stems from classic narcissism.

What True Self Love Is:

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Self love is open and honest validation.

It is the biggest commitment; to get to know and accept yourself as you are. To fully experience life To FULLY experience life as it happens to you.More importantly, to continually seek ways to physically, psychologically, and spiritually grow from these experiences.

True self love is validating yourself. Its giving yourself unconditional respect, appreciation and evaluation of being great!  It’s reminding yourself that you deserve to have all your personal needs met, while considering yourself as worthy, valuable, and deserving of happiness.

Its confidently knowing that no matter what you will always love yourself, be true to yourself, and be your OWN number one fan.

Why It’s Important to Love Yourself

It’s important to love yourself because of the simple truth that you cannot take care of others until you take care of yourself first. When you fully love yourself, this gives you the opportunity to move through the world with deeper compassion for others.

Also, you’ll have greater resilience to withstand any challenging life event or personal adversity. Depression, anxiety, stress, and the obsession with perfection, will vanish in the face of pure optimism that self love creates!

Self Love is a Practice

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Self love is a practice, its is something you learn and implement into your everyday life.

A few things that I feel like should be considered and known when it comes to self love:

  1. You are the main focus – It all starts with you and ends with you. You’re going to be with yourself for eternity. Which means, you want to operate from a place of self-loving, rather than self-loathing.
  2. You care for yourself the most – Nobody is interested in you – your well-being, health, safety, happiness, and existence – more than you. No one knows better than you, what makes you happy, or what hurts you most. No one thinks of you, or exists ready for your rescue, support or comfort. No one can make better choices for you, or give you a better opinion of what you need to do – other than yourself. No one is here for your spiritual growth – but you.
  3. You are the only person that can bring yourself up, or down – You determine your attitude, the way you react, and your outlook day to day. This way, if you love yourself, you will be mindful of the way you feel and how you feel it.

CAPS Student Hero: Nuria Villanueva

Hey Slugs! This week’s CAPS Student Hero is Nuria Villanueva! It is Nuria’s first year with the peer education program, but she has been anxious to contribute since her first day! Nuria is always trying to give back to her community, whether it be through CAPS or finding service opportunities on her own. Nuria’s most recent contribution to the group is our PEP Recruitment flier which we’ll be sharing soon! (P.S. You can catch Nuria as Janet in The Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Del Mar Theatre this weekend!)

What do you do regularly to relieve stress?

I relieve daily stress by listening to music, hanging out with roommates, going to the gym, and paying attention to my own feelings whenever I feel like there needs to be a pause. I do trust myself to take care of my life, especially my mental conditions. 🙂

Tell us something you’re passionate about outside of school (clubs, hobbies, interests, volunteering, activities, etc.)

I am a volunteer at the Family Service Agency of Central Coast, and I also am a research assistant. For activities outside of academic curriculum, I enjoy doing sports, drawings, and hanging out with my dogs back home

If you could share one thing you would like your peers to know about CAPS, what would it be?

CAPS is not a program for so-called “mentally-illed/weak individuals” — it’s a safe place to keep your little secrets and concerns confidential, while helping to maintain your healthy mental states. We all understand that it can be difficult opening up to someone who may be too “closed” to you, so why not give it a try at CAPS? 😀

You Belong Here

When most people think about going off to college they think of the things they see in the movies, like freedom and partying with friends. But leaving home for college is not that simple for everyone. First generation students that have grown up with active roles in their families don’t have the privilege of embracing independence and especially not at institutions that don’t always have their best interest in mind. Our peer educator, Nuria, talks about her experience being a first-generation student and shares some words of wisdom in this reflection.

You Belong Here

By: Nuria Villanueva

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This is a personal narrative and a reflection on my struggles as a first-generation college student. Often times, it is easy to feel like I do not belong at a university this prestigious. I am the first in my entire family (e.g. siblings and cousins included) to attend a university. I feel the pressure of being an ideal student from all sides of my family, not just my parents. I am portrayed as a role model for my siblings, and all my cousins. The way I see it, the way I carry myself at school and around my professors is not just a reflection of who I am, but of who my family members are. I am representing my entire family.

My future is not my own. When I think of my future I take into consideration everyone that would be affected by my choices. Is my major right? Will the skills I get here prepare me for a job that pays enough for me to sustain my family members? Is this or that enough for them? I have had conversations like this with close friends who often tell me that the role I was given is unfair, but how do you explain that this is not a burden?

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I often question my accomplishments. Do I deserve this? Is this right? Will I mess this up? Was this handed to me? What folks need to understand about first-generation students is most of us are family-oriented. Our accomplishments are theirs. Our struggles are theirs. This journey that we call higher education is one that we face alone, but we carry the expectations and pressure of many. We were never taught to be individualistic.

We are here to stay. We will make this institution ours. We are the future. Treat us with respect.

