How to Travel Alone

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.

  • Embracing Solitude 

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!

How to move from failure – a piece of mind from someone who has walked this path

By: Fahad Alden, College of Fine Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences Well-being Leader

Link to the picture:

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.

Supporting Your Loved Ones During Mentally Difficult Times

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:

  1. Extreme mood changes (highs and lows)
  2. Excessive feelings of worry or fear
  3. Low energy and tiredness
  4. Changes in sleep pattern/difficulty sleeping
  5. Withdrawal from loved ones and engaging in isolating behaviors
  6. Inability to cope with stress or daily hassles
  7. Changes in eating habits
  8. Misusing or abusing substances such as alcohol, marijuana, or pills
  9. Excessively angry, violent, or hostile behavior
  10. 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.

UMass Lowell’s Office of Student Life & Well-being provides a variety of resources for students who are struggling with their health and well-being. If the person you are worried about is a student at UMass Lowell, here are some mental health resources that could be beneficial to them:
● Counseling Services:
● Well-being Leaders:
● Mental Health Crisis Hotline: 855-890-2879

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.


How the way your parents treated you as a child impacts your life

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. 

Source: How Your Relationship With Your Parents Affects Your Life | Wealthy Gorilla

How to practice Self-Care over the Summer

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!

● 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
● Edick, E. (2022, October 4). 7 ways to practice self-care during summer break. Active Minds.
Retrieved April 17, 2023, from
● Fishel, S. (2022, October 1). Prioritizing your mental health with Summer Self-care. Learning
Technology Center. Retrieved April 17, 2023, from
● SoundMind Wellness. (2021, June 18). 5 tips for practicing summer self-care. SoundMind Wellness.
Retrieved April 17, 2023, from

Dealing with Summer Anxiety

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: 

  1. 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.

  1. 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. 

  1. 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?

  1. 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. 

  1. 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. 

To talk to a Well-Being Leader:

If you would like to speak to an UML counselor: 

Check out Togerall, a FREE mental health peer support community: 

Have a ~good~ summer (on your own terms!) and see you in the fall! 



Managing Anger

By: Alejandra Malaga Walters, Francis College of Engineering Well-being Leader

Do you ever feel so angry that you can’t control yourself? Anger is a completely normal human emotion. But when it gets out of control and turns destructive, it can lead to problems—personal problems, problems at work, personal relationships, and overall quality of life.

Anger can be caused by both external and internal events. You could be angry at a specific person (such as a coworker or supervisor) or event (traffic, a canceled flight), or your anger could be caused by worrying about your personal problems.

People handle their anger in different ways, depending on the intensity of angry feelings. If you find yourself acting in ways that seem out of control and frightening, you might need help finding better ways to deal with this emotion.

There are three most common processes to deal with angry feelings: expressing, suppressing, and calming. Expressing your angry feelings in an assertive—not aggressive—way is the healthiest way to express anger. To do this, you have to learn how to make clear what you need, and how to tell people around you without hurting them. Being assertive means being respectful of yourself and others.

A great way to express your feelings in an assertive way is by changing the way you think. Angry people tend to curse, swear, or speak in terms that reflect their inner thoughts. When you’re angry, your thinking can get very exaggerated and overly dramatic. Try replacing these thoughts with more rational ones, and then, if you can, try to look for a solution to fix the problem. For instance, instead of telling yourself, “Oh, it’s awful, it’s terrible, everything’s ruined,” tell yourself, “It’s frustrating, and it’s understandable that I’m upset about it, but it’s not the end of the world and getting angry is not going to fix it anyhow.” Remind yourself that getting angry is not going to fix anything, that it won’t make you feel better, and it may actually make you feel worse.

Anger can be suppressed too. This happens when you hold in your anger, stop thinking about it, and focus on something positive. The aim is to inhibit or suppress your anger and convert it into more constructive behavior. However, in order to use this technique, you need to release your anger by expressing it in an assertive way when you are calmer because if you don’t express it, your anger can turn inward on you. 

Finally, you can calm down inside. This means not just controlling your outward behavior, but also controlling your internal responses. Simple relaxation tools, such as deep breathing and relaxing imagery, can help calm down angry feelings. Also, take steps to lower your heart rate, calm yourself down, and let the feelings subside. Sometimes it’s better to accept what happened and not pay any more attention to it. People who can remain calm inside don’t let small things ruin their day and their mood.

