Posts Tagged ‘college depression’

Trying to figure out… When to Get Help

Friday, July 12th, 2019

I remember towards the end of this past semester I had one of those days, where all I wanted to do was to stay in bed and shut the world out. It was a Sunday. I woke up, stayed in bed and cried for an hour. After which, I sat up on my bed staring out the window. I blankly watched the cars drive down my street, trying to figure out what I was feeling. 

Clips of the days before started playing in my head. The day before I did something odd and had an email exchange calling into question the commentary a professor had made in a social media post. I got upset on Friday because of canceled plans to get ice cream. Stupid, I know, but it evoked feelings of loneliness and felt as if no one cared about me. The connection between canceled plans and abandonment didn’t make sense, but it was what I felt. Later that night, I cried again after a text exchange with a friend, who was speaking about her email conversations with individuals from her potential graduate schools. Overall, it was a weird two days.

It didn’t hit me why until the day after, on Monday. I was sitting in class and people were conversing about the future and plans after college. They were talking about the application process and possibly applying to NYU grad school. They asked me if I would include NYU as a place to do my graduate studies. I thought why would I want to continue to be at a place that holds memories of one of the worst periods of my life. There it was.

The subtle look back on my college experience the process of planning my future was hurting my heart. I can’t say college was hard because the coursework was hard or the people were difficult to get along with. The first two years of my college experience was a time where it took energy to just breathe, let alone think critically about the developmental stages of human life. I had a notion of what I wanted in my experience of college and within the first week, I realized that would never happen.

I readjusted my mindset of college, by working on myself. I first gave myself the allowance to feel and prioritize what I truly wanted. I had to connect to myself. I did the things that had always given me comfort, which was books and music. I started carving out times for myself to read and put it as an event on my calendar. I put in buffer hours in my day to just do nothing. But I didn’t just do it by myself. I took the first step in getting help from others but quickly found others joined in me in my journey. Especially in this academic world, it’s easy to feel alone, but that’s not true. If for nothing else advocate for yourself because you are paying for this education and experience with money, time, and work. Those investments mean nothing if you are not present emotionally and physically in your life. It doesn’t hurt to get support in your endeavors. Take care of yourself.

Resource List of Mental Health services (if you aren’t up to talking face to face with someone I’ve listed two resources that allow for call, text or chat online)

Additionally, if you want dedicated support for the transition of high school to college life visit the JED program: Set to Go site for tailored advice for you and your family. 

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: Call or Text: 1-800-273-8255

Call NYC Well Today: 

English: 1-888-NYC-WELL (1-888-692-9355), Press 2 

Call 711 (Relay Service for Deaf/Hard of Hearing)

Español: 1-888-692-9355, Press 3

中文: 1-888-692-9355, Press 4

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By Sanjidah Chowdhury

Sanjidah is a rising senior at NYU Steinhardt majoring in applied psychology. She aspires to become a mental health counselor to understand intergenerational dynamics and better serve the needs of women, Muslims, and the South Asian community. She currently works with NYU’s Office of Alumni Relations. Throughout the academic year, she works on a research team under Professor Niobe Way and volunteers for Nordoff -Robbins Center for Music Therapy. Most of the time you can find Sanjidah with her nose in a book and music blasting through her headphones. 

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Defining who you want to be in a commodity-fetishizing society

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

In life, we are forced to make sacrifices. We do things we don’t necessarily want to do because we have to do them. What are some things you do because you feel like you have to?

Some actions, like earning money to pay for shelter and food, are necessary in order to achieve and sustain a comfortable lifestyle. But think about it: beyond this, not much is necessary. So why do we often feel like we’re lacking something, even if our most basic needs are fulfilled?

I believe that this constant drive to do more and be more is a result of the ideological apparatus of our society, which the mass media and we ourselves are agents of.

Tyler Durden from Fight Club may have captured it best when he said:

“Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need.”

Eccentric philosopher Slavoj Žižek has applied psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan’s frameworks to cultural and ideological analysis. Žižek is one of many thinkers who have argued that the dominant ideology in modern society conditions us to rationalize, idealize, and endorse certain actions and ideas without even realizing it.

Slavoj tellin' it like it is.

For example, people often ask children, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

From an early age, without even realizing it, we push kids to define their future selves in terms of the type of work they see themselves doing. “An all-around nice person” is usually not the type of answer we seek when asking this question.

As subjects in a given society, we are conditioned from childhood to allow the dominant ideology to shape our innermost values and desires. We are taught to define ourselves according to certain standards which we usually consent to and perpetuate without even realizing it.

In effect, we often find ourselves inadvertently supporting the powers-that-be through things we do and say every single day.

