OVERWHELMED AND EXHAUSTED?

Hey there Slugs! We’re coming into that sweet spot of the quarter where many of us have our second round of midterms right up to finals week, and this can be a very overwhelming and difficult time. It’s important to know your limits, to know when to push yourself, and when to take a break. So read on to hear Peer Educator, Melissa’s tips to prevent burning out!

 

OVERWHELMED AND EXHAUSTED?

Tips for Preventing Burnout

By Melissa Newton

If your current school experience is anything like mine right now, you are already a bit overwhelmed. The stress has hit me hard, and as hard as I try to find a peaceful balance to stay motivated and keep up with class work, midterms are already here and taking most of my energy with them. Not only that but there’s an added pressure of looming final exams and papers.school-2051711

As difficult as this is for me, I am taking all action I can to get through it. I won’t want to continue with school if I get “burnout” from academic stress. In times of stress, more than ever, I feel the need to focus on myself and on the things that keep me going. If I do not routinely and strategically focus on myself and actively try to manage stress, I reach burnout pretty quickly. I lose hours, or even days of time, that could really have helped me finish an assignment and I start to feel guilt or sadness about my academic career. When I stop using preventative strategies, spring quarter becomes nearly impossible to get through.

Avoiding this state of burnout takes some time, and some practice. However, I find many strategies unbelievably helpful to get me through school and keep me eager, interested, and happy as a student. I found some amazing and helpful tips from a video online that I try to always keep in mind. I’ve summarized my favorite tips from the video below (and I’ve also added a bit from my own experience):

  1. Take action not to take on too much in the way of classes (avoid taking 20+ units when possible) and other commitments (a job, volunteering, a social life, being in a play, being in multiple clubs, etc.). Try to take on only what you realistically know you can without feeling exhausted.
  2. Try eating well and sleeping enough to keep you going. If you feel stress in your body, try going to the massage chair on campus (Relaxation Station in CAPS)! Exercise is also helpful and energizing (but find a form of bodily movement you really enjoy!)
  3. De-clutter your workspace to ward off the extra stress and distractions when you do try to study or do assignments. Having excess notes, irrelevant reminders, email notifications, constant pings from your phone, an open Netflix tab, wrappers, and half-eaten food in my study space prevents me from doing ANYTHING to help me feel less stressed, or even slightly motivated to get work done. Staying organized with a task list or planner is also effective for me.
  4. Take breaks to do things you actually enjoy. For me, taking 2 hours to get sushi or going hiking with friends is a better break from schoolwork than going on Facebook or getting sucked into Tumblr.  
  5. Ask for help when you need it!! Recognize when schoolwork and daily life feels exhausting and difficult. Talk to professors, friends, family, counselors/therapists, or academic advisors when you start to feel really overwhelmed. You are never alone and there are always people who want to help and support you.

If you would like the see the whole video, I’d highly recommend watching it for anyone wanting to manage current stress or to prevent stress from getting more intense or overwhelming: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qd_mRapoPtg.  

I wish you the best of luck in managing your stress. We can get through this, Slugs!

 

SELF CARE THAT’S NOT COMMODIFIED

Self Care. What a broad, all-encompassing term. Most of us have heard it from friends and professionals, read it on the internet, and possibly even tried to incorporate it into our daily lives. And whether self care means putting on a face mask and sitting in a massage chair, or engaging in a relaxation breathing exercise, the most important thing is that you are actually caring for yourself. Peer Educator, Aditi tackles the issue of ever-growing commodified self care, and gives some of her own ideas about how to return to its roots and relax for free!

 

SELF CARE THAT’S NOT COMMODIFIED

By Aditi Sheth

As America ushers itself into a new era with a new Presidential administration, many activists and politically engaged people across the country are attempting to switch courses. An administration that will no doubt be deeply unreceptive and unresponsive to activist energy and deep opposition requires a new mental health, “self-care” framework from which to operate.

I’ve always found the concept of “self-care” puzzling. It feels like someone is trying to impose on you very specific ways to look after yourself, ameditation-338446nd some people might not have the luxuries to take long bubble baths and have time to set aside to watch The Bachelor, which are the kind of things often suggested in Buzzfeed listicles, demonstrating a commodified form of self-care. However, in this new political climate, many things in these listicles and also in my life suddenly feel extremely frivolous, but extremely necessary. Scrolling through your news feed, attempting to gather the amount of energy necessary to engage, resist the noise, and maintain sanity requires copious amounts of energy. Where does one get that energy from? And what sources feel correct?

