By Doa Jamal, Francis College of Engineering Well-being Leader
The world is always throwing us curveballs. Change is inevitable in life. Being able to accept change and adapt accordingly is extremely important for our mental and emotional well-being. Adaptability is important in every aspect of both your personal and professional life.
The definition of adaptability, according to the APA Dictionary of Psychology, is 1. “the capacity to make appropriate responses to changed or changing situations”. or 2. “the ability to modify or adjust one’s behavior in meeting different circumstances or different people”.
Benefits of Adaptability
Your value in the workplace will increase
One major criteria for employment is the ability of an individual to adapt. Being adaptable makes you more marketable and responsible than other candidates.
Adaptability is a skill every leader must have
Most people have some sort of leadership role whether at work, in school, in other organizations they’re a part of, or within their family.
Leaders are always confronted with (usually sudden) challenges that require them to be decisive in making changes. So being adaptable is necessary.
Adaptable leaders earn the respect of others and motivate others to embrace change.
Adaptability creates more happiness and overall life satisfaction
Adaptability helps you be strong in a difficult situation. Once you assure yourself that you have all it takes to begin the change process within you, and you make that change, you will have higher self-esteem/self-efficacy and happiness for yourself.
Being more adaptable can help with anxiety, because you will not worry as much about what the day holds for you. You know that whatever happens, you will make it through the day.
Do’s and Don’ts for Being Adaptable
DO challenge your brain
DO more than just follow
DO reach out for help
DON’T be afraid of growth
DON’T be close-minded
DON’T let your ego get in the way
DON’T get stuck in your comfort zone
To wrap-up, here’s this helpful quote and reminder:
“Adaptability expands your capacity to handle change, no matter how serious it might be. Instead of throwing away your energy trying to change your circumstance, you will change yourself right from within, thus making you thrive in whatever situation you find yourself.”
By: Julia Yeadon, Fine Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences Well-Being Leader
Whether you are an incoming freshman being introduced to a new environment, or a senior returning for your fourth year on campus after a long summer break, the beginning of the Fall semester can be one of the most difficult times. Adjusting to a new schedule at the beginning of each semester can be one of the most challenging things to navigate as a student. Oftentimes, it can be easy to let the craziness consume you, so much so that you forget the importance of self-care.
It’s important to remember that your mental and physical health are a top priority during these overwhelming and stressful times. How are you expected to thrive in classes when you are not feeling your best? While being a college student comes with many responsibilities, you must remind yourself that you are a person first.
I personally experienced this challenge recently as I began my senior year. After being accepted into a bachelor’s to master’s program here at UMass Lowell, I started taking my first few graduate-level courses while completing my final two semesters of my bachelor’s program. It has been an overwhelming first couple of weeks to say the least. Adjusting to the intensity and time commitment of graduate classes has been very stressful, and I can admit that I had forgotten the importance of putting aside time to care for my mental and physical health.
For those who find themselves in a similar position, I have constructed a list of 7 tips that will contribute to keeping your mind and body both happy and healthy throughout this semester. This highlights a few of the many ways you can improve your well-being. Keep in mind, some of these suggestions may not interest you upon reading. However, trying something new may lead you to discovering a new habit that positively impacts your daily life.
Write it all down.
One of the most challenging aspects of being a college student is time management. Life pulls us in many directions. We have to balance being a student with maintaining friendships and relationships, family, extracurriculars, and work. With so many commitments, it can be difficult to remember when every assignment is due, when an exam is coming up, and when you have a family event to attend. To ease stress of deadlines and important dates, write it down. Hang a calendar in your room, use a digital calendar, a checklist, or a weekly calendar whiteboard. Managing your time is the most essential advice I can offer you, and it is the foundation for having the time to engage in the other tips that are listed below.
Let yourself rest. You need it.
I am sure you have heard this a million times, but it is true. We need energy in order to be fully present in all of our time commitments. No, this does not mean filling your body with caffeine from a 24-hour energy drink to get you through studying for an exam the next day. While this may not always be possible to fit into our crazy schedules, try your best to get at least eight hours of sleep each night. Lack of sleep leads to less productivity, which leads to procrastination, which then leads to more stress. In fact, sufficient sleep has been linked to higher levels of memory retention in several studies. So, pulling an all-nighter may not be the most beneficial way to pass that exam after all.
Make time to exercise.
