The Most Frequent Advice Given at CAPS

Posted: March 17, 2022 | Author: Abbie Cochrane | Read Time: 4 minutes

Advice from CAPSRecent studies show that students are feeling more and more burnt out. They are more tired and more overworked. This often leads to students needing or wanting help to cope with their busy lives. At Southern Utah University, the Counseling and Psychological Services Office is always there for students. Oftentimes the counselors at CAPS find that students are dealing with similar problems, with the most sought out advice spurring from anxiety-related issues. Other common mental health problems are depression, ADHD, eating disorders, sleeping problems or insomnia, self-harm or suicidal thoughts, and mood challenges. Here is what CAPS has to say to students who may be struggling with anxiety.

“Understanding the psychophysiology of anxiety, the environmental and social context contributing to the anxiety and what is happening in the body is probably the most important thing when addressing anxiety.” said Chelsea Gambles, a mental health counselor at CAPS. It can be useful for people to know where they're at in their window of tolerance and why certain types of coping skills are more effective than others given where one is at in their window.”

Window of toleranceOur hormones have a lot to do with our mental health. Hormones are largely impacted by our environmental and emotional state. For example, if a person were to encounter a tiger in the wild, our brain is going to activate the fight/ flight/ freeze. This causes hormone state to change. The window of tolerance space is a graph that shows where a person is mentally based on their hormonal activity over a period of time. If your hormonal activity is high, you are most likely to be in the hyper-arousal stage. This dose of high energy may cause you to feel overwhelmed, anxious, angry, or like you’re in fight or flight mode. On the other hand, if your hormonal levels are low, you may be in a hypo-arousal state. This causes feelings of numbness, depression, and shame. You may feel like you have little to no energy, you may feel withdrawn, or like you’re frozen. However, balanced hormone levels indicate that you are in the window of tolerance. You will feel grounded, flexible, open and curious, present, and able to emotionally self-regulate. CAPS has a toolkit online for students with loads of resources available to help with however you may be feeling.

Ways to Listen to Your Body

The counselors at CAPS also say you know yourself best. If you feel like something is wrong and you need to talk to someone, then trust yourself on that feeling. This also applies if you are feeling sad or overwhelmed. The person you choose to talk to doesn't have to be a therapist or a counselor; it can be a roommate, friend, or someone you trust.

Listening to your body also means taking care of yourself. Self-care is never selfish. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a deep breath and take things one step at a time. Make a checklist and check things off as they are accomplished. If that sounds too overwhelming, then start with the ten most important things you have to get done that day. Sometimes picking and choosing what needs to be done and leaving the rest for tomorrow can help minimize stress and motivate you to use your time efficiently to complete your tasks.

Remember to take time to eat! We know sometimes this can be hard, but eating enough food and drinking lots of water will give you the energy to complete what you need to do. If your stress happens to be financial or economic-based and you are having trouble obtaining food, head over to the HOPE Pantry. They have a vast inventory of food and toiletries that are available to students with a Student ID.

To students dealing with depression, CAPS clinical director DeNean Petersen advises, “Listen, really listen, you don’t need to solve the students problem, empathy and listening go a long way. Take care of little tasks and prioritize your day. Remember that depression is NOT laziness. Take it seriously if a student or co-worker talks about suicide. Encourage seeking help, take the shame off asking for help, we all need it from time to time. Remember it is important to take care of yourself as you work with others, draw boundaries, seek consultation, exercise, sleep, and eat well.”

The most important thing to remember is that dealing with one or more mental health or emotional challenges is nothing to be ashamed of. You are never alone. There are people out there dealing with conditions similar to yours. In the United States, one in five adults deals with mental illness. A 2020 statistic revealed that the one-in-five is equivalent to 52.9 million people who were struggling. What you are going through isn’t something you need to hide. There are people who care about you and want to help you. Never feel sorry for going through the things that you do. Your feelings are valid.

If you are feeling overly anxious or overwhelmed and you would like to make an appointment with a CAPS counselor, you can schedule online. If you would like to learn more, visit the CAPS website. CAPS offers crisis appointments for students and also has many useful resources.

Tags: Mental Health Student Life CAPS