RESILIENCE 101

We all face challenges both big and small on a fairly consistent basis. How can we adjust our mindsets in order to better face these obstacles and increase our own resiliency? Read on to learn some tips about how you can work on becoming more resilient!

Resilience 101

by Madison Wright

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines resilience as “an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.” The term seems simple enough when described in those terms; however, resilience is far more complex than words can ever manage to define. According to the American Psychological Association, resilience is not just an ability that you do or do not have. Resilience is the product of every individual’s actions, behaviors and thoughts; therefore, resilience is a part of everyone and can be cultivated in anyone.

It sounds like a sweet deal, having no problem adjusting to adversity, but it’s not like a person can be completely unaffected by hard times. The key to resilience is how these events are interpreted and having a support system in place to be able to experience a difficult event and still be affected by it, but be able to cope with it in a healthy manner. So how do you develop resilience?

According to the American Psychological Association, there are ten ways you can develop your own resilience:

  1. Make connections
  2. Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems
  3. Accept that change is a part of living
  4. Move toward your goals
  5. Take decisive actions
  6. Look for opportunities for self-discovery
  7. Nurture a positive view of yourself
  8. Keep things in perspective
  9. Maintain a hopeful outlook
  10. Take care of yourself

Ten ways might seem like a lot, but everyone is different so it is best to just pick out what you think would work for you or even pick one out if you think it’s something you could work on. You might not even realize that you already do some of these things in your day to day life, so another important step is giving yourself credit for the work you already do for yourself!

If you think you will have trouble getting started, here’s some first steps to these tips. If you want to make connections, join a club or student organization. Is there any hobby you’ve been wanting to pick up? Odds are, there’s a club for it and you could make friends or even find a mentor to support you. If you want to move towards your goals, the first step is making them. Draft down a few goals and revisit them once a month to see where you are in terms of achieving them. If you want to nurture a positive view of you yourself, talk to yourself like you’d talk to a loved one. You wouldn’t want someone speaking critical of someone you love, so be there for yourself and be kind with your own criticism. Then, take care of yourself! This can be anything you want it to be. If you need the day off, give yourself the day off. If you feel like laying in bed to just watch Netflix, then do just that. Everyone deserves time to themselves to just do what you want to do for a change. So take care of yourself and build the resilience that’s in you!

 

Source cited: http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/road-resilience.aspx

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LIVING WITH LOSS: THE GRIEVING STUDENT

Losing a loved one is an indescribable experience which feels different for each individual person. Below Peer Educator, Sareil shares her personal experiences with loss, the pain she continues to cope with, and how she was able to find a community within group counseling at CAPS. For all of us who deal with grief, please know that while your individual experiences are yours alone, you are not alone. CAPS offers grief counseling and grief and loss groups. If you’re in need, stop by CAPS today, or call in at (831) 459-2628.

Living with Loss: The Grieving Student

by Sareil Brookins

*Phone rings*

“hey…update?”

“Sis, she’s gone…”

*wails in disbelief*

“No… no. Please… no”

*hangs up*

– November 30th 2015 at approximately 10:22 pm

I remember this night so vividly. It’s as if it happened just last night. Some days it hits me in the morning, nights, or 25/8. Death. What is it? Why does it keep knocking at my door, asking for my acceptance? These are questions that will most likely go unanswered. However, what I do know is… living with loss as a student at a University is such a struggle, a pain, a heartache. This is not meant to devalue any person who is not a student at a University, or a person of college age not enrolled in any higher education, or any person in general. This is solely written from my perspective as a full-time student at a University who faced death in past years, but none as close or personal as this.

When my younger cousin died, it was my first year of college, happy as a clam, enjoying the college life as I’ve been advised to by family and friends. I won’t go into detail with how, when, and why, but what I will go into detail is what it is like to live with loss on top of being a college student. I honestly can say it is one of the worst possible physical, mental, emotional and spiritual pains someone can go through. I did not know how I was going to continue doing school (going to class, meetings, eating, etc,) anymore. It was as if my life stopped but the world around me kept going. I felt lost, hopeless, and hurt among many other things.

As a first generation student, older sister, mentor, role model, and leader, I felt the obligation to stay on top of my work and handle this all on my own. But every day I came across the “I wish __insert name__ was dead”, or the “I would rather die than do ____”, or even the “I don’t know how you do it… if I were you I would be doing XYZ.” These subtle yet impactful comments constantly being in my head drove me into a very dark and unempathetic place. I no longer wanted to talk to people around me. People saw my outgoing personality take a total left turn. I felt so alone in all of this sadness and anger and denial. Anyways, in the midst of my sadness and grief, I was referred to CAPS groups. Of course I was standoffish at first, I figured I had been going through this alone for so long I could continue, but once I found out about the “living with loss” grief group at CAPS, I knew I had to at least try it out.

Alas! I found people who could heavily identify with those annoying comments, the random waves of anger, sadness, denial, etc. Being in that grief group literally shifted my entire perspective. I could cry in front of people who just understood exactly why I was crying without having to explain myself. It was a beautiful feeling, but also bittersweet. As a current third year now I definitely give credit to that very specific grief group with the very specific people involved at that time for my healing process and give them the credit in terms of helping me be where I am in my grief process today. I definitely still hurt, because no, time may not always help nor does it make you forget anything. I still wake up being reminded about my cousin’s death.

