The uncertainty of the social isolation timeline likely stokes anxiety. Staring down weeks of  possible boredom, sameness, and restriction can lead to lethargy and low mood. Positive input is important. Joy, satisfaction, and connection are critical. So how do we access these things during a time of upheaval and a newly required hermit lifestyle? Stay connected to family and friends.

You may be back at home with your parents and unable to visit friends. Or maybe you are stuck in your house or an apartment far from your family. Whatever your situation, you can still find connection despite physical distance. You have likely already been doing it, but with less structure and a lot more Coronavirus related anxiety, it might be hard to remember. So here’s a list. Consider scheduling some of these activities into your week so you don’t forget to rely on them.

Call family and friends using phone and video: This one can be pretty basic, but it’s important to remember and even schedule into your day. Use FaceTime to see each other or apps like MarcoPolo to send video messages. Using zoom you can include multiple friends on one screen which can be useful if you are hosting a digital dinner party or other group activities like a book club or study group.

Chat groups:  You can also set up more informal chats if you or your friends may be camera shy. Using platforms like Slack, Groupme, GoogleChat, Signal, you can keep in touch with family, groups of friends, or classmates while also juggling other tasks.

Remote movie screening: Using a platform like Discord one person can share their movie screen and audio with up to 50 others. Though you might not be that ambitious for your movie night, you can watch with a few buds and make comments on the plot development via chat without the headache of everyone trying to hit play at exactly the same moment.

Board games with friends: You can try playing classics with your friends or use apps on your phone. For those with more involved board game tastes or those seeking something competitive and fun to occupy some free time you can check out websites like Steam or Tabletopia which have an assortment of free board games, as well as those you can purchase. You can play with people you already know who have set up accounts or you can play with other budding board game enthusiasts. If you set up a game night with friends you can zoom while simultaneously playing so you can have an added element of human connection. It can help with the fun that comes with trash talking too.

Dicebreaker has a useful article for figuring out the logistics: https://www.dicebreaker.com/categories/board-game/how-to/how-to-play-board-games-online

Be a helper: What can you do to be of service to the people in your life and community that might be having a difficult time? Think of people more at risk for illness, the elderly, those with compromised immune systems, and those juggling a lot of responsibilities. While it feels great to be supported, it can be just as meaningful to be the helper. Options for helping might be more limited right now, but you might be able to call isolated or elderly family members, pick up groceries for someone or help a local food bank share food. You can even donate blood. Of course, assess the risk for yourself and be sure to take all precautions to keep yourself safe, healthy, and socially distant.

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April is Sexual Assault awareness month. According to the United Stated Department of Justice, one out of every four female undergraduates nationwide will experience some form of sexual assault before graduation. Loyola New Orleans maintains a strong commitment to ending sexual assault, and to supporting those affected by sexual assault. The UCC wants you to know that we are here for you. Below is list of resources that we provide:

Counselor On-Call: a trained mental health professional is on-call 24/7, 365. Simply call the UCC at 504.865.3835 and request to speak with the counselor on-call. If it’s after business hours, listen to the message, and press 1 after the prompt.

Survivor Supportive Services Coordinator (SSSC): The SSSC provides guidance and assistance for survivors of sexual assault. For example, the SSSC may assist with access to services such as but not limited to forensic exams, medical care, and support services both on campus and in the community. The SSSC acts only as support in a time of crisis – they never make decisions or report the assault on behalf of the survivor.  Call  504.865.3835 to schedule an appointment with the SSSC.

Sexual Assault Support Group: This group meets Tuesdays at 12:30 at the UCC. It’s a safe space to connect reflect, and heal. To join the group, contact Rachel Ziko, LMSW.

Sexual Assault Response Training: Sexual Assault Response Training is a new initiative to help Loyola students, faculty, and staff end sexual assault. There are three modules, each with a specific focus. Compassionate Responder training teaches you how to respond when a survivor discloses an assault and to connect them with resources. Active Upstander training provides practical guidance on ways to intervene to prevent sexual assault. Change Agent training addresses ways to change rape culture and societal norms that condone sexual violence. To request a training, contact Laura Dickinson at 504.865.3835.

Individual Counseling: The UCC offers free confidential mental health counseling to all currently enrolled students. We are also available to consult if you are concerned about a friend. Call 504.865.3835 to schedule an appointment.

For more information about any of the services above, or for resources in the community, please go to our website, or contact Laura Dickinson at 504.865.3835.

 

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- Plan ahead and be prepared. Are vaccinations required for your destination? Do you have enough medications to last your entire trip? Is your car ready and safe to travel the distance?

- If possible, take turns driving to stay alert. Always wear seat belts and drive safely.

