Official Blog of Misericordia University
Self-Care During Times of Stress
I know that we are all trying to wrap our minds around the changes that have happened in the past few weeks. It has been a whirlwind and, all of a sudden, our life activities (including school) are happening within the walls of our own homes. It is natural to feel a sense of confusion, worry, and frustration about these changes that have been made outside of our control.
As a Psychology professor and researcher with a doctoral degree in clinical psychology, I would like to offer some advice about maintaining good mental health and some ways that you can take care of yourself as you cope with these changes.
Here are some things that psychologists suggest to promote self-care during times of stress:
First, if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by the news and all the social media information about the Big C, you are not alone. Research shows that the media tends to worsen anxiety and stress during pandemics.
Tip #1 for self-care: limit your information seeking about the Big C. It is easy to get sucked into a negative vortex of internet memes, articles, and statistics, so redirect your time and energy focusing on aspects of your life that you can control.
Also, have you ever heard of a term called self-compassion? If you are interested in majoring in psychology, you are probably very good about showing compassion to your friends and family. However, research shows that people who are "givers" (meaning, they frequently give emotional support to other people) are often not very good at giving emotional support to themselves. Self-compassion means responding to your own pain and suffering like you would respond to a friend going through those same emotions. It involves showing kindness, warmth, patience, and forgiveness to YOURSELF. Psychologist Kristin Neff has some great websites on self-compassion and how you can begin to give this to yourself, especially during difficult times.
So Tip #2 for self-care: begin showing yourself self-compassion!
I'll have some more tips for you in my next blog. In the meantime, I hope these are helpful for you!
If you are interested in having an online/virtual or phone chat with me about Misericordia, psychology, any of these concepts, or just life in general, just let me know! My email is email@example.com. I miss my students and would love to chat and learn more about you.
About the Author
Alicia Nordstrom, Ph.D. is a college professor and department chair of the Psychology Department. She is also an actor, director, and writer of theater and film. She received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from The Pennsylvania State University and is a Psychology professor at Misericordia University. She created The Voices Project and The Voices Project: Disability (Electric City/Diamond City Best Theatrical Performance award in 2012). Her most recent show, The Voices Project: Mental Health, was performed at the Broadway Bound Theatre Festival in NYC (#MUVoicesProject) and was broadcast on PBS as a documentary. Alicia believes in the power of stories to reduce stigma and prejudice, a message that she spread through her TEDxLancaster talk on the “Fallacy of Normal and Beauty of Difference”.
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