The culture on a university campus is one that normally prioritizes grades, socializing, sports, and greek life above mental health breaks. It can be stressful. As an undergraduate, it was not uncommon to hear one of my friends say every day, “I am overwhelmed.” Many students struggle to balance their school responsibilities and their social life, let alone finding time for their mental health.
At my alma mater, Syracuse University, our Active Minds Stress Less Week® was always a hit and a way for us to unwind during finals week. We had so much engagement during our week-long events, which fostered a feeling of community. Some of the programs our Active Minds chapter hosted were pet therapy (always a favorite), painting night, meditation sessions, chalk it out, as well as sharing resources like stress balls, pamphlets, and stickers on the quad. On our social platforms, we shared quotes from our e-board members on how they de-stress to encourage self-care practices and show our followers that even we get stressed out! These events always made me feel less alone and more understood. I also saw the impact it had on our overall campus community and it really helped to grow our chapter.
This year, Stress Less Week might be more important than ever. Not only are there the typical stresses of classes, social life, and club responsibilities, but the fear of COVID-19. It is so incredibly valid that any student would be overwhelmed this year! But there is always help. I truly believe that every single organization and campus should be downloading and using Active Minds’ Stress Less Week Toolkit and holding virtual events to let their community know that you are not alone.
The updated Stress Less Week Toolkit, created thanks to Active Minds’ partner just., not only suggests fun events to host, but it also gives tools to manage stress, such as V-A-R® resources, self-care practices, and ways to seek professional help. Many college students turn to friends, advisors, or professors during tough times, and it can make a world of difference if that person knows how to be there.
Not everyone has a mental illness, but everyone has mental health. Stress Less Week puts that statement into action. I hope you join Active Minds chapters and partners across the country this year as they “Stress Less” and prioritize their mental health.
Learn more about our new Stress Less Week Toolkit at activeminds.org/stressless.