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Mental Health & Wellness Resources

table of contents

apps for health & Wellness

Depression

Depression is more than just sadness. It is a persistent low mood that can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems if left uncared for. Everyone occasionally feels sad. For most, these feelings are usually short-lived and pass within a couple of days. If sadness or little energy and motivation have an impact on your day-to-day functioning, you may be depressed. Without proper care, depression can worsen, sometimes leading to thoughts of hurting oneself or even suicide. Depression is a common but serious illness.

Still, there are a few things you can do to help alleviate symptoms and create a foundation for well-being:

    • Food nourishes our body and our brain. When we fuel our body by eating healthful foods, we feel more energetic and balanced. We can think more clearly and better cope with daily stresses.
    • Try to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night to give your body time to replenish and repair itself. Sleeping and waking around the same time each day can help your body better regulate itself. When we are well rested, we have more physical and emotional energy to cope with the day ahead. Creating a nighttime routine to prepare our bodies for rest helps us fall asleep more easily. Unplugging from electronics, reading and meditating before bed can be helpful practices.
    • When we don’t feel well, it’s not uncommon to isolate and deal on our own. You may feel that you alone are struggling, while everyone else is going great in their classes and having fun. This is almost never accurate. Talk to friends, professors, counselors, family, faith leaders—maybe even someone who feels the same way as you. Being heard and understood is important. You will feel less alone and less isolated.
    • Make an effort to be active for at least 30 minutes every day. This could mean walking to class instead of taking the train. Any movement helps. Exercise lifts your mood through the release of endorphins and improves the quality of your sleep.
    • Being part of a club, sports team, volunteer activity or faith group, whether on campus or off, can give you a sense of belonging. With numerous ways to get involved, there is something out there for everyone. Find a group or activity that interests you and brings you pleasure, where you can meet people, have fun, and be active!

Anxiety and Stress

Anxiety is a normal bodily reaction, protecting us from real and imagined threats. It is common to feel stressed and anxious. Between assignments, roommates and social life, it can be hard to find time to relax. When your body is alert and you can’t relax enough to focus on work or sleep, you may need additional tools to cope.

At times of distress that does not reach the level of a crisis or emergency, there are several things you can do to help you cope with and reduce your distress.

Try the following techniques:

    • If you are prone to anxiety or experience significant stress, it is important to attend to your self-care and proactively reduce stress. Consider the following strategies:
      • - Eating regular meals
      • - Making sure that you’re hydrating!
      • - Getting regular exercise (20-30 minutes)
      • - Sleep hygiene - getting regular sleep at night and avoiding naps during the day if you’re having trouble sleeping at night
      • - Allowing yourself to express yourself and be playful (listening to music, going to museums, writing, making art for fun, reading for pleasure)
      • - Attending to your spirituality
      • - Being gentle with yourself and the fact that you’re learning
      • - Breaking down your work into steps that feel manageable to you
      • - Connecting with loved ones
      • - Avoiding unhealthy substance use or using substances mindfully and in moderation
    • Call a friend, family member, counselor, faith leader or any supportive person -- just to talk.
    • Focus on one specific thing that feels safe and manageable in the moment. Try these examples:
      • - Grab tightly onto your chair as hard as you can
      • - Dig your heels into the floor, literally grounding them. Notice the tension centered in your heels
      • - Stretch! Clench and release your fists, notice the sensation of extending your fingers and arms
      • - Jump up and down!
      • - Find a grounding object, something that you can hold/feel (stress ball, soft piece of fabric, a stone)
    • Think of 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can touch (and touch them), 2 things you can smell or like the smell of, and take 1 slow, deep breath
    • Gain a greater sense of control by targeting the body’s physical reactions to stress. Try these techniques:
      • - Temperature: Often the body responds to stress by getting heated. You can counteract this by cooling yourself down (use an ice pack, splash cold water on your face, take a cold shower).
      • - Ice Diving: If you take a deep breath and immerse your face in a bowl of cold water, the dive reflex will be induced, slowing down your heart rate.
      • - Intense Exercise: Exercise of any kind for 20-30 minutes tends to have a huge impact on mood, decreasing ruminative thoughts and feelings of overwhelm.
      • - Paced Breathing: Taking deep, diaphragmatic breaths, increasing the length of your exhales and slowing your breathing, helps to reduce feelings of overstimulation (view the video guide).
      •  
      • - Progressive Muscle Relaxation: Going through your body and taking the time to tense and then relax each muscle group leads to greater awareness of where the body holds tension and allows space for a healthy release (view the video guide).
    • Sensory awareness often helps reduce a sense of overwhelm. Practice to find which of your senses tends to help you feel the most centered!
      • - Sight: Notice the colors in the room around you, take a walk and notice your surroundings, go people-watching, light a candle and observe
      • - Sound: Close your eyes and try to pick up as many sounds as you can, pay attention to sounds of nature, listen to soothing or invigorating music
      • - Touch: Wrap yourself in a blanket, use lotion, touch a soothing object, sink into a comfortable chair
      • - Smell: Light a candle, open the window and smell the air, use essential oils, use your favorite soap/lotion, open a package of coffee
      • - Taste: Suck on a candy (Warheads are easy to focus on!), chew some gum, eat a favorite food, drink a soothing beverage (tea, hot chocolate)
    • Recognizing when your body is urging you to do something that may not be helpful to you and challenging yourself to do the opposite by setting manageable goals
      • - Urge to withdraw/ isolate --> Get active! Encourage yourself to get out of bed, take a shower, change your clothes. Recognize that there is a middle ground between doing nothing and doing everything
      • - Urge to run away/ avoid --> Recognize when this urge is inhibiting you and think about how to take steps to approach situations
      • - Urge to attack --> Temporarily remove yourself, take some time to be kind to yourself and to think through how to approach the situation more gently
      • - Urge to hide --> Think about safe people that you could approach and let in
      • - Learn more about extreme forms of stress and anxiety
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      • - DBT Crisis Survival Skills
      • - National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals. Call 1.800.273.8255 for free 24/7 crisis support in the U.S.
      • - Mindfulness and meditation apps:
        • -- Headspace:Provides unique daily guided meditations, science facts and figures and progress reports,all designed to make it as easy as possible for you to get some calm and clarity. Headspace is available with limited licenses through the Boston Public Library
        • -- Calm: Is a great way for beginners to start meditation. Choose between options for sound and length of time, as well as scenes from nature for you to visually focus on while you meditate
        •  
        • -- Insight Timer: Includes both a timer for you to mediate as well as a number of audio-guided meditations. Search by length, popularity, instructor, etc.
        • -- Stop, Breathe, & Think: Offers a solid sampling of the basics of meditation, featuring a range of exercises at varying lengths (mindfulness meditation, loving-kindness meditation, the body scan practice), ideal for short practices at work and longer sessions at home.