Exercising is one of the most efficient ways to reduce high cortisol (stress) levels. When people hear the word “exercise,” their minds often go to the idea of lifting weights in a gym or running on a treadmill, but this may not be for everyone. Exercising comes in many different forms: going for walks, playing basketball at the Campus Recreation Center, joining an Intramural or Club Team, riding a bike, going hiking, dancing, or doing yoga. The list goes on and on. Keeping your body healthy physically is fundamental to keeping your mind healthy.
Make time to see friends.
It can be hard finding time to see friends during the week between classes, homework, studying, working, and attending to other responsibilities. Friends are another great source to relieving stress, increasing a sense of belonging and contributing to our happiness. Make it a tradition to meet up with friends at the dining hall for dinner, go to the library together to do homework, form an intramural team with a group of friends, or make some fun plans for the weekend to look forward to, such as going to a UMass Lowell hockey game or visiting Mill No. 5 in Lowell.
Take a break from social media.
You hear your phone buzz from across your desk as you study and naturally find yourself reaching for it. It’s a Tik Tok notification. One thing leads to another, and you find two hours have passed scrolling through videos. We have all done it. Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Tik Tok, Twitter – it all consumes us. Logging off for a couple of days will not only conserve a large portion of our time and allow us to focus but can also give us the opportunity to enjoy interacting with others in person. In addition, social media can contribute to mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression. Try logging off for a couple of days and see how it improves your well-being.
Try meditation and journaling.
Mental health challenges affect college-aged people more than any other age population. Managing your mental health and finding what methods work best for managing and preventing these challenges from impacting your daily life is critical. I have found short meditation videos on YouTube to be exceptionally effective in reducing stress and anxiety (Daily Calm videos are great!). You can even find a meditation playlist on Spotify to help yourself relax as you fall asleep. Another healthy way to maintain mental health is to journal. Write about your day, good and bad, or something you’ve been struggling with and how you plan to overcome it. Write one thing that you are proud of yourself for accomplishing or goals you hope to achieve in the future. If meditation or journaling does not appeal to you, there are countless other ways you can care for your mental health
Do something every day that makes you happy.
Happiness is something we all need in our lives. Watch your favorite television show or a movie you’ve been wanting to see, go outside (if the New England weather allows), bake cookies, facetime your friend from home, join that club you’ve been interested in. Life is too short not to do what makes you happy. Managing your priorities to make time for doing things that make you happy will increase your motivation, reduce stress, and contribute to living a happy and healthy life.
I hope that at least one of these tips has caught your eye. If you find yourself struggling to attempt any of these suggestions, reach out to a Well-Being Leader on campus at www.uml.edu/wellbeing/well-being-leaders. We are eager to help students find ways to stay healthy along these eight dimensions of wellness: emotional, financial, spiritual, occupational, physical, environmental, social, and intellectual health. We are here for you!
If there is one thing you take from reading this, remember that you are a person before you are a student. Your mental and physical health take priority over anything else. Staying healthy throughout this semester will not only allow you to apply yourself to your fullest potential but will help you lead a healthy life.
Give up the people pleasing and learn how to be more fearless to access your best life.
By: Fahad Alden, Fine Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences Well-being Leader
You’ve probably heard the saying, ‘Nice guys finish last.’
Now, there’s nothing wrong with being kind and empathetic in the right situations, but if you’ve ever been taken advantage of as a result of your niceness, you’ll know that niceness can quickly become people-pleasing.
And do you know what long-term people-pleasing can do? It can get in the way of achieving the career, the relationship, the lifestyle, and the future that you want.
Let me ask you, how do you typically react when a friend or partner betrays you? Let’s say they flake on plans or make hurtful comments about your appearance,. What do you do when this happens? If you’re a people-pleaser, you might often feel the urge to be a bigger person and resort to silence instead of openly addressing the issue.
In this case, because you failed to act fearlessly, you didn’t improve your life. And you’re not alone in this behavior – 63% of American men say they go to great lengths to avoid conflict. But with 50% of people believing they’ve been overlooked for a promotion as a result of being ‘too nice,’ it’s not always the best thing.
So, what’s the solution?
The good news is that there are ways you can become more assertive and fearless and unlock the life you’ve always dreamt of. There’s no easy fix, though. You’ll have to adjust your behavior daily to unlock your true potential.
That means your body language and tone of voice dictate the rest of how you communicate with others. After all, they do say actions speak louder than words for a reason.
If your body language suggests you’re timid, anxious, or weak, you can kiss goodbye to that dream promotion or a date with the girl you like. Strong body language suggests inner strength, and that’s exactly what you want to present.
