Self Help Resources
The Bucknell Counseling & Student Development Center provides numerous self-help resources for students that range from apps to advice on how to adjust to college life and take care of your mental health. Self-help refers to the act of keeping your body and mind healthy when you feel fine and helping or improving oneself when you start to feel less than okay. There are many different ways in engage in self-help activities; different people respond to different activities in different ways. In addition to taking advantage of the many support services at Bucknell, below are ideas about how to include self-care in your life.
Clearing Your Mind
As a student your day to day is filled with class, a job and extra-curricular activities. As the semester begins to pick up, tests, projects and other activities take up most of your time, leaving little to no room for self care and relaxation. In order to succeed in your classes and live a healthy life, it is important to make time for fun activities and self reflection that will help you unwind.
Make Time for Fun
Participating in things like a club sport, watching a movie with friends or arts and crafts are a great way to to help you unwind. Whether with friends or own your own, finding a fun activity will give your brain a break and help you get up and moving which helps both your mental and physical health.
Pick a Mantra
Focusing can feel next to impossible when there are dozens of thoughts racing through your mind.A quick way of taking a step back from whatever thoughts are swarming your mind is to give your entire focus to something simple and repetitive. Pick a word, or mantra, that brings you comfort, relief, or positive energy. For example, you might choose the word "peace" or the brief phrase "I'm going to be ok." Bring all your focus to taking a deep breath in and, when you exhale, repeat the mantra. Repeat this several times until you feel more centered.
Mindfulness meditation isn’t about totally your mind, it’s a way of practicing not attaching to thoughts, but letting them come and go. Like anything else you learn to do, the more you practice mindfulness meditation, the more you’ll get the hang of it.
Here are the basics. Find a quiet place to sit (either sitting straight in a chair with feet on the floor or cross-legged on the floor) and concentrate on your natural breathing. Notice when thoughts or feelings come into your mind, but try to not get carried off with them. Instead, tell yourself "There’s a thought" and picture yourself letting go of it like a cloud passing through the sky. Then return to concentrating on just breathing in and out. It’s very important to not get frustrated with yourself if you lose focus and drift away into thinking. The whole point is to learn how to be aware of when you’re lost in your thoughts and give yourself permission to let them go.
Start small when trying to meditate. Try to get yourself to sit for just 10 minutes a day at first. It’s vital that you practice regularly to get the full benefit. Don’t just use it on days when you’re terribly overwhelmed, practice it daily in order to get your mind used to being mindful.
Breathing exercises are a great way to help combat anxiety and stress. Sometimes when stressed, people find they are actually holding their breath or breathing shallowly which often increases anxiety and muscle tension. To start, breathe through your nose and feel the air move all the way down to your stomach and pause. Then gently let the air flow back out. With each breath out, let your shoulders drop a little and then repeat. Once you get used to breathing more deeply, try other activities that will increase your lung capacity such as yoga, Tai Chi and aerobic activity (swimming, running and biking).
Managing Your Worries
Sometimes it can be difficult to clear your mind because it is occupied with worries. By solely focusing on our worries so much, it becomes increasingly difficult to find the mental space to actually complete the task we spent so much time thinking about. One way to help combat your worrying is to schedule a time to worry and allow yourself to confront your feelings of anxiety.
Try these simple steps during your worrying time:
- Block out a small period of time in your day
- Pick a special place that is designated for worrying (try to avoid academic spaces and places you go to relax)
- Think or write out what is bothering you.
- Once your time is up, do your best to respect that time boundary and continue with your day.
A bonus of these exercises is that you may find that by the time you get to your worry time, the problem has resolved itself or just doesn’t seem as bad as it first did.
Another useful tactic is to distract yourself from any anxious thoughts you may be having. Distraction can be helpful in clearing your mind of nervous thoughts, especially in situations that make you panic (tests, presentations, etc.).
To start this practice:
- Focus on something in the room. It can be something visual like your shirt or shoelaces or something tactile, like the feeling of your body sitting in the chair or auditory, like the conversation next to you or the birds chirping outside.
