Breathe it in
Taking a few deep breaths can help you “refocus and can help reduce anxiety and stress,” Larissa says. Try the 2-to-1 breathing method, which is exhalation at a duration twice as long as inhalation. This method regulates the motion of the lungs and decreases nerve activity in the sympathetic nervous system (which is used for physical activity and exertion) and increases the influence of the parasympathetic nervous system (which regulates the relaxation response). The best part is that it’s “something you can do at any point”. Next time you’re worried about quarantines or toilet paper rolls, try quelling those nerves with a few deep breaths.
A chaotic work or living space can often lead to a chaotic mind. If you find yourself struggling to finish tasks or be motivated to get off your couch, then channel your inner Marie Kondo for a quick mental reset. For Larissa, this tactic is about “breaking routine” for a moment and letting your brain breathe, because “clutter can be quite distressing and induce more stress for people”. Try switching off Netflix for a while and create a better space for your chill.
Walk it out
Stretch those legs and escape the clutches of your office chair or sofa with a quick walk. A combination of the fresh air, sunshine and movement can help get your brain back on track. Additionally, exercise and air are good for your physical health. “This is something that, living in Cairns and Townsville, we are very lucky with,” Larissa says. “It can be as simple as taking yourself for a walk around your block.”
These tactics are great ways to prioritise your mental health and find some calm in a storm. But sometimes, they aren’t enough.
Talk it out
Larissa says her key message is to reach out.
“If people are doing everything to try and maintain their wellbeing and still aren’t travelling well – reach out to somebody.”
JCU Manager of Student Equity and Wellbeing, Larissa Siliézar
That could be a friend, a family member or even a trusted academic or supervisor. Don’t forget that there are services available on campus to support students.