When we are faced with one of life’s many obstacles which prevent us from realizing a goal, it’s not uncommon to have an emotional breakdown and feel like it’s all our fault, rather than realizing that society has taught us to fetishize certain things that despite the advertisements for these products and experiences telling us otherwise, cannot actually rectify our inherent emptiness.

Given this seemingly untenable situation, what is to be done for those of us who still manage to dream about living up to standards that we consciously define? I believe that, to an extent, we can try to reclaim our agency and become self-defining subjects.

But how do we do this?

The first step is to become conscious of those things you do out of compulsion because you’re told that it’s the “right thing to do.” Demarcate the border between these actions and those things you actually value and want to do and have.

Michel Foucault was a scholar who challenged taken-for-granted conceptions of power and "normality" through his histories of prisons, biopolitics, and sexuality, among other topics.

“But couldn’t everyone’s life become a work of art? Why should the lamp or the house be an art object, but not our life?” — Michel Foucault

Treat your life as a work of art–pick and choose the qualities you would like to embody, and start doing just that. Realize that some of the ideas that you value and perpetuate in your daily life may have been influenced by societal forces, and weed them out with a vengeance if they do not serve you. Constantly strive to become someone you would admire. Transcend societal-imposed standards to the fullest extent possible, and begin living on your own terms.

Now that we’ve laid out the problem that we’re dealing with (as I see it), the rest of a book will be a guide to living up to our conscious, self-defined values and standards in a stupor-enducing culture.

 

Amanda Fox-Rouch (Hunter College)

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Student Depression: Working Within the Bounds of Gravity

Saturday, December 14th, 2013

Every student in the depths of depression goes through that particularly steep and lugubrious slump. Honestly, it’s more like a cliff. Full of electric eels and piranhas and alligators, who keep mauling away at any bit of hope you may have left.

"We feed on your misery and despair... and cashews."

What if you could turn those bloodthirsty blues into a pool of rainbows and unicorns? Well, not exactly. But pretty damn close.

All you need is a mantra. Here are the magic words: work within the gravitational field.

Sorry, that’s not a reference to Gravity.

"

But it’s nonetheless solid advice.

There are two minefields we step into when we’re depressed: the future and the past. The latter is relatively simple—you wish you could change something you did. But you can’t. You can’t change the past. Argument over. Talk to me when you step through a wormhole and end up with your thigh attached to your face, or an extra set of eyes under your armpit.

The future—aye, she’s a tricky one. Depending on the way you perceive what is to come,  you can either end up in a pool of your own tears and blood (the result of papercuts while crying and leafing through your ex’s photo album, of course), or you can get a fucking grip, grit your teeth, and grin through those horrid weeks.

Ideally, you want to choose the latter. It always ends up a mix of both, though. We simply want to minimize the one where you sink yourself deeper into a pit of self-loathing and pity.

This is where gravity comes in.

Imagine this overly-elaborate and seemingly-unrelated scenario: a newspaper intern is hired for the summer, and he’s doing relatively well—bringing the coffee, unjamming the printer, even writing a little piece for the paper once in a while. But then he does something stupid: he overshoots his mark and decides he wants to be a full time reporter now. Stuck with the notion that he’s too good to be an intern all of a sudden, he stops being speedy with the coffee, the printer remains jammed and the office is lagging because a millennial twat (no offense to 99% of my readers, of course—but I can say it because I’m 22) decided he’s too good for mundane tasks that he was assigned to.

Something similar happens when you overshoot your thought processes. Let’s use subject A’s—Loverboy’s—thoughts as an example: “She never loved me!” Loverboy thinks. And then he shakes his head angrily and retorts, “I never wanted her anyway!” and then it goes back to, “we’re never going to be together again!” and… well, ad nauseam. Despite the only thing that’s corporeal to Loverboy is the shower floor and the empty bottle of vodka, he gets stuck in his head about what might come.

Now imagine he’s working within gravity, within the limits of the day—the limits of his current, veritable environment. In this mindset, the only questions that should float to mind are, “why haven’t I finished showering if it’s 4am already and I went in at midnight?” and “this empty bottle of vodka means I’ve probably drunk texted her several dozen times already and that I’m going to have one shitty morning.”

Loverboy is now working within gravity. The sadness is there but he handles the tasks at hand—turning off the shower nozzle, throwing the empty bottle into the bin and hitting the hay.

If there was no gravity we would float away into space. Unfortunately, our brain has no hemisphere. We float into the clouds and freeze and stagnate and get stuck. That’s why we must create our own gravity and work within it.

Dale Carnegie mentioned to live in day-tight compartments. It’s the same exact principle as working within gravity. Take the day in chunks and don’t overshoot your bounds or you’ll get stuck.

Now, this doesn’t mean you’ll be traveling to that pool of rainbows and unicorns anytime soon, but there will an inherent sense of “I’ll get through this in the near future” as you crunch your teeth between the stream of tears and type that term paper up the day before it’s due.

