The Ultimate Guide To Mental Health For College Students

There are so many challenges postsecondary students face on a daily basis. Some battles are harder than others and some are fought on all fronts at once – in your personal life, at school, AND at work. You might have arrived here because you were doing some googling on “mental health for college students” — the broadest umbrella term available that ultimately refers to a billion different things. There’s a good chance that you’re a student trying to figure out your feelings, thoughts, emotions, and mental state right now. Maybe you’re even looking for symptoms? Trying to see if the thing you’re going through is normal and if there’s a name for it?

Or maybe it’s not even about you and you’re only reading this because you want to support a friend or a loved one going through a challenging time. If you’re a parent, you want to understand what mental health means for your child. 

You may hear us speaking directly to students but this article is really for everyone.

We’ll DiveThru the most common mental health challenges faced by students and provide resources you can turn to for more depth. We’ll follow that up with ways to take charge of your mental wellbeing and finish off with things you can do to support your friends and family.

Let’s begin with this:

Everything you’re feeling is valid. If you think you’re alone in these feelings, we’re here to tell you that’s not the case.

Let’s take a moment here to let that really sink in…

Whatever you’re feeling is valid. And, you’re not alone in whatever you’re feeling. And while that’s the case, it unfortunately only makes it suck a little bit less. So, let’s dive in:

Most Common Mental Health Challenges College Students Face

For some students, mental health doesn’t become a concern until they step foot on campus and begin this new stage of life. For all of its wonderful experiences university offers, it also comes with many challenges. 

Other students may be very aware of their mental health, having already faced challenges in the past and taken charge of their mental wellbeing. They’ve learned how to recognize symptoms, how to reach out for help and where to find support.

Regardless of how you get to uni, you may soon find out that mental illnesses don’t discriminate. Let’s go through the most common mental health challenges you or your friends may face and learn what to look for.

Depression In College Students

Depression wears many faces and can be difficult to diagnose because it’s a complex and unique combination of genetic, biological, psychological and environmental factors. Here’s what the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) has to say about this mood disorder:

With depression, you may feel ‘down,’ hopeless, or find that you can’t enjoy things you used to like. Many people who experience depression feel irritable or angry. And some people say that they feel ‘numb’ all the time.”

While everyone may go through these feelings at one point, it’s crucial to pay attention to how often it happens and for how long. It’s also important to think about how severe or extreme these feelings become.

What could this look like in real life for postsecondary students? 

The image is a list of ways that depression may show up in college students. The examples include not being able to get out of bed and go to lectures, one missed class turning into a week of missed classes, cancelling plans with friends because their lives are too fucking perfect, feeling like your assignments are pointless and a waste of time, not getting said assignments done on time, and letting that guilt suffocate you.

We could add more to the list, honestly. How about feeling angry and trapped by your student debt while the economy continues to go downhill and present you with fewer and fewer opportunities?

Or how about not having the energy to keep up with relationships or solve conflicts?

It’s true that depression shows up differently for everyone so remember this list is not exhaustive!

Anxiety In College Students

Anxiety is one of those things that makes you human. We all experience anxiety when we worry or feel nervous (or restless or scared). At a normal and expected level, anxiety impacts your life by motivating you, pushing you out of your comfort zone, or even making you aware of dangers.

But, there is a difference between this type of anxiety and anxiety disorders, which can seriously impact the way you think and live. Take a look at the Canadian Mental Health Association as they go into more details of various anxiety disorders.

Where to even begin with anxiety and postsecondary students…. Because of the stigma still surrounding mental health, students who deal with anxiety disorders sometimes suffer in silence. 

text: social anxiety disorder can look like shyness but it's so much more. avoiding social situations can have a serious impact on relationships, both personal and professional. panic attacks can give you an intense and unexpected feeling of fear, like the night before a midterm exam. obsessive compulsive disorder can keep students from concentrating and participating in lectures.

Anxiety disorders are no joke.

Eating Disorders In College Students

Eating disorders are about so much more than food. According to the CMHA, eating disorders “are often a way to cope with difficult problems or regain a sense of control. They are complicated illnesses that affect a person’s sense of identity, worth, and self-esteem.” The three different types are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder.

While for some it can be an issue surrounding body image, for others it may be perfectionism, self-esteem or a combination of factors. Social standards dictate ridiculous ideas of body image: women better be skinny but also thicc, you better work out but don’t be a beast, no one likes a cake face but holy heck you better cover up that acne. It’s hard not to react to these standards that permeate every form of media.

Postsecondary students face these challenges on top of other major life changes, like living on their own. The “freshman 15” is treated like a funny joke and gets thrown around like a rite of passage. Yet, our internalized fatphobia leaves us feeling ashamed and defeated. When in reality, weight gain of any type (including as a result of managing a full course load and adapting to a new lifestyle) is totally okay and a normal part of life.

For some students, controlling one’s body helps to counter the many changes happening elsewhere in their lives. When students start to feel this way, they spend more and more time on their body image and less on schoolwork, relationships, or extracurriculars.

Peer Comparison And Imposter Syndrome In College Students

Another form of self-doubt, imposter syndrome refers to the way people “attribute their accomplishments to luck rather than to ability, and fear that others will eventually unmask them as a fraud” (American Psychological Association).  

You could ace a test and still believe that you don’t actually have what it takes. Imposter syndrome can be accompanied by guilt, anxiety, and depression, so it’s super important to address it.

Peer comparison in postsecondary can be unnerving. The bell curve inspires gnarly competition, there is only a limited number of jobs when you graduate, and everyone seems to have it all together except you. Sound familiar? 

