The Counseling and Wellness Center is here to support you during this time of crisis. Contact us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to connect with a counselor Monday through Friday, 9am to 5pm.
If you need support outside of our hours, we recommend texting HOME to 741741 to reach a crisis counselor via the Crisis Text Line (www.crisistextline.org), or call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Lean on our core mission and values to get through
As Saint Martin’s community members, we can use the core themes of our university and Benedictine tradition: faith, reason, community, and service.
- Faith - Let your eyes notice and your heart believe in the strength of the human spirit. Have faith that this crisis will bring out the best in people, and extend loving kindness on an individual, local, and global scale. Have faith that you will find the strength to adjust to a new life. Listen with the ear of your heart.
- Reason - Calmly gather news and information from reputable sources only. Fact-check rumors, and consult experts when appropriate. In this uncertain and frightening time, it is especially important to build your self-regulation skills so you can react to changing situations with as much reason and peace as possible.
- Service - Share your gifts of supplies, time, and skills. Honor your elders and act in solidarity with other at-risk populations such as people experiencing houselessness and extreme poverty. Purchase take-out meals from local businesses and tip them well. Donate to food banks, organizations like No Kid Hungry, and to the 100 million masks campaign, which will enable Washington state medical providers to obtain more personal protective gear such as masks and gowns. Let’s serve those who serve us.
- Community - We are all responsible for protecting each other. Washington State Governor Jay Inslee states that limiting contact with others through social distancing is a patriotic act. Remember that even if you are not displaying symptoms of COVID-19, you may be a carrier and could transmit the virus to someone from an at-risk population. In addition to sheltering in place, we can also serve our community by combating racism and xenophobia against Asian-American people, who are unjustly targeted with discrimination and hate speech in the wake of this virus.
Learn new coping and stress management strategies
It is natural to feel a variety of intense emotions during a time of crisis. The unprecedented nature of this pandemic introduces multiple uncertainties, losses, and dramatic changes to life on a personal, local, and global level. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a great page on what to expect and how to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The CWC has created this stress management YouTube playlist of videos to help you learn how to cope and grow stronger during this challenging time. We have also compiled the following apps, articles, and websites to support you.
- Sanvello provides mood tracking, guided journeys, coping tools, progress assessments, peer support, coaching, and therapy
- WoeBot is an automated conversational agent (chatbot) that helps you monitor your mood and learn about yourself using cognitive behavior therapy
- Simple Habit offers an astonishing number of meditations for relaxation, sleep, and support for specific issues like relationship, academic, and career stress
- Virtual Hope Box holds your personal hopes for you so you can access them in an emotional crisis, and offers tools to teach you emotional regulation skills
- Therapy Assistance Online (TAO) offers self-help tools as well as online therapy with a counselor
- MyCalmBeat guides breathing exercises that increase heart rate variability (HRV), which has proven mental, emotional, and physiological benefits
- Balance creates personalized meditations to fit your preferences and needs
- Headspace app offers meditations, sleep aids, and movement exercises
- Calm.com offers soundscapes, meditations, yoga instruction videos, sleep aids, and more
- JED and Active Minds offer mental health resources specifically for students.
- Managing Coronavirus Anxiety: 10 Practical Suggestions - Clinical psychologist Nick Wigwall suggests tips for managing anxiety about the coronavirus.
- Five Ways to View Coverage of the Coronavirus - The American Psychological Association provides tips for viewing media coverage in a healthy way.
- Coronavirus Has Upended Our World. It’s Okay To Grieve - NPR and Kaiser Health News share information about grief.
- Living With Worry And Anxiety Amidst Global Uncertainty - Psychology Tools offers a free guide to help manage worry and maintain well-being in these uncertain times.
- Taking Care of Your Mental Health in the Face of Uncertainty - The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention suggests tips for managing mental health.
- What to do if Coronavirus Health Guidelines Trigger OCD/Anxiety - Elizabeth McIngvale, Ph.D., LCSW offers suggestions.