- Protect yourself from the sun. Always wear sunscreen with at least SPF 15. Excessive and unprotected sun exposure can result in premature aging, changes in skin texture, burning and skin cancer. Water (such as swimming pools and beaches) increases the reflections of the sun’s rays and makes it easier to be burned by the sun. Wear sunscreen even if it’s cloudy outside. Reapply the sunscreen after swimming, sweating and after the recommended time on the bottle. The sun’s rays are most intense between 10am – 3pm. Wear protective clothing and hats. Be aware that certain medications cause an increased possibility of sun damage and rashes.

- Protect your eyes with sunglasses. If you wear contact lenses, make sure you bring extra pairs. Bring back-up glasses in case unable to wear contacts.

- Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!!! Spending time in the sun and drinking alcohol can cause dehydration. To stay well hydrated, drink plenty of water, or non-caffeinated, non-alcoholic beverages.

- Don’t forget to eat! Try to squeeze in some healthy snacks here and there.

- Stick together – always stay with a friend. You are always much safer in a group.

- Make smart choices – if you choose to drink alcohol, pace yourself and set your limit. Make your own drinks. Never leave your drink unattended. Alternate your drink with water to stay hydrated. Never drink and drive.

Enjoy whatever you choose to do on Spring Break – fun with family and friends or alone time with some self-reflection. Relax and rejuvenate in order to finish the semester strong upon your return!

 

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At Loyola University New Orleans, the University Counseling Center (UCC) offers a wide range of services for the Wolf Pack Community ranging from individual counseling to aid in finding insurance. Group counseling is a great example of how the UCC strives to meet the varied needs of Loyola students.

Group counseling offers students the ability to attend counseling with their peers, to see how they relate, and to learn from and support each other during their time at Loyola. Although group counseling may seem daunting at first glance, therapy in a group setting can offer a new and unique perspective on mental health and face the challenges of college life. For the spring 2018 semester, the UCC will be offering the following groups: SASS, Sexual Assault Survivors Group, and Grief Process Group.

S.A.S.S
Social Anxiety Skills Set, or S.A.S.S, is a group that aims to ease social anxiety and gain perspective and coping mechanisms around social interactions. S.A.S.S will guide students through social anxiety triggers and project them onto a path toward successful relationships.

Sexual Assault Survivors Group
The Sexual Assault Survivors Group is a support based group and is open to those who are looking to share with others who have been through similar experiences.

Grief Process Group
If you begin to notice that your thoughts and feelings of grief are interfering with day-to-day living, or if you would like to talk about your grief in a safe and private space, consider joining the Grief Process Group.

All groups are confidential and free for any enrolled Loyola student to attend. Suggestions on other group offerings are always welcome! If you would like to submit an idea or are interested in becoming a group member, please contact the UCC at 504.865.3835 or visit us in the Danna Center, on the second floor, just above the Orleans Room.

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Reflecting on Gratitude

Many of us associate the idea of gratitude with a simple “thank you” to someone who has helped or given to us. However, gratitude can be much more than a typical two-word response. Gratitude is understood as a positive emotion that serves a greater purpose. It is a profound appreciation that has the ability to produce lasting positivity.

Harvard Medical School offers a helpful definition of gratitude:

“A thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives … As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals – whether to other people, nature, or a higher power”

Gratitude works because it is selfless. Gratuitous acts are done to show appreciation for others and that appreciate is often returned. Simply put, gratitude is contagious. Gratitude can positively impact interpersonal relationships, spiritual well-being, and mental health.

Tips to apply or deepen your gratitude practice:

  1. Spice up your appreciation by trying to find new things you’re thankful for each day.

    1. Create a gratitude game that encourages you to be on “high alert” for things you are thankful for.

    2. Keep a gratitude journal that provides space for meaningful reflection

  2. Get realistic about your personal gratitude practice. Interact with gratitude in a way that feel true to who you are.

  3. Include others in your gratitude practice by vocally expressing your gratitude or writing a personal note of appreciation.

  4. Commit to your gratitude practice. Put an effort, big or small, into your practice each day.

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Being on a college campus can increase your chances of getting sick during this cold and flu season. Flu strikes suddenly and can last several days. One big way to protect yourself is by getting the flu shot. To clear up a common myth, the flu shot CANNOT cause the flu because there is no live virus in the vaccine!

Why get the flu shot:

• It can keep you from getting the flu

• It can make the flu less severe if you do get it

• It can help you from spreading the flu to your friends

 

Flu prevention tips:

• Wash your hands often with soap and water

• Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available

• Avoid close contact with sick people

• Cover your mouth and nose with the inside of your elbow when you cough or sneeze. This helps to contain your secretions without contaminating your hands.