I guess the entire point of this was to say, getting the help you need, whether it’s at CAPS, at home, in your house/apartment/dorm, a friend, stranger, guardians, etc. it is important that you get it. You have to learn to accept you are struggling and ask for help or go get it yourself. Had I not admitted to needing help and giving into trying something such as the grief group, who knows where I would be today. Being a grieving student sucks and living with loss sucks, but it’s doable and it takes time. So, if a leave of absence is needed? Take it. If you need accommodations from professors because of how impactful the death has been? Request it. If you need a support group, find it. I’m grateful for the people I have in my life who just know when it’s one of those days, and I hope you find that group or person too.

You can find the CAPS calendar here. It is updated with new workshops and groups at the beginning of every quarter, so be sure to check it out to see if any topics might be helpful for you!

WHAT ROLE DOES EMOTION SERVE IN MENTAL HEALTH?

There is no denying that emotional health is a big part of overall mental health. However, the two terms are not necessarily interchangeable, as popular belief may lead you to think. Read more below about the role that emotion actually serves in mental health, and learn about how you can understand your own mental health and well-being!

What Role Does Emotion Serve in Mental Health?

by Madison Wright

 

When speaking of mental wellness, things like self-care and doing what make you happy are often brought up. But happy is an emotion. What role does emotion serve in mental health? It may seem like mental health is all about not being sad or experiencing negative emotions, but emotions are just one aspect of psychological well being.  Not all people that appear happy are mentally well, and certainly not every person that seems unhappy is not mentally well.

So what is the difference between mental health and emotional health? Well mental health refers to cognitive functioning, like attention, memory and comprehension (McDiriad, 2013). This refers more to the actual brain and if it is able to conduct cognitive functions. There are many factors that can influence this, excessive external pressures, like a lot of academic stress, can impair cognitive functioning and lead to things like test anxiety. Physical trauma can also play a part in this, like being involved in a car accident with a head injury can lead to memory impairments like amnesia.

Emotional health on the other hand is a more internal concept, the ability to appropriately express your emotions. (McDiriad, 2013) Emotions are usually just things we feel that we often don’t ever think about or try to regulate. We certainly aren’t taught lessons growing up about different emotions and how to manage them, but maybe we should be. Everyone has their own emotional range, which can also be explained by the term emotional granularity. Emotional granularity just refers to how many different emotions an individual can experience and their ability to differentiate among those emotions (Barrett, 2017). For example, someone that always describes themselves as sad in all negative contexts would have low emotional granularity. Someone that can differentiate between when they are “under the weather,” sad and distraught would have a high emotional granularity. The greater understanding of your emotions you have, the easier it is to manage these feelings. It is hard to manage emotions when we do not understand exactly how we are feeling ourselves.

It is often poor mental and emotional health working hand in hand in problems like depression and anxiety, fearful or angry reactions, high levels of stress and excessive worrying (McDiarmid, 2013). This makes sense considering these things are often referenced with emotions in the media, with depression being pictured with sadness and anxiety pictured with fear and worry. However, in the case of disorders, they are more than just extreme emotions, but a product of many internal and external factors. Of the many factors affecting mental wellness, emotions do play a large part and it is highly beneficial to expand one’s range of emotions to help regulate them. So practice self-care today and self-reflect on your own emotions!

 

Barrett, L. F. (2017). How emotions are made: the secret life of the brain. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

McDiarmid, R. (2013). “Difference between emotional and mental health.” Health

BEING ASSERTIVE WITHOUT GUILT

Being Assertive Without Guilt

by Emma Burke

I often find myself struggling with how to assert my own opinions, ideas, beliefs, and needs without feeling bossy, rude, or as if I am oversharing. For me, this often stems from my desire to make people happy and to have people like me. These are natural desires that many of us have, however when this need begins interfering with our own self advocacy, it can become unhealthy.

A clinical Psychology professor at UCLA, Gary Emery states that “We all want people to think we’re nice, but millions of people carry it too far. Every moment of their day is spent being nice — and the damage it does them is enormous!” (positive articles.com) Experts such as Emery have often attributed the overwhelming need to be ‘too nice’ as a possibly gateway to harmful frustration, depression, anxiety, and anger.

