Tag Archives: mental health

The Power of Creating Our Spaces

By Jonah Vroegop

[3 ½ minute read]

Over the last few months, the world has been in a state of unpredictability – that’s no secret. International travel is shut down, stores and restaurants are only accessible online. Museums, public spaces, and universities are closed around the world. But, we’re all still here, aren’t we? Being pushed indoors or to distanced, outdoor spaces has been a challenge for myself and many others. Although we can still have picnics on the lawn and we can still get groceries, we can’t do a whole lot more. Even work and class, which are usually a nice excuse to get out and get your day moving in a productive way, are largely remote. This has caused an ongoing struggle for me of deciding what to do with my day and how to be creative. It is hard to motivate myself to be productive in both school/work and also the personal projects that I have had on my bucket list. So what can we do about it?

Photo by Ellen Auer on Unsplash

Be strict about where you spend your time. As humans, we are naturally inclined to interact with our environment and to respond to it through our behavior and attitudes. Therefore, by changing our environment and our attitude toward it, we can force ourselves to behave in ways that are conducive to productivity! Research shows that the places we spend our time are a critical part of our memories and the experiences we have at a biological level. So when we spend most of our time relaxing in bed or on our favorite chair, we associate these places with relaxation – just like how we may associate the classroom with focused attention or associate the kitchen with eating and cooking. So to be more productive, I always do work sitting at a table or at a place where I won’t be tempted to do other things. Avoid doing work or browsing the internet in bed at all costs and try to save getting in bed for when you actually want to sleep.

Try a new technique! Keeping a schedule is important so that we can get to bed at a reasonable time and avoid those moments of “Oh jeez, I messed up” when you see the sun rising before going to bed. For both keeping a schedule and for productivity, I recommend using the Miracle Morning technique. This technique states that if we get up early, feed our body and mind, and achieve some small things, then the rest of the day seems to just fall into place. Each morning is an opportunity to start the day with a new attitude and when I follow a routine like “Miracle Morning”, it’s easy to find myself doing work without even having to think about it because I like to keep up the “streak” of getting things done. Don’t want to start that project you’ve been putting off? Haven’t been able to start reading that book you bought? Start by giving yourself easy tasks at home like doing laundry, cleaning your room, or writing in a journal to kickstart your motivation. Making a daily To-Do list always helps me, in addition to incentivizing myself with something to get me out of bed (a cup of coffee or tea). Possibly the best advantage of this technique is being awake and productive while the world is calm. Early in the morning the streets are quiet, the weather is cool, and our mind is fresh.

Photo by Rémi Bertogliati on Unsplash
Continue reading The Power of Creating Our Spaces

Discovering the Source of My Procrastination

By Sarah Ta

Like many college students, I struggle with procrastination. As I advance through college, I’ve gotten better at completing my work, but it’s always at the last minute. The process of completing assignments right before the deadline causes me an unnecessary amount of stress. This lack of motivation started in my junior year of high school and originally, I thought I was just burnt out from school. I kept telling myself that it’d get better once AP testing was over, but then summer came and I was still in a weird slump. I still had no motivation to do anything, and honestly, I haven’t since. 

For the past three years of my college career, I’ve barely been able to scrape by– often narrowly missing deadlines and sometimes completely missing them. I’ve tried everything I could to figure out why, but it’s been a journey. In my sophomore year, I tried going to short-term therapy at the Engemann Health Center. It ended up not being right for me and I was referred out. Due to transportation issues, I couldn’t go through with the referrals and was left to deal with it on my own for a while. Last semester, I decided to try meeting with an academic adviser at the Kortschak Center for Learning and Creativity to help with time management. My adviser was lovely but in the end, it didn’t do much for me. I never figured out why I was procrastinating and I just continued cramming all my work in at the last minute. 