Feeling anger is completely normal, but it’s important to find healthy ways to express it. Knowing how to express anger in appropriate ways can help you manage your emotions and reach your goals.

Source: Control anger before it controls you (

Stress & How to Effectively Manage It

By: Fajr Zahid, Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences Well-being Leader

Stress, which is defined as a state of mental strain due to adverse or demanding
circumstances, is an important health topic that affects the daily lives of many people.
We all experience feelings of stress at some point in our lives, so it is crucial to learn
how to manage symptoms of stress before they become detrimental to our health and
well-being. At this point in the academic year, it is understandable that a lot of us are
beginning to feel high levels of stress or anxiety due to the workload that is beginning
to pile up as we approach the end of Spring semester. In addition to school and
academics, stress can also be brought on by a magnitude of other factors, such as
social relationships (family, friends, romantic partner, etc.), insufficient income, and
other day-to-day responsibilities that one must carry out. It is important to remember,
however, that there are a variety of activities, behaviors, and attitudes that can be
engaged in in order to help alleviate symptoms of stress before they become more
difficult to manage. Below I have listed some important facts, reminders and strategies
in order to help combat stress and bring a sense of peace during this demanding
period of time for many.

Stress may look different for each individual, but there are certain symptoms
associated with this state of health. Some physical symptoms of stress include
exhaustion or trouble sleeping, chest pain, high blood pressure, digestive problems,
and a weakened immune system. Emotional symptoms can include feelings of anxiety
or irritability, depression, panic attacks, and sadness. Stress levels may vary
depending on the severity of the circumstances one is experiencing, as well as one’s
ability to manage symptoms of stress.
Oftentimes, people engage in unhealthy coping mechanisms in order to overcome
symptoms of stress, whether it be intentional or unintentional. Examples of this include
turning to substances such as alcohol or marijuana in order to suppress one’s feelings,
compulsive behavior (such as overspending), or overeating/developing an eating
disorder as a method of stress relief. Although in the moment it may feel as though you
are reducing your stress by engaging in behaviors such as these, it is very important to
remember their negative impacts on physical and emotional health. In fact, they may
ultimately worsen feelings of stress and further overwhelm your mind and your body.
There are many stress-relieving activities that can be practiced to help combat stress
symptoms and calm yourself physically and mentally during an overwhelming period of
time. Some of these activities include:

● Engaging in physical activity/exercise (this increases the amount of endorphins
in your body, boosting feelings of well-being!)
● Eating a healthy and sufficient diet – aim to incorporate fruits and vegetables into
your meals when you can
● Meditating – this is a great way to relax yourself and take your mind off of things
that are bringing you stress
● Socializing – surround yourself with uplifting people who will support you during
stressful times; social contact can be a great stress reliever and it helps to
distract yourself from worrying thoughts
● Getting enough sleep – this has a great impact on mood, levels of energy, and
ability to concentrate, all of which are very important factors in combating
stress, especially if it is related to academics
● Listening to music – this can help to relieve feelings of stress by reducing tension
in your muscles and decreasing stress hormones
● Seeking counseling/therapy – if you find yourself really struggling to cope with
stress that you are experiencing, and if other self-care methods are not proving
to be helpful, consider seeking a counselor or therapist; they can help you
identify the source(s) of stress in your life and provide different techniques or
therapeutic methods in order to bring about a sense of balance and stress-relief
within your life

UMass Lowell offers free counseling services in order to help students
who are struggling with issues such as stress. Visit this website in order
to learn more about the UML Counseling Center, and to book an

For those of you who find yourselves feeling stressed or overwhelmed, remember that
you are more than capable of overcoming these feelings. I hope you found this blog
post helpful, and that you learned some useful stress-relieving strategies that can be
implemented into your life to improve your overall health and well-being! 🙂

Spring Cleaning

By: Casey Tiernan, Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences Well-being Leader

Are you ready for the warm spring weather? Me too! One thing I love about the upcoming Spring season is doing a clean out to start fresh. Spring cleaning is important and can positively impact your well-being!