- Try to absorb every detail of the thing you are focusing on
- Keep focusing on your chosen thing until your mind is relax and you begin to feel calm
By doing this, you are able to rationalize your thoughts and dedicate your energy to other activities.
Please Note: The web sites and mobile applications are provided for your convenience. The Counseling & Student Development Center cannot guarantee that the information contained on these sites will be useful or accurate. The apps are not the Counseling & Student Development Center's products and inclusion on the list does not assume support of all content and/or information.
We've provided a list of apps, mp3 files andwebsites that we’ve found to be helpful in supporting your mental health.
Self Compassion - If you struggle to offer yourself the same judgment-free kindness as you would a friend, explore ways to give that to yourself and reduce stress, anxiety and depression.
MindShift - A great tool for anxiety, it teaches relaxation skills, develops new thinking and suggests healthy activities.
Insight Timer - For those who currently engage in a practice of meditation or who want to start, this great little app provides a range of free guided meditations from experts or you can meditate on your own with a customized timer.
Panic Relief -Guides you through panic attacks and those suffering from fear and anxiety.
Headspace - Themed mindfulness and meditation sessions for a variety of concerns from stress and sleep to anxiety and healthy relationships.
PTSD Coach - Helpful for symptoms of combat-related post-traumatic stress, this trusted military app has been downloaded over 100,000 times.
Operation Reach Out - This lifesaving app for iPhone and Android was developed by the military to prevent suicide. Recorded videos and menu options help users assess their thinking and reach out for help in crisis.
T2 Mood Tracker - Tracks symptoms of depression, anxiety, PTSD, traumatic brain injury, stress and general well-being. Useful to share with clinicians and chart recovery. Another excellent app developed by the Department of Defense National Center for Telehealth and Technology.
CBT-i Coach - For people who have experienced symptoms of insomnia and would like to improve their sleep habits.
Breathe2Relax - Breathing exercises have been documented to decrease the body’s ‘fight-or-flight’ (stress) response and help with mood stabilization, anger control and anxiety management. Breathe2Relax can be used as a stand-alone stress reduction tool.
Guided Relaxation- Calm.com provides guided relaxation in the form of meditation that helps relieve anxiety and stress.
Relaxation Exercises- This downloadable mp3 file will help increase your mindfulness of the present moment so that you can clear away thoughts about past and future events with breathing exercises and mindfulness tips.
Mindfulness Meditation- This downloadable mp3 file provides instruction on how to practice mindfulness and be present in the moment.
Breathing Exercises- This downloadable mp3 file will teach you diaphragmatic breathing techniques to help calm anxiety and stress.
Deep Breathing- This downloadable mp3 file will teach you deep breathing techniques to help combat anxiety, panic attacks or stress.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation- This downloadable mp3 file provides tips on muscle relaxation to relieve tension due to stress and anxiety.
Guided Imagery- This downloadable mp3 file narrates a day at the beach. Guided imagery is a great way to relax your body and mind.
Guided Imagery Part Two- This downloadable mp3 file narrates a walk through the forest.
Guided Imagery Part Three- This downloadable mp3 file narrates a beautiful fall day.
ULifelineis an anonymous, confidential, online resource center, where college students can be comfortable searching for the information they need and want regarding mental health and suicide prevention. Services include fact sheets, student polls and perspectives and the "Go Ask Alice" page which offers students and parents helpful information on issues facing young adults.
Half of Us - This website initiates a public dialogue to raise awareness about the prevalence of mental health issues. Nearly all mental health issues can be improved with proper treatment. When we decrease the stigma around mental health and encourage students to seek help if they need it, we are changing and saving lives.
Virtual Pamphlet Collection - An online library of informational pamphlets on various mental health topics.
Test Anxiety Workshop - This website offers suggestions and techniques to helps deal with the anxious feelings that can cause someone to "blank-out" or forget information during a testing situation.
Counseling & Student Development Center
Graham Building, 7th Street Entrance