Holistic approach to conquering mental illness

By Brittany Gregg, Opinion Editor

As a former University of Akron resident assistant, I have dealt with students who faced anxiety attacks, fainting episodes from stress, induced anorexia, headaches, migraines, nosebleeds, sleepless nights, depression and many other stress-related illnesses. As a college student myself, I too have faced events just as my residents and peers have.

We are at a point in our lives where we are getting our emotional, physical, spiritual, and occupational bearings in order to be prepared for what is to come. We often get caught up in the whirlwind of college life and become overwhelmed or feel lost. The good news is that there is help. And asking for help about why we feel certain ways is OK.

There is a list of things to look out for when it comes to mental health, especially with it being mental health awareness week here at The University of Akron.

Here are several considerations:

Becoming introverted – College can be a trying time for making new friends, losing old friends, and dealing with many emotional stressors and traumas. If someone appears to have given up and withdrawn from social life, it could be an indicator of depression, anxiety, or grief. Having a safe place to release these emotions is critical – whether it be a movie night at the Student Union or a run at the recreational facility, an intramural sports team, or visiting the counseling office. This can be dangerous if not addressed, so having open communication is a must.

Loss of a desire for doing well in college – This can be a sure sign that a student has given up on his or her goals. It is important to have an open line of communication that is judgement-free, allowing free expression without fearing consequences for natural feelings.

Stress relief program encouragement – Not all students facing mental health issues have medical options, counseling, or psychiatrists. There are, however, simple, holistic approaches one can take, including learning how to meditate, playing calming music, using calming essential oils, or getting a massage therapy either through a professional or a from a friend.

Don’t push too hard – Often stressors are added by parents. Our parents and guardians naturally want us to do well and succeed. However, there is a fine line for students to adjust to life outside of the home as they become more independent. It’s important to not let outsiders pressure us into taking unreasonable amounts of classes, pulling all-nighters, or feeling embarrassed for not making the Dean’s List. In obtaining our degrees, we are learning how to take care of ourselves and create a balanced life. We naturally do better in classes with healthy competition and pressures that encourage us to achieve our dreams.

Loss of dreams and aspirations – We are developing our work ethic and ability to visualize and actualize our dreams. If we are no longer interested in this, it could be a symptom of a much bigger problem. It is critical for us to remember why we attend The University of Akron, not what our parents or peers think. Though their support is essential to a degree, it is critical for them to take a step back and honor this process. If we do not have the free will to choose our destiny, we may forget our goals and live for someone else.

If you or someone you know is facing ominous mental health indicators, please consider researching ways to holistically recuperate, along with seeking help and finding ways to reward yourself for being present in college and doing your best.