As Spring slowly finds its way to Kentucky, we should be reminded of how beautiful nature can be...of how beautiful this life can be. Following the Spring equinox, days now have begun to last longer as nights are starting to get shorter. More sunlight is proven to be a major mood changer! Studies have shown exposure to sunlight is thought to increase the brain’s release of serotonin, a hormone associated with elevating moods and allowing an individual to feel calm and focused. One of the most serene aspects of Spring, other than the sun, is the birds return!! Birds have a way to fill the air with alluring harmony and add a sense of life into the air. With warmer temperature approaching, we all can try to spend more time outside which is wonderful for our overall mental health. The wonderful aspect of Spring is all the stunning green that begins to bloom all around us. The trees and plants begin to wake and flourish, adding a sense of peace to nature. Fresh veggies and fruits are available in local grocery stores, and eating healthy become easier and tastier! And of course we can’t overlook the Spring flowers!! Several studies have shown that being around flowers can bring an individual an overall feeling of happiness!! So take your exercise outside during the Spring, and enjoy the serene harmony of the birds and the alluring nature of the flowers! For Spring, do what feels good for your mind, body, and soul. Think of Spring as a new way to detox the body! Start fresh, breath deep, and enjoy the moment. I’ve attached a recipe for a Detox Support Smoothie that I have found! It’s delicious, and a perfect way to get your body ready for the beautiful Spring to come.
This month, I want to push you all to do something that’s really difficult. With midterms behind us and the end of the semester approaching, it’s easy to become so engrossed in school that we forget take care of ourselves. This is a time where it’s easy to start beating ourselves up and be overly critical about every action we have taken throughout the semester. I am three years into my college career and I am still making mistakes all the time. Sometimes I miss class. Sometimes I don’t do as well on a test as I would’ve hoped. Sometimes I neglect studying because I just want to have fun. Sometimes I nod off in class. It seems that I find myself remembering the things I have done wrong throughout the semester more often than the things I’ve done correctly. This is easy to do, as we are all our own worst critics, but today I want to challenge you to stop. Stop beating yourself up! We are all humans, we all make mistakes. Instead of tearing yourself down, ask yourself what you can do in that moment to bring your confidence back up. The world is mean enough, there’s no reason for you to be mean to yourself!
To help us all learn how to be nicer to ourselves (including me), here are 5 tips and explanations from Psychology Today that can help guide us with practicing self care and kindness:
1. Focus more on positive self-talk.
Make a conscious effort to stop putting yourself down. To do that, you need to be more aware of your negative self-talk, those jabbing comments that you make to yourself. Compliment yourself on the things you do well; acknowledge your achievements, no matter how small. Make a list at the end of each day of 5 things you did well, that made you happy, or that you are proud of doing. Write these down and then read them to yourself (out loud if possible) before you go to bed. This won’t eliminate all negative thinking, but if you can tip the scales toward the positive, it will help keep your energy up.
2. Practice kindness towards yourself.
Being kind to yourself is just as important as being kind to others. Here's a rule: Things that you would never say to your loved ones, either out of consideration or for the fear that you might offend them, should never be said to yourself, either. Imagine the amount of suffering it would cause others to hear these things from you, and realize that you are hurting yourself just as much.
3. Stop comparing yourself to others.
There is always going to be someone better than you at something. There will be those who are not as proficient as you, too. If you tend to compare yourself to someone who is the best at what they do, you may be playing a losing game. We play so many roles throughout our lives that it’s impossible to be better than the other 7 billion human beings at everything. Accept the fact that you are not perfect, and focus on being the best version of yourself.
4. Think of mistakes as learning opportunities.
Life is an unending process of self-improvement, and mistakes are unavoidable. It truly is a journey, and just like the longest road trip would involve some mistaken turns, so does your life. You have many great qualities and many areas for improvement. See those mistakes as opportunities: They show you what you need to work on to become the best you can be.
5. Be patient with yourself.
It takes time to correct the harmful habits that you have had for most of your life, especially deep-rooted ones like self-criticism. Considerable effort is required to change the way you think and to foster positive self-talk to get to the calmer, more reasonable you. Your life is a work in progress, so commit each day to doing something positive for you. Practice until being naturally good to yourself becomes more comfortable. Most important, don’t beat yourself up when you don’t do it as well as you ‘should.’” - Psychology Today
I hope these tips have helped you learn new ways to be kind to yourself. Please practice self kindness and remember- You got this! You are amazing, smart, and can accomplish anything you put your mind to. Have a great rest of your semester.
***(Remember to reach out to our committee directors if you ever need anything, and also to attend our committee meetings on Wednesdays at 3:30PM in the SAC room 305!)
Depression, and particularly suicide, has been a trending topic this month in light of two recent tragedies, the deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. One was an extremely accomplished and wealthy designer who co-founded a company with her own name, and the other was a celebrity chef and world traveler who seemed as eccentric as one could be. Both committed suicide, and in both cases, we were all shocked. They had it all… What could’ve possibly made them so depressed that they chose to take their own lives?