Au revoir.

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Aleksandr Smechov, Baruch College.

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Student Depression: Your Personal Project

Thursday, November 28th, 2013

I’ve decided to construct a life-size replica of the Great Pyramid of Giza using only Styrofoam cups and Elmer’s Glue. The fumes from the Elmer’s will fuel my strange ambition and the cups will be my portable latrines. Will I ever finish the Great Styrofoam and Elmer Pyramid of the Bronx? Inevitably no, but I will inadvertently finish the myriad other more manageable tasks I haven’t had the patience or the verve to get around to.

And that’s the point.

If you’re still stuck on the image of latrines and foam cups with weirdly-hued liquids bubbling inside, get your head out of the toilet. The crux of the matter is that committing to an ambitious personal project is an effective gateway drug to doing the smaller stuff you’re setting aside now.

Ever noticed what you do when you’re on a productive roll? There’s a snowball effect. All of a sudden, you want to do the stuff you’ve been neglecting; you feel like you can get everything done in one sitting.

Unfortunately, this sort of productivity binge is a rare beast.

How do you awaken the beast more often? You poke it.

In more boring words, you instigate incentive by getting your brain on a more productive wavelength.

Once you start a task, it’s hard for your brain not to pester you to finish it. This is called the Zeigarnik Effect.

First thing’s first: set yourself up with a personal project. Here are your guidelines:

1) It has to be fun.

2) It has to be creative.

3) It has to be ambitious.

4) Great Styrofoam and Elmer’s Glue Pyramid of the Bronx is taken, sorry.

5) It has to constantly rely on your cerebral musings… so watching movies, eating, cooking, traveling, dancing and other activities where you can partially or fully turn off your brain, or fall into a routine (basically anything you’d do to distract yourself from your mission-critical tasks) are no-go. SORRY.

Some suggestions:

  • Start a Word document journal. (Don’t even think about using a pen unless you’re going to transcribe it via keyboard later—e-journals are infinitely more reliable since you can search specific keywords [and start to see disturbing patterns], and it’s much easier to publish your lurid memoirs if you don’t have to use an Egyptologist to identify your chicken-scratch glyphs.)
  • Make an animated music video (AMV), live-action music video, video blog, short film, etc.
  • If you can’t draw a stick figure for your life, paint something abstract. MOMA is great for inspiration.
  • Learn HTML and CSS and create a kickass personal website. Use this to market yourself.
  • Emulate your favorite author’s style and write a short story in their voice.
  • Notice how you can easily use any of these accomplishments in a resume, portfolio or cover letter? Yep, that’s what you’re aiming for. Something that can potentially get you moolah in the future and improve your creative noggin.

Here’s what will happen: your brain will start to anticipate and get excited for the personal project you’re undertaking; you’ll get into the groove of doing, not worrying yourself into depression; a downhill-snowball effect will occur where you’re gaining momentum and stagnancy equals death; you will look to other places to be productive, i.e. the shit you actually gotta do; you will feel accomplished and have personal reference experience (aka accomplishments you can stroke your ego with) that will push you even further; you will become president on the universe.

What are you waiting for? Get your personal project started NOW.

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Aleksandr Smechov, Baruch College.

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Student Depression: Overshooting Your Mark

Saturday, November 16th, 2013

Overshoot your mark. Bite off more than you can chew. Start at the deep end. Let it hit the fan. You’ll get further than you’ve ever gone before.

You might be utterly vexed now, straining your follicles with the massive amount of hair tugging you’re doing right about now. I understand, just let your follicles have a break for a moment.

Why would you put yourself in supposedly unwinnable situations, or set goals that are, at the moment, too lofty? What benefit is there to overshooting your mark?

Take a look: You have a literary analysis paper due in a week, so you set aside your personal project for a week, you tell your friends that you’re way too busy to hang out and those extra credit assignments you were so adamant to get down and dirty with? Locked away in that little crevice of guilt in your mind.

Now that you’ve got all this freed up time, what happens to your main assignment? Unless you’re writing a 30-page paper that applies a Derridean, Foucauldian and Barthian lens to Joyce’s “Araby” (never again), you’re not going to spend every waking moment (never, ever, again…) writing your paper. Maybe you’ll think about it for several days, start getting those awful vomiting butterflies parading around your stomach lining, fall back into your depression (but we worked so hard on curbing it! Why does this puny paper have to take over your life?) and finally get working on it two days before deadline, panicking yourself into a cold, smelly sweat. Not cool.

"My surname is Derrida, but the very fact that I have been named manifests an externality that dissociates Derrida the 'man' from Derrida the 'name,' the latter of which is an empty signifier, and I'm totally confusing the sh*t out of you right now and enjoying every second of it."

