Coping with Depression in College


Dep in college

Perhaps you’ve seen the phrase, “stressed, depressed, but well-dressed,” printed upon a hipster sweater or bro tank. While casually written with a clever rhyme, the phrase has a much deeper implication: on the outside, you appear presentable, but on the inside, it might be the complete opposite. It’s difficult to admit to yourself that sometimes you are not even remotely okay. It can be even harder to admit that you need help from others.

In college, there is immense pressure to perform well academically, find meaningful connections, and decide what you want to do for the rest of your life. This places incomprehensible amount of stress on an which adversely impacts both mental and physical health. Negative thinking twists your self-esteem into statements like “I’m not good enough” or “I feel so alone.” So what do we do with that? As college students, how do we cope with depression on top of all our other responsibilities? We are fortunate that the University of Florida offers countless resources to students to improve their situations and battle depression.

One of the most prominent resources is UF’s Counseling and Wellness Center. Once you call 352-392-1575, they will set up a 20-minute triage appointment to decide which options are best for you. These options include individualized and group therapy at two on-campus locations, but they can also refer you to  services based on the city you live in, whether it’s Gainesville or your home town.

One of the workshops is Conquering Public Speaking Anxiety, which meets weekly to help build the skills one needs to be confident in front of an audience. Another workshop, Habits of Happy People, helps participants identify their sources of happiness for meaningful lives.

You might think that to participate in the CWC’s activities, you should have a diagnosed mental illness, but this far from the truth. Any distress students experience, whether stress from schoolwork or general depression, can be addressed and helped by the CWC. The structured topics for group therapy   for currently offered include, among others: Coping with Medical Challenges, Sexual Assault Survivors Support, Invincible Black Women, LGBTQ Empowerment, and You are Enough. This is only a small portion of the different support groups the CWC offers. UF is dedicated to helping provide safe spaces for its students. On the CWC website, a tab called “Self-Help Resources” lists many online resources and referrals. One of these is a list of iPhone apps, such as HeadSpace, that can help with stress management, anxiety reduction, mindfulness meditation, sleep, mood trackers, and general wellness.

To cope with depression, the CWC recommends talking to others, taking care of your body, and practicing gratitude. The CWC also suggests reading self- help books such as Happy for No Reason by Marci Shimoff and Zen and the Art of Happiness by Chris Prentiss. The CWC also offers an after-hours crisis hotline.

A great way to reinvigorate yourself when you’re stressed is to exercise. The Student Rec Center and Southwest Recreation offer group fitness classes throughout the year. Exercise releases endorphins to decrease stress levels and increase energy and clear thinking. It’s easy to tell yourself to go to the gym, but somehow end up staying in bed watching a Netflix instead. However, the group fitness classes offered by UF require registration and penalize students who miss more than two classes. Attending a group fitness class regularly will greatly help your mental and physical health. If you seek a peaceful and meditative form of exercise, vinyasa yoga is a perfect fit.. For a more upbeat and entertaining form of exercise, the hip-hop fitness classes could be an excellent choice. There are plenty of other classes available—try out different ones until you find the one that’s best for you.

Most importantly, the key to minimizing stress is to prioritize yourself. It’s easy to place the importance of your grades above your well-being, but it is ultimately unhealthy. It’s crucial to set time aside for your mental and physical health. While college can be extremely stressful at times, you can minimize this burden by using the CWC’s resources, attending group fitness classes, and connecting with other people. You are worthy,  so pencil in some time to achieve wellness.

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