• Use a tissue over your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough and dispose of dirty tissues immediately

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth since germs spread this way

• Do not share drinks or eating utensils with anyone

• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces that may be contaminated with germs like the flu, such as doorknobs, keyboards, and phones

• Exercise daily

• Get an adequate amount of sleep/rest

• Eat a well-balanced diet and drink plenty of fluids

 

Flu shot fair at Student Health:

Walgreen’s Pharmacy will be providing flu shots at Student Health Services to all current Loyola students, faculty and staff on:

• Wednesday, October 4, 11:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

• Thursday, October 5, 11:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

• Wednesday, October 11, 11:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

• Thursday, October 12, 11:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

No appointment necessary. Walk-ins welcome!

Please bring your insurance card with you to receive the flu shot.

You MUST present your insurance card to receive the flu shot.

For more information on the flu, please visit https://www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm. You can also visit or call Student Health Services at 504-865-3326 for more information. We are located in the basement of the Danna Center, just below the Orleans Room.

 

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One night in 1975, a group of Philadelphia women took to the streets. Lit by candles they marched through their neighborhoods. They were responding to statements made by Philadelphia Police stating that if women wanted to stay safe at night, and avoid gender-based violence, they would just “stay home.”
Angered and hurt by this statement these women decided to “take back the night,” showing support to their fellow women who were survivors of gender-based violence and resistance to the authorities who did not place their safety first.
New Orleans Take Back the Night has been held in the Loyola University ‘horseshoe” for 26 years. Together with Tulane University, Dillard University, University of New Orleans, Holy Cross University and other community partners, we gather, reflect and support not only women but ALL PEOPLE who are affected by sexual, physical and other violence.
If you would like to get involved and participate in Taking Back the Night please join us at our planning meetings! The next planning meeting is scheduled for September 28, 2017, at 5:30 pm at Dillard University’s library. Come plan, support, resist, and Take Back the Night.

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We have a visitor on campus, and throughout the city, that greets us every fall and it’s called the Puss Moth Caterpillar.  It is considered one of the most toxic caterpillars in North America.  These caterpillars are teardrop-shaped with long silky hair.  When the hairs are touched, they break off and remain in the skin releasing venom.  Intense throbbing pain develops within five minutes and the pain extends up the affected extremity.  On the skin, the appearance of blood colored spots appears at the site of the sting.  Other symptoms may include headache, nausea, vomiting, intense abdominal distress, and swollen lymph nodes.

If you are stung by one of these caterpillars, please seek attention immediately.  If this incident occurs during Loyola’s Student Health Services operating hours of Monday-Friday 8:30am-4:45pm, please visit the Student Health clinic located in the basement of the Danna Center, directly below the Orleans Room.  If it’s after hours or on a weekend, the treatment guidelines are as follows:

  1.  Use adhesive tape to remove spines that remain on the skin
  2.  Wash the area with soap and water
  3.  Apply ice pack and baking soda to reduce pain and swelling
  4.  Take over the counter pain medication such as Advil, Tylenol, etc to reduce pain
  5.  Take over the counter antihistamines such as Benadryl, Zyrtec, etc to relieve itching
  6. Call Student Health on the next business day to check-in with us and let us know how you are doing at 504.865.3326

If the pain becomes too severe or if you are having difficulty breathing please go to the nearest emergency department.

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Worldwide Suicide Prevention Week is September 10-16, 2017. It is a week to affirm our commitment to helping ourselves and others and to acknowledge that we sometimes struggle and that reaching out isn’t weak: it’s strong.

How do you help someone who’s suicidal?

A suicidal person may not ask for help, but that doesn’t mean that help isn’t wanted. Most suicidal people are ambivalent – they don’t want to die – they just want to stop hurting.

Here are some “Don’ts” that apply to anyone who might be suicidal:

• Do not leave him/her alone or let him/her go off alone

• Do not be judgmental

• Do not argue, debate, analyze, or moralize

• Do not try to cheer him/her up

• Do not try to shock or challenge (i.e., say “Oh, go ahead and do it if you want to!”)

• Do not accept “I’m okay now.” (Nobody recovers immediately from suicidality.)

• Do not be sworn to secrecy

• Do not feel like you have to manage this alone: get help from the University Counseling Center, Resident Ministers, or other resources on campus.

 

Here are some “Do’s”:

• Ask if he/she is thinking about suicide

“Are you thinking about killing yourself?”

“Do you think you might try to hurt yourself today?”

“Have you thought of ways that you might hurt yourself?”

“Do you have pills/weapons in your room?”

• Take the intent or threat very seriously

• Listen

• Show that you care and say it

 

If you see any of these warning signs, there is IMMEDIATE, APPARENT DANGER:

• Weapons, pills or other means visible or talked about (“I know where my dad keeps his gun.”)

• The person has a clear plan (“I’m going to get in my car tomorrow and drive off of the Causeway.”)

• The person voices intent (“I want to end my life, and I’m going to kill myself.”)

