Why So Anxious?

Hello all, I hope you enjoyed your holiday and are ready to hit the ground running this week! Normally I prioritize exercise and healthy eating on this, but I want to go a different route today and talk about a topic near and dear to my heart…or in this case, brain: mental health.

Now, students enrolled in higher education curriculum are no strangers to stress and anxiety, but more often than not, these levels go unchecked. Often times, people think these feelings will eventually pass and they’ll move on with their lives; unfortunately that isn’t the case most times. I’ve personally dealt with a bout of depression this past summer and I was Shocked at how crippling it can be. I had no desire to do anything but sleep (which was a chore itself), I couldn’t find joy in any of my favorite activities, and I relied heavily on substances to make me feel…anything. I dragged along, day by day like this until a suggestion from a colleague: visit the counseling center.

Now like most minority people, I wasn’t a fan of visiting any sort of counselor. I thought of it as admitting defeat, attention seeking, whiny, etc. But ANYTHING had to be better than this. So I begrudgingly scheduled an appointment. I was surprised at how quickly I grew comfortable. Having a stranger to talk and vent to just felt…liberating. Imagine talking to someone who has no context or bias, cannot judge you or your actions, and is only there to listen to your problems and provide the best advice. It was insanely comfortable.

I was also introduced to mindfulness, defined as “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique”. Mindfulness is essentially meditation, and while not something I was open to at first, it helps with massive levels of anxiety. It takes me out of my head, keeps me from the what ifs and allows me to be present in the moment. I stopped worrying about things I couldn’t change and started living again!

Mental health isn’t easy or fun to talk about, but it is critical that we do. There’s no point in having a fit, healthy body if you can’t stand life. We must not neglect this aspect of our health, but address it head on. So many deaths can be prevented if we reach out and just talk to someone. As someone who has lived through depression and chronic anxiety, I ask that if you feel that way, find some one or some (healthy) way to address it. You can beat this!

Share your mental health stories in the comments!

As always,

Dr. Chaos, signing off!

Too Stressed to Eat: The College Student Diet

Hey everyone, hope your day is going as great as mine! And I hope you made it to the polls as well.

Today I want to talk about a topic a lot of college students may ignore: proper eating habits. As we all know, college students are (for lack of a better word) broke. They can hardly afford to hit the grocery store weekly, let alone take the time out to prepare a delicious, nutritious meal. The food from the cafeteria …tries its best to be a healthy substitute, but can only do so much, especially at smaller, poorer universities. As a result, college students spend a lot of time cramming fast food and other junk into their diets to satisfy that hunger.

Numerous studies show that college students in the US tend to eat less fruits and vegetables on a daily basis, opting for higher calorie, high fat snacks. A study by the American College Health Association revealed that a mere 7.3% of students eat 5 or more servings of fruits or vegetables daily. Doing so can cause students to become malnourished, leading to mineral deficiencies.

So why do students eat so poorly? Many cite cost as the primary reason, others purely for taste, and still others for convenience. Regardless of the reason, one thing is clear: we have to start promoting healthy eating habits at universities. While focusing on academics is important, obesity rates are still rising and show no signs of slowing down. If we can show our future leaders the value of dietary health, perhaps when they move into the workforce as leaders and educators, they’ll bring their knowledge of healthy eating with them and pass it onward. It may be wishful thinking, but the obesity epidemic MUST be halted, and the best way to start is talking to the youth.

Why do you think college students eat so poorly? What do you think we can do to change them? Let me know what you think in the comments!

Until next time,

Dr. Chaos, signing off