Your stance in the first place to start.
For a dominant stance, hold your back straight and your head up high, with your shoulders and hips facing forward and your chest uncovered. Your arms should hang comfortably by your sides – having your hands clasped in front of you is a defensive posture.
Talking with your hands is a great way to show openness and confidence and build rapport with others. Keep your palms open while you speak and move them around to emphasize important parts of speech.
Getting the right handshake is another must. A strong dominant handshake is offered with the palm turned downward, so the other party has to turn theirs upward to meet it. The handshake should be firm (without being forceful) and give enough personal space so that the move doesn’t come across as too aggressive.
Have a Fearless Mindset
You’ll never come across as authentically fearless if you don’t feel it inside. You have to believe that you’re worth the treatment you deserve. Tell yourself that you deserve the job, the car, the partner, the family, and the career that you want.
The more you believe it, the more others will start to.
Learn When to Say ‘No’
Not wanting to let others down is understandable. But when you fail to say ‘no’ to anything for fear of conflict, you may start to become a pushover – and others will take advantage of that.
Remember, if you’re being asked to do something that would require you to give up too much of yourself, your time, or your money, set a boundary and say no. You’ll gain people’s respect, and you won’t be walked all over anymore.
Question The System
When we accept things for the way we are without pushback, we’re never working to our own agenda – only other people’s. If somebody around you is in a position of authority, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they always know the best way to do things.
The coolest guys out there are prepared to stand up for what they believe in, even if it goes against the status quo.
In the workplace, for example, don’t always assume that because something has been done for a while means it is the right way of handling situations. If you have ideas that you think are better, voice them while being respectful to your colleagues and manager. Standing up for your ideas will get you noticed by all the right people.
Forget Being Likable
Being likable doesn’t have to involve giving others everything they want at your expense. Instead, work on becoming an attractive, confident person who others want to be around for your company, not because they want somebody to take advantage of. If you or people around you are just fake nice, that can oftentimes be manipulation. Right from the start, it hurts the value of genuine compliments or simple chats. You need to be able to push one another and create strong, valuable bonds. Because if one friend loses, everyone loses, but if one friend wins, everyone wins!
On the other hand, if someone’s being rude to you, focus on channeling calm assertive energy. This means be nice but with a firm and reassuring tone. Use phrases like “What is the main issue?” Or “Do we have a problem?”. Address the situation, and don’t let it pile on. At least you will stay true to your own being. Better to be hated for who you are than loved for someone you are not.
Ask for Things
Do you know why that guy in your office recently had a pay rise, and you didn’t?
Because he asked for it.
Half the time, we miss out on opportunities just because we fail to ask for what we want.
You know that cool businessman you follow on Instagram and wish you could be just like? Why not drop him a message and ask if you can work as his intern or interview him for your podcast?
That girl you think is cute on your commute to work – why not ask her if she wants to grab a coffee?
The fearless version of you recognizes that the worst that can happen is that people say no. And in the grand scheme of things, that’s really not so scary.
A Fearless Approach – The Key to Unlocking Your Best Life
The truth is, all those things you’ve ever dreamed of are within your reach, and they don’t require you to change who you are to get them. All you need to change is your mindset.
By becoming a more fearless and assertive person, you can keep all your interests and the personality traits that make you, you, but let go of the things that are holding you back.
The time to start is now.
Interested in finding out more about the path to your dream life? Read more of my blogs or come meet with me to discover how!
The Mind/Body Fair was a collaborative event hosted at University Crossing on reading day. We had reiki, nutrition consultants, smoothie bowls, essential oils, and more. The fair engaged students to interact with other peers and work their minds and bodies through various self-care activities. Students got to make their own roll-on essential oils from four blends, make Christmas tree ornaments with elements of nature with the Office of Sustainability, write affirmations on balls for the Serenity Center, and got to play with therapy dogs! Over 60 students attended and one student left the event saying “this improved my mental health.” We can’t wait to host this event again!
By: Fahad Alden, Fine Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences Well-being Leader
Have you ever reached a point where you feel like – crap, I just need to change something or get out of here? Or maybe you are not sure which is the right way forward because you have started feeling as if you are constantly losing yourself. Or you are burning to step out of your monotony and have a life-changing experience for a week, two, or more.
Sound familiar? But yeah, you might be thinking, how about work? Doing this may not pay the bills unless you can take paid leave! However, it will do something much greater – it will save your sanity.
