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 2016-17 year is Peer Educator Emma Burke!

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

FINALS TIPS

FINALS TIPS

By Emma Burke

Hey slugs! Finals week is here! And I’m sure we all feel the weight of it. Some of us got up to take our first final at 8:00am this morning, while others of us won’t have our first final until tomorrow. No matter when each of our finals fall, we’re all in this together! We all feel the stress of a difficult quarter coming to a head. However, there are lots of simple things we can do to stay on track with our studying, keep our stress levels at bay, and feel as prepared as possible for that fateful Untitled2moment when we open our blue books.

One thing that I like to do when I’m feeling especially stressed and down about school, is to write down three things that UCSC has done for me that I am thankful for. If you’re anything like me, when midterms and finals roll around, you might ask yourself, “Why am I doing this to myself?” “I don’t want to be in school!” But the truth is that, while we may feel like this at times, especially right now, we really do want to be here. We worked hard to get here, and we work hard to stay here. So even when school is stressful and tedious, and nerve wracking, it doesn’t mean that we can’t take a minute to remember the good things about it, and all of the many reasons we do want to be here.

For more study tips, check out this great link!

http://college.usatoday.com/2014/12/08/25-crucial-study-tips-for-finals-week/

Good luck on finals everyone!

CAN PHYSICAL STRESS HELP MENTAL STRESS?

With finals next week, there is most definitely stress in the air and all around us! This can take a toll not only on our minds but on our bodies as well. While our classes require us to hunker down with our noses buried in textbooks for hours on end, this is not actually what is best for our bodies. One proven way to combat the negative effects that this stress has on our bodies is to get some exercise! Read on to hear Madison’s findings on the subject!

CAN PHYSICAL STRESS HELP MENTAL STRESS?

By Madison Wright

Have you ever been so stressed that you just had to drop everything you were doing to take a walk, in an attempt to clear your mind? Well it has been scientifically proven that this action may have actually contributed to alleviating your stress. According to Harvard Health, exercise reduces adrenaline and cortisol levels and increases endorphin levels. With less adrenaline in your body you begin to relax and then the endorphins, which are known as the body’s “natural painkillers,” would actually make you start to feel better.

Stress is harmful toyoga-1159968-1919x2714 your body, so it makes sense that taking part in activities that keep your body healthy, like exercising, would help combat the effects of stress. When I am stressed I get very tense and exercising helps me loosen up my muscles, relaxing my body. And if you don’t have time in your day to do a full workout, then breathing exercises can have a similar affect as well. According to the American Yoga Association, breathing exercises can even contribute to building skills for coping with stress.

So next time you are starting to feel overwhelmed, get active slugs!

CAPS STUDENT HERO: MELISSA NEWTON

 

Hello everyone! Thanks for checking out the CAPS blog today! We’re excited to introduce you to a wonderful returning Peer Educator! Melissa has been a fantastic addition to the Peer Education Program for the last two years. Her hard work, positive spirit, and vivacious personality wholeheartedly embodies the message that CAPS wishes to relay to students. Now let’s find out what Melissa likes to do in her free time!

What do you do regularly to relieve stress?

To relieve stress, I regularly take breaks and spend time with friends and roommates. I also do yoga to help reduce physical stress along with the emotional stress. I have found that laughing helps me more than almost anything, so taking the time to laugh (with friends and family, watching a comedy, or on Tumblr) is extremely important to me.

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

This year I am excited and passionate to be the treasurer of Psi Chi, which is UCSC’s Psychology Honor Society on campus. We foster students’ academic achievement, relationships with faculty, and develop a community of students passionate about psychology. Another passion of mine is soap making. Making soap from scratch is incredibly fun. I have perfected a recipe and I add colors, scents, and herbs to the soap to make it even more lively. I’m also obsessed with dinosaurs and plants.

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

I want my peers to know that CAPS is a genuinely welcoming space. They offer many services other than traditional, one-on-one therapy for anyone seeking more support, and above all, that seeking support is normal and okay and can be really helpful!

Melissa is a fourth year Intensive Psychology major, and she is affiliated with Cowell College.