I can’t answer that for you. I don’t think anyone can…which is the overarching problem with these proliferating listicles. Political oppression is nothing new, and many people have been experiencing it and resisting it, before this new administration. I can only offer a framework through which I think about it, and how to connect political opposition to self care.

Buzzfeed recently published a listicle called 16 Acts of Self Care to Get You Through 2017. Some of the suggested actions include turning off your phone, drinking warm drinks, getting a good night’s sleep, and of course, doing something that makes you feel “silky and pampered,” and example of the commodified sort of self care that results in scented face masks and goose down pillows being advertised as genuine political resistance.

However, these “silky, pampering,” things are all examples of things that we all agree feel good in the traditional sense, but are only really self care if you can see them as things that help you reaffirm your sense of self. Self care, in my mind, is all about remembering your sense of humanity. It is easy to say that face masks make you feel good, because they are inherently associated with relaxation. But beyond the face masks, we must remember what things we can do, or think, or even buy, that help us affirm that we are human beings, important and worthy of living. To me, this is where mental health self care is paramount.

Mantras, positive thoughts, and self love, are things that are free, and things that we all have the capacity to give ourselves in some way. We go over the many stress relieving benefits of these acts of self care in our Stress Less Presentation. Though not all of us are at the same level of neurotypicality, to me, mental health self care via self affirmation, unplugging, etc. are the most accessible types of self care, as their ultimate goal is not to sell you anything, but to affirm your sense of humanity. This is important not just in these unsettling times, but must be remembered all the time.

CAPS STUDENT HERO: ADITI SHETH

It has come time to post our final student hero for the 2016-2017 Academic year! Read on to get to know our final, fantastic Peer Educator, Aditi, and then you will have met our entire team! Aditi is a great finale because she is an essential part of our team with her work in creating 2 workshops on campus and her work as our Workshop Coordinator. Aditi’s tireless efforts are a huge part of what makes our group function and we can’t thank her enough for all that she does!

What do you do regularly to relieve stress?

When I get stressed I like to decompress. When I’m really stressed, my feelings and emotions tend to build to tDSC_0081he point where I have to create environments for myself that are less stimulating. The ways that I do that are unplugging, reading a good book or watching a good tv show. I recently learned of a new type of deep breathing exercise through the CAPS Stress Less presentation and started incorporating it into my routine. It works really well.

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

I’m passionate about a lot of things! I love children and I enjoy working with them on their academics and overall well being. I like keeping active and I enjoy such sports as tennis and baseball. I recently started kickboxing and it’s a lot of fun. I also like curling up with a good book and keeping my finger on the pulse of pop culture, watching TV and movies.

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

If I could tell my peers anything about CAPS, I would say that CAPS services are confidential, and genuinely there to help you, no matter what you think the size or the scope of the problem is. CAPS works on a day to day basis to help students deal with their individual stresses, but beyond this, they work hard reduce the stigma associated with seeking mental health services. They consider both the battle and the war. And that’s really important.

Aditi is a third year Intensive Psychology major, affiliated with Crown.

WHAT IT’S LIKE WITH GAD

Generalized Anxiety Disorder, also known as GAD is one of the most common anxiety disorders, affecting 6.8 million adults, or 3.1% of the U.S. population (mentalhealthmatters.com). Many people struggling with GAD live with symptoms such as persistent worrying over small or large things, the inability to relax, distress about making decisions, or the inability to concentrate, among many other things (mayoclinic.org). It is important to know that if you live with this diagnosis, or feel that you may be suffering from symptoms like these, you are not alone. Read on to hear Kyle’s personal story about living with GAD. Kyle’s story is an example of the reality of GAD’s daily struggles, but also an example of the courage and the strength of those who battle daily and continue to live happy lives.

 

WHAT IT’S LIKE WITH GAD

By Kyle Retzer

GAD: Generalized Anxiety Disorder. It is defined by the heightened stress due to even the most menial of tasks, but still is different for everybody. With it being midterm time for everyone, and being on quarter system, the fast pace of classes is enough to cause us all a good amount of anxiety. So let’s take a look at what it’s like trying to handle anxiety.

question-1301144For me, waking up late is enough to start my day off on the wrong foot. Waking up only to see I am going to be late for class is enough to give me an uncomfortable feeling in my chest and an increase in heart rate. This one always gets to me because it feels like something that can so easily be avoided, yet I am stuck having to freak out about being late to class. I’m probably going to have to sit on the floor now to not disrupt the class, and people are probably going to give me some awkward stares as I open the door and walk in. What if the professor notices and for some arbitrary, but still seemingly really important reason, holds that against me.