Trust me, before you say you can’t afford to spend time due to your hectic schedules, just understand how important it is. Let me give you an example, and brace yourselves – it is one of my life’s most essential and awakening moments.
Storytime – One evening, I visited the library after work and used the bathroom. I realized my inner feelings were flooding out as I looked into the mirror. Indeed, I didn’t plan to face myself that evening, but it just happened. I noticed how my inner emotions were reflecting towards the outside. Acne started covering my face, the bags under my eyes became more evident, and my T-shirt seemed too tight. You know those moments when you feel horrible (even though that’s not the case, and the mirror just shows you that? . But when I looked into the mirror, I also kind of felt like that wasn’t me. Like I was inhabiting someone else’s body – super shocking moment. What’s happening to me? Because, like every human being, deep inside, I just wanted to be happy.. Instead, I was slipping away.
Then it dawned on me, I needed to find my happiness! So, I started recollecting my thoughts about what brought me joy – movies, fashion, travel, and museums. And the common thing that binds them all together was it was all centered in New York.
And this is how I began my journey. I feel lucky enough because I found a solution to calm my stress and anxiety – I found myself before I was about to lose myself. The quest for oneself is probably one of the only topics less popular than the quest for the truth. Books and movies have all exploited this concept and introduced one of the best ways to find ourselves. Of course, as you’ve gathered from my Captain Obvious hint, it is through travel. This might seem a simple task, except for the concept of self. But believe me, you never know if your assumption of yourself is true until you truly find yourself. As confusing as this sounds, it is the most beautiful and gratifying experience.
So what were my takeaways from the trip? How did I find myself?
Learning to trust ME boosts confidence
Travel cuts you from the routine of everyday life. You can plan a trip however you want and just be with yourself – it prepares you for life. Often I get a lot of unsolicited advice from everyone around me, and in that moment, I felt like – excuse me, who the hell asked you? I’m sure that you do, too; super annoying right? And because of this, I often felt pulled by what people said. I needed to start listening to my own voice more, and during one of these memorable trips to New York, I realized how to trust myself. Every decision was on my own terms. It was me who decided where I wanted to eat, where I wanted to go, and who I should talk to.
One of the instances I will never forget is when I was at a gas station. An older man entered a convenience store, grabbed a sweatshirt, and made a run for it. He was confronted, and eventually, the cashiers beat him up. I watched all this happening near the scarf section; I was wearing a turtleneck and an Iraqi necklace. I was trying to blend in, but I am sure I didn’t. It even escalated to the point when the older man started screaming at cashiers that he was going to kill them. The entire situation was frightening, but it taught me to listen to trust my instincts more than ever. Surprisingly, such scary, this-is-the-real-stuff-and-not-a-movie experiences change your perspective and boosts your confidence.
The Value of Connection
While safety was always my top priority while traveling, it made me realize the world was, after all, not a bad palace to be in. When people realized I was alone, their perspective toward me changed.. Initially, I felt terrified at conversing with a stranger, but believe it or not, it wasn’t as dangerous as I thought. Forget about all of that negativity you see on the news, movies, and the vibes you get from your frenemies. There are more good people on this planet than you realize!
For example, one such instance is when I was waiting for a bus for more than 30 minutes. I was a bit sleep deprived and hungry. But I met a woman around my age and just checked with her if I was at the right place. Then the Brazilian woman next to me started chatting with me. As more time passed, we all started discussing. The younger one was named Palak, and the Brazilian woman was Priscilla. As more time passed, I called customer service and was told that the bus driver won’t come in as he was unwell. Then eventually, I rechanged my ticket. I also helped Priscilia as she was struggling to make phone calls due to language barrier issues.
We got smoothies from Mcdonalds nearby and waited for some more time. Then we all connected and laughed with one another. Our conversation continued all on the bus and for the next four hours on the bus.
Imagine laughing with complete strangers and having the best time! It was a light and beautiful moment. It taught me there is always an element of beauty when we connect. Often we get so fixated on our lives that we never attempt moving out of our comfort zones (yes, I’m talking about those toxic people that keep flying in and out of your life) and making new friends. This was a super random conversation with random people, and I will definitely treasure it forever.
I have noticed this is one of the issues in smaller towns too. Everyone would want to hang out with people they already know and avoid branching out. So when I traveled alone to a big city, I connected confidently with strangers and people around me. Getting out of your comfort zone means you are probably about to try something new, something exciting, or about to be challenged in a way that will develop and strengthen you.