Sleep

Sleep hygiene is often an overlooked factor in managing mood, stress, energy, concentration, appetite and overall functioning.

Consider the following tips to improve this important part of your life.

      • - Try to go to bed and wake at the same time every day, even on the weekends
      • - Avoid napping, even if you are tired. If you must nap, try power naps that are less than 30 minutes
      • - Develop a bedtime ritual. Unplug from electronics (the blue light tricks your brain into thinking the sun is coming up) and decrease activity 30-45 minutes before you want to sleep. Consider deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation to help your body relax.
      • - Do not stay in bed trying to sleep if you are tossing and turning. If you can’t sleep after 20-30 minutes in bed, engage in a relaxing activity, such as reading or having a cup of chamomile tea, then return to bed when you are sleepy. If you can’t stop your stream of thoughts, get up and write them down. If important, you can check your notes in the morning.
      • - Reduce caffeine intake as much as possible and consider avoiding caffeine in the afternoon
      • - Avoid heavier meals and alcohol before bedtime, as they interfere with normal sleep patterns
      • - Exercising more during the day enhances sleep. Walking counts!
      • - Work on your sleep environment: avoid working on your bed and other non-sleep and non-sex activities, to strengthen your mind’s association between your bed and sleeping. (Reading relaxing materials is the exception.)
      • - Resources: How to sleep better

Eating & Body Image
    • An eating disorder is a diagnosable mental health condition relating to someone’s relationship with food. Disordered eating, on the other hand, refers to an unhealthy relationship with food, fitness, and one’s body.

      Disordered eating affects as much as 50% of the population. It can appear as seemingly innocuous as engaging too heavily in a diet plan or as extreme as bingeing and purging but without the medical qualifications for an eating disorder diagnosis. However, disordered eating is important to address and can open the door to eating disorders, and support should be sought as soon as the challenges are recognized.

      While eating disorders are most commonly associated with young women, anyone can experience an eating disorder, regardless of identities.

      View the Comprehensive Guide to Eating Disorders and How to Help.
      • • Body image is how you see yourself when you look in the mirror or when you picture yourself in your mind. It involves your beliefs about your appearance (e.g., memories, assumptions, and generalizations), how you feel about your body, and how you feel IN your body.
      • • Negative body image is a distorted perception of your body. It can lead one to feel ashamed and self-conscious, and can negatively impact interpersonal relationships and your relationships with food, exercise, self-care and self-expression. Negative body image may be influenced by oppressive and harmful messages about what one’s body “should” look like.
      • • Positive body image is an awareness of one’s body (seeing your body as it really is). It can lead one to celebrate and appreciate their body and feel confident and secure, and can positively impact interpersonal relationships and improve one’s relationships with food, exercise, self-care and self-expression.
      • • Body Image and Gender Identity: Sometimes, issues with body image, or body dysphoria, may be related to gender identity.