- How to Deal With Coronavirus If You Have OCD or Anxiety - Shayla Love of Vice shares her personal experience with OCD and suggests tips for others
- The Counseling and Psychological Services at Duke Kunshan University in Kunshan China offers two very useful guides to support students during social distancing and online learning.
- 7 Ways to Stay Focused When Studying From Home During Coronavirus (English) by Fan Yang, M.A.
- Getting Through Coronavirus One Breath At A Time (English) by Dr. Yan Li
- Getting Through Coronavirus One Breath At A Time (Chinese) by Dr. Yan Li
Mindfulness is simply the practice of becoming and remaining aware of one’s thoughts, feelings, and environment. Mindfulness helps give us greater control over our thoughts and reactions, and raises our threshold for stress and overwhelm. Mindfulness literally changes the function and structure of our brains as we redirect focus away from worry and toward peace.
We have compiled some information and exercises for you on our mindfulness playlist. You’ll find guides on activities such as mindful walking, mindful eating, breathing exercises, and seated meditation. We highly recommend this HRV breathing exercise and this handwashing meditation.
In addition, we have compiled the following articles about using mindfulness to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.
- When You Can’t Go Outside, Go Within from Medium.com
- “Our calm is contagious”: How to Use Mindfulness in a Pandemic from Vox.com
- A Simple Breathing Practice to Keep Panic at Bay from Mindful.com
- Coping with the Coronavirus with Mindfulness and Compassion from Psychologytoday.com
Explore ecotherapy - make nature your friend
A guiding principle of our campus community is the Benedictine value of stewardship, which means celebrating and caring for nature. At this time, health officials say it is safe to spend time outdoors as long as you maintain 6 feet of distance between you and other people. Our beautiful wooded campus provides ample room for students, faculty, and staff to spend time in meditative, prayerful, or playful engagement with nature.
Here is some information about the health benefits of spending time outside, and ideas for how to engage with your environment. You don’t have to go on a long hike to experience the effects of spending time in nature; studies have shown that spending 30 minutes each week in green spaces, whether active or still, has measurable benefits to our physical and mental health. Not up for leaving your room today? Visit some National Parks virtually.
We have compiled a list of YouTube videos about ecotherapy to inspire you. And because there is scientific evidence that cute animal videos have a positive impact on mental health, we have included some for a healthy distraction.
Foster gratitude, hope, community and inspiration
Like mindfulness, practicing gratitude helps inoculate us against feelings of stress and overwhelm, and helps us develop resiliency. Research on gratitude indicates that it can strengthen social bonds, improve sleep and cardiovascular health, and reduce depression and anxiety symptoms. We have compiled a YouTube playlist of videos about the power of gratitude, as well as a playlist of inspiring videos of hope and community strength. In addition, here are some articles that we think will inspire you and warm your heart.
- Cultivating Gratitude from PsychologyToday
- The Science of Gratitude from Greater Good
- Coronavirus: Creativity, Kindness and Canals Offer Hope Amid Outbreak from BBC.com
- 11 Inspirational Acts of Kindness During Coronavirus from the Washington Post
Try music and art for healing and fun
Music transcends languages and nationalities. Let yourself explore making music or listening to the music of others. Whether to calm, inspire, or connect, invite music and art into your life. Similarly, creating visual art or journaling can help you express and understand your feelings while relieving stress. Here are some tips on ways to use art to cope with difficult emotions:
- Journaling facilitates self-awareness and self-expression. This article from the New York Times outlines not only the benefits of journaling, but tips on how to get started.
- Reading and writing poetry can help you express and understand your feelings. If you are stuck on what to write, this article from Medium.com not only explains how poetry therapy works, it offers prompts for writing your own poems.
- Collage is an inexpensive way to express yourself and explore imagery. This video guide and this webpage provide some instructions and ideas.
- Mandalas have been used in many cultures and societies for thousands of years. You can print these mandalas to color, or use this guide to draw your own.
If you would like to see some of the ways others are using art and music to cope and connect, check out these two social media campaigns created by world-renowned musicians and performers.