I think for a lot of us our careers require us to be around other people all day. I think sometimes on trips we get bogged down by talking to everyone around us- we lose sight of our surroundings. For me, I strayed away from even taking a great deal of pictures and just fully soaked everything in. I think the best memory comes to my mind is when I was in central park where I began dancing like there was no care in the world. I started channeling my Inner Charlie Puth “how long has this been going” music video. I was walking on benches and rocks all throughout the park. I was fully in the moment.
I would say embrace growth, dive deep into uncertainty, and even see fear as a positive thing.
We are often guilty of masking our emotions and burying our heads in the sand. So sometimes, there are things we don’t want to admit to ourselves or situations we are too scared to work through. In this case, traveling gave me time to get to know every corner of myself. You get to look beyond yourself – one second, you live in pure happiness; the next, you are frustrated, just to be incredibly happier after that again. When I traveled, I admitted things that I had been covering up and denying for a long time. I also noticed a change in my look; I started feeling bold, and more confident than ever!
Trust me, the moment you face everything you are and everything you feel, you gain the ability to become the best version of yourself.
I hope my experience will be an eye-opener for you and that you will come out exploring yourself before it gets too late. For more inspiration, follow me on Spotify @fahaddurdenalden, and look out for the season!
From the young age of 8 until now, I have battled to overcome my hardest internal struggle of depression. After many years and therapy sessions, I can now feel like things have somewhat improved. However, I do find my depression often looming back to me in the same way as waves in the ocean often come out of nowhere and with great power. I sometimes find it hard to predict and difficult to stop these sensations before they emerge, but I am proud of how far I’ve come in this journey.
So, today, I decided to open my heart and soul and share my hardest failure with you- failing the MCAS. I hope that my experience will inspire you to move from the failures you’ve faced so that you become a stronger, resilient individual.
It feels inauthentic to me if I were to use my voice to only share stories of success – those in which I held positions and triumphed through. My journey wasn’t smooth. Instead, my life has been filled with plenty of downs, failures, and shortcomings. So, there’s really no better way to begin my story than by sharing one from the very beginning.
I was at a young professionals’ event a couple years ago, and I was trying to mingle with others. Even now, I can still feel the discomfort of just staying there, completely frozen, not being able to utter a single word. All the others spoke about their reasons for choosing the colleges they attended and the many extra activities they participated in. Some were talking about being chess club presidents, while others were boasting about their success as valedictorian.
Even though I am elected official and involved in student government , I never felt I belonged in those circles. . Then they began discussing their MCAS scores. They started talking about whether or not the MCAS was necessary and began comparing their scores. They turned to me, and asked what I got. To sayI was already not fitting in was understatement. I felt nervous sharing that I actually failed the MCAS. Out of nowhere, my mind began to flash past memories, and I was transported back to the day I found out I failed .
Overwhelmed with anxiety , I barely gathered enough strength to excuse myself and lock myself in the bathroom to cry. I thought to myself, do I even belong out there? I am nowhere as intelligent or sophisticated as them.I eventually collected myself by remembering what I learned from that experience and joined back in.
So, you must be wondering: how did I overcome this negative experience and turn it around?
I was often a victim of the typical school bullies – those I am sure many of you encountered as well. Being also a victim of physical abuse, I often used dissociation as an escape strategy. Let me paint a simple picture if you wonder how my dissociations worked: I created a world in my head where I was in the mountains, surrounded by a community of loving people and animals. It got me away from my current reality.
This all came with a cost, and as I got older, I struggled to take control of it, oftentimes trying to force myself to come back to reality and finish my schoolwork .With my learning disability on top of the dissociations, powering through was extremely challenging throughout school. Trying to control it at times often felt like i was aMatador taking hold of bull
Fast forward to the Math MCAS, what I thought was the biggest failure of my life. As I began the exam, the voice that had been quietly whispering to me all these years was now screaming loud inside my head. I struggled to focus. I felt panic slowly start to take over me, and I when I received the results, I couldn’t help but come face to face with my biggest fear: Failure.
From that point on, my healing journey began, and I slowly uncovered my own path to overcoming failure.
Step 1: Healing
I’ve learned that the very first step to changing your mindset is allowing yourself to heal. In order to do that, you need to let yourself feel every emotion – just as I did.