Grief & Loss

Everyone responds to grief differently, both individually and culturally. Sadness, numbness, anger and disbelief are just some of the common feelings of grief. It’s important to remember that grief is a unique process and takes time. Recent loss may also bring up memories and feelings of grief related to previous losses.

    • Some students use school and work as a means of distraction from the painful feelings of loss. While there are times that these feelings need to be temporarily put aside to attend to our responsibilities, it’s important to also allow time and space for grieving.
    • The grieving process can be stressful both physically and mentally, so it’s important to focus on self-care when dealing with feelings of loss. When feelings of grief and loss become overwhelming, remember to breathe and engage your coping skills. You can review suggested coping strategies.
    • Think of ways that you can celebrate the memory of your loved one. Make a collage, write a poem, engage in one of their favorite activities or contribute to a cause that was important to them.
    • Some students find it helpful to attend to their spirituality and/or reach out to places of worship after the loss of a loved one. This may help with processing the grief as well as feeling more connected to your dead loved ones.
    • It’s important to share your feelings of grief and loss with trusted loved ones. You may want to consider seeing a counselor if you are feeling stuck in your grief or it is impacting your daily functioning.

Substance Abuse

How to Quit Smoking

    • Having a plan can make your quit day easier. A quit plan gives you ways to stay focused, confident, and motivated to quit.
    • Triggers are the people, places, things, and situations that set off your urge to smoke. Try to avoid all your triggers.
    • Getting rid of smoking reminders can keep you on track. Clean out your car, home, and work areas to start fresh. Smoking reminders can include your cigarettes, matches, ashtrays, and lighters.
    • Keeping busy is a great way to stay smoke free on your quit day. Staying busy will help you keep your mind off smoking and distract you from cravings.
    • Whenever you feel a craving, take a deep breath in and slowly let it out. Stress is one of the strongest triggers for nicotine cravings, and this simple exercise will help you relax and calm down. Meditation is a form of deep breathing and relaxing. Some mediation techniques can help you be more aware of your thoughts, actions and feelings.
    • Visit a public place since most public places do not allow smoking such as a movie theater, a museum, or a store.
    • Hydrating will help speed up the nicotine detox, will help ease your cough, and it’s a good way to combat increased appetite without changing your eating habits too much.
    • Start exercising regularly and start eating healthier. Exercise will help improve your health faster and you will be able to see your progress overtime. Turn to healthy food options during meals and snacks. When a craving starts, nibbling on a carrot or celery stick will help occupy your hands and mouth. This creates a familiar movement to help you relax and gather yourself. You can also try chewing on gum to occupy the mouth.
    • Quitting smoking is difficult. The goal is to not smoke – not even one puff. Do whatever it takes to beat the urge to smoke. Keep trying different things until you find what works for you.
    • Your loved ones can help support you through this period of transition. You don’t need to rely on willpower alone to be smoke free.
    • If you need to seek professional help, please contact Optum Student Health Services to meet with someone one-on-one. Student Health Services can assist you with a referral to QuitWorks. This comprehensive program is provided at no additional cost.

International Students + Cultural Adjustment

You may be feeling different these days but do not know why. Living in a culture that is different from your own can be both an exciting adventure and a challenging process. Regardless of what country you are from, it is common for all international students to go through a period of cultural adjustment. Understanding this adjustment process and getting support through this transition will help you to have a more fulfilling experience, both academically and personally.

The values, social norms, and traditions in the U.S. may be very different from beliefs about "how things should be" in the country where you grew up and impacts how you adjust to your new environment. "Culture shock" is a common experience that describes the feelings of confusion and stress that occur when entering an unfamiliar culture. The abrupt loss of all that is familiar can create physical symptoms of distress, such as sleep difficulties, racing heart, headaches, stomach upset, and emotional difficulties such as irritability and a temporary loss of a sense of identity. Language, transportation, food, and health troubles may strain even the most adaptable individuals as countless issues require problem-solving, without one's usual support systems in place. A feeling of not really belonging can occur when one has lost one's family and friends and community from home. It takes awhile for new relationships to provide the closeness of support that one is used to from home.

Keep in mind that not everyone has the same reactions to cultural adjustment and may experience the symptoms of culture shock in varying degrees and at different times. Adapting to a new culture is an ongoing process. It may be challenging at times, but many students find that going through this transition helped them to learn more about themselves and to develop greater confidence in their ability to navigate new situations. It can also lead to a renewed appreciation of one's own