Unity in the Aftermath of the Election

Welcome back everyone! I hope that you all had a wonderful break! As we struggle to start our sleepy Monday, I hope that some of these words will motivate you and bring you strength in more than one aspect of life.

UNITY

By Emma Burke

“In Union There is Strength” – Aesop

We live in a very confusing time. The world around us is often at odds; in uproar over some of the worst social justice issues of all time, every day. And now, we flip on the television to the news, and learn that our country, famously known for being “the land of opportunity” is being led by a man who wishes to drive our country with the sheer force of hatred and anger. As time passes, possibly our sadnes400-unity-is-strength-quotes, fear, and shock have transformed into our own anger now. And this is what I want to share with you today. This anger is valid, all pain is valid, and we each have our own unique ways of coping with pain. However, rather than allowing hatred, anger, and pain to divide us, to strip us of our power and silence us, we can use it to connect us. We can take this horrible pain and fear and weave an intricate web of stories, opinions, feelings, ideas, motivations, thoughts, words, voices, and hearts that allow us to connect; to make something horrible, unthinkable into something that unites us. Our country did not betray us, our country is confused and hurt, and the more we reach out, the more we connect, the more we will find our voice and our strength together.

Reach out to the people you love most and do the things you love most together. Allow yourself to feel sad, confused, or anything else that you feel. Allow yourself to cry. Allow yourself to recharge your own inner battery in whatever way you are most inclined to. Allow yourself to do something fun. Remember that you are still you and you are wonderful. Buy yourself a latte and a croissant and enjoy them. Go to the yoga class that your friend has been asking you to join. Paint, write, sing, collaborate, and surround yourself with people who challenge you to open your mind and always widen your capacities for love and understanding.

When we take care of ourselves we are giving ourselves the privilege to be a part of something bigger than just ourselves. And this is the time to come together, to reach out into the world with one united voice and say, ‘We are all human and we stand together, and we stand for nothing less than love, equality, and social justice for every beating heart in this country.’

PRACTICE GRATITUDE

Happy Thanksgiving to you all! Today is a day to reflect on all of the things that we are thankful for, and most often overlook in our day to day lives. Whether you’re thankful for your opportunity to get an education, your family and friends, or your dog, it is actually scientifically proven to help your mental health when you take the time to say thank you for those things that bring you joy. Research by UC gratitudeDavis Psychologist, Robert Emmons shows that simply taking time each day to reflect on things that you’re grateful for can “significantly increase well-being and life satisfaction” (Carpenter, Happify Daily). “People who regularly practice gratitude by taking time to notice and reflect upon the things they’re thankful for experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, and even have stronger immune systems”(Carpenter, Happify Daily). 

So it turns out that today is not just a wonderful excuse to get out of school and eat loads of delicious food, it’s also a day to take a step towards loving yourself and your life even more! Remember that your mental health is just as important as your physical health, and take a minute today to practice gratitude!

And while you’re at it, check out this awesome app that can help keep you on track to regularly practice gratitude! http://gratitude365app.com/

CAPS STUDENT HERO: CAMARA CHEA

Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to one extremely hard working and dedicated Peer Educator! Camara has been a part of the Peer Education program longer than any other student, and her bright smile and enthusiasm for her work continues to inspire the group more and more each year. So take a minute to read on and get to know Camara, and I’m sure you’ll be very happy that you did!

What do you do regularly to relieve stress?

When I’m feeling stressed, I like to identify what’s stressing me out; organize my schedule; list out the things I have to do; listen to music; take a small break to decompress; talk with a close friend or family member; and complete some of the tasks on my to-do list. In general, to help img_9759maintain my sense of general wellbeing, I also try to get enough sleep, eat healthy, and exercise (even though at times it can be difficult to achieve this balance amid classes and work!). It also helps me a lot to put things into perspective, practice gratitude, and remind myself that I can get through it. Stress is one of those things that never really goes away forever, so, for me, it’s all about learning to manage it and control it in a healthy, balanced way. I’m always going to have stress, but I can do what I can to minimize its negative effects and adjust my life accordingly.

