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College Survival Guide 2020: Incorporating Healthy Strategies into Your Daily Life

Fall is just beginning, and schools are multiple weeks into their semesters. This school year is all but normal. The college experience has changed dramatically due to the Covid-19: You might have classes mostly or all online, part of your college campus, or maybe your whole campus, is completely shut down and you are at home. There is a great sense of loss and frustration with the changes that have taken place. This is not the college experience that you imagined for yourself. College can be stressful enough with managing classes, schedules, family life, building relationships, and potentially working. The impact of the Coronavirus adds to this and you may be feeling overwhelmed right now or unsure what steps to take to improve your situation. 

During times like this, it is especially beneficial to reflect on self-care and what healthy and positive activities have helped you in the past. The difference, however, is that the Coronavirus may be impacting the ways that you typically handled times of distress, leaving you to feel more stress and helplessness. You might be struggling with the lack of control and uncertainty of how to handle these challenging realities. You are not alone in these feelings. 

6 steps to regain some sense of control and improve your wellness

There are habits and positive activities that you can do for you. When you are doing these activities and making the decisions for your own wellbeing, you can regain a sense of control. Figuring out which activities to do and areas to modify in your daily life is the first piece of the puzzle. Here are some ideas of positive changes that you could incorporate into your daily life:

  1. Scheduling and Building a Routine
  2. Taking Care of Your Basic Needs
  3. Getting Exercise
  4. Having Social Connection
  5. Doing Positive and Healthy Activities
  6. Practicing Gratitude

The key with these items listed above, and other self-care strategies, is finding what works best for you. If you can create your own wellness plan, that ownership of creating the plan aids in your personal accountability and follow-through. Over time when you can consistently do a positive self-care activity, it can become a habit. By developing healthy habits and making positive changes to your lifestyle, you are fostering a sense of more control in your life. 

You may be looking at the list of items above to help aid in your mental health and say, “I have tried to incorporate these things into my life and it just doesn’t work.” Beware, it is often difficult to create new habits and routines. When we are unable to initially begin a new activity, we may notice being quite hard on ourselves, which in turn can negatively impact our motivation. The combination of inhibiting factors such as exhaustion, disappointment, and stress further create barriers to begin working towards your goal. To change this dynamic, we must take steps to address what is going on, with the situation in its entirety. Here are some steps to take to address the situation:

Addressing your Basic Needs

As previously mentioned, taking care of your basic needs helps give you a foundation or platform to move forward from. If you are getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, and eating healthy then it will help you move forward in doing healthy and positive activities. 

Address the Activity Itself

If there is a change to your daily life that came to mind after reading this. It is important to have realistic and attainable expectations for yourself. This entails breaking the new habit or activity into chunks or smaller parts if able, scheduling when you are going to do the activities, and setting the larger goal up in a realistic manner. For instance, if you would like to begin working out 3 times a week, you might start off by scheduling a 15-minute workout into your schedule at a time of the day that you know you have open and that you know you typically have enough physical energy. 

Thoughts about Yourself

When struggling to begin a new habit or positive activity, negative thoughts can detrimentally impact our motivation. When you notice yourself experiencing a negative thought work to utilize an alternative thought process. Steps to addressing this might be asking yourself:

  • What would you say to a friend in this situation? 
  • What would be the most beneficial item for me to hear right now? 
  • What has occurred that impacted my ability to engage in the new habit or activity?
  • What kindness can I offer myself regarding my progress?
  • Why do I push myself to change overnight when change takes time and continuous effort?
  • In what ways am I working toward change? How can I recognize these small positive steps more often?

One of these strategies might work best for you depending on the thought you are experiencing. Once again, the key here is finding what works best for you.

This process can be challenging, and being kind to yourself during this process of change is of the utmost importance. If you can incorporate a new habit or positive activity into your daily life, awesome! I hope you take great pride in that.

After reading this article, you might still feel quite stuck. You might be feeling very overwhelmed, struggling with anxiety or depression. These items may be impacting your academic success and your daily functioning. If this pertains to you, know that help and support is available. Most colleges have counseling services available to students, but there are other resources too. Here at Lifeologie Grand Rapids, we have counselors specialized in working with emerging adults, students, and people of all ages. If you live in the Grand Rapids area, our office is open to you. We also provide online appointments if that is what you prefer and or more comfortable with. If either work, give us a call or contact us via email. We are passionate therapists that strive to make sure our clients are heard and we are here for you. 

About the Author:

Ben Balke Counselor for teens in Grand Rapids MI Ada MIBen Balke, LLPC is a counselor at Lifeologie. He enjoys teen counseling and working with young adults as they discover who they are, learn to navigate school, and deal with social anxieties. He’s passionate about connecting with people and making sure they feel safe to work through whatever it is that is tangling them up.





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