University students are in a developmental phase that creates so much uncertainty and ambiguity. You’re not quite ready to hit an industry but at the same time, you’ve also grown a lot since getting to uni. To orient yourself, you need a relative point and so you turn to your peer students to see what direction they’re going in. Before you get too far down the path of comparing yourself to others, just remember that everyone has a different learning pace and learning style. What’s right for your friend may not be right for you.

Students With ADHD

Turning to the CMHA once more, we get a good understanding of how attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder can affect someone’s ability to focus and act.

“If you live with ADHD, you might have problems paying attention, concentrating on one task or organizing things. You might make careless mistakes at work or frequently forget things. This group of symptoms is called inattention

You might have a hard time sitting still, fidget all the time or feel very restless. This group of symptoms is called hyperactivity

Or you might have a hard time controlling urges and take a lot of risks. You might do things without considering the results or act before you think. This group of symptoms is called impulsivity.”

It’s common for school-aged children to be diagnosed with ADHD but according to the Canadian Mental Health Association, two-thirds of them continue to experience symptoms as adults. Once you enter the postsecondary world and have to navigate more stressors, students with ADHD should set up extra support as recommended by the Centre for ADHD Awareness Canada

Substance Use And Addictions In College Students

Although university students are in a life stage where experimentation is welcomed and revered, things like substance use can become a real problem in the future. Without delving too much into individual choices, we would just like to point out that substance use can exacerbate mental illnesses or symptoms and vice versa. The Canadian Mental Health Association dives further into it here.

No one sets out to overindulge in substances to the point of creating an addiction. But it happens. As the Addiction Centre points out, tolerance built up over time can require larger and larger amounts of a substance and become a dangerous cycle. 

For postsecondary students, it can start off as curiosity, or peer pressure, or a way to relieve stress. Financial pressure, emotional strain from unhealthy relationships, and family expectations are all stressors that students might be tempted to alleviate.

5 Actionable Tips For College Students To Self-Support

Okay, we hope we haven’t lost you. We’ve painted a picture with real world examples of what mental health challenges look like for students. And, if it seems bleak, that’s because it can be.

But, we can change that! 

There are things within your reach that may help you through this tough time. 

Keep in mind that speaking to a mental health professional directly is the best course of action. A doctor will be able to guide you to your best treatment, whether that is therapy, counselling, medication or a combination of all. 

Now let’s dive thru five self-help practices that can make a difference.

1. Embrace Your Vulnerability

If you don’t know Brené Brown, you should. Here at DiveThru, we’re the biggest fan of her work, TED Talk and Netflix special. Seriously, chills. After this article, we 10/10 recommend hitting up the Google Machine to learn all about her and her work on vulnerability. 

In an interview with Forbes, she reaallllly hits home:

“Vulnerability is about showing up and being seen. It’s tough to do that when we’re terrified about what people might see or think. When we are fuelled by the fear of what other people think or that gremlin that’s constantly whispering ‘You’re not good enough’ in our ear, it’s tough to show up. We end up hustling for our worthiness rather than standing in it.” 

Embracing your vulnerability starts here: be okay with not being okay. You may be facing challenges with your mental health. And that’s okay. 

A 2016 Canadian National College Health Assessment reported that 44.5% of students felt so depressed it was difficult to function, 64.5% felt overwhelming anxiety and 13% seriously considered suicide. You are not alone in the challenges you face.

2. Self-Dialogue in Your Day-to-Day Life

Is your inner voice lifting you up or tearing you down? If it’s tearing you down, we get ittttttt. It… uh, well straight up sucks! 

Yet, you have the power to actively change how you speak to yourself and turn that inner dialogue into your greatest champion and companion. 

Where to start? Ask yourself how you’re doing and what you need. 

Simple? Yes. Powerful? Absolutely.

From there, start to listen to what your body is telling you. You are the only person who knows your body best. When something doesn’t feel right, speak up because you are your own best advocate.

DiveThru has a whole variety of journaling prompts that can get you started on this self-dialogue. Guess what? The app is free to download!

5 journaling prompts to get you started: how am I doing? what am I grateful for? I currently feel... what's stressing me out currently? how do I feel about myself?

3. Cover the Basics 

As a college student, you have a whole lot on your plate. And listen, your grades are important. But, they’re not nearly as important as YOU and your wellbeing.

Your mental health is no doubt affected by your overall wellness so it’s important to provide your body with enough sleep, nutrition and exercise. These can be some of the first things to go when symptoms of a mental health disorder show up. A healthy diet, 7-8 hours of sleep every night, and at least 30 min of moving your body each day will keep your body more prepared to handle whatever comes your way. It’s a good way to try and avoid getting to that lowest and most terrible point in the journey.

If you’re in the thick of your mental health experience, please know there’s no shame when these areas of life go out the window. If you are interested in making progress to getting back to these things in life, start with small changes. Start by brushing your teeth twice a day. From there, showering, or simply drinking a glass of water. Brush your hair. Whatever it is that will bring some bit of routine back into your life can make a huge difference. 

4. Reach Out to Your Support Group

The people in your life who care about you will want to support you in any way they can. Text them. Call them. FaceTime them. DM them a funny (maybe dark) meme. 

If you don’t feel ready or comfortable reaching out to your close ones yet, keep in mind there are many other support groups available. On-campus counselling and their student mental health programs can be a great place to start and find out what your options are. 

5. Guided Journaling 

Our entire goal and purpose for existence is to help you DiveThru what you’re going thru. SERIOUSLY.

We’ve developed guided journaling exercises (called Deep Dives and Quick Dives) and there is an entire section dedicated to Student Life. We help you DiveThru things like feeling overwhelmed, balancing it all out, and organizing your mind. 

