Wellness Wednesday with Mental Health Promotion Coordinator Jessica Cohen

Posted by John Brhel on April 8, 2020

Wellness Wednesday with Mental Health Promotion Coordinator Jessica Cohen

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in many new changes and challenges for Binghamton University students. To help students adapt and manage their newfound stress, Mental Health Promotion Coordinator Jessica Cohen is offering tips each Wednesday, covering topics such as maintaining a routine and using social media in a positive manner. (Note: These videos originally ran on social media and include references to tap features that are not applicable).

Week 1: Taking Care of Yourself

For week one, Jessica offered tips to students for taking care of themselves during this difficult transition. 

  1. Watch a quick meditation or mindful breathing video on YouTube.
  2. Download an app like Calm or Headspace and make meditation part of your daily self-care routine.
  3. If you are feeling alone or isolated, call or text a friend/family member.
  4. If your feelings are affecting your ability to eat, sleep or study normally, help is available.

Week 2: Finding Your Daily Routine

For week two, Jessica discussed the need for a daily routine in order to reduce stress and maintain a sense of normalcy. 

  1. Set boundaries with yourself, your family and friends about when you are available and when you are not.
  2. Use a planner to organize your day. Include what times you will be waking up, studying, relaxing and going to sleep.
  3. Create a daily checklist of things you would normally do to take care of yourself and make sure you do those things every day.

Week 3: Staying Socially Connected

For week three, Jessica discussed how students can stay socially connected and avoid isolation while practicing safe social distancing.

  1. Schedule time in your Google Calendar or planner to connect with friends.
  2. Reach out and check in with your friends, even ones you might not normally text.
  3. Use Zoom for a live group chat.
  4. Meet up for a walk outside (just stay 6 feet apart.)
  5. Help others by volunteering at a local food bank or donating blood.

Week 4: Using Social Media Positively

For week four, Jessica discussed the importance of using social media positively.

  1. Set up a daily time limit for reading and watching news.
  2. Use social media to connect with others, not for mindless scrolling.
  3. Curate your feed to include only things that have a positive impact on you.
  4. When you reach for your phone, do a mindfulness check-in with yourself first.

Week 5: Seeking Out Telecounseling

For week five, Jessica recommends seeking out telecounseling for those having trouble adapting during the coronavirus pandemic.

  1. The University Counseling Center is here to help. Click here to learn more about UCC telecounseling services.
  2. Telecounseling services like BetterHelp can match you with a licensed therapist that fits your needs and schedule
  3. Need some help but not looking for a therapist? Other resources are available on our Here to Help page.

Week 6: Helping Friends in Need

For week six, Jessica recommends reaching out to friends who might need help and suggesting support services to them.

  1. Send a message to someone you haven't seen/heard from in a while just to check in.
  2. DM (direct message) friends who make concerning posts on social media to see if they are okay.
  3. Make sure you are doing what you can to care for yourself. You can't pour from an empty cup. 
  4. If you have a friend who is struggling, talk with them about which local or University resources might be the most helpful for them.

Week 7: Practice Self-Compassion

For week seven, Jessica suggests praciting self-compassion, which is basically self-care for your thoughts. Self-compassion is offering yourself the same kind of compassion and kindness that you would give to a friend who was having a hard time.

  1. Start the day with positive affirmations like "I accept myself exactly as I am."
  2. Notice self-critical thoughts when they come up and replace them with compassionate thoughts like "I am doing my very best today."
  3. Try out a self-compassion meditation like this one.

Week 8: Self-Care During Finals Week

For week eight, Jessica discusses the extra stress of taking finals during the COVID-19 pandemic, and encourages students to practice self-care.

  1. Take study breaks, at least 10 minutes out of every hour.
  2. Eat and drink to fuel your body.
  3. Get at least 6 hours of continuous sleep at night. Get more info about sleep here.
  4. Use a grounding technique during an exam to relieve test anxiety. Try this one.

Week 9: Processing Difficult Emotions

For week nine, Jessica discusses the difficult emotions that students are experiencing as the semester comes to a close, and how to process them.

  1. Reach out to friends and ask for support.
  2. Write about your thoughts in a journal.

  3. For more information from a grief expert, read this article.

  4. Check out Brene Brown's tips to responding to a friend's struggles with empathy.

  5. Ask for help when you need it. Go online for resources.

To contact Jessica Cohen, email jrcohen@binghamton.edu.

Have questions, comments or concerns about the blog? Email us at social@binghamton.edu