According to the Washington Post, recent studies have shown that suicide rates have risen dramatically in 49 out of 50 U.S. states within the past two decades. The only state that showed a decrease in their suicide rate was Nevada, which shrunk by a mere 1%. In the U.S., on average, 13 out of every 100,000 people will commit suicide. Among people ages 15 to 34, suicide is the second-leading cause of death. This is strange, isn’t it? Haven’t we been talking about mental health and suicide more often? Haven’t we been starting new prevention efforts? Why aren’t they working? Is this a public health crisis?
I think in order to truly address the recent rise of the suicide rate, the first step is to analyze the climate that has been fostered within the United States within the past two decades. Divorce rates are skyrocketing, families are being torn apart by various systems, we went through a rocky recession, we hit a job crisis, drugs are running rampant in the streets and social media is growing to be larger and more influential each and every day.
I know what you’re thinking. Okay, but… What does that have to do with the national suicide rate? Let’s break this down.
A high divorce rate tends to correlate with a high rate of suicide. I think it goes without saying that breaking up is hard to do. Divorce is even harder. Once you bring financial ties, children, and the government into a situation… things get messy. Divorcees often struggle with depression within the first couple of years, as do the children and other members of the family. Breaking up a family voluntarily may be the hardest thing one can ever cope with.
Another thing that could be contributing, and is breaking up families daily, is the prison industrial complex. If you haven’t before, you should look up the rates of suicide in jails and prisons. It is truly astounding. Being in prison comes with hard working conditions, rough treatment and punishment, loneliness, an onset of new mental health issues. All of these things cause low self esteem, a huge contributor to depression. Working in prison also causes many similar issues, especially those concerning mental health. Sending people to prison breaks up families, causing the people left behind to be left in shambles of the life they used to have. The government itself breaking them up on at the border does the same thing, because mental health and the human struggle go far beyond the status of citizenship. Read this story here about a man who took his own life after having his child taken away from him at the border.
Now, we have to look at the recession and the collapse of major industries (for example, coal) that happened in the 2000s in this country. Poverty or losing a job causes a lot of strife in ones life, often lowering their self esteem and self worth, and bringing an onset of depression along with it. Not only that, but counseling and therapy aren’t cheap or accessible to everyone, and neither are the meds that are often required to treat symptoms of mental illnesses like depression.
Next, we have to look at drugs and the unfathomable rate of overdoses that happen each year in this country. Many of them purposeful, many accidental, all cases of suicide. As rates of drugs increase, so do rates of suicide. Just from 2015 to 2016, drug overdoses increased by over 21%. According to the CDC, the rate of overdose was three times as high in 2016 as it was in 1999 (side note: If you haven’t caught on by now, this is some pretty solid proof that the War on Drugs didn’t work… and actually made things significantly worse).
And last, but not least, social media. Back in the good old days of baby boomers and rotary phones, you only got bullied on the bus to school, at school, and on the bus back. Now, once you get home and open up your laptop or your phone, there’s a whole different world filled with ample opportunity for kids (and grown adults) to tear each other down and make one another feel worthless. The rise of cyberbullying brought with it the rise of the rate of suicide. According to the Journal of Adolescent Health, social media is associated with mental health problems, which includes depression, sleep disturbances, and eating concerns, among young adults.
I’ve just listed for you several cultural, political, and social aspects that have changed in the last two decades that could have contributed to the rise of the suicide rate. With all of those factors working together, it’s no wonder that the rate has risen. But at the end of the day, we have to realize how each and every one of us contributes to this climate that has fostered such a toxicity, people would rather end their lives than to be apart of it. We also have to realize that depression is a mental illness, and while many things can cause or contribute to it, sometimes it seems that you will never be able to find a reason as to why someone took their life. You can have it all, but depression will still find a way to convince you that you have, and are, nothing. We, as a society, must try to make amends for those that we have broken or neglected to help by working each day to create a new environment. One that we all feel welcome to be a part of and to live in. Because at the end of the day, this isn’t just a public health crisis, it’s a public humanitarian crisis. We must look at ourselves and our own behavior, watch what we say before we say it, reach out to one another, and spread love and compassion. Ask your friends if they’re okay. Ask yourself if you’re okay. And if you’re not, please let someone know, because we want you to stay. Please, just stay.
If you or someone you love needs help, please call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-888-273-8255
Articles/Sources used to write this post:
Hello! My name is Bayley Amburgey and I will be this year’s Mental and Physical Health Committee Director, along with lovely my co-director, Nada Kaissieh. I wanted to write this introductory blog post to let you know a little about us and our committee.
M&PH is still a relatively new committee for ELSB, so this year, we are looking to grow bigger, better, and bolder. We plan on having FUN at our committee meetings each week, always having little projects, activities, or plans for our committee to help improve themselves, our campus, our community, and our world! We also plan on creating programming that will reach students from all different backgrounds. Mental and physical health is something we all work on individually, but Nada and I know it’s often much easier to do with support around you. That’s where we come in. We want to create events that excite, educate, and support students, faculty, staff, and members of the Louisville community. We want to create events that relate to you no matter your race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, ability, nationality, religion, etc!
If you want to learn more about us or our committee, partner for an event, or have any questions, please send us an email! We can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Mental and Physical Health is dedicated to creating and implementing programming and service opportunities that help to improve, develop, and educate on the health of all students and community members.
Co-Director: Afi Tagnedji
Co-Director: Jenna Tinnell