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

Outside of school, I am really passionate about my Resident Advisor job, which actually takes up a lot of my time outside of my classes and Psych research labs. It is definitely worth it though, because being an RA adds a lot of meaning and awareness and to my life and it has really shaped my identity and helped me grow as a person. It’s a good feeling to know that you’re positively shaping your community and purposely helping make it into a better place. Other than that, my other interests and activities include spending time with my family and friends, going to concerts and events, staying active, going shopping and eating out, making arts and crafts, and doing what I can to hopefully get into a Counseling Psychology doctoral program in the future!

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

CAPS is a resource here for you! No one person is an island. If you are struggling and feeling like you are having a hard time managing things, it could really benefit you to talk to a professional counselor, like the ones here at CAPS. And it doesn’t make you crazy or insane–it’s completely normal to reach out. Realize that many of your peers also go through a similar process: you’re not alone. Plus, CAPS has a lot of different services and people available to help you out, with different mental health professionals, workshops, support groups, and more! Just know that it is always here for you if you feel like you need some extra help.

Camara is a fourth year student, majoring in Intensive Psychology and minoring in Sociology, and she is affiliated with Cowell College.

Before We Heal: In the Aftermath of the Election

In the aftermath of the election results, what many of us are feeling is far beyond any words that I can type on this screen. However, we are hoping that the words we share here will possibly offer you some comfort and solace. Most importantly, please take from this that your feelings are valid, and during this time, the best way to honor these feelings is to acknowledge them, and in turn, treat yourself kindly. Do what makes you happy with the people who make you happy. On that note, read on to hear some beautiful words of wisdom on the topic from another wonderful Peer Educator, Miriam!

BEFORE WE HEAL

By Miriam Medina

Before we heal; before we take a step forward; before we take action, it is important to ground ourselves. Grounding, as a practice, encompasses remembering, reflecting, and positioning ourselves in our roots, in our circumstances (on this campus and at home), in our ideologies and our perspectives. It involves consciously realizing who we are, what we represent, what our present is, and how we will move forward.diversity-4-1238629

In the midst of this post-election vibe on campus, students that belong to marginalized groups, and their allies, have taken the initiative to organize and voice our resistance against the racist, xenophobic, transphobic, and sexist ideologies for which our newly elected president stands for. Students that identify within these marginalized groups and their allies are supporting one another through various events: events geared towards healing, events geared towards protest, events geared towards unity and solidarity. Amidst this though, historically marginalized groups are being discriminated against and attacked through hate crimes and racial slurs, here on campus, in K-12 schools, and in our cities. With this said, realizing our reality, is a form of “grounding”, and can also be considered our first step towards progress.

It appears that everyone is on different levels of “realizing our reality”, some are immobilized fear while others are propelled to take the streets; some feel glued to their bedsheets without the motivation to go to classes while others need our classes and friends to distract us from the storm. With that said, all levels of coping are valid and necessary, in order to move forward. For those of us that are feeling vulnerable, scared, and disappointed, I encourage you to find empowerment. Find empowerment through music, through poetry, through past movements: the civil rights movement, the Chicano movement, Feminist movements, as well as movements representing Middle Eastern communities.  Personally, I find empowerment in rap music. “Sacar La Voz”, by Ana Tijoux, speaks of overcoming obstacles of poverty, fatigue, hopelessness and disempowerment by freeing ourselves from those oppressive ideologies that keep us chained down, taking deep breaths to release that negative energy, and using our voices to write and tell our own stories. “Keep Ya Head Up”, by 2pac, celebrates the beauty of women, and he questions motives around oppressing women. As well, the speaker in Lucille Clifton’s poem, “won’t you celebrate with me”, honors resilience in circumstances of adversity, as the speaker rejoices:

 

…come celebrate

With me that everyday

Something has tried to kill me

And has failed.

 

These are just examples in which we can find healing in artistic expression. I hope this helps ya’ll think through and cope with the rest of this quarter and year as well. Lastly, for those who have lingering feelings of anger or hatred, remember that these emotions are natural; however, they are only helpful to an extent. Try to channel these emotions with healthy practices—practices that are focused on collaborating, forming unity and solidarity with targeted communities and their allies.