I was starting to lose hope when I discovered something known as Telehealth, a form of virtual counseling designed for those who don’t have access to therapy near them. While this wasn’t possible for me, they didn’t accept my insurance, it pushed me to contact Engemann again to see if they had any other options. I was a little apprehensive because my original experience wasn’t very helpful, but after my session with a new therapist last week, I think that it was just a matter of finding the right person

While the therapist I met with is temporary, until I get connected with someone long-term, we really clicked and he helped me realize the source of my procrastination. A lot of people assume that procrastination is a result of poor time management skills, but in reality, it’s usually a symptom of more serious mental health issues. For me, it stems from my deep-rooted sense of perfectionism. When I discovered this, it felt like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. This whole time, I blamed myself for not being disciplined enough but in reality, it was something much more serious. 

If my journey sounds similar to what you’re going through, I encourage you to reach out to a professional. The stigma around mental health makes the idea of seeking help seem only for those who are in a serious crisis, but the earlier you reach out, the better. No matter where you are in your mental health journey, I hope that you give therapy a chance and keep an open mind to all the different types of resources available. I wish you the best and good luck with your studies!

Additional Resources:

Mindful USC empowers the USC community to make positive change in the world by building a culture of mindfulness and compassion. There is ongoing training, practice groups and special events.

AskAri is a virtual wellness assistant. You can start a dialogue online.

And for more resources and ways to help your wellbeing go to wellbeing.usc.edu!

USC Dornsife also has some wonderful articles related to procrastination. Such as, Reining in Procrastination by Emily Gersema.

Featured image by Vic on Flickr

Sarah is an junior from the San Gabriel Valley studying GeoDesign. In her free time, she enjoys reading, exploring L.A., trying new foods, and of course, meeting new people. She can speak conversational Cantonese, and is currently learning Mandarin. Even though her Chinese is limited, that doesn’t stop her from striking up a conversation with other international students. She is always happy to learn about other cultures.

Managing Stress in College

By Cheryl Mota

College can get overwhelming at times with homework, exams, classes, work, and balancing a social life, which can take a toll on a person’s mental health. Stress in college is often overlooked as non-existent and unimportant but in reality stress affects most students during at least one point in their college studies. 

Although not all forms of stress are bad, it’s important to find ways to help manage and control it at a healthy level. Little changes you make in your life can help improve your mental health, it’s important to change your routine and not be stuck in the same negative mindset every day.

I always find it helpful when I plan out my day and write down every important task I need to complete that day, that way I am able complete it on time and not stress out about it in the future. I also try to stay off technology as much as I can, in order to focus on completing my work and not procrastinate, this has helped me tremendously in preventing unnecessary stress.

Aside from planning and staying off technology, a great way to help create a healthier routine in your life is to go outside and explore nature. I always find it relaxing when I go out for walks or runs every morning especially when I go out on hikes and focus on the beauty and peacefulness of nature rather than on my stressors. Exercising is also a great way to help alleviate stress, even exercising for just 10 minutes every day can help bring your stress levels down. 

Take advantage of on campus workshops and support groups that USC offers to its students. For example, USC’s Engemann Student Health Center offers various workshops and support groups led by counseling service staff that are tailored towards student’s specific needs. Ranging from calming anxiety, mindful well-being, social confidence, and of course stress management. The workshops are made to help USC students learn new skills and approaches to improve or manage their stress and adversities. I can personally say that the workshops and counseling that the Engemann Student Health Center offers has helped me better manage and my stress and problems. 

Most importantly, you are not alone! Don’t ever feel that you are the only one going through stress. It’s important to remember that there are various forms of resources and support available to you, whether it is through USC, your family, or even nature, you should always take advantage of the options available to you in order to help manage and prevent stress.

Featured image by JESHOOTS on Unsplash

Cheryl is a senior studying Political Economy with a minor in Forensics and Criminality. She is a Mexican American from Oxnard, California, in addition to being fluent in English and Spanish she loves to learn new languages and experience different cultures. Cheryl enjoys baking, spending time with her dogs, and meeting new people.