Read our blog post Journaling: Everything You Need to Know for an in-depth conversation about the benefits of journaling therapy. If you already know alllll about that, skip ahead and download DiveThru to get started on your mental wellbeing journey.

Where Can You Find Mental Health Support? 

We know it’s tough to ask for help. There is a stigma surrounding mental illnesses that we’re trying to change *promise* and we know it takes bravery to speak out. On top of that, there may be other factors in everyone’s lives that keep them from opening up the door to a conversation about mental health. 

Have you ever felt absolutely drained, mentally and emotionally, and then told yourself to keep going? “Just get it done?” Yeah. We’re familiar with that thought too.

Regardless of where you are in your mental health journey, speaking to someone early on will prevent a worsening scenario. It’s never too early (and never too late!) to take charge of your mental wellbeing. 

Online Resources

Because the internet is often the first thing we turn to, let’s start with the resources there. Here is a curated list of national mental health associations that are tirelessly working to build awareness:

The Canadian Mental Health Association

The Mental Health Commission of Canada

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health Canada

Centre for ADHD Awareness Canada

Learning Disabilities Association of Canada

Need mental health statistics? They’ve got ‘em. Need to find an association near you? They’ll help you with that too.

On Campus

Most universities have counselling centres and they will offer free mental health assessments that can help you navigate your thoughts and emotions. This is a good place to start! 

Sometimes they will refer you to physicians and mental health professionals in the community and help you find the help you need. Don’t worry, there are cost-friendly options that will fit a student budget!

ACCESS Open Minds is funded by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) and Graham Boeckh Foundation (GBF). Their focus is on providing mental health services to students and young adults, with sites in several provinces across Canada.

Reading this article from the U.S.? Check out Active Minds, a student organization that focuses on changing culture on campuses to encourage more conversations about mental health and better access to support.

Doctors and Mental Health Professionals (MHPs)

When you begin your search for professional mental health services, start with your family doctor. If you don’t have one, not a problem! Any general practitioner can help you so set up an appointment at your local health clinic. Psychiatrists and psychologists can also give you an official diagnosis.

They will start with an assessment to identify what factors may be affecting your mental health and then guide you to the best treatment for your needs. This could mean therapy and counselling, medication, or a combination of the two.

Just something to note — nurses and social workers can also assess your situation and provide meaningful counselling directly, but they cannot make an official diagnosis. 

In Your Community

University students are establishing mental health clubs to combat the stigma and shame still associated with mental illness and we cannot commend this enough. 

HUGE round of applause!!! 

We ALL face mental health challenges and we believe by opening up the conversation, we’re one step closer to recovery. Together.

Your university counselling centre and/or the student governing body will have a list of these clubs available — don’t forget to check there first!

However, there are also community support groups you can reach out to:

1. Mental health agencies (national and local)

2. Self-help groups (like our wonderful Facebook DiveThru community)

3. Survivor initiatives

4. Community centres

5. Distress lines (if you’ve ever been curious about what actually happens when you use these lines, check out this article)

Psychology Today has a great database of both therapy services and support groups that you can browse. Best part? It’s international! You can find support anywhere you are!

How to Help Your Friends

If you’re here for a friend, let’s start with this… Wow. It’s a beautiful thing to want to support your friends in their time of need. It’s also really hard to watch someone you love go through a difficult time and feel totally helpless in the situation. More often than not, all that’s needed is just your presence, your kindness, and a listening ear. 

Here are some other suggestions so that you can support your friends and loved ones:

1. There are certain phrases that could make it worse (but here are 8 things to say to someone when they’re stressed)

2. Know that your questions or helpful suggestions can feel like judgment and pressure, even if you don’t mean it that way.

3. Avoid giving too much “space.”

4. Be friends first — share and listen.

5. Gentle distraction and humour are helpful.

6. Remember that your friend may not know what they need.

7. Recognize you may be anxious too.

Your help could be as simple as starting the conversation. 

Seize The Awkward is a great campaign dedicated to normalizing conversations about mental health. Because symptoms show up differently for everyone, the campaign put together a whole roster of possibilities. It’s also a great resource if you need help coming up with questions to ask. 

Last but not least, More Feet on the Ground is another great resource to use when approaching a loved one or a friend about their mental health. After a quick 25 minute course, you’ll be able to Recognize, Respond, and Refer students who may be distressed.

If there are any other student mental health resources you’ve come across that stood out for you or were extremely helpful, send us a message at sophie@divethru.com.

We’ll dive thru them all and add them to the list!

 

How To Deal With The News & Cope With News Overload

Well, well. Who would have ever thought that you’d be googling ‘how to deal with the news’ so many times this year…

It’s 2020 and a year none of us could have predicted. December had us making dad jokes like “I don’t know what next year holds, I don’t have 20/20 vision.” 

Now that’s just accurately scary. We were not prepared for shit to hit the fan.  Anyone else feel like they’re scrambling to keep it together??

A global pandemic has ripped through countless communities. Economies around the world have been negatively impacted. Racism, white supremacy and police brutality continued to run rampant. And we don’t know yet for sure that we’ll survive the murder hornets.

BUT. We have also found ways to move forward. 

We figured out how to adjust our social behaviour and respect boundaries that will keep us from spreading an infectious virus. 

And we are working on tearing down systems built on racist pillars and recreating our reality to be accepting, loving, and united. The work of countless activists and the Black Lives Matter movement have instigated real change y’all and we’re here to do the work. 

We saw LGBTQ+ rights win a huge civil rights victory in June 2020. The United States Supreme Court declared gender identity and sexual orientation protected from discrimination in employment. 

