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Feeling Blue? What to Do:

November 2, 2015

By Mercer Hathorn

Though attending college is an intellectual endeavor, you can’t think your way through all of it. Your mind, your body, and your emotions all come to school in one package. When your body is exhausted or your emotions are overwhelming you, thinking doesn’t always help you as much as feeling can.

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Here at the University Writing Center, we encounter a lot of students under stress. We have great respect and compassion for those of you who take extra time to work on your papers in order to become better writers and students. We’d like to pass along several helpful techniques that can help minimize your stress:

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  • Learn to identify what kind of issue is stressing you out. If you are stressed out about a test, that’s probably an issue you’ll need to think your way through, since your performance on the test comes from your knowledge base. If, on the other hand, you are stressed out about being away from your family and friends back home, that’s probably an issue you’ll need to feel your way through. If you feel bad because you miss the people closest to you, thinking about them may actually make you feel sadder if you can’t see them. If you allow yourself to feel sad without trying to fight the feeling or rush through it, however, your body can process the sadness completely, and you will likely start to feel better.
  • If you find you’re stressing about a physical or emotional issue, rather than a thinking issue, the second trick is actually allowing yourself to feel the sensations and emotions in your body. This is often easier said than done. When you allow yourself to feel an unpleasant sensation or emotion rather than resisting it, you will experience it more fully, and it will begin to subside. Some wellness experts argue that it takes only 90 seconds to process an emotion in the human body. The problem is, most of us cut ourselves off before the processing is complete, so the pain and discomfort persist!

How to feel your way through a problem:

If you find that you’re stressed or upset about a physical or emotional issue (such as bodily pain or loneliness) try one of these three tricks and see if you feel better:

  1. Conduct a body scan: Close your eyes and feel the tense, painful, or uncomfortable places and sensations in your body. If you feel a tightness in your stomach, just let your stomach be tight for 90 seconds. Then, see if it feels any better.

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  1. Verbalize your sensations: This is like a body scan, but out loud. If you feel tears in your eyes, say out loud to yourself (or to another person if you feel comfortable) “I feel tears in my eyes” and just let the tears be in your eyes for at least 90 seconds.

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  1. Write: Many students are so busy writing papers that they forget it can be helpful to write for themselves! If you feel bad, try writing about it for at least 90 seconds. Usually, when you write, you allow yourself to feel what you’re writing about. If you feel angry, writing about it will allow you to feel the sensations and emotions inside you. When you allow yourself to feel these unpleasant feelings without resistance, they will often decrease or disappear.

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(All images credited to Getty Images http://www.gettyimages.com/)

mercerAuthor: Mercer Hathorn

Graduate Student- Clinical Mental Health Counseling

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