Alright, class is over and I’m back home. I then get a text asking about the homework for my next class, and then I realize it: I haven’t done the homework yet. My heart begins to race and I’m feeling uncomfortable again. There is only an hour before I have to leave to go to class and I was going to eat. How am I going to make food and have enough time for the homework? I begin to shake my foot as I feel the anxiety building. I make the fastest thing I can think of to eat and a random piece of fruit and then start working, trying to finish it so I have something to turn in. I end up leaving to class, late again, because I was trying to finish the homework, which gives me a little bit more to worry about.

Class starts and ends and I finally get home, all of my classes are over. I take a break and hang out, trying to have some of that anxiety disappear. We decide to order some delivery food. My friends want me to call. Again, my heart begins to race and my breaths get a little bit shallower, as I get more and more nervous. A simple phone call to order some food should be easy, right? So why am I freaking so much over it? I finally calm myself down enough to call and order, but it’s not over because I still will have to face the delivery person in a little bit.

It’s late, and I’m trying to study for midterms. I have been trying for a few hours now, but I don’t feel like I’ve gotten far. It really isn’t that late, but really does feel like it. I watch the clock tick, and with each passing beat my heart rate rises, breathing gets quicker,and panic is setting in. Sometimes the panic is too much for me to control, to hold back, and so I begin to hyperventilate. No matter how long these anxiety attacks last, they wear me out greatly, and studying for midterms is almost harder now.

But it’s ok, because I survived another day and so did you. We all have our own lives, our own experiences, our own anxieties. But at the end of the day, when you are sitting in front of your laptop doing your homework, remember that you are not alone in how you are feeling, there are others who understand, and don’t forget to take advantage of those friends and resources that can help.

CAPS STUDENT HERO: HARSIMRAN KAUR

Today I’d like to introduce you lucky slugs to a special Peer Educator, Harsimran! This is Harsimran’s first year with PEP and she’s already made her mark with her fantastic work in outreach for the Peer Education Program. We all benefit from her hard work and from her infectious smile!

What do you do regularly to relieve stresimg_1188s?

I tend to turn to nature whenever I feel overwhelmed or stressed. Whether it’s taking a walk, meditating outdoors, or simply bringing my homework outside, nature helps me relieve stress.

 

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

Outside of school, I dedicate my time to the Sikh Student Association at UCSC, DIY’s, painting, photography and baking.

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

I would want my peers to know that the CAPS crisis phone number can be reached at all times; including evenings, weekends and holidays.

 

Harsimran is a second year Cognitive Science and Sociology major affiliated with Rachel Carson College.

LOVE YOURSELF TODAY

Happy Valentine’s Day! Today can be a day filled with a lot of commercialized expectations that are often over-inflated to the point of disappointment. Furthermore, there is often extra pressure today to be in a relationship, or to be surrounded by valentines from an adoring fan club. Read on to hear about some alternative ways to view this holiday and find out how they may help you to be a happier person today and every day!

 

LOVE YOURSELF TODAY

By Emma Burke

So today is Valentine’s Day, and maybe you’re not in a relationship. Maybe your friends haven’t given you a million candy grams yet, and maybe you don’t have any plans for tonight. Or conversely, maybe you are in a relationship, but you’re not sure how you want to celebrate. Maybe you’re trying not to make a big deal about Valentine’s Day because you understand that it’s overly commercialized,  or that it has a track record of beinbeach-193786g disappointing, but maybe you still care about it, and wish that you could do something to celebrate the day. The number one thing to realize about Valentine’s Day is that no matter which one of these situations you relate to, you are completely entitled to your own feelings and expectations of Valentine’s Day. So rather than looking at Valentine’s Day as a day to either go all out on a fancy dinner with a significant other, decked out with balloons and giant stuffed bears, or alternately, sitting alone and sad in your room, let’s think about some other ways that we can celebrate the day.