WILD. This is what we’re capable of when amazing humans get together and drive change.

All of this, however, means your newsfeed has been on fire and we’re willing to bet it has taken an emotional toll. 

Speaking to our in-house mental health professional, Natalie Asayag LCSW, we came up with a few strategies to help you navigate your feelings — and your newsfeed.

1. Limit The Amount Of Time You Spend Reading The News

Be alert to injustice in society and stay aware of your part in it. Continue to strive for a deeper understanding of social issues. Yes to tough conversations, yes to factual and relevant news intake, yes to uncomfortable growth.

However, you also need to take a step back and let your head absorb everything it just consumed. This is especially true if you find yourself turning to news briefings or news apps automatically when you open your phone. Sometimes we do this habitually without realizing it. 

Every 15 minutes that you spend lost in mindless scrolling adds up throughout the day and tires you down needlessly. Limit how much of your time you spend on news.

2. Set Boundaries For Yourself — Not First Thing In Morning & Not First Thing At Night

If you’re the person who loves to read the news in the morning, that’s great! Just don’t do it right after you turn off your alarm. Give your body time to wake up. Take those few minutes of your morning routine to shake off the slumber before you set the tone with the news. 

Also consider turning off news notifications to help you regulate when information is thrown your way. This way the power is in your hands! 

3. Set Boundaries With Friends And Family Around Conversations

Kindly check in with your friend(s) before a call to see if you can agree on boundaries around the news. Why? Because we all process information differently. They may want to vocalize what they’ve been reading but you may prefer to process internally. 

Here’s what you could say:

“Would it be okay if we limit how much we talk about COVID? I’m getting a little overwhelmed by everything I’m hearing.”

“Can I ask that we don’t spend too much time talking about _____ on the phone today? I’d love to catch up on all the other wonderful areas of our lives.”

“I think I may have overwhelmed myself with how much information I’ve taken in about ______. Can we give our brains a break from it and catch up on other things?”

The image has a quote that says "I think I may have overwhelmed myself with how much information I've taken in about this topic. Can we give our brains a break from it and catch up on other things?"

4. Avoid Social Commentary

You hear this all the time because it’s crucial: go to credible news sources. With so many people sharing posts, stories, and articles, find the original if possible and make sure it comes from a reputable source.

Don’t get sucked into what people are saying about it. Many opinions are posted on social media because it’s a great vehicle to make your voice heard. But listen to more than one voice. Follow individuals who give you more than one perspective. Learn to break down an instagram story or a facebook post into the opinion that is shared and the facts that accompany it. 

Balance your newsfeed so that you’re getting a mix of negative and positive stories. So often we forget to highlight the good news that we end up constantly battered by the bad. Feel-good stories will keep you from burning out. Our favourites are NPR (National Public Radio) in the US, as well as John Krasinki’s “Some Good News” channel on YouTube. 

5. Give Yourself The Space To Think About How You Feel About It

As in, how did the news you just read make you feel? 

What emotions are popping up for you? 

What do you need in this moment to cope with these emotions?

Journaling is a great tool to explore these questions and learn how your body and your mind are responding to the news. And that’s ultimately our mission to help you DiveThru what you’re going thru.

We’ve gone ahead and done the research for you. The benefits of guided journaling are countless and that’s why this practice is recommended by many psychologists and neuroscientists. Whether you have a huge life moment you need to process or just everyday stresses, we’ve got a Dive for you! 

To help you navigate your feelings during this insane time we’re going through, check out our Processing The News journaling prompt within the app (it’s free to download!).

 

How To Manage Stress And Avoid A Total Burnout

We think about work A LOT. How often do we check our emails? Work on the weekends? Lie awake at night thinking about our ever-growing to-do list?

The answer to all of these questions is probably too often. 

When we actually stop working for a minute and think about how our job affects every aspect of our lives, it makes sense that workplace stress is on the rise. A 2019 survey found that more than one-third of Canadian employees are more stressed now than they were five years ago. 

On top of that, a recent international study found that 30% of workers often or always feel stressed or anxious at work. That’s a lot of stress.

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) defines workplace stress as “harmful physical and emotional responses”. According to the CCOHS, these responses can happen if there is a conflict between demands and “the amount of control an employee has over meeting these demands”. 

In other words, workplace stress is when we can’t keep up with the demands of our job.

There isn’t one single cause of workplace stress because, after all, we all respond differently. Our jobs are also super complex and interconnect with our lives in so many different ways. We’ve got a lot going on. 

This workplace stress can build up over time and eventually lead to burnout. Burnout can be defined as “a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress”. 

 

The image has two columns. The first column is a list of common causes of stress, which includes a heavy workload, interpersonal issues, a lack of job security, and juggling work and personal life. The second column is a list of common causes of burnout, which includes little control over your work, a lack of recognition, very demanding expectations, and extreme work environments that are high pressure or monotonous.

 

Although they are connected, there is an important distinction between stress and burnout. Stress usually means too much – too much work, too much exhaustion, etc. Burnout usually means not enough – not enough motivation, not enough hope, etc. 

All this talk about stress stressing you out? Us too. 

In order to properly manage your stress, it’s important to find the root cause of it. Take some time to reflect on your work life and note any areas that could use improvement. Is your stress being caused by your commute to work, your procrastination, or your increased workload? Each cause will have a different solution. Keep in mind, reflection can be a complex process. Be kind to yourself. (Pssst, if you need a hand, may we suggest the DiveThru app? It’s free to download!)

