by Carrie Kline, Lead Counselor, UAS Counseling Services
Welcome to Fall Semester!
During the last three weeks, the Wellness Wednesday group (6:30 to 7:30 pm on Zoom and in Egan 211) has covered the following topics: Connecting during the First Week of Classes, Caring for Yourself While Caring for Someone Else, and Time Management Techniques. These topics are important because many folks may be trying to connect the first week of classes, may experience difficulty managing their time, may not know what to do if someone they know is struggling with their mental health.
Recognizing what helps you feel connected, seen, and appreciated by another person starts with knowing yourself what it is. Take the Five Love Languages quiz (created by Dr. Gary Chapman; https://5lovelanguages.com/) to learn more about what makes you feel loved and cared for. Do hearing supportive statements help you feel appreciated (Words of Affirmation)? Does a hug or someone holding your hand help you feel grounded (Physical Touch)? Is it important to spend time with people you care about (Quality Time)? Does someone doing the dishes for you make you feel really cared for (Acts of Service)? Does a thoughtful gift make a difference for you (Giving Gifts)?
Once you identify what you need in relationships, you can talk with others about how they might be able to help or you can do things for yourself that help you meet this important need. Communication breakdowns, including missed ways of feeling cared for, are one of the most frustrating experiences in relationships and can lead to challenging emotions like resentment.
Practicing active listening skills can improve communication. Active listening involves showing that you are listening, encouraging another person to share and showing that you are trying to understand. Some ways to engage in active listening include:
- Putting away distractions and focusing on the person
- Provide verbal (saying “mm-hmm” or “that makes sense) and nonverbal (making eye contact or nodding) cues that you are listening
- Ask open ended questions like “Can you tell me more about….” or “What is it like to….”
- Reflect and summarize what you have heard the other person say.
- Listen with an open mind and try not to think of what you want to say next.
Active listening skills are one of the ways to help someone feel heard and seen, which can be important if you know someone who is experiencing mental health symptoms. Keeping yourself mentally and emotionally healthy is extremely important as well.
Try this and notice how you feel before and after: Release your shoulders away from your ears, unclench your jaw, and drop your tongue from the roof of your mouth. This technique can help activate your parasympathetic nervous system which helps with decreasing the stress response quickly. Keeping yourself in a calm state will help the other person also feel calm.
Finally, the UAS Counseling Office is hosting drop-in time management sessions in the Learning Center Wednesdays from 4:00 to 5:30 pm. This can be a great way to look at habits and learn new ways of improving study skills as wells as productivity. You can also join Wellness Wednesdays from 6:30 to 7:30 pm to learn more about topics such as stress and anxiety, relationship skills, and sleep. You can also participate in Drop-in Counseling or make an appointment by contacting the Counseling Office at 907-796-6000 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Drop-in sessions are also available on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays this fall semester.
Take good care,
UAS Lead Counselor