Students, including myself, fall into habitual patterns that are too familiar to comfortably escape. Hey, it’s worked before, you got your work done, so what’s the problem? If it ain’t broke… wait, no. It is broken. You’re not helping your depression by adding anxiety, stress and detrimental habitual habits to the mix. But I’ve got a solution, so don’t you fret.

All those plans you put off for the week? Put them back in your schedule and then some. See your friends, work on your own personal project (more on this in the next blog), do that extra credit, and then commit to something (or several things) with a deadline, preferably before the time your assignment is due. Agree to write an article for the school newspaper, commit to checking out that new French club (voulez-vous lire Campus Clipper avec moi ce soir?) and schedule an appointment with your guidance counselor.

Stuff you schedule, basically.

Now, that doesn’t mean you should cram as much time-wasting activities as possible. All of these week-fillers should be beneficial to your development and recovery one way or another.

So why does this method work? Let’s look back at that last-minute example. You had a huge paper due that was supposed to take a week to complete and you crammed all that work into the air-tight space of maybe eight hours over two days. That leaves at least 104 waking hours where you have the paper on your mind. Maybe not consciously, not all the time, but the thought is there, and it won’t flutter off till you’ve got it handled.

104 hours. That’s almost, like, 127 hours.

"How many hours did Franco spend worrying instead of just cutting off his arm?"

The biggest enemy in this situation is your excess thoughts. Your most practical ally is overshooting your mark and cramming your week with self-beneficial and self-developmental tasks and commitments. There comes a point where the brain doesn’t see an opportunity to worry about what you’re not doing because it needs to hone in on more immediate tasks, like cleaning your room because a friend is coming over, writing that school newspaper article because the deadline is tomorrow, or whatever other task that need immediacy.

What happens now is that you stop worrying because you stop thinking about worrying (whoa). When your mind knows that there are a plethora of tasks coming in from all directions, it slaps itself awake and starts to focus, otherwise it risks embarrassment: you don’t want your friend to look disgustedly at your semi-soiled underwear hanging lasciviously on your lamp, or your school’s newspaper editor giving you the evil eye for the next month. This time, fear of embarrassment works to your advantage (and the only time it should work to your advantage).

You get busy, you get into a flow. You have no time to worry, you just do. You start looking for productive tasks to fill up your time, and it so happens you’ve got that huge paper coming up. What better time to do it than when you’re so tuned into the present moment and riding a productivity binge?

And what seemed like overshooting the mark suddenly seems more than manageable, and leaves you with more free time than if you’d have spent 104 hours worrying and 8 hours doing.

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Aleksandr Smechov, Baruch College.

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Student Depression: Inspirational Films No Student Should Do Without

Friday, November 8th, 2013

Campus Clipper warningWarning: overly elaborate introduction ahead. If you so desire, simply scroll to the *** symbols to get to the  crux of the matter. I won’t be mad.

Sometimes we just want to be inspired. Sometimes we want a medium to cajole us into creativity. We want all that latent energy that was stored away, subconsciously accreting verve and passion, to burst forth into a flurry of productivity. We want our intense emotions to be put to use, instead of letting them dissipate into an easily alterable and forgettable memories.

Us depression fighters are like that: this need comes natural to those who experience the wide gamut of emotions. We needlessly overthink, overfeeel, overact, overreact, over-everything. There are moments where we wish we were as passive as cows, a peaceful and unassuming existence. And then there are moments where we are secretly content that we feel something, anything.

Okay, I know, this is getting so long-winded that I may be tying myself into a knot here. So to cut to the chase: we want a medium to help us comprehend our emotional energy, make it real, tangible, and present it in a agreeable and understable way, so as to help mold and hone this energy into something we can use for ourselves.

For the time-conscientious student, the answer is cinema.

Am I still tying knots? Here, then, I’ll just hand it to you: we want to watch movies that “get” us, that bring us out of misery (or at least help us comprehend it) and give us the drive to do the things we are actually excited to do.

Not to say I haven’t enjoyed drivel like Meet the Spartans. And I mean really enjoyed. Maybe more than I should have.

And, come on, that penguin…

But I’m not here today to talk about guilty pleasures, or mindless blockbusters, or schlock.

I’m here to present to you films that not only act as interpreters for strong sentiment, but also as guidance counselors and motivational coaches that direct you towards creative expression and give you enough creative drive to use those sentiments in a productive capacity.

*** So here it is, the list of inspirational films that no depressed student should do without.

An aside: these films are not so much comedies, or “feel-good” movies, or exactly “happy” in any immediate way. They’re not even traditionally deemed as inspirational, in the most basic sense. Their artistry, however, riles both heart and mind, and is a great catalyst for converting more emotionally volatile times into drive and creativity.