How To Manage Stress In 7 Steps

Once you’ve figured out the cause of your stress, you can start accessing resources to combat that stress. You may be thinking, “there’s so much information out there, where do I even start?” Don’t worry. At DiveThru, we put our hard hats on and did the heavy lifting for you. Behold, the best suggestions for managing stress in one ultimate stress-management list:

1. Find a happy medium.

Ultimately, life all comes down to balance. Work is a necessary part of life, but it isn’t the only part of life. We need to find a happy medium in order to succeed in all aspects of life. Everybody is different so don’t be afraid to find what balance works for you: it will likely not be 50/50 and it may change over time. If you can find a way to balance your work and personal life, you will be less burnt out and better equipped to handle any stress that may come your way.

2. Take breaks.

When was the last time you took a break? It’s a proven super scientific fact that breaks improve motivation and productivity. We better capitalize on this, folks. When you take a break, try to change up your environment and task completely. A lot of times we simply switch our computer screen with a phone screen, but that doesn’t really count. Get up and go for a walk, stretch, or have a dance party in the bathroom. When you come back, you’ll be ready to focus again. 

Tip: use the Pomodoro Technique to schedule 25 minutes of work followed by 5 minutes of break time. After 4 rounds, you get to take a longer break as a reward.

3. Talk it out.

Have you tried talking it out? This means leaning on your support system and asking for help when you need it. It also means having open, honest conversations with the people you work with. If you don’t let your co-workers know what’s causing you stress, they may never know. Unless they can read your mind. But we might have a different problem if that’s the case.

4. Rediscover your passion.

Fun fact: when you’re doing something you’re passionate about, you actually create a positive feedback loop that increases your productivity. If you’re feeling unmotivated or disconnected from work, take the opportunity to look inward. Why did you choose this job in the first place? What makes you excited about working? Rediscovering your passion will make work more enjoyable and make everyday tasks less stressful.

5. Schedule time for YOU.

A lot of times we say we’ll do something for ourselves, but we never get around to actually doing it. Schedule it in your planner and place just as much importance on it as you do your work. Because it is just as important. Without that balance, we can become overwhelmed, stressed, and burnt out (see point #1). Paint your nails, read a (non-work) book, spend time with your family.

6. Maintain a healthy lifestyle.

A healthy lifestyle includes regular exercise, a nutritious diet, and adequate sleep. You will perform your best at work when you feel your best. We recommend finding physical activities that are fun so that exercising isn’t such a chore. Try to eat regular meals and think about what foods will fuel your body. Don’t get us wrong, we love a good cheesecake, but everything in moderation (at least that’s what my mother says). Finally, make sure you’re getting enough sleep so that you can wake up feeling rested.

7. Explore the tools and resources at your fingertips.

Put pen to paper to help sort through any stress that comes your way. Plus, journaling with DiveThru combines writing and introspection to allow you to really dig into what you’re feeling. Think of DiveThru as your BFF. We’re here to help you take charge of your mental wellbeing. 

Take these handy quizzes from the Canadian Mental Health Association to help determine your stress index and work/life balance.

Check out this playlist of TED talks for even more ideas on how to manage stress.

Our jobs play such a crucial role in our lives and it’s important to recognize the weight that they may carry. Imagine if, instead of thinking and stressing about work, we devoted even half of that time to managing our stress and taking care of our mental health! Wouldn’t that be a win-win?!

 

5 Ways To Quiet Your Inner Critic

You’re jolted awake to the sound of your alarm. After a night of racing thoughts, you feel anything but rested. You drag yourself out of bed, thinking how you should have gotten up earlier so you could have gotten a workout in. What a disappointment. Oh, there’s that nasty voice again, your inner critic.

You make it to the bathroom, and see your ‘I woke up like this’ face staring you back in the mirror. Ugh, your eyebrows. And, a new pimple? Gross…You wonder if it’s the new moisturizer you bought but it can’t be, you spent $68 on it. 

The shower feels good, like the warm water can almost wash away the ‘tired’ from your body. 

Feeling restored, you saunter to your closet and reach for your favourite jeans. You shuffle into them and your eyes fall to that area of your waist spilling over. If only you had gotten that workout in. 

The day gets longer and the negative self-talk keeps coming. 

“I’m not good enough to get this promotion.”

“I’m always the one to ruin things.”

“I’m not a great parent/daughter/friend/…”

The little voice that has been filling your head with these messages is your inner critic. Believe it or not, it doesn’t appear overnight. It’s a product of allll the different pressures we experienced growing up and the way we internalized those messages.

Let’s DiveThru what the experts say about it.

In a conversation with Psych Central, MFT Ali Miller, said this type of harsh self-criticism “often leads to stress, burnout, depression, anxiety, and a perpetual feeling of never being ‘good enough,’ which wreaks havoc on our self-esteem and enjoyment of life.”

In this TEDx Talk on Hardwiring Happiness, Dr. Rick Hanson talks about negativity bias. In his words, “our brain is very good at learning from bad experiences but bad at learning from good ones.” This was crucial for our survival as humans at one point! And because of it, our brains are still hardwired this way.

5 Ways To Quiet Your Internal Critic 

As many of us have experienced firsthand, amplifying our negative voice is destructive. Which then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, doesn’t it? 

You tell yourself you’re not good enough and in questioning your ability, you hesitate. 

You take a half leap instead of a full leap. Or maybe you don’t leap at all.

Let’s get you leaping. Taming that negative voice inside your head will take some practice but these are some ways you can start. Do them all, or pick one! Whatever sits well with you at this moment in time.

1. Bring Awareness To Your Thoughts

 Observe the conversation going on in your head and ask yourself these questions.

What strengths are you dismissing?

What achievements are you downplaying? 

Is it possible that fear or anger may be driving your current thoughts?