  1. “Our first and last love is self love”- Christian Nestell Bovee. Whether you’re in a relationship or not today, it’s important to remember that today should be about loving yourself too! Do you not have any plans tonight? Maybe try spending the evening with yourself. Light some candles, pull out that face mask you’ve been wanting to try, and click on the relaxing Spotify play list you never get a chance to play and try meditating, taking a nap, calling your mom, getting up and dancing in your room, or anything else that you can possibly think of that will make you happy tonight!
  2. Do you have a significant other but often struggle to find the balance between high expectations of chocolates and roses and disappointment when that doesn’t happen? Try focusing on the meaning behind the chocolate hearts and flashy balloons today. Underneath all of the commercialized aspects, today is really about taking the time to stop and celebrate all kinds of love in our lives. So try putting down your wallet, and using your hands to make a simple little card for your loved one, or spend the evening making dinner together. Whatever you do, make sure that you’re focused on the love between you, and the roses and chocolate will be the last thing on your mind.
  3. “The greatest gift of life is friendship and I have received it.”- Hubert H. Humphrey. Maybe today you don’t find yourself in a relationship. Don’t let this give you a sour taste in your mouth. Instead, try looking at this as an opportunity to spend the night out with your friends! Answer the group text you’ve been ignoring, and get together with your friends. I guarantee you have a friend who would love to spend the evening with you, so don’t let the commercialized expectations of the day get you down.
  4. Have your friends not invited you to do anything yet? Maybe you’re not in a relationship, and you haven’t heard from your friends yet either. Well, you’re in luck, because you have the ability to invite them yourself! Pick up your phone and invite 1, 5, or 10 friends out to do whatever you feel like doing! The ball is in your court, so you get to make the night whatever you want it to be. Don’t wait to be invited somewhere when you know that you have friends who would love to spend time with you!

But most of all, remember to love yourself today! Whatever you decide to do, buy yourself a latte in the morning, or a special lunch in the afternoon, go for a walk on West Cliff, and be kind to yourself. Who knows, maybe it’ll turn into a habit. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Happy Valentine’s Day!

CAPS STUDENT HERO: EMMA BURKE

Happy Wednesday, Slugs! As your blog and social media coordinator, I’m happy to share a little bit about myself today. This is my second year with the Peer Education Program and I love working with other peers in order to improve access and decrease stigma around mental health services. I hope you’re all enjoying the blog and everything that we do!

What do you do regularly to relieve stress?

One of the things I like to do that helps me relieve stress is to make a “To Do” list. At the beginning of the week I put everything I need to do on a list and leave it on my desk so that I can check things off as I go. It’s a really satisfying feeling when I get to cross off a task or an assignment, and it helps me feel like I am in control and keeps me from getting too overwhelmed. I also take advantage of Google Calendar, and I schedule everything from my class schedule to advising appointments along with 10 minute reminders so that I’ll always feel like I know what’s coming. Finally, I also exercise at least 3 times a week. Going to the gym doesn’t work for me, so I found out about the group exercise classes through OPERS anog2_cW3vF3CvbyjwXmoMngxrkIUVXaL8XeUExJDN6-nYZNCKha4jAvMNaoQi6K5FFx58yAv8k6JvtL_DUIkHbeeCWnycaaA--NiUCYs2818qUUI90PI_lCtgbN-bSKpqQ6Udiqqed I love taking the yoga and kickboxing classes! They’re a great way to relieve stress while burning calories, and meeting new people.

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

In my free time you’ll always catch me with a cup of coffee in one hand and a planner in the other. I love being outside hiking, swimming, or at the beach! But when I’m inside, I really enjoy working with children on the spectrum as a Behavior Technician, helping out my fellow students by revising cover letters and resumes at the UCSC Career Center, and volunteering for my school as the CAPS Peer Education Social Media/Blog coordinator, and the Social Chair for Active Minds, a club committed to the destigmatization of mental health. I am really passionate about helping people understand the idea that mental health is just as important as physical health. I am so excited to be a Peer Educator because I want to spread the word that mental health is important and if you ever need help maintaining it, it is nothing to be ashamed of.

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

I want everyone to know that CAPS is here ready to welcome you with open arms. When your ankle swells up and you can’t walk, do you go see a doctor? Well, when you need someone to talk to, CAPS is also here. It’s as simple as that.

Emma Burke is a third year Psychology and Literature double major affiliated with Merrill.