Although I was quite young then, I allowed myself to feel everything because I knew I had to in order to move on. Whether that emotion was anger, sadness or desperation, I allowed myself to drown in all of it.
I started writing in a journal and made sure that I put every feeling I felt down in words. I can assure you that once you start labelling your thoughts and emotions, no matter how devastating they are, you will be able to move past them. Hiding them won’t help – it will just push them down, and make it harder for you to overcome them.
I also recommended sharing your feelings with a close friend or circle of people. Sharing your concerns is better than keeping them concealed, as it’s the only way to experience revival.
Step 2: Self-compassion
This means that you need to be kind to yourself. Remember that we’re all human-not some kind of machine that isn’t supposed to make mistakes. Maybe you talk these things through with a friend. Or maybe you try writing letters to yourself regarding the failure you faced and the emotions that go along with it.Make sure that you write these to yourself as though you are writing to a friend.Think of how you would console your friend and what would you say to uplift them. This allows you to see the failure from a caring and nurturing perspective.
When I make mistakes, I often think back to the quote that helps me pick myself up : “If you trip, does it mean that you cannot walk?” Ask yourself the same question next time you come across some hardship in your life, and let the answer inspire you to pick yourself up and move forward.
Step 3: Learning
I get that it’s always easy to put the blame on others. I used to be filled with deep jealousy of the other kids whose parents could afford to send them to tutoring .
My parents weren’t really wealthy. In fact, they barely had money to make ends meet. My dad for the longest time had to work three jobs just so we could live in Bedford. Life unfortunately is unfair, and becoming bitter makes you unable to enjoy the privileges that you do have.
I decided to learn from this and changed the way I looked at school and life in general. I signed up for courses naturally, setting aside those in which I knew I would struggle. I also began researching and working with my therapist to work on tools to help combat my issues. You are never able to decide what happens to you, but you have the responsibility to take measures to help yourself, not just for yourself but for others around you as well.
Step 4: Acceptance
If you want to grow into a more resilient person, then you need to accept yourself as you are. People often fall into the trap of comparing themselves to others, wishing their lives looked more like theirs.. And this is probably the biggest mistake you can make. I used to belittle myself, feeling like I was not even close to the capacities of my friends who were successful students and entrepreneurs. But as I got older, I began to notice and accept my strengths, letting them guide my way through life. These are the things that make me authentic – for which I pride myself on today.
Although I’ll probably never be able to play chess, do calculus, be sophisticated enough to cut a steak correctly,or identify cashmere, that is fine. My strengths come out in storytelling and my ability to connect with people.
I strongly believe in using darker experiences of bullying, abuse and failure and translating them into good. When I have taken my own experiences of abuse, bullying, or self loathing and turned them into a script, podcast episode or writing piece, I felt an element of release-A sense of being reborn and free .
I challenge you to accept your experiences and share them. Whether they are in tangible forms such as writing or using it to extend empathy to someone else.
I now know that the words written in this blog are the things that make me authentic..
Remember, failure is inevitable. What matters is how you look at it – as a setback or as an opportunity for improvement.
Writing this story of how to overcome failure wasn’t easy. Being an immigrant, I was taught to keep things to myself and be weary of what I tell others. But I decided to go for it- to help high school and college students like you learn that hardships are fleeting.
So, learn from my experience and push yourself to become a better version of who you are today.
If this spoke to you, take some time to read through the rest of our blog – you might discover another story that speaks to you.
By: Fajr Zahid, Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences Well-being Leader
It can be very difficult to watch a loved one, whether it be a family member, close friend, or romantic partner, go through a tough time in their life. Whether they are struggling with their mental health, physical health, or both, it is important to be able to recognize the warning signs and help the person work towards improving their health and well-being.
In comparison to physical illness, which usually has distinct, visible symptoms and changes in the body, mental illness is often harder to recognize and treat. It also holds a greater stigma around it, which can discourage those who are affected from finding and receiving help. Although every individual demonstrates their struggles in a different way, there are specific signs that may indicate if someone in your life is experiencing mental illness and needs help. Some of these signs include:
Extreme mood changes (highs and lows)
Excessive feelings of worry or fear
Low energy and tiredness
Changes in sleep pattern/difficulty sleeping
Withdrawal from loved ones and engaging in isolating behaviors
Inability to cope with stress or daily hassles
Changes in eating habits
Misusing or abusing substances such as alcohol, marijuana, or pills
Excessively angry, violent, or hostile behavior
Suicidal thoughts and/or actions
If you suspect that your loved one is struggling with their mental health and well-being, or if their mental illness seems to be getting worse, understand that there are many ways in which you can offer them assistance and resources to help them better cope with these struggles.