The best way we know (literally tried and tested) how to explore these feelings is through journaling. 

Our founder, Sophie Gray, created DiveThru because of her own experience with mental health challenges — if you have a minute, you can read about her journey here to see that she really seriously actually gets it. 

We’re big fans of journaling therapy. It can help you express emotions and unfurl their intensity, explore your thoughts and make decisions, and work through interpersonal conflicts that naturally crop up in life. 

Guided journaling will help you dive thru what you go thru. Our app is free to download! You’ll find 1000+ journaling exercises to help you bring awareness to your thoughts.

2. Try Not To Hit Re-Play

Throughout our day, we will usually encounter a handful of good moments, a few neutral moments and maybe one bad moment.

Which one were you replaying in your head as you got ready for bed last night?

Although it’s important to use bad moments for learning, dwelling on them for too long will make that internal critic stronger. It will feed it all the negative energy it needs to keep trolling you with “why aren’t you good enough?”

3. Pause And Register The Good Things People See In You

This is evidence. Like actual proof that the harsh voice inside your head is being too harsh.

When others notice the kindness in you, the capability you have, or the effort you put into things, allow yourself to accept it. Remember that feeling and internalize it because my sweet, sweet human, you deserve it.

4. Pick Out The Exaggerations By Writing Them Down

Dr. Rick Hanson says “argue against your inner critic and truly intend to win.”

Write down what your inner critic is saying. Now write down 3 accurate rebuttals.

Like this.

Now think back on the extreme “always.” We just proved that exaggeration wrong with 3 very true statements.

Give it a try yourself. Pick one negative thought your internal critic is currently bellowing at you and really personalize those answers like you mean it. 

5. Would You Dare Say That To Your Friend?

Let’s take a moment to acknowledge that we are so much meaner to ourselves than we are to our friends. Really let that sink in.

We judge ourselves so harshly and it’s partly because it’s quietly done behind the closed doors of our own headspace. 

But would you dare say that out loud and aim it at your best friend? Can you imagine telling them they’re not good enough?? Or telling them they’re not strong enough??

The answer is no, because we want them to feel loved and supported and empowered to tackle whatever comes their way. Give yourself the same positive space of healing and watch your internal critic run out of things to say. 

These 5 strategies will redirect your inner dialogue in a way that weaves positive experiences into the fabric of your brain.

When you’re ready, grab a pen + paper and head to the app store to download DiveThru. We’ll help you dive thru what you’re going thru.

 

How To Sleep Better At Night With These 10 Strategies

You finish off that last episode of New Girl and tell yourself no more Nick Miller for the night. Shuffling to the bathroom, you brush your teeth and scrub your face and think about the angel sleep you’re about to have. You throw the covers off, slide into the soft sheets and your head hits the pillow. If the next thing that happens isn’t a peaceful slumber, you haven’t released the stress and tension of the day. 

The effects of stress on sleep (and vice versa) have been studied in depth over the last few decades. Guess what the findings say? According to research compiled by healthline, poor sleep negatively affects your hormones, your performance in physical activities, and your brain function.

But wait, there’s more.

Researchers have confirmed that we are getting less sleep AND the quality of that sleep has decreased. And we’re not just talking about adults. CDC reports that 58% of middle school students and 73% of high school students are getting insufficient sleep on a school night. 

So at least you’re not alone? Shitty sleeps for everyone! JK we want the opposite of that.

Shall we even mention the sleep schedule of a college student? 48 hour all-nighters are a rite of passage. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine goes on to highlight the crucial element of sleep in the successful performance of a college student.

If you are having trouble sleeping, you are not alone. The stress and anxiety surrounding work, personal life or even current events has led many to really restless nights. 

We spoke with our in-house mental health professional, Natalie Asayag LCSW, and she has a few strategies to help you get a better sleep. These actionable tips will help you release the tension that naturally builds up throughout the day, the week, the month.

Let’s DiveThru Natalie’s suggestions, shall we?

1. Create A Bedtime Routine

Personalize the heck out of this one. Maybe this includes a shower, dry skin brushing and reading, or something entirely different. Whatever you choose, ensure it feels natural for you. Bonus points for you if you make it easy and not time consuming so you can stick to doing it every night!

2. Write Down Any Of Your Intrusive Thoughts

Prior to falling asleep, write down your worries, fears or concerns and lay them to rest. This will help “unload” the thoughts from your mind and onto the page. Literally. They plop down onto the pages of your journal and they’re never heard from again. Well, at least for one night!

If you’ve been following our blog for some time, you know that we’re all about journaling to calm your mind. We wouldn’t be if we didn’t know with certainty that it works so well! Download DiveThru (for freeee) and browse through the journaling exercises we created to cultivate calm and ease the feeling of overwhelm.

3. Focus Your Breathing

Try a sleep meditation, and/or a white noise sound to help ease you to sleep. This recommendation comes from our in-house mental health professional who knows it will help calm your nervous system, which triggers or eases levels of anxiety within the body. Listen to Natalie, fam. She knows her stuff.

Focus on breathing deeply. Even if all you take is a few counts, make sure you breathe into your belly. As you exhale, let your worries fall off one by one.

4. Remember Worries And Fears Feel Bigger At Night

Have you noticed that your worries and fears get a little bigger at night? A little more intense and a little heavier than usual? You’re not alone in that feeling. Allow yourself to “table” your worries and reconsider them in the morning. If you take a few moments to check in with yourself upon waking, you will likely find the same thoughts you were concerned with in the evening do not feel quite as “loud” as they do at nighttime.

