Self Care Recommendations

While you are waiting for a counseling appointment, here are some recommendations for ways to care for yourself in order to minimize any distress you may be experiencing. These are recommendations only and do not substitute for professional care.

First, remember that being in college is demanding in every way. Your academic and extra-curricular obligations are continual and you live in constant community with others. Family members, professors, and others often expect tremendous things from you, and sometimes you expect even more of yourself. Remember that this time of your life requires a great deal of you. Be patient with yourself and the process of growing, changing, and healing. These four years of your life are full of transition, adjustment, expectation, and stress, as much as they may be full of promise about the future. To help yourself when you are struggling, please consider employing one or more of the following coping strategies:

  • If you are in a life-threatening crisis, please call 911 or the suicide hotline at 1-800-273-TALK. These options are available to you 24 hours a day.
  • Keep as normal a routine as possible. Try to participate in your normal activities, and keep with as regular a schedule and routine as you can, even when you don’t feel like it. This would include going to class and chapel.
  • Make sleep a priority. Most college students don’t get enough sleep, and sleep deprivation is a major contributor to symptoms of depression and anxiety. Everything seems worse when you are tired. Going to bed and getting up at a similar time each day is ideal.
  • Eat balanced meals. You may not have much of an appetite, but eating regularly is important to keep your energy up. Eating regularly also helps maintain your blood sugar levels, which can aid in maintaining a more stable mood.
  • Be physically active. Getting some type of exercise each day is good for your brain and your body.
  • If you are taking medication, take it as prescribed. Fluctuations in medication usage can exacerbate symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mental or emotional problems.
  • Turn to healthy friends and family for support. Other people you may want to consider approaching include professors, pastors, Residence Life staff, members of your church community, etc.
  • Reprioritize. Make a list of your responsibilities and extracurricular activities in order to reassess your ability to participate in these things in a meaningful, life-giving way.
  • Identify and maintain healthy boundaries . Allow yourself to say no in order to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
  • Address conflict. Consider approaching the person you have conflict with in order to share your concerns. You can refer to our website for more specific guidelines for how to have this type of conversation.
  • If you are having academic problems, visit The Cove. You can get help for academic concerns, studying skills, tutoring services, and more.
  • Visit University Medical Services as needed. If you are experiencing physical problems, talking to a doctor can help identify any physiological issues.
  • Identify unhealthy coping mechanisms . Some of these include self-harm, substance use or abuse, unhealthy eating or exercise behaviors, etc. Look for healthy replacements as an outlet for your thoughts and feelings.
  • Be spiritually engaged. Take time to pray, read your Bible, keep a prayer journal, or worship. However, sometimes spiritual practices and disciplines that foster our relationship with God can become difficult to engage in when we struggle with feelings of guilt and spiritual inadequacy. During these times, however, it is sometimes more helpful to take a break from these if they are making you feel worse, until you have a chance to talk with a counselor or someone in the Dean’s office or Christian Ministries.
  • Find accountability. Have a conversation with someone where you explain the type of accountability you need, how often you need it, etc.
  • Reduce or eliminate caffeine. This may include caffeinated coffee, soda, and tea, as well as energy drinks and excessive amounts of chocolate. Caffeine is a stimulant and may exacerbate symptoms of anxiety.
  • Add an Internet filter for your computer or smartphone. You can refer to our website for filters that would block pornographic material. Give the password to a trusted friend or mentor.
  • Write. Keeping a journal allows you to address your thoughts and feelings. The act of expressing yourself can sometimes help you to gain a new perspective on a situation.
  • Consider participating in a support group. Counseling Services offers several different groups throughout the year, and there are other options in the area, such as Celebrate Recovery, skills groups, etc.
  • Nurture yourself. Engage in activities that are soothing or enjoyable. Take time to listen to music, read a book for pleasure, improve your living space, or be creative.
  • Distract yourself. Consider a healthy, enjoyable distraction, such as watching a movie or TV, playing a computer game, or doing something else that will temporarily take your mind off of your struggles.
  • Practice relaxation techniques. Sit or lie down comfortably in a quiet space. Close your eyes, and take a deep breath, counting slowly to 5 while you inhale. Then exhale slowly, counting from 5 to 1 while you breathe out. Repeat 10 times. You can do this anywhere to relax your mind and body.
  • Seek a mentor or trusted older adult who can provide support during this time. Some campus resources for this include discipleship groups or the Focus Leadership program.
  • Refer to our website. We have resources on several issues that many students face, including eating disorders, depression, anxiety, same-sex attraction, self-harm, and more.