Staying physically and mentally healthy on campus | News, Sports, Jobs

The covid-19 pandemic has presented challenges for students and officials at Northern Michigan University to stay physically and mentally healthy. (Photo stocked by Pixels)

MARQUETTE — Now that the holiday season is over, life is starting to get back to normal. Or at least, as normal as we can hope for in the historical times in which we live.

With all the upheaval and challenges presented by the pandemic, finding some modicum of normalcy in unprecedented times can play a vital role in keeping you healthy, both physically and mentally.

As we return to real life, our normal responsibilities return. For some, that means getting back to work as everyone returns to the office after weeks of automated voicemails and emails explaining that the person you are looking for is “outside the office” in the foreseeable future. For many of us, that means school is back.

COVID-19 has forced us all to adapt. This is especially true on college campuses across the country. Students of all ages were forced to maintain a level of flexibility and willingness to change their daily lives in no time. Courses can go from in-person to online training in the blink of an eye. Many students also miss the classic college experience with many activities where socializing is encouraged to be dropped due to safety protocols.

It’s no surprise that a National Institute of Health study found that 71% of college students admitted to increased stress and anxiety due to COVID-19.

Neil Baumgartner, director of student success and well-being at Northern Michigan University, has been working hard to try to alleviate some of that stress.

Once a week, Baumgartner sends out a university-wide email aimed at promoting the physical and mental well-being of students and faculty. It does this by providing tips and exercises that encourage the NMU community to take steps to maintain a balance between their school life and their mental and physical health, as well as providing information about the resources the campus offers for help them.

“COVID dominates the entire health spectrum. It impacts our mental health and our physical health, whether it’s people getting sick or people feeling anxious in the face of constant uncertainty,” says Baumgartner. “We’ve been doing this for almost two years now and we still didn’t know how it was going to pan out. This constant uncertainty and low-level anxiety, or for some, even high-level anxiety, is kind of an undercurrent that affects everyday life.

It’s no secret that pandemic life can be difficult. Personally, professionally and academically, the coronavirus is making life difficult. The NMU campus is no different.

“If you look nationally, research study after research study is coming out and underscoring the fact that mental health is a major concern on many college campuses,” says Baumgartner. “From what I’ve heard from our students, that’s also a concern. We try to find ways to help address mental health issues and provide students with resources.

Fortunately for students in the North, the campus offers many resources to help fight the virus and all the issues surrounding it.

Northern provides free counseling services to all enrolled students who require it. They offer professional and confidential licensed counseling for students struggling with stress and anxiety, not just the anxieties produced by the pandemic, but for any of the many kinds of struggles brought on by college life, whether it’s be it personal problems or professional burnout. busy class schedule.

Another resource Baumgartner mentioned is Therapy Assistance Online, or TAO, which the university describes as “An online library of engaging and interactive programs to build life skills and to help you bounce back from disappointments or obstacles in life.”

“He (TAO) has strategies for developing mental health behaviors. Some of them are about how to deal with stress or helpful relationship advice,” says Baumgartner. “But a lot of it is about optimizing. It’s about finding the flow, finding the best in yourself. It’s not just about finding help if you’re struggling.

While times are tough everywhere, NMU students and faculty should feel lucky to have someone like Baumgartner, who was hired in the role in 2021 and immediately started a discussion about how to stay in good physical and mental condition by providing guidance and resources for all people. His latest email suggests an exercise that can be useful to anyone, not just students.

For the next week, take 10 minutes each night to identify three good things you experienced that day.

If possible, this exercise works best if it is not just a mental exercise and if you document your thoughts in some way.

Many people choose to write down their thoughts, but you can also approach this in a different way that works better for you, like drawing pictures or creating a short video if you want.

Describe in detail what each thing was, why you consider it a good thing, who else was involved, and how you felt when you experienced it.

Let the ideas flow and feel the positive emotions that come with remembering your three good things without worrying about structure or appearance. This is just for you.

When you’re done capturing your three good things, review what you’ve found and relive those positive moments. This will help recreate the same positive emotions and further imprint the experiences in your brain.

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