Fight Club

The Inspirational Message: Sometimes it’s not a bad thing to lose everything. It gives you a fresh perspective, renewed energy to seek greater heights, and provides you the necessary momentum to get you to your next peak.

Pulp Fiction

The Inspirational Message: Let’s reel back a bit to a more meta vantage. The script is unbelievable, the writing is at once gritty, organic and poetic and leaves you creatively pumped.

Exit Through the Gift Shop

The Inspirational Message: Banksy does what he does out of love for the arts and the immense power they carry in their messages. His verve is infectious.

Stalker

stalker_2010_film_poster

 

The Inspirational Message: Stalker manages to elicit a gamut of reactions from its viewers, from scared shitless to deeply introspective to confused to enthralled, and does it all without us ever seeing the danger directly. A powerful work of fiction.

Fellini 8 1/2

The Inspirational Message: Our obsessions can become our greatest muses and our most foul demons. Also, creativity is never a sole entity: it draws from out life experiences, good and bad. If you’re missing either of those, you’re only getting half your mind’s worth.

Amélie

The Inspirational Message: Again, looking at this from the angle of the theatre seat. It’s fine to create something strange. Strange and different can work infinitely better than tried and true, and Jean-Pierre Jeunet is an excellent example.

“Love is in the details; God is in the details, the strange. Amelie is enamoured with the little thing. She is captivated by an author’s quotes, she makes two people come together, she finds love through the games she plays. She overcomes her solitude through small details and through them finds a connection with another person.” Quote by Elena Gladoun.

Children of Men

The Inspirational Message: When there is nothing left of a resource, whether it be oil or children or time, fear sets in and incites violence and hatred. Never dwell on loss, only on abundance.

Before Sunrise

The Inspirational Message: A single spontaneous decision can change your entire life.

“Within the chaos of spontaneity, life, negativity, love still exists in a imperfect form there is still a glue.”  Quote by Elena Gladoun.

Almost Famous

The Inspirational Message: Take initiative. You want to get your articles or short stories printed in big publications? Don’t have a network that can hustle you in? Create the opportunity of a lifetime by reaching out voluntarily, write the articles for free, get your name out and get noticed.

Wild Strawberries

The Inspirational Message: Someone you could never relate to can give you the clairvoyance to look at life in a completely different way.

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Aleksandr Smechov, Baruch College.

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Student Depression: The Self-Help Trifecta

Saturday, October 19th, 2013

Imagine you didn’t know how to breathe. Okay, that’s a bit ludicrous, but let’s say you were born on a planet where breathing was not necessary (for some absurd reason). Suddenly, you get orders from your local planetary travel center to beam to earth, where, if you don’t breathe, you perish.

Earth

"Leaves you breathless, doesn't it?"

So what do you do? You study and practice the art of breathing, because if you slack off you’ll end up a purple, shriveled vegetable (not to take this sinuous example any further than it has to, but for the sake of some viability, you use a breathing apparatus when you sleep). In a matter of weeks, breathing begins to feel more and more natural, and in six months’ time you’re better at breathing than most people on earth. And then, satisfied with your abilities, you disconnect your nightly breathing apparatus, in turn shriveling up into a purple corpse.

Pruple Vegetable

"They were found huddled together like that... a bittersweet end"

What a waste, huh? Breathing was never an innate ability for you; when you suddenly stopped there was no muscle memory to kickstart the process.

It’s (sort of) the same with self-help material. You don’t grow up in an environment that requires self-help to survive, but once you reach adulthood you’re faced with a plethora of dilemmas, challenges and life goals that would benefit immensely from motivational literature.

While you may take six months to become a self-help master, once you stop studying and practicing the material, what you learn effectively “dies.”

For the millennial attention span, lifelong commitment seems intimidating, to put it ever so lightly. That’s why the material fed into your brain, just like the oxygen going into your lungs, must not be overly complex, and must be easy to take in.

“Hey!” you say.

“Hey,” I say back.

“Hey… Yeah, well, I’m all for learning how to improve my life situation and all, but there’s like so many books out there and some contradict others and some say the same stuff over and over and over and some are so abstract they’re just words!”

“You’re right.”

“He- wait, what? I am?”

“You are.”

“Oh. Ok, cool.”

Indeed, there is a plethora of material out there. But there’s no need to complicate matters by taking it all in as dogma. That’s why I’ve gathered a teeny list here for you that you can easily inhale. Just don’t take it for granted or you’ll end up looking like this guy:

Grimace

"Grimace stopped breathing a long time ago..."

1. Mind Power into the 21st Century | John Kehoe

mind power into the 21st century
Not many books back up their material with quantum physics. Ok, quantum physics lite. But the exercises work, and they work extraordinary well. The best part? They’re simple and easily inhalable. Here’s an excerpt on how to best visualize your goals:

“Two conditions for a successful visualization: 1) Always visualize your goal as if it is actually happening to you right now. Make it real in your mind; make it detailed. Enter the role and become it in your mind. 2) Visualize your goal at least once a day, each and every day. There is power in repetition.”

