Girl staring out the window of her apartment on a gloomy day.

Whatever you may be going through, it’s important to show yourself and others compassion through this process. Here are some things you can do to support yourself and your fellow Buffs with mental health.

How to support yourself

If you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, frustrated or alone, here are some things you can do:

Set healthy boundaries with yourself and others

Boundaries serve an important role in our lives, especially when we are feeling anxious or experiencing a crisis.

Setting boundaries with yourself may look like:

  • Limiting your consumption of news or social media
  • Turning off notifications when you feel overwhelmed or need to focus
  • Making time to engage in hobbies or focus on things that bring you joy

Setting boundaries with others may look like:

  • Allowing yourself to say no or walk away from situations that make you feel uncomfortable or unsafe
  • Asking to change the topic of conversation away from current events or other topics that negatively impact your emotional health

Don’t fight your feelings

When we are experiencing a crisis or feeling overwhelmed, it can be difficult to process our feelings and emotions in a healthy way. Sometimes, we may want to shut down or “turn off” our feelings. However, it’s important to acknowledge that what you’re feeling is normal and it’s okay to feel however you’re feeling.

Journaling is a great way to explore and process your feelings, and move forward in a healthy and productive way. If you’re new to journaling, try setting a timer for 2-5 minutes to write. If you don’t fill the whole time that’s okay. If you’re unsure what to write about, try one of these prompts to get you started:​

  • What can I do to stay connected to others while practicing physical distancing?
  • What am I learning about myself through this process?
  • How can I make today a little bit better than yesterday?
  • What do I want to spend my time doing more of?
  • What has helped me through this process? What hasn’t?

Practice self-care

Self-care is an important process for managing our mental health, though it may look different from person to person. Remember to set realistic goals and choose activities that you will enjoy and benefit from long-term. Even if you can’t commit a significant amount of time, a few minutes of self-care a day is better than none at all. Check out this article for a full list of self-care activities to try.

Find creative ways to stay connected

In the era of physical distancing, it can be challenging to stay connected with our friends and family. However, social connection is important in maintaining our mental health. Given current guidelines, we may need to change our scenery, try new activities or get creative about how we connect with others. You can also check out tips on how to find friends with similar interests

Talk with someone

It’s okay to ask for help, even if it’s hard to do. Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) provides a number of services for students, including brief individual counseling, group therapy and Let’s Talk, which allows students to speak with a counselor for a free confidential consultation through video chat. Additional campus resources are listed below.

How to support a friend

If you notice a friend or fellow Buff is struggling, here are some things you can do:

Start the conversation

It can be hard to talk about our struggles, especially if it seems like everyone else is doing okay. If you notice a friend or peer is struggling, check in with them and start the conversation about how they’re doing. If you’re not sure how to bring it up, you can check out Kognito. Kognito is an online resource that can help you practice having challenging conversations with someone in distress. Through this online portal you will learn how to identify the warning signs of psychological distress and how to talk with a student about their issues. It also provides tools to help you build connections and assist someone in seeking help. 

If you’re worried that someone may be depressed or thinking about suicide, ask them about it directly: “Have you had thoughts about suicide?” Asking the question can let the other person know we care about them. Remember, that asking about suicide doesn’t plant the idea or make them think about it more. For more tips and resources on suicide prevention, visit the BeThe1To website

Sit with them

When someone shares that they are struggling, it’s important to listen to them without judging them or offering advice. Sometimes the most helpful thing we can do is sit with them through the challenging moments. Acknowledge their feelings and let them know you’re there for them. This may sound like:

  • “It sounds like you’re struggling a lot with that.”
  • “How can I help?”
  • “I care about you, and I’m here for you.”

Be inclusive

This semester has brought many new challenges and stressors for all of us. If you notice that someone seems uncomfortable, help to break the ice by getting to know them and introducing them to others. Remember that we are all in this together and everyone needs support sometimes.

Follow up

If you talk with a friend about their mental health, be sure to follow up with them or check in to see how they’re doing. It can be helpful to schedule a regular call with a family member or friend to check in on a consistent basis. Let each other know how you’re doing, what is going well and what you may need support with. It can be helpful to write down a list together of who you would reach out to if you were in a crisis or felt suicidal. By doing this, you can identify people for yourself and show them that you are someone they can reach out to.

Campus resources

  • Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) on campus offers virtual counseling and crisis care services during normal business hours. They also provide free workshops, group therapy, consultations and more. Anyone can call their main line at 303-492-2277 to speak with a licensed professional 24/7.
  • The Office of Victim Assistance (OVA) provides free and confidential information, consultation, support, advocacy and short term counseling services to University of Colorado Boulder students, graduate students, faculty and staff who have experienced a traumatic, disturbing or life-disruptive event. Call 303-492-8855 to connect with an OVA counselor or to receive after-hours support. 
  • Mindful Monday is a weekly mindfulness program designed to help students work through mindfulness exercises to help you feel more grounded and present.
  • Wellness Wednesday is a weekly program where students can engage in self-care activities, learn about campus resources and build community. Students can come and go as they please, participate in the activity and have a one-on-one conversation with an emotional wellness peer educator to create a personalized self-care plan. Activities are free and open to all students
  • Exercise and physical activity is a great way to reduce and manage stress. It can also be a great way to connect with others and find your fit on campus. The Recreation Center offers a number of free activities to students, including virtual classes and activities you can do from anywhere. 

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