With regular life drastically upended in such a short amount of time, it's understandable for anyone to be feeling stress, anxiety, fear, or anger. But UNLV students have resources to help with those natural reactions, no matter how remote from campus they physically are.
UNLV's Student Counseling and Psychological Services, or CAPS, remains open for students and is exploring telehealth options as regulatory guidelines have been eased during the national emergency. Call 702-895-3627 to make appointments. Students in crisis are still encouraged to walk in between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday-Friday, or call the center.
The service is there for all who need it, but if you're just looking for a few ways with tips to help you get your bearings, Luke Jensen, psychologist and assistant director of clinical services at CAPS, has you covered.
Dealing with stress and anxiety
- Stress manifests differently for different people. "I don't think there's a right or wrong way to experience stress. Some people will feel a little bit more panic or anxious or down because of isolation more than others. That could be a typical average response [for them], whereas other people might not necessarily be having those responses. And that's OK too."
- What to look out for. "The biggest things in terms of stress management are monitoring any changes to your basics. Sleep, eating, still maintaining a healthy diet to the best of your ability. Because of quarantines and the really big push for social distancing, people should still be being creative with how they're connecting with others, whether that be Facetime, Skype, or social media."
- Keep your news diet healthy, too. "People are digesting news and that can be fine. You want to make sure you're getting news from reliable sources. I would certainly recommend taking breaks from watching, reading, and listening to news stories as that can ramp up feelings of anxiety, stress. So trying to find a balance between, you know, getting the appropriate amount of information, staying adequately informed, but not bombarding yourself."
- This much change, this fast, can be stressful for anyone. "For most, it's going to be some sort of stress reaction: difficulty sleeping, problems with concentration, fluctuations in your appetite, maybe even difficulty relaxing in general. Those with pre-existing mental health conditions could see a slight worsening in symptoms, so they want to be sure that they're kind of continuing to get the treatment they need. For the majority, when you're bombarded with change, when that change all comes at, once again, it can feel pretty overwhelming. Take a pause. Have I noticed any changes to my basics? Am I having a hard time kind of now concentrating on the work that I'm being required to do from home? And am I not kind of keeping up with the demands of those responsibilities? Does my sleep pattern look different now?"
What to do if you find yourself stressed out
- There's no one-size-fits-all. "Self-care may look different. Someone that typically would spend time connecting with others, going to the nearest pub or a restaurant, might not be able to do that. Be creative and know that it's going to be hard to make those adjustments, but adjust in a way that and still engaging in activities that are helping me manage the stress. For example,whether it be going outside, unfortunately, to maybe walk alone or do something kind of solo in a space that provides more distance from others is good. Luckily we're not in the middle of the heat. Get outside and unwind and do some of those activities."
- Let yourself experience it. "Almost go to self-forgiveness in terms of, it's OK for me to feel stressed. It's OK for me to be taking steps to see what I'm doing to manage this. What is it am I doing to manage this and what other adjustments am I needing to make?"
- Meditation can be beneficial, and UNLV has the resources to help get started. "A few weeks ago, we did launch our therapy-assisted online modules. Any UNLV student that has an email address has free access to TaoConnect.org. There's a meditation library. They have modules for managing stress, depression, anxiety, and substance use. Most of the modules are built to be five or 10 minutes or less. You can use it on your phone. You can go to the webpage. Meditation or mindfulness is one of those things that's like a muscle: The more you practice it, the easier it becomes, the easier it is to transition from a stressful state to a calm one. It can be really hard to implement in the beginning. You don't see those long-term benefits unless you're doing it on a more consistent basis."
- Going stir-crazy is normal. "One thing that is sometimes beneficial is to remind ourselves that it's OK to have those kinds of reactions rather than like telling yourself that, oh, I can't be having this reaction, and I need to figure out what I can do to not be having this reaction. When we get stuck with how do I make this go away and why am I feeling this way, we then feel more stressed. Acknowledge yes, this feels different. Reminding myself that like the situation will pass at some point in time, and take it a day- by-day. I would also say there's noy real harm in sharing those concerns with others.
As with most things right now, the situation remains fluid as telehealth and other options become available. For the latest information, please call CAPS at 702-895-3627, email at email@example.com, or visit the CAPS website.