5. Limit Your News Intake

Work to limit your news intake after a certain point in the day. If you enjoy watching TV, consider watching lighthearted, silly shows. Jake Peralta is bound to get some laughs out of you, just like Schmidt and Winston can. 13/10 recommended.

It’s not just the TV intake that Natalie suggests limiting. We also come across news on our social media so be sure to take some time away from your phone too.

6. Think Of 3 Things You’re Grateful For 

Practicing gratitude can be especially challenging during stressful times, but this is really when it is most needed. Do your best to allow yourself to shift into gratitude prior to bed, whether that means writing it down or simply thinking through these thoughts. This allows you to drift into sleep with a more calming focus.

7. Focus On What You Can Control 

If you are noticing anxiety or stress feeling more elevated prior to bed, allow yourself to focus on what you can control. In times of uncertainty we can easily get caught up in fearful thoughts. Shifting your attention to what you are able to control, even if this simply means your breath, is a very helpful practice.

8. Be Mindful Of Your Caffeine Intake

The obvious answer to quality sleep, but one that can be hard to follow: be mindful of your caffeine intake. Caffeine can heighten anxiety and limit quality sleep. Consider cutting off caffeine intake at a certain point in the day and remember that many drinks have caffeine — even tea, soda and decaf coffee!

9. Create Boundaries

Do your best not to do work in your bed, especially when it is close to bedtime. If you create a boundary around work, your mind will more easily shift into sleep mode when you slip under the sheets, rather than working to separate work time from bedtime.

10. Listen To Your Body When You’re Getting Sleepy

Note when you are beginning to feel sleepy. Often we ignore these cues, instead choosing to watch another episode or scroll a bit more to distract from reality. Do your best to be honest with yourself regarding your level of tiredness. Think through the consequence of watching an extra show versus allowing yourself to drift off to sleep as your body is signalling you to do so.

Whether you try them all, or just a handful, we hope these strategies help you get the rest you need. 

Because journaling is so so so good for you, we recommend starting your journey there. The benefits of journaling therapy are endlessssss. Most notably among them? A quieter and more rested mind. Download our DiveThru app (it’s free!) and bring awareness to your thoughts with our Busy Mind quick dive!

Time to put your mind at ease and go after those zzz’s. (too cheesy? ya we love it!)

 

8 Things To Say To Someone When They’re Stressed

At this point, it seems like “stressed” is a permanent state of being. Whether you’re stressed about the current state of the world, work, school, finances, relationships, or anything else, it can be overwhelming and, frankly, exhausting. Luckily, having a support system you can count on is one way to lighten the load. 

Part of being a good support system is just being there. The next part is knowing what to say. That’s the trickier of the two because everyone responds to stress differently. It’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. 

To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of 8 things to say to someone when they’re stressed.

1. “You’re not alone.”

Every single person has been stressed at some point in their life. And it sucks. Sometimes the best thing you can do is just be there for them, give them the space to talk then remind them that they’re not alone. Remind them that you’ll be there for them every step of the way.

2. “I’m your #1 fan!”

Let’s be honest, we all love words of encouragement. In times of need, words of encouragement can give those we love the motivation to keep going when times get tough. It’s also a beautiful reminder that they always have people cheering them on. The job of the #1 fan (that’s you) is to never let them forget how amazing they are. Try leaving post-it notes, texts, and/or voicemails so that your support is with them wherever they go.

3. “It’s ok to take a break.”

Stress makes you think that you always have to be ON. But sometimes you hit a point where you feel like you just can’t go anymore. That’s ok. 

As an outside voice, you can remind them that it’s ok to take a break. Taking a break is actually really healthy and leads to more productivity when you return to the task. So when you see someone pushing themselves to the point of burnout, gently remind them about the benefits of a quick refresh.

*And if someone asks why you’re not working on your term paper that’s due in 26.76 hours, just tell them that YOU WERE ON A BREAKKKK! Ross Geller would be very proud.

4. “How can I help?”

You: Can I help you with anything?

Them: No, I’m ok. Thanks.

You: Alright, let me know.

I think we’ve all experienced this exchange before. Instead of asking if you can help, try asking how you can help. This rephrases the question and makes it easier for them to visualize different ways you could be there for them. 

It also lets them know that you’re willing to help in any way they need. If they need someone to switch their laundry, that’s you. If they need someone to read over their project, that’s you. If they need someone to get them ice cream, that’s you. 

5. “Your feelings are valid.”

When you’re stressed, one of the worst things that can happen is someone diminishing your feelings. Don’t. Just don’t. Even if you think you know the person, in reality, you may only know the tip of the iceberg of what they’re going through. Offer support without judgement. Acknowledge the fact that everyone deals with stress differently and remind them that whatever they’re feeling is perfectly valid.

6. “You’ve done it before! You can do it again.”

As humans, we sometimes forget how strong and resilient we are. Try to remind them of all the things they thought they couldn’t do and all of the challenges they’ve overcome in the past. Remind them that they’ve done all of this incredible stuff before, so this time will be no different. Maybe all they need is a new perspective on failure and success.

7. “Focus on one thing at a time.”

Work, appointments, groceries, bills. When you start thinking about everything you have to get done, it’s very easy to get overwhelmed. Instead, remind them to focus on one thing at a time. Suddenly their list becomes more manageable and they can focus their attention on finishing one task before worrying about any others. If one thing at a time is too much, they can try one hour at a time or even one minute at a time.

8. “I’m here if you want to talk.”

Last but CERTAINLY not least. Letting someone know that you’re available to talk opens up a safe space for them to share what they’re going through. 

In these circumstances, as important as it is to listen, it’s also important to not interrupt. Sometimes all they need is a good rant, and they won’t get that if you’re chiming in every two seconds. Try to hold onto your questions or comments until the end. Do your best to figure out how to be a better listener.

