DISCONNECTING AND RECHARGING

Most of us are fairly aware that the constant barrage of messages, notifications, and alerts we feel buzzing in our pockets can be stress inducing. And attempting to keep up with a constant stream of news and social media alerts can be a contributing factor to anyone’s anxiety. So how can we unplug on a small scale to help combat some of these negative effects? Read more to find out!

Disconnecting and Recharging

by Jorge Roque

There are many different types of stressors in our lives, from our academics all the way to our friends and family. Many of these stressors can sometimes get the best of us, resulting in us being overwhelmed by the easiest tasks. One of the largest stressors that students face now has to do with social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. A good way to reduce stress could be disconnecting from many of these sites. Now I don’t mean completely deleting your accounts, unless you’d prefer that, but it can be as simple as putting your phone on do not disturb or turning off the notifications for these certain sites. Here are some benefits of disconnecting from social networking sites, as well as some other things to recharge as you disconnect.

Some of the benefits of disconnecting from social media could ultimately help maintain a good mental state of mind. For starters, disconnecting allows you to have time for yourself, it gives you the opportunity to think and clear your mind. Disconnecting can also help you in removing unhealthy feelings such as jealousy, envy, and loneliness. Separating yourself from social networking sites could also help reduce feelings of missing out when looking at posts. Another thing that disconnecting helps you do is look at life and experience it in person rather than through a screen. You may begin to notice things that you’ve never had the opportunity to notice.

Now that we’ve managed to disconnect from social networking sites, we can see how much time we may actually have on our hands. Now that we have all this free time we can start to do new and exciting things. You can begin to explore your surroundings. An amazing thing about being in a place such as Santa Cruz is that we are surrounded by countless scenic views, ranging from hikes through the forest or getting that good view of the ocean, we have it all. Another thing you could also do is dive into school work, and hopefully complete it sooner now that you’re not distracted by social networking sites. There are still other things you could do such as trying out new things or simply continuing hobbies you have.

Now that you’ve managed to disconnect and recharge, you can still return to these sites and social media platforms. Just remember it’s healthy to disconnect sometimes in order for you to be able to recharge yourself.

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YOU AND YOUR RELATIONSHIPS

You have your own unique and vibrant personality, and certain people in your life can bring out your best qualities, while others may unfortunately not connect with your personality in the most positive ways. It is important for us to search for people who make us feel good. But how can we go about doing this? Read on to learn more!

You and Your Relationships

by Priyanka Kulkarni

Personality is a dynamic concept of humanity that we tend to overlook because we are naturally conditioned by the social world to judge people based on the attributes we see of them, the connection we have with them in simple conversation, the attitude we think they have, and other things that we compile about them without even realizing. We have various personalities elaborated for specific social situations. We are different in front of our families than we are with our friends and we are different with adults and professionals than how we are with our peers. We might even be different among friend groups and with individual friends. There is so much abstractness in personality that is remarkable how our brains unconsciously practice different self perceptions and perceptions towards others without thinking.

There are some situations in which we do not like ourselves in and we tend to always replay that experience over and over again in our heads, analyzing and frustrating ourselves about it. Some people are toxic to our lives and it is best to leave them, but it can also be hard when we are used to them. We have all lost friends or relationships when we shouldn’t have or lost friends and relationships when it was best for us. It is hard to let people go sometimes, when they have become part of your everyday life. I had a friend that didn’t make me feel good about myself when I was around her. I didn’t like the person I was when around her. It wasn’t her fault, it was just the nature of our personalities and how they were always conflicting. At the beginning of our relationship, we became really close and after so long it was hard to let go of that friendship since she knew so much about me. It was very refreshing however, when I did cut off that relationship, when I decided that I didn’t want to dislike myself around someone. Everyone deserves to live a happy and healthy lifestyle and having people in your life that disrupt how you self care and love, can be a detriment to your mental health.

In every social situation we are in, we should check-in with ourselves and see if we feel good in this situation, if we feel comfortable and enjoy being who we are in this situation. You shouldn’t have to alter your personality in a way that you don’t like or do not want to be, you should always be the personality that you feel comfortable with and like to be. People are abstract and dynamic and it is impossible to like everyone in the world or have everyone like you and so it is important to understand where you come from and where others come from and build relationships based on understanding and acceptance.

IT’S REIL: MY IDENTITIES AND MENTAL HEALTH

Each of us has our own unique set of intersecting identities that make us who we are! Read below to get to know Peer Educator, Reil, and learn about her identities and how they intersect with her mental health!

It’s Reil:

My Identities & Mental Health

by Sareil Brookins

Who is Sareil? I’ve got many identities (racial, sexual, gender, able, etc.). But the most salient are my Black [African descended], Mexican, bisexual, cis-gender, woman, able-bodied and anxious-filled (hope that makes sense), identities.