2. The Power of Now | Eckhart Tolle

Power of Now
Ok, remember when you (well, I) mentioned that some self-help books seem to contradict each other? The Power of Now is the perfect example. Tolle is all about placing yourself in present moment. That includes cutting off your wandering mind.

Funny, Mind Power is all about thinking your way to a better life, and Power of Now is all about abdicating thought. It’s two radically different approaches to a clutter-free mind. Why do they work so well together?

Sometimes you need a hiatus from working your mind, even if all you’re doing is positive thinking. Tolle is great for this.

Some quotes:

“In today’s rush we all think too much, seek too much, want too much and forget about the joy of just Being.”

“The past has no power over the present moment.”

“The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but thought about it. Be aware of the thoughts you are thinking. Separate them from the situation, which is always neutral. It is as it is.”

3. Self-Esteem Affirmations | Louise Hay

Self-Esteem Affirmations
Yes, Mind Power has great affirmations. In comparison, Hay’s lines seem to grind cheese:

“I am in harmony with nature. I bless this planet with love.” (taken from her website)

Don’t groan. Hold it, just for a second. Hay is a perfect bridge from the thought-powered Mind Power and the relatively thought-free teachings of The Power of Now (Tolle’s angle is objectively observing your thoughts rather than utilizing them). Hay’s audio book is meant to be heard before sleep, or used as white noise while going about quotidian duties. She’s the fundamental in-between, and her semi-subliminal audio material is a great addition to the other two’s “extremes.”

There you have it, no need to sift through dozens of self-help resources. These fundamental materials cover a wide area, perfect for us college students who need a chameleon approach to working around the anxieties of our Mobius-strip-like lives, our variegated needs always, always demanding an alternative way of going about the situation.

Stay Tuned.

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Aleksandr Smechov, Baruch College.

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Student Depression: Preparing for the Winter Blues

Saturday, October 5th, 2013
Winter is Coming

"Luckily, he won't be around to experience it"

Winter is coming. (Thanks to elenagance for the awesome intro idea!)

And shuffling along with it, dragging their undying limbs, are Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD) and general winter blues, creeping up on unsuspecting college students nationwide. How do you fight these nefarious stalkers? Read on, fellow depression fighters, read on…

First, let’s dig into why some students may feel depressed during wintertime.

Less sun, shorter days, the inability to spend time in the sunlight due to the cold; all these factors somehow contribute to seasonal depression, whether it’s a disorder like SAD, or vanilla melancholy that just happens to spike during the dead season.

Here’s a quick and handy list of things you can do to triumphantly chop those blues to bits.

Sleep: Sleep is like a mini vacation you take every night. Do it. It helps scurry the stressors that plague seasonal depression and gets you feeling fresh. If you can’t take a real vacation somewhere closer to the equator, at least get well rested in your claustrophobic dorm room. This also means less alcohol and coffee.

Sleep is Good

"Sleeping on books helps you absorb knowledge"

Outdoor Exercise: Bundle up and go for a jog, or do indoor exercises near a sunny window. Just get that sweet, precious sunlight to penetrate your shriveled pores.

Light Therapy Box:  “Sounds a tad pricy,” you say; “looks like it’s just a regular ol’ lamp,” you say. Popsugar Fitness suggests this reasonably-priced light box, and if you can throw down $60 for a game, you can likely afford a decent light box. When nature offers nothing but clouds, gloom and doom, the machine that can shine brightly in your face is your friend.

Force Yourself Outside: Cooped up in your room, you begin to feel miserable, trapped, and despondent. You plunge into a downward spiral of self-pity and self-loathing, and the very idea of seeing someone while in this state or facing the unsheltered world makes you wary and weak, and so you remain in your pocket of darkness. Your original excuse of having too much work inverts itself and now you really can’t do any work because you’re moping in bed, practically paralyzed from grief. The moral of this diatribe? Get your ass outdoors before it falls into darkness.

Friends: While they can sometimes be the biggest instigators of unproductivity, positive friends are great propagators of a sense of well-being. Friends serve as a great distraction when you’re feeling on the verge of depression, and can quickly get you out of your sulk-status. You have them, why not use them?

Best Friends

"They may be happy now, but wait until the one on the right has to go home"

Prose Therapy: Write down what plagues you. Similar to the way I reified SAD and general depression as White Walkers, you can reify your own internal monsters as evil beasts or pestering insects or Tea Party activists or whatever you wish. Characterizing concepts makes it more fun to deal with them and makes them out to be less serious and more surmountable.