Try to educate yourself on the hardships that the person you are concerned about is experiencing. If they have shared with you their past struggles with mental illness, it can help to educate yourself on the specific disorder(s) they are dealing with and act according to what you have learned. Do not be afraid to start a conversation with them and address the concerns you have about their wellness. Although the idea of doing this can be intimidating, and you may be worried about how they will react to it, understand that you are doing it out of a loving and caring place. When speaking to them, make sure to be patient, understanding, non-judgmental, and a good listener. Also, try to encourage them to meet with a professional. This could be a counselor, therapist, psychiatrist, or their primary care physician – whichever they are most comfortable with. Experts such as these can provide resources for the person you are concerned about, and assist in creating a plan to help them overcome their mental struggles.
While it can be really saddening and challenging to watch someone you love and care for go through a mentally tough time, remember that there are many ways in which they can be helped. Try to remain positive and hopeful during difficult times such as these, and be sure to remind your loved one that their presence is valuable. Also, while it is very important to be there for someone when they are struggling, do not forget to also look out for your own health and well-being in the midst of trying to help another person improve theirs.
By: Alejandra Malaga Walters, Francis College of Engineering Well-being Leader
The relationship between parents and a child is among the most significant in a person’s life. It affects the way you view people and relationships. The parental relationship is one of the earliest connections a child has, and it definitely sets the bar for every relationship thereafter. Some people think we are born with specific genes identifying our personality, but let’s not forget that different environmental factors also have an impact on personal development. Parenting is probably the most fundamental one because it shapes the child’s temperament and character. There are many ways to explain your relationship with your parents, but we’ll describe the two more common ones.
The more attentive and expressive your parents are, the more open & sociable you might be in the future. It’s clear that one of the most important things you need from your parents is love. When you are loved by your parents in childhood, you know what love is and how it can be shown. In this case, you won’t be afraid to show your love to other people who will come into your life over time. Parent-child communication influences how open you are in future relationships. There is a golden rule: better parent-child communication means fewer psychological and behavioral problems for the child in adulthood.
The more neglectful your parents are, the more attention you will seek & demand in adulthood. If you are lacking sufficient attention from one or both of your parents at an early age, you may often find yourself struggling for a romantic interest’s attention and often have trouble in your love life. Some psychologists claim that inattentive and emotionally dramatic parents tend to raise children with lower self-esteem, children who need more attention and feel more alienated, hostile, or even anti-social. In other words, children who were feeling neglected can very often grow up to be needy adults.
The relationship you had with your parents growing up may have had an impact on the way you see and treat others in adulthood. It can be helpful to identify what kind of relationship you had with your parents and look for patterns of how that is influencing your adult life. You can’t change the past, but you can work to heal your inner child and build a better future. You can build the best version of yourself.
By: Angel Molekunnel, Manning School of Business Well-being Leader
Summer is an excellent time to prioritize your well-being and focus on self-care.
Here are 4 ways to practice self-care over the summer:
Make the most of the nice weather by spending time outside. Take a stroll, a hike, a bike ride, or a swim. Physical activity on a regular basis can help avoid chronic illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. It can also aid in the maintenance of a healthy weight, the strengthening of muscles and bones, and the improvement of general physical fitness. Summer offers several options for outdoor activities such as swimming, hiking, bicycling, and sports. Participating in these activities can enhance physical exercise while also providing mental and emotional advantages. Here are some suggestions for exercising self-care throughout the summer. To keep hydrated in the heat, drink plenty of water and consume meals high in water content, such as fruits and vegetables.
To avoid sunburn and skin damage, use sunscreen, hats, and protective clothes. Wearing sunscreen throughout the summer is essential for protecting your skin from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Overexposure to UV radiation can result in sunburn, accelerated aging, and an increased risk of skin cancer. Sunscreen works by absorbing or deflecting UV radiation from the sun, preventing them from accessing the skin.
Take pauses and give yourself time to rest and recharge whether you’re working or studying throughout the summer. To alleviate stress and promote mental health, try meditation, yoga, or other mindfulness techniques. Practicing meditation throughout the summer can offer several health and wellness advantages. Summer may be a stressful and anxious season, and meditation might help you handle it. Regular meditation practice has been demonstrated to lessen cortisol levels, which is a stress hormone. In the summer, long days and high temperatures might make it difficult to obtain a decent night’s sleep. However, studies have shown that meditation can assist improve sleep quality and reduce insomnia.
