Now that we are four weeks into the start of the fall semester in an unprecedented time, the clinicians at Counseling Services have been able to identify some themes regarding the stressors that our students are working to navigate. Many of these presenting stressors are very common for this time of year and developmentally appropriate (homesickness, time management, identity, purpose, relationships, etc.). Amplifying these typical stressors are the other concerns that are more nuanced and are a direct result of all the acute issues happening in our society right now. These concerns are showing up as increased loneliness, grief in response to both tangible and ambiguous loss, anxiety about navigating necessary technology for classes, fears of all the unknowns that exist, and anger and annoyance (which is actually also fear) regarding the many things that feel out of one’s control.
At Boise State University, and specifically Counseling Services we deeply believe in the power of a strengths based approach and have a principal focus on tapping into and fostering the resilience of our students. We believe that without fear there can be no courage, and we strongly promote leaning into discomfort to reap the benefits of the growth and self-efficacy this produces. Challenging and changing one’s perspective in these ways can be difficult but also positively life altering. The providers at Health Services are always here to help.
This fall semester we have initiated 8 different therapy groups where students can come together with numerous peers to process their experiences and also glean validation, affirmation and normalization from one another. It is for these reasons, at least in part, that group therapy has been proven to just as, if not more effective than individual therapy. In each of these groups, that are free of charge, targeted healthy coping skills will be taught and practiced.
Learn more about therapy groups and stay tuned for additional groups as they are rolled out.
As you support your student from near or far, please also be considering these tips for college students during these unprecedented times:
1. Know that it is okay to feel how you are feeling
It is normal during this crazy time to experience feelings of sadness, anger, frustration, anxiety, or all of the above. You are allowed to feel this way and to communicate with others how you are feeling. It is also okay to sit with these emotions. If these feelings worsen to the extent that you are no longer able to function like your normal self, reach out to one of the resources listed below for additional support.
2. Maintain a routine
Start your day at about the same time each day. Set a goal for coursework to be completed for each morning and afternoon. Maintain adequate nutrition by eating three healthy meals per day; now is a great time to try new recipes! Try to get in at least one physical activity each day. It is very good for your mental health to get some fresh air and go on a walk, run, or bike ride.
3. Practice good sleep hygiene
Maintain a consistent sleep schedule. The goal should be 7-9 hours per night. Limit screen time in the evening, and avoid caffeine starting in the afternoon.
4. Connect with others
It is easy to quickly feel lonely and secluded from others during this stay-at-home period. Make an effort to stay socially connected by engaging in regular video or phone calls with friends and family.
5. Take a break
Take time for yourself each day. Step away from the news and from your coursework to do something you enjoy and that you find relaxing or rejuvenating.