                                                  

I am still working on loving myself to my fullest potential of course, nobody is perfect. We have our flaws, but learning to love myself for me, is something constant in my life. Nevertheless, each identity has its own impacts on me, as well as intersecting impacts on me. For example, yes, I am Black and Mexican. However! The way in which I am phenotypically presenting, I am perceived as primarily, or solely Black. Thus, this has a lot to do with how I can and do move throughout the world—from the personal interactions with other people, to the ways in which I am represented in media.

Now, in regards to my mental health…

My identities intersect in various ways. I won’t outline those all of course. But I will highlight some I find to be at the forefront of my mind when thinking about this. Soooo, as mentioned before, I have many identities and they have everything to do with how I do certain things, say certain things, present myself, etc. I think one of the larger roles my identities have to do with my mental health is the fact that because of some of the identities I hold, I deal with microaggressions revolving around sexism, misogyny, homophobia, and many other –isms and –phobias.

When these sorts of things are occurring on a daily basis it is so very exhausting because I am bottling in my reactions, feelings, thoughts, etc. It might all begin as a small fog over my head, and then the next minute I have a huge dark cloud over me. The interactions replay in my head, and I use my energy thinking about it all. It becomes quite draining when my energy goes towards these interactions. A few examples of these interactions are: 1) being told to calm down and relax when I am in no way shape or form upset or mad when explaining something [angry Black woman] 2) being told I am “so articulate” and it sounding like a surprise [Being a Black student of color at a PWI is not too common, so for me to be smart? Holy moly wow] 3) Hearing comments about bisexual folks and the LGBTQ+ community in general [homophobia and transphobia are a no in my life, stay away from me]. Bottling up things is not good and that’s based on personal experience because I get headaches, I get anxious, and overthink and think and think and think. It truly is not worth it, but I can’t help myself in remembering such interactions. I like to think of microaggressions as mosquito bites (credit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hDd3bzA7450). Imagine getting so many you can’t stop itching. This sort of thinking takes a toll on my mental health. Subsequently, in my CAPS appointments, I am usually spending time on discussing my interactions and how it affected me throughout the week. One thing I can say it helps with is my… resilience!

I love the fact that I can bounce back at any time. Sometimes the negative interactions don’t impact me immediately—at times I have to let it go and maybe the realization of it comes later. Regardless, I get past it, there is tomorrow, I talk with my Dad, mentors, counselor and friends about this stuff all the time because they get it. Finding people who just get it and will listen to me without judgment is one of the best freaking feelings ever. My identities have made seeking mental health help both easy and hard. I don’t see myself talking with people who don’t get it for an hour at CAPS because I don’t want sympathy or apologies; I want someone who gets it. This is where representation comes in. I need to see myself represented in spaces I go to for help. At UCSC we actually do have that and I am sooo grateful we do! But I can say that seeking help has just been hard in general because mental health in both the Black and Mexican community is not really a thing that is praised… it’s sort of treated as a religious healing treatment type of thing (at least in my experience). I’ve been told to pray on it many times…but sometimes we need to talk with folks, get a better understanding of ourselves, recognize our identities and make sure the help we do get works. Self-care is key.

THE PRESSURE TO BE OK

Coping is a daily process that comes with ups and downs and a lot of work. And therefore, self compassion and being patient and understanding with yourself during this process is one of the most important aspects of coping. Read on to hear about Peer Educator Aditi’s experience of finding compassion for herself.

The Pressure to be ok

by Aditi Sheth

In my lifelong struggle with anxiety, I’ve let the unceasing nature of my thoughts take over entire days and nights. Often, you’d find me pacing the floors of my home, picking apart the day, what I did right (how that wasn’t real), what I did wrong (how that was somehow extremely important to my life ahead), and the different ways in which my anxiety would morph itself into new ways to make me feel inadequate. It was like I was constantly trying to outrun a feeling and catch it at the same time. All of my attempts to find a root cause were unsuccessful, so I shifted into learning about strategies to relieve the anxiety to keep me from spending time examining why it might be there in the first place.

Learning and employing these strategies for coping, and the pressure of this, ultimately led me down the path of more anxiety. I would often ask myself “why can’t I just relax when I watch Netflix? There must be something wrong with me.” Or, “why are all the positive mantras that I’ve told myself immediately met with a rebuttal?” I was faced with the question, is anxiety reduction just another thing that I’m bad at?

This thought process can feel like a trap at times. After all, coping strategies work best with people who can truly commit to them. But this brings up an important point, that the use of coping strategies should be coupled with self-compassion. It’s natural to feel as though coping strategies are hard, and are another thing to pile on top of your already existing list of anxieties. However, self-compassion, altering that voice in your head that skews negative, and continuing to remind yourself that you’re human and trying, are important ways to reaffirm your humanity. Here is a link to some self-compassion activities, by Dr. Kristin Neff. You can practice self-compassion hand-in-hand with your coping mechanisms to make sure that you’re not too hard on yourself in your own personal healing process. Link: http://self-compassion.org/category/exercises/