We’ve all been there. Stress is a part of being human. With these tips, you’ll be better equipped to support colleagues, friends, loved ones, and yourself when tough times come around.

 

15 Celebrities Speak Out With These Mental Health Quotes

Feeling alone is the worst. When we struggle with our mental wellbeing sometimes that is all we feel—alone and isolated. At DiveThru, we understand that sentiment—seriously, we have been there too! And we are going to show you that you are definitely not on your own, with 15 mental health quotes from celebrities who get it.

It’s important to remember that mental health does not discriminate. 1 in 5 adults across all races, ethnicities, and genders will struggle with mental health in their lifetime. That’s a lot of people diving thru the same stuff—and you bet that also includes the celebrities we look up to so often. Even with the glamour of haute couture, red carpet appearances and hit singles, celebrities are seriously impacted by mental health challenges. They too struggle with loving themselves, especially while the media keeps them in a constant state of comparison to others.

We know we have a long way to go before mental health is no longer stigmatized. 

*Trust, we are working on it.* 

But let’s take a quick moment to acknowledge how far the conversation has come. 

We have gathered some mental health quotes from celebrities to show you that you are not alone. These quotes also have some great messages that may help as you take charge of your mental wellbeing. 

Your friends, family, or coworkers could be working on their mental wellbeing as well and can understand what you are going through. But just in case they’re not quite ready to talk about their challenges with you yet, let’s take a look at these celebrities who are ready for the conversation:

Demi Lovato

“It’s something that’s extremely common, one in five adults has a mental illness, so basically everyone is essentially connected to this problem and this epidemic.”

 

Emma Stone

“What I would tell kids going through anxiety, which I have and can relate to, is that you’re so normal. Everyone experiences a version of anxiety or worry in their lives, and maybe we go through it in a different or more intense way for longer periods of time, but there’s nothing wrong with you. To be a sensitive person that cares a lot, that takes things in in a deep way is actually part of what makes you amazing… I wouldn’t trade it for the world, even when there are really hard times. Don’t ever feel like you’re a weirdo for it because we’re all weirdos.”

 

The Rock

“I found that with depression, one of the most important things you could realize is that you’re not alone. You’re not the first to go through it; you’re not going to be the last to go through it.” 

 

Lana Condor

“You can get nervous and be like, ‘oh my god, someone’s not going to like me, I’m going to say something that’s wrong, I’m going to do something that’s wrong, I’m afraid someone’s going to look at me funny or they don’t think my life is cool. Then I realized it’s just, it’s anxiety and I think it’s something we all go through.”

 

Cara Delevigne

“I was so ashamed of how I felt because I had such a privileged upbringing. I’m very lucky. But I had depression. I had moments where I didn’t want to carry on living. But then the guilt of feeling that way and not being able to tell anyone because I shouldn’t feel that way just left me feeling blame and guilt.”

 

Jonathan Van Ness

“When we’re able to share with someone who we do feel safe with, we can realize that these things that are happening to us don’t make us unloveable and aren’t anything to have as a huge secret and don’t make our future dark and dreary. Actually, we have a really gorgeous future and we deserve love and safety.” 

 

Serena Williams

“I just was in a funk. Mostly, I felt like I was not a good mom. I read several articles that said postpartum emotions can last up to 3 years if not dealt with. And I like communication best. Talking things through with my sisters, my friends, let me know that my feelings are totally normal. It’s totally normal to feel like I’m not doing enough for my baby.” 

 

Adele

“I can slip in and out of depression quite easily. I had really bad postpartum depression after I had my son. It frightened me and I didn’t talk to anyone about it. I was very reluctant…Four of my friends felt the same way I did, and everyone was too embarrassed to talk about it.”

 

Lili Reinhart 

“You are the one thing in this world, above all other things, that you must never give up on. When I was in middle school, I was struggling with severe anxiety and depression and the help and support I received from my family and a therapist saved my life. Asking for help is the first step. You are more precious to this world than you’ll ever know.” 

 

Camila Mendes

“I just started seeing a therapist, and I’m super stoked about it. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time and considering how much my life has changed this year, I thought it was about time I check in with myself.” 

 

Michelle Obama

“Sadly, too often, the stigma around mental health prevents people who need help from seeking it. But that simply doesn’t make any sense. Whether an illness affects your heart, your arm or your brain, it’s still an illness, and there shouldn’t be any distinction…we should make it clear that getting help isn’t a sign of weakness — it’s a sign of strength — and we should ensure that people can get the treatment they need.”

 

Kristen Bell

“For me, depression is not sadness. It’s not having a bad day and needing a hug. It gave me a complete and utter sense of isolation and loneliness. It’s debilitation was all-consuming, and it shut down my mental circuit board. I felt worthless, like I had nothing to offer, like I was a failure. Now, after seeking help, I can see that those thoughts, of course, couldn’t have been more wrong…There’s nothing weak about struggling with mental illness.”

 

Lizzo

“I finally realized that owning up to your vulnerabilities is a form of strength. And making the choice to go to therapy is a form of strength.”

 

Meghan Markle

“We just need to be kinder to ourselves. If we treated ourselves the way we treat our best friend, can you imagine how much better off we would be?”

 

Lady Gaga

“I’ve been searching for ways to heal myself, and I’ve found that kindness is the best way.”

Hopefully these mental health quotes have helped show you that you are not alone and given you some important ideas to remember as you work on your mental wellbeing. 

What are your tips for feeling less alone in this crazy world? Do you have a favourite quote that helps with your mental wellbeing? Let us know in the comments!