Spring cleaning can help reduce stress, increase productivity, and lead to better focus. Cluttered areas tend to spike stress levels which I can definitely say I’ve dealt with. When my room is messy, I feel overwhelmed and push off my tasks. It also puts me in an agitated, depressed mood. According to an article, “the process of sorting through items, reorganizing, and getting rid of excess items can be mentally refreshing and liberating” (Akers). I feel so refreshed after going through all my clothes because I don’t wear half of them and they just pile in my closet making me feel very stressed every morning. Clutter has significant effects on your ability to focus and be productive. When you are less distracted by chaos surrounding your area, you can free up mental space that can allow for greater concentration on tasks. A tidy, fresh smelling environment can naturally boost endorphins in the brain and improve energy levels (Berzin). I have seen improvements in my productivity once I cleaned up my room where I tend to do most of my schoolwork.

You can also do a spring cleaning of your mind. For me, this looks like a break from social media and spending time with myself and my well-being. I like to do self care such as my skin care, reading, and taking walks in the newly Spring weather. This can look different for everyone but it is important to ‘clean your mind’ of any winter blues.

A clean environment also leads to a number of health benefits as it can strengthen your immune system and help avoid illnesses. Nobody wants to be sick when the warm weather comes! Clean homes can help you breathe better by preventing respiratory issues and supporting a healthy immune system. My nose is prone to get stuffy often from dust, so I make sure to do a deep spring-cleaning wiping down every area in my room followed by vacuuming the floor. “Dust, mold, mildew, pet fur, etc. can trigger people who are prone to allergies” (Akers). Another way I clean my area is by washing all my sheets and bedding because I love sleeping on fresh sheets. It feels amazing when you put on fresh, warm sheets that smell good, it’s rejuvenating and can promote a good night’s sleep.

Spring cleaning has the power to motivate us to reset or try out a healthier lifestyle. Studies have shown there is a correlation between keeping a clean environment and being active and choosing healthier food options (Akers). When the warm weather comes, I love to open my windows to take in some fresh air, which then leads me to want to go outside and walk. Taking a brisk walk outside is great for your physical health and allows you to be active. Exercise lowers the risk for development of many chronic diseases. Cleaning your home just by 30 minutes of vacuuming can burn up to 111 calories for men and 94 for women (Berzin). Being active and eating right help reduce the risk of injury as well. A clean environment can help prevent injuries such as tripping over cluttered spaces as well as preventing a fire hazard.

I have started my countdown for Spring because I am ready to declutter my space and improve my well-being. Overall, cleaning encourages a healthier lifestyle. Will you join for a spring cleaning?

Boost your self-esteem!

By: Alejandra Malaga Walters, Francis College of Engineering Well-being Leader

Some days, we don’t feel good about ourselves, and that is okay. But when that feeling continues for a longer period of time, it can have a harmful effect on our mental health.

Self-esteem is the opinion we have about ourselves. When we have healthy self-esteem, we tend to be positive about life in general and about the things we can achieve. On the other hand, when we have low self-esteem, we tend to be negative about life, and we also feel less able to work through the challenges of life.

It is important to try to increase your self-esteem because having low self-esteem can harm your mental health and lead to problems such as depression and anxiety. When you have low self-esteem, you may also hide away from social situations and new challenges and avoid difficult situations.

But how can we get from low self-esteem to healthy self-esteem?

Low self-esteem often begins in childhood. When the people that surround us and even social media give us negative messages about ourselves, sadly, we tend to keep those negative messages instead of positive ones. You can also get low self-esteem when you find it difficult to live up to other people’s expectations of you or to your own expectations. For that reason, to boost your self-esteem, first, you need to identify where are these negative thoughts about yourself coming from and challenge them. Another thing that would help you increase your self-esteem is to start writing down good things about yourself, some things that you and other people say about you that make you feel good. Put that list somewhere you can see it and remind those qualities to yourself every day.

Know your worth who appreciate you and help you at appreciate you and help you go through difficult times. Recognize when someone is trying to bring you down and spend less time with them because those people will not bring you anything good.

Finally, be kind to yourself and recognize that it’s ok to not be ok sometimes. Treat yourself as if you were your friend and think about what you would say to a friend in a similar situation. We often treat and give better advice to others than we do to ourselves.