Imagination

The list is just shy of a lucky seven points: the final suggestion, which encompasses not only seasonal blues but general depression, will be taking up next week’s entire post. Get your lap napkins and sporks ready, because we’ll be tackling diets!

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Aleksandr Smechov, Baruch College.

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Student Depression: Stave of the Sleeplessness

Monday, September 30th, 2013

What causes your sleeplessness, whether it’s your anxiety or insomnia, is insignificant. Meaning that similar to parsing out depression, the causes are multiple and interconnected; instead of aiming for individual symptoms, tackle the problem as a whole. To illustrate the point, let’s say someone has a lung disease and by consequence they develop a severe cough. Giving them cough medicine might mitigate that particular symptom, but it won’t eradicate the disease as a whole.

Similarly, don’t go shooting in the dark for causes when you should instead be concentrating on snoozing in the dark.

Pad Pun

"A bad pun deserves another bad pun"

You’re throwing your life cycle out of whack by evading sleep. Getting back on track means finding ways to get a reasonable amount of rest.

Reasonable doesn’t have to mean eight hours. Get real, you’re in college, there are bound to be red-eye nights you’ll have to brave for purposes of edumacation, and nights when you simply can’t shut off your brain.

What you need is an arsenal, a tool belt that can be used to stave of that menacing sleep-disruption wolf.

Insomnia Wolf

"Why not stay up one more hour? Class doesn't start till seven in the morning anyway"

And that’s just what I’ve got for you today. Read it and sleep!

Bad Pun 2

"Please, no more puns, I'm begging you"

No Sleep Aids on Weekdays: Forget ZzzQuil, it’s a rip-off anyway. The last thing you need is to pop twice the regular dosage and sleep for 16 hours straight on a weekday. If you need to catch up on some sleep over the weekend, get some generic Benadryl, it’s the same thing but cheaper.

Get a Better Mattress: This costs way too much for an average college student. Better yet, invest in a decent pillow. Most of the sleepless nights I’ve had I can attribute to a cheap pillow causing neck pain or general discomfort. Think an $80 pillow is out of your budget? It’s hundreds less than a mattress and alleviates much of the frustration of falling asleep on an uncomfortable bed.

Rock Pillow

"Like sleeping on a bed of rocks"

Organize Your Tomorrow: You got an elephant-load of work to finish tomorrow and not enough hours in a day to possibly fit everything in. At least, not in your head. Write out tomorrow’s schedule hour-by-hour. You’ll be surprised how much more manageable things look when they are systematized in front of your eyes.

Write Down Your Dreams: Jot down your dreams in the morning. John Kehoe suggests you don’t do this immediately, and instead let the dream gestate in your mind as you slowly awaken, so as to recall specific details. Writing out freaky or weird dreams are not just conversation fodder—they can give you story ideas, facilitate your creative writing and give you a reasonable incentive to go to sleep at an appropriate time.

Make a Lullaby Playlist: It doesn’t have to be ambiance or nursery rhymes. It just has to be slow and soothing. I’ve gone through the trouble of compiling a short playlist just for you:

This Lullaby – Queens of the Stone Age

A Thousand Kisses Deep – Leonard Cohen

Aldrig Ensam – Jonathan Johansson

Beautiful World – Rage Against the Machine

No Coffee or Other Stimulants: Does this even need to be on the list? Even if you’re cramming, don’t facilitate with coffee and get your circuitry fried in the process. If you have to, cram until you fall asleep naturally.

Take a Shower: Unless you’re collapsing into bed after a workout, getting into bed after being out all day is just asking to feel like you’re sleeping in a pig trough. Take a shower, wash off that grease; you’ll wash off some stress in the process.

Do a Little Work: Ripping your hair out over the myriad tasks waiting to take you apart piece by piece tomorrow? Do a few minutes of each task before going to sleep. It gives you a head start and peace of mind.

Hug Something: Hug your partner, hug your pillow, hug your mangy stuffed animal you haven’t cleaned since you were a kid. It’s occupying your hands so you won’t flop around like an agitated fish all night, trying to get the perfect position. I suggest a plush Cthulhu.

Cthulhu

"Hug me while I quietly devour your soul"

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Aleksandr Smechov, Baruch College.

Follow the Campus Clipper on Twitter and Like us on Facebook!

Interested in more deals for students? Sign up for our bi-weekly newsletter to get the latest in student discounts and promotions  and follow our Tumblr and Pinterest. For savings on-the-go, download our printable coupon e-book!

 

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Student Depression: You Snooze You Lose

Sunday, September 22nd, 2013

Our last post left us dangling on the subject of balance; specifically, balance as the centripetal force behind helping students overcome depression.

But before moving on, a brief side note on my use of the word “depression.”