Time Management

As college students, we’ve all heard about how important time management is, and I am sure most of us would agree it is easier said than done. But learning how to manage your time can be really helpful in avoiding feeling overwhelmed and exhausted by everything on your plate. Tina, one of our peer educators, agrees and has outlined some strategies on how to get better at time management below!

Time Management: Get Used to it Get Better at it!

By: Xinru “Tina” Wang

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As college students, there is no doubt that we are facing ongoing instructions and requirements that we just need to keep track of. When it comes with other mandatory activities, including but not limited to work, volunteering, internships and family responsibilities, things will start to feel overwhelmed. Consequently, this urgent feeling in us can eat our motivation up, thus impact the whole working process to be even more challenging. It is indeed significant to recognize that more than anything that may happen in our lives, we need to care for ourselves first! As a current senior trying to get through all the graduate school applications plus school works and many other responsibilities, I would love to share with y’all about some specific strategies for managing your daily times.

First of all, learn to give yourself a break according to your schedules. No matter it is science or literature that you are studying, giving yourself a break can mean more than a chance of allowing the brain to rest; a lot of things you didn’t have the time to care about can be taken care of, and with an opened brain, you get to try much more possible ways to support yourself and manage your time. Such time is definitely valuable. Based off my personal experience, I would recommend to have at least a day of a whole week to be completely free. Though, it is to say that we all have different ways of coping stress and setting up our working schedules. Find a way that fits you! 😀

Another coping method that you probably might have already heard of, and/or maybe you are already sick of hearing this, is to have a planner! I recognize that for many students, just as how I was before, felt that having planner is like an additional step to work. Obviously, why is it to have a planner if I can just remember my assignments and due dates? Well, for many of us out there, planner can serve not ONLY a tool to check for the deadlines, but it is also for you to feel that sense of “I am keeping track of everything”, and provide you a chance to compliment yourself. With the level of stress, it is likely that we immediately move on to the next assignment after the completion of the previous one, forgetting to see how much we have done. To see it this perspective, planner will definitely help! Some strategies I find useful when using the planners are:

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  • Use different colored pens for different subjects
  • MARK DOWN ALL THE UPCOMING HOLIDAYS 😀
  • Don’t forget to write down all the fun things you did, like going to a movie
  • Checkmarks after the work is done! Just so you know how much you have done for yourself! 😀

I hope you find this passage helpful! Stay proud and take care!

CAPS Student Hero: Tina Wang

Hey slugs! Meet this week’s CAPS student hero, Tina! This is Tina’s second year working with the PEP. Tina worked with us two year ago and then we were lucky enough to have her return this year after having studied abroad! A fun fact about Tina is that she designed the banner for our blog as well as many of our fliers! Keep an eye out for the design of our self-care event later in the quarter, her most recent contribution.

What do you do regularly to relieve stress?

I relieve daily stress by listening to music, hanging out with roommates, going to the gym, and paying attention to my own feelings whenever I feel like there needs to be a pause. I do trust myself to take care of my life, especially my mental conditions 🙂

Tell us something you’re passionate about outside of school (clubs, hobbies, interests, volunteering, activities, etc.)

I am a volunteer at the Family Service Agency of Central Coast, and I also am a research assistant. For activities outside of academic curriculum, I enjoy doing sports, drawings, and hanging out with my dogs back home

If you could share one thing you would like your peers to know about CAPS, what would it be?

CAPS is not a program for so-called “mentally-illed/weak individuals” — it’s a safe place to keep your little secrets and concerns confidential, while helping to maintain your healthy mental states. We all understand that it can be difficult opening up to someone who may be too “closed” to you, so why not give it a try at CAPS? 😀

CAPS Student Hero: Reed Asselbaye

Hey slugs! Here at CAPS we know it can be hard to keep your composure in the midst of midterms. Someone who seems to always be composed is this week’s second student hero, Reed! It is Reed’s first year working with the peer education program and his calming presence helps us all stress less! Keep reading to learn more about him and what he does to help his stress!

What do you do regularly to relieve stress?

When I feel stressed, exercising is helpful because I feel less angsty when I’m moving my body. The cool temperatures in Santa Cruz are perfect for running outside, especially if I’ve been cooped up indoors. When I’m too tired to exercise, I have Uber Eats slide through and I enjoy a scrumptuous meal in bed.

Tell us something you’re passionate about outside of school (clubs, hobbies, interests, volunteering, activities, etc.)

In addition to being a CAPS Peer Educator, I’m an Academic Intern at the African American Resource & Cultural Center. I’m dedicating to improving the experiences of Black folks on campus as well as the broader community. Beyond those interests, I’m a strong enthusiast for Mariah Carey and Rihanna. Favorite songs are “My All” and “Kiss It Better” respectively.

If you could share one thing you would like your peers to know about CAPS, what would it be?

I wish more folks could understand that seeking help for your mental health is not a sign of weakness. Rather, it’s a sign of strength, because you’re able to acknowledge that you’re going through something and you’re willing to take control in some way.