If there is no apparent immediate danger (and no lethal means in view):

• Tell her/him that help is available and you can see that he/she gets it.

• Call the UCC and speak with the counselor on-call: 504-865-3835 (press 1)

If there is apparent immediate danger – ACT:

• Say that you are getting help

• Call LUPD at (504) 865-3434 and tell them “I’m with someone who is suicidal.” They will help you get emergency services.

Remember: You cannot predict death by suicide, but you can identify people who are at increased risk for suicidal behavior, take precautions, and refer them for effective treatment.

 

 

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Remember the old Coyote and Roadrunner cartoons?

Wiley E. Coyote tried forever to catch the Roadrunner. Despite his best efforts and all his ingenuity, he never caught the Roadrunner, and in fact often ended up harming himself. Recently I came across Chuck Jones’ rules for the series. They are a great metaphor for anxiety management:

1. The Road Runner cannot harm the Coyote except by going “meep, meep.”

Your anxiety cannot harm you beyond influencing your thoughts and feelings. When you are having a panic attack, it might feel like you are going to die, but it’s not true. Remind yourself that your anxiety can only “meep, meep” at you—annoying, but not life-threatening.

2. No outside force can harm the Coyote — only his own ineptitude or the failure of Acme products. Trains and trucks were the exception from time to time.

Focus on your own self-efficacy and ability to manage your anxious feelings. Struggle with social anxiety? It’s unlikely that everyone is staring at you, but feeling like that’s true can cause you to be self-conscious and awkward. Tell yourself “No outside force can harm me—If I manage my anxiety, I will be okay.”

 3. The Coyote could stop anytime — if he were not a fanatic.

Examine your own commitment to your anxiety. Give yourself permission to stop feeling anxious. Instead of thinking “I am an anxious person,” try thinking “I’ve been anxious in the past, but I’m working towards changing that.”

 4. No dialogue ever, except “meep, meep” and yowling in pain.

Ever get trapped in the loop of anxious thoughts and feelings of panic? When our dialogue is restricted to “This bad thing is going to happen,” and “OMG, that is painful and terrifying,” it’s hard to get any movement on anxiety. Allow other thoughts and feelings to enter this dialogue: “I can do this, it’s going to be okay,” and you start to have a choice other than yowling in pain.

5. The Road Runner must stay on the road — for no other reason than that he’s a roadrunner.

Deal with one worry at a time, and notice boundaries. Anxiety becomes overwhelming when we are thinking of all the things that could go wrong at once. Recognize that you have the ability to keep your anxiety restricted to one area at a time, and to prevent your anxiety from one thing from spilling over into something else.

 6. All action must be confined to the natural environment of the two characters — the southwest American desert.

Notice what environmental stressors make your anxiety worse—are you always nervous in class? Or when you are at a party? Brainstorm ways to change your thoughts and feelings about this environment to reduce anxiety. For example, if you are always stressed in the classroom, but never stressed on the baseball diamond, bring those same feelings of relaxation into the classroom!

 7. All tools, weapons, or mechanical conveniences must be obtained from the Acme Corporation.

Figure out the core negative thought related to your anxiety, and reject thoughts associated with this thought. Everything from Acme is doomed to fail. Thoughts that tie into the idea “I’m worthless,” will always make you more anxious. Give yourself permission to reject these thoughts and find more helpful cognitions.

8. Whenever possible, make gravity the Coyote’s greatest enemy.

Depression and anxiety go hand and hand. Your depressed feelings and thoughts can make you anxious, and vice versa. The good news is that interventions that work for anxiety can also work for depression.

9. The Coyote is always more humiliated than harmed by his failures.

Yes, it is embarrassing when you fall and trip in front of a room full of people, but it is not deadly. A moment’s embarrassment isn’t a big deal, but hiding in your room because that moment feels too painful can be. Remind yourself that your anxiety can’t harm you if you experience it and let it pass.

 10. The audience’s sympathy must remain with the Coyote.

Be kind to yourself! When you trip and fall, most people are thinking “Oh no! Is he okay?” as opposed to “Look at that idiot!” And the people who are thinking that are being jerks anyway! Be your own best friend.

 11. The Coyote is not allowed to catch or eat the Road Runner.

It’s unrealistic to expect to live a life without any anxious moments, but you can learn to manage your anxiety. You may not be able to stop feeling anxious, but you can reduce the “meep meep” to a minor irritation instead of becoming debilitated.

 

Want to learn strategies to manage your anxiety? Come to the UCC’s free Anxiety Management Workshops. Thursdays, 12:30 pm-1:30pm, at the Student Success Center (MA 112). The workshops focus on skill-building as opposed to self-disclosure and no preregistration is necessary. For more info, go to http://bit.ly/loynoworries, or e-mail awong@loyno.edu.

 

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