Spending time with friends and family, as well as joining a social group or club, is vital for mental health. Socializing can help you feel better and lessen stress and anxiety. Time spent with friends and family may create a sense of belonging and support, which is especially crucial during difficult times. Summer is a season for discovery and adventure, and connecting with others can provide fresh opportunity to do new activities. Whether it’s attempting a new sport, visiting a new location, or learning a new skill, connecting with people may enhance these experiences.
Take a trip or arrange a staycation if feasible to get away from your routine and discover new locations or activities. Remember that self-care is taking care of your physical, emotional, and mental health, so prioritize what works best for you and have a wonderful summer!
Citations- ● Santi, J. (2022, April 29). Make this the summer of you: How to upgrade your self-care routine for Summer. The Everygirl. Retrieved April 17, 2023, from https://theeverygirl.com/summer-self-care-routine/ ● Edick, E. (2022, October 4). 7 ways to practice self-care during summer break. Active Minds. Retrieved April 17, 2023, from https://www.activeminds.org/blog/7-ways-to-practice-self-care-during-summer-break/ ● Fishel, S. (2022, October 1). Prioritizing your mental health with Summer Self-care. Learning Technology Center. Retrieved April 17, 2023, from https://www.ltcillinois.org/self-care-summer/ ● SoundMind Wellness. (2021, June 18). 5 tips for practicing summer self-care. SoundMind Wellness. Retrieved April 17, 2023, from https://www.soundmindwellness.com/post/5-tips-for-practicing-summer-self-care
By: Doa Jamal, Francis College of Engineering Well-being Leader
Summer is supposed to be about fun right? For a lot of us, that’s not entirely true. Many of us feel the need to be productive during the summer. We view summer as the time to be able to get new experiences without worrying about classes and the additional stresses that come with the academic year. However, when summer starts to crawl near, the summer anxiety starts to hit. What am I doing this summer? How can I get the most out of it? I have so much I need to do, how can I do it all?
Summer anxiety often stems from a change in routine and a new lack of structure. There is also the pressure to have fun. When people think they are not having enough fun in the summer or are constantly comparing themselves to others, it can lead to depression. Summer anxiety is also a form of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Experts suggest that this is due to the increased sunlight throwing off our circadian rhythm, which often results in individuals sleeping less. Additionally, dealing with higher temperatures, humidity, sweating, etc affects people’s mental mindset, sometimes making people more irritable and negative.
Here are some tips on how to deal with Summer Anxiety:
Have a plan beforehand.
I know we may not want to think about it, but it is definitely better to have a plan beforehand rather than start planning late or go with the flow. When summer hits and you have no idea what you’re doing, you’re likely to be more anxious. Pre-planning your summer will help to reduce anxiety.
Take action steps to prepare for your summer experience(s).
If you’re planning on having an internship or summer job, start applying during the spring. If you’re planning on shadowing a Doctor, reach out to their clinic beforehand. If you’re planning on taking a trip, book the flight earlier for cheaper tickets and plan your trip. If you’re planning on taking a summer course, make sure you enroll early before the class fills up.
Try not to stress about having fun.
There is societal pressure, pushed forward by social media, to have a “gram-worthy” summer fun experience. People post on social media photos of being on yachts, being at the beach, etc. While it is not necessarily bad to post on social media, it is also not necessary for you to do so to have the same type of experience. There are countless experiences that you can do that you will find enjoyable. It does not have to be large. It may just be spending some time with family or friends every once in a while. Movie marathon anyone?
Avoid the heat but still make sure to enjoy the nice weather
Be sure to avoid the heat and humidity, especially if you’re more sensitive to higher temperatures. But be sure to go outside every now and then to get some fresh air. The weather tends to be nicer in the early morning or in the evening. Some people enjoy taking walks at night in the summer. There is much research (see sources 1 and 2) that shows that engaging with nature helps with emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being.
Don’t be afraid to get help!
This can include speaking to a friend about your anxiety. Just talking to someone often helps a lot. You can always come talk to me or other Well-Being leaders during our office hours (see link below). If your anxiety is more severe or you would rather speak to a professional, you can reach out to your therapist or explore the options that UML offers. Lastly, you may consider speaking with your doctor or a psychiatrist about medication to treat anxiety and/or depression.