Personally, I prefer to use the word’s blanket term connotation, which includes everything from “feeling sad” and “negative,” all the way down to more harrowing stuff like “I’m going to kill myself and nothing’s changing my mind.” Am I being inaccurate by covering such broad grounds with a single word?

depression blanket term

"Depression can be an effective blanket term"

Using “depression” to cover such an immense range of emotion can be a double-edged sword. But the sword is definitely proportionally challenged. As in, one half, the half that has the drawbacks of blanketing “depression,” is so dull you can’t even cut butter with it. The beneficial half can split atoms.

depression as a blanket term is a super sharp sword

"He uses the dull edge to make his morning toast"

Maybe that’s a bit of a hyperbole. But what if you feel unnaturally sad, just for a day or two every few weeks or once a month? Just intermittent sadness, not over an extended period of time, not overly extreme to the point of suicide, but something that stops you in your tracks and prevents you from moving on. “I feel kind of depressed, but I’m not actually depressed, otherwise, I’d feel like this every day, and to a much more frightening degree.” This might pop into your head after such an episode, and you might chuck any notions of depression out the window, either for reasons of being hard on yourself (“Why should I call myself depressed when others are suffering more than I am?”), dismissal (“It only comes around sometimes, so it’s probably nothing”), pride (“I’m stronger than that, I just have my weak moments”), embarrassment (“What will others say if I tell them I’m depressed? Will they be more awkward around me?”), or anything else that causes you to toss out the notion that you may need to do something about this soon.

I aim to use “depression” in the less clinical sense and focus instead on the semantics of the word itself: “sluggish in growth or activity”, “low in spirits”, and “sunk below the surrounding region.” Obviously, not all of these pertain to psychology, but nonetheless they are less restricting and more associable for students who don’t consider themselves technically “depressed”

And the great thing about looking at the word semantically is that it helps reach a wider audience. Students will more willingly accept help and advice when they feel less judged and pressured by strict definitions and connotations, in turn preventing more severe symptoms from developing in the future.

So yeah, I lied, that wasn’t a very brief side note. Here’s a picture to make it all better.

gorilla on a unicycle

"Why does this even need a caption?"

… And back to reality we go.

Tragically, ironically (tragonically?), college life is a recipe of unbalance, rife with owlish sleep schedules, late night face-stuffing (junk food, pills, whatever your preferred poison), massive procrastination,  last-minute rush-a-thons, self-consciousness, quarter-life crises (that’s the plural for crisis, fyi), and a whole load of other scale-dislodging activities.

One of the biggest, baddest and meanest wolves in the pack is the disruption of a balanced sleep schedule.

sleep deprivation insomnia wold

"His icy mission: keep you awake as long as possible"

As not to be a conventionalist-luddite-person-thing, let’s just get the studies showing how sleep deprivation can temporarily help major depression out of the way. Yes, the subject is well documented, proven to work for the duration of time that the person doesn’t go back to sleep, and it seems like a perfect provisional remedy for students who need to brave entire nights anyway.

I wouldn’t suggest you go actively experimenting with this method, however.

Despite the soundness of the data, this is not a self-administered procedure: it’s done in a controlled clinical setting. And yeah, there’s that whole relapse thing after you go back to sleep the next night. Temporary fixes like not sleeping, along with over-caffeinating yourself, taking uppers, last-minute cramming and other get-shit-done-quick equivalents for maintaining productivity without having to actually work on yourself are so prevalent that they’ve become the only way most students know how to operate in college.

shake weight is the get-rich equivalent of fat burning devices

"Helps you get washboard abs in only two weeks!"

Tragonically, these insta-fixes leave out the necessary work that goes into long-term self-development, and serve little purpose when it comes to overcoming depression further down the road.

“What about insomnia?” you ask. After all, while sleep deprivation can be intentional, insomnia is a condition that is not voluntarily discarded whenever the insomniac wishes.

Regardless of whether your lack of sleep is intentional or not, the point is if you’re not sleeping, you’re going to have a hard time maintaining balanced, organized life in college. The goal of this post is not to determine whether you can or can’t control your sleeping habits, it’s to acknowledge that not sleeping will throw your already busy college life out of whack and make it harder for you, in the long term, to perform at your best.

I’m getting dangerously close to my weekly word limit here (also, I have to sleep), so watch out for next week’s post for a plethora of ingenious ways to help yourself go to sleep. Sleep is one of the most essential steps in physiologically tackling depression and getting on the road to an all-around well-rounded life. Dig it!

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Aleksandr Smechov, Baruch College.

Follow the Campus Clipper on Twitter and Like us on Facebook!

Interested in more deals for students? Sign up for our bi-weekly newsletter to get the latest in student discounts and promotions  and follow our Tumblr and Pinterest. For savings on-the-go, download our printable coupon e-book!

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