“Self-care and stress management have never been more important as we struggle to find a balance between our own needs and the demands of going to college and/or the workplace,” said Dinneen Jackson, grants coordinator at Brookdale Community College and Master Certified Health and Wellness Coach. In collaboration with Student Life and Activities, Jackson is offering Health @Home sessions to help Brookdale students manage their stress and prioritize self-care.
“Increased anxiety is common as we navigate COVID-19,” Jackson said. “It is a normal, natural response to have increased emotions during this time of uncertainty, including feeling stressed, worried, sad, scared, disappointed, and confused. The more we focus on what is out of our control, the more stressed and anxious we begin to feel.”
However, there is hope. “Focus on what is within your power like taking the best possible care of yourself,” said Jackson.
On November 3, Jackson focused on stress management during her “How to Cope with Test Anxiety During Midterms” workshop. “While it’s completely normal to feel a bit nervous before a test, some students find test anxiety debilitating,” she explained. “The presentation provided students with coping mechanisms to manage test anxiety before and during a stressful test.”
The importance of self-care will be the focus of her “Self-Care for College Students: Learn How to Prioritize Your Wellness” workshop on December 8 at noon. “College can get overwhelming with its piling assignments, tests, and everything else happening,” Jackson said. “Focusing on self-care can be especially challenging for students as day-to-day schedules are oftentimes flooded with too much to do and not enough time,” she said. “This presentation will examine self-care from the physical, mental, financial, environmental, spiritual, emotional, social, and physical perspectives to help determine what we value most to have a more complete and balanced life.”
It’s not just college students who need a balanced life. Jackson offered tips for everyone in the Brookdale community to help manage stress and focus on self-care:
- Count your blessings throughout the day. Practicing gratitude on a regular basis shifts our mindset and boosts your immune system.
- Nourish your body with your favorite fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. The less processed food you eat, the more nutrients your body receives, and the greater you will feel physically, mentally, and emotionally.
- Drink plenty of water. Water also boosts energy and there are no crashing side-effects like caffeinated drinks.
- Keep your schedule of daily activities as regular as you can. Enter “self-care” personal appointments in your calendar to make sure there will be no other scheduling conflicts when it’s time to do something for yourself. If “me-time” is on your calendar, you are more likely to be motivated and committed to doing it.
- Perform random acts of kindness. Making someone’s day is the most rewarding, feel-good feeling in the world.
- Limit the intake of news and social media; doing so can help manage difficult or upsetting feelings. The constant intake of frightening information can create more stress.
- Take time each day to do something that brings you joy, even if just for a brief moment. Look at cute animal photos and stories on the Dodo. Watch a comedian or funny movie.
- Unplug from technology and toxic people and be one with nature. Get some sunlight. Breathe fresh air. Quiet your mind as you admire the beauty nature has to offer such as the leaves changing color this time of year.
- Last, but not least, move your body throughout the day. Bend, stretch, twist, squat, shake, take deep exhilarating breaths, etc. Sitting in front of a computer Zooming all day is worse than smoking. Even a 5-minute walk can improve energy and focus.
In addition to these tips, Jackson is offering complimentary one-on-one health and wellness coaching sessions to members of the Brookdale community in her preparation to become a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach. Each 20-minute session will be conducted by phone. As a coach, she will partner with you to clarify your priorities and help you find the motivation to make positive lifestyle changes. Her role is to simply shine a light on what is important to you. To schedule a coaching session, please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.