So if we know that foregoing assertiveness and making our own needs secondary, in order to be more likable can lead to harm, what steps can we take to be more assertive in our daily lives? Below are some small steps that I have begun incorporating in my life in small ways:

  1. Trusting Myself: It all begins by building a platform of trust for yourself, which you can fall back on in situations where you are nervous or unsure. Oftentimes, in the moment I will second guess myself and wonder if I am being too mean, too harsh, or letting someone down. This is when I really need to trust myself, and remember that if I feel a reason to say no, it is most likely valid.
  2. Identify my Needs and Wants Ahead of Time: Whether you’re moving in with new housemates, starting a new job, or pursuing a new relationship, it can be very helpful to have a conversation about what you need and want. If you are able to do this right off the bat, it can help you avoid the development of unrealistic expectations. Most of my guilt usually comes from saying no and letting people down, however by letting people know about what I can/can’t do ahead of time, and what I want, I can avoid the tension of trying to correct people later on. Furthermore, if you’re experiencing problems in an ongoing relationship or situation, you can always sit down and have a conversation. Setting aside time to talk about this and trying to set things straight moving forward will be helpful as well.
  3. Think About how I Would Feel if Things Were Reversed: It’s often helpful to think about how you would feel if you were the one being told no. How much would that really upset you? Because chances are you are treating them with more consideration than you treat yourself. When I’m feeling particularly nervous about standing up for myself or telling someone no, it really helps to ask myself, “If your friend was feeling like this, wouldn’t you rather they tell you?” and the answer is almost always “yes”.

If you feel like your lack of assertiveness may be an issue for you in your life, try incorporating some of these things into your daily life. However, it’s also a good idea to think about any underlying issues that may be a part of your lack of assertiveness. If you feel like it’s a bigger problem or causing bigger problems in your life, CAPS is always here to help with many resources such as 1:1 counseling, groups, workshops, and more. Check out all of our resources here.

COPING IN ACTIVISM

What happens when you make a conscious decision to put yourself in a difficult and uncomfortable situation in order to help fight against injustice? You most likely know that this will be a difficult experience for you and that you will come across people who upset you, and situations that possibly devastate you. However, it is almost impossible to do good in this world without experiencing these negative things. But that doesn’t mean that you should cast all of your care for yourself aside. Below, Peer Educator, Jorge shares his ideas about how you can cope with the difficult aspects of being an activist.

Coping in Activism

by Jorge Roque

 

In today’s day and age there are many forms of activists and different kinds of activism they choose to dive into. In the last couple of years there has been an increase of movements to combat the injustices seen throughout the world. From Black Lives Matter combating racial injustice and police brutality to the survivors of the Majority Stoneman Douglas High School shooting fighting for strict gun laws. In all, a similarity between all these forms of activism is that many dive into their movements and fight until they experience burnout. While working in activism movements it’s important to take care of your health in order to continue the work you do.

It is important to develop safe coping skills that help you continue the work you do in and around your community. The following are going to be some safe coping skills you can practice to try to ensure your safety while fighting the injustices of the world.

  1. Leave a Bad Scene: When things go wrong, get out. When things begin to fall apart or escalate out of control, it is better to leave than to get caught in the rubble of the aftermath.
  2. Cry- Being an activist can be frustrating and overwhelming when you feel that change is taking a lifetime. Crying can help release the tension that builds up.
  3. Choose Self- Respect: Choose whatever will make you like yourself tomorrow. This may sometime be taking the higher road when facing backlash from other organizations.
  4. Set a boundary: Say “no” to protect yourself. Whether it be declining to an event or a situation that puts your safety at risk or if it is setting boundaries with certain people or groups.
  5. Remember the Cause: Remember the reason(s) that you are doing the things you do. This can help in motivating you to keep pushing through the tough times.
  6. Pace Yourself: If overwhelmed, go slower, if stagnant, go faster. If you need to take time off then do so. If you feel that nothing is being done, take initiative.
  7. Ask for help: Reach out to someone safe. Create that support system that will help you in and out of your work. No one changes the world all on their own.

These are only a few safe coping skills that you or someone else you know can take part in while being activist. Now these are not the only things you can do to ensure your safety while out fighting social injustices. These are only a few to help you not only remain physically safe but also mentally.

SOCIAL MEDIA AND OUR WELL-BEING

Welcome back to Spring Quarter! While we tend to live our lives very immersed within the world of social media, it is also a commonly believed fact that social media is not good for our overall mental health and well-being. Social media is known for creating unrealistic expectations, breeding competition, and spreading the onslaught of often tragic news that we are currently experiencing. However, UC Berkeley’s Dr. Galen Panger argues that social media may actually help people relax. Find out why below!

Social Media and our Well-being

by Jonathon Tsou

Social media makes us more relaxed, says UC Berkeley’s Galen Panger, Ph.D.

Often times as students, we look at Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and we become stressed over the posts. From the horrible school shootings to the constant attacks on undocumented individuals, to the political climate. However, Galen Panger, a Ph.D. candidate from UC Berkeley says that social media actually makes us more relaxed.

Emotions often help fuel social media movements such as the Black Lives Matter campaign and the #MeToo campaign. Panger notes that social media is also where people go to spread awareness when there is a death of a celebrity or in the wake of another mass shooting. Panger reports that in his findings, people tend to use Facebook and Twitter as a way to wind down and relax. He uses the theory of “emotional contagion”, which states that status updates and social media users often create the same emotions for those browsing updates. By using this theory, he believes that because people use it to wind down, there must be something within social media that uses emotional contagion to make users relaxed.

Although his research may question many current research that says social media has negative effects on the well-being of users, he points out that it is crucial that people continue to post positive and mindful information on social media. He feels that “anything we can do to reduce the resentment floating around right now would be a good thing”.

To read more about Panger and his works, visit the UC Newsroom.