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Coping Tools during High Stress Times

How can we maintain emotional and mental well-being during high stress times? Consider the following recommendations and check out the resources below!

  • Be careful of COVID-19 overload. Limit the time you spend taking in COVID-19 news. It’s coming at us from all directions and this can be downright overwhelming. Turn off/stop reading the news. Maybe check in once a day.

  • Be careful of COVID-19 misinformation. Check out rumors for yourself by going to reputable sources. Check out state and local government sites for up to date information about closings. Go to the World Health Organization or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for correct information about the virus.

  • Our emotions reside in our bodies, so take good care of yours:

    • Maintain a regular sleep schedule—go to sleep and wake up at roughly the same time.

    • Maintain a daily schedule, just like you would at school.

    • Work towards maintaining good nutrition and regular meals.

    • Limit alcohol and recreational drug intake.

    • Limit caffeine intake.

    • Get some exercise!

    • Spend some time outside, in nature, especially.

    • Practice deep breathing, relaxation, yoga, Qigong.

    • Try taking up an activity that requires use of your body and mind, which can give you an emotional break: knitting, art, playing an instrument, etc.

  • Social connection! Maintain social distance, of course, but stay in touch with friends.

  • Consider keeping a journal about what this experience is like for you. But be sure to end your daily entry with 3 good things about the day, however small, to help keep your spirits up.

  • Maintain perspective. While this is a HUGE event for all of us, remind yourself of what’s good in your life and what’s important: family, friends, working towards your degree, religion, spirituality, etc.

  • Spend time with your four-legged friends. Some snuggle time with your pets can make a tough day a lot easier.

  • Do something kind for someone else. If you can’t visit in person, call!

Nutrition

During periods of stress and schedule change, it’s normal for eating habits to change. Many hormones in our body change in response to stress, including those that control our appetite and preference for certain foods.

If you find yourself eating more as a coping mechanism, be gentle with yourself and know this is okay. Try to remove judgement around your eating behaviors. It’s also helpful to have other tools to utilize to help manage stressful times such as talking with a supportive friend or family member, taking a walk, journaling, taking deep breaths or pursuing a hobby that engages or distracts you. That being said, food can provide a lot of comfort and most importantly, nourishment, when we need it most.

If you are having trouble with the sudden change of food available, know that a few days, weeks, or even months of eating less than “perfect” will not impact your health in a harmful way. Any food is better than no food. Take time for meals and snacks, even during the hectic times. The most important thing is to keep yourself appropriately nourished throughout the day. Typically, this includes 3 meals and 3 snacks to avoid feelings of food deprivation, which can lead to erratic eating patterns.

Stock Pantry Ideas

Many of us are wondering about ways we can improve our immune system right now. The most important things you can focus on are managing stress, getting enough rest/sleep, washing your hands, and avoiding people who are sick. Typically, if you are getting a variety of different foods from various sources throughout the day, you dont need to focus too much on levels of essential vitamins and minerals.

We do know that some vitamins can play a big part in giving our body a little bit of an immune boost. Vitamin C has been shown to improve our body’s immune response. Sources include peppers, citrus fruits, cantaloupe, broccoli and strawberries (all of these can be frozen, fresh or canned!)

Feeling under the weather? Try this smoothie, which is packed with sources of Vitamin C, plus ginger which can help reduce inflammation. It is naturally sweetened by apples and banana and flexible enough to make substitutions (or take out what you don’t have).

Ingredients:

2 green apples (skin on, cubed)

1 lemon (peeled, seeds removed)

1/2 cucumber (peeled, diced)

1 cup water or coconut water

1 inch ginger (peeled)

1 small fresh or frozen banana

1/3 bunch parsley leaves (chopped) OR 1 cup Kale/Spinach

1 cup ice cubes

On-Campus

The Line
For after-hours crisis support, The Line is available 24/7 to Tulane students. Call or Text The Line, 24/7, at 504-264-6074.

Student Resources and Support Services (SRSS)
When you encounter a challenge and don't know who to turn to, call SRSS. During business hours, you can call SRSS at 504-314-2160.  For support 24/7, you may contact an SRSS Professional On-Call at 504-920-9900.

Off-Campus

Beyond resources on campus, there are many helpful resources available online or by phone.

Toll-free National Crisis Hotlines:

Free Mobile Apps
For Self-Care:

Nod
It's hard being apart. Get tips and tools to stay connected on Nod. Nod has been updated to help students grow and maintain strong social lives through the COVID-19 crisis. Just because we can't be together physically doesn't mean we can't be socially connected.

For Help with Sleep:

CBT-i Coach
Provides tools to improve sleep habits and prevent future insomnia, as well as access to educational materials about proper sleep hygiene.

Note: This app is not meant to be used as a substitute for psychological services but rather as an additional resource to augment ongoing treatment.

For help Coping with Anxiety:

Mindshift
Aims to help teens and young adults cope with stress and anxiety by facing it, rather than avoiding it. Lists symptoms of anxiety. Offers strategies to manage worry, panic, conflict, ordinary anxiety, and three specialized categories of anxiety: test anxiety, social anxiety, and perfectionism. Also contains relaxation exercises.

To Quiet the Mind and Promote Self-Acceptance:

Insight Timer
Offers over 8,000 free guided meditations, 1,000 music tracks, polyphonic bells and ambient sounds, and stats/journaling to track progress.

To assist Trauma Survivors:

PTSD Coach
Provides support to people struggling with the aftereffects of trauma by educating users about trauma and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It also provides tools to identity, track, and manage trauma symptoms. Although some information specifically addresses veterans specifically, educational information and tools for tracking and managing PTSD symptoms are suitable for many people who have experienced a wide range of traumatic events.

Note: This app is not a substitute for psychological services but rather as an additional resource to augment ongoing treatment. While the app suggests some people may wish to wait to see if their trauma symptoms improve before seeking professional help, we believe that in the aftermath of trauma, it is best to reach out to a mental health professional.

To better manage alcohol and substance use:

SMART Recovery Toolbox
Part of the SMART self-help program for substance abuse with influences from the 12 step model.

To help moderate compulsive behaviors and addictions to substances, food, gambling, and/or sex:

Addicaid
Promotes moderation management and sobriety for a variety of addictive substances and processes such as overeating, gambling, sexual compulsion.

To assist with time management:

Focus Keeper
Uses the Pomodoro Method to help students who have trouble organizing their tasks, sustaining attention and/or managing work-related anxiety.

Web Resources

Mindful Self-Compassion
A website with free audio and written meditations that average 10-15 minutes in length. Examples include: Affectionate Breathing, Loving-Kindness for Ourselves, Giving and Receiving Compassion, Working with Difficult Emotions, Labeling Emotions, and Forgiving Ourselves.

Guided Meditation for Beginners
A website that presents a very simple, direct type of guided meditation for beginners, perfect for anyone getting started: focusing your attention on your breath, and nothing else, as you sit quietly. The website provides free 2, 4, 6, 8 minute guided and 10 minute unguided meditations.

In The Rooms Global Recovery Community
Through live meetings, discussion groups, and all the other tools In the Rooms has to offer, people from around the world connect with one another and help each other along their recovery journeys.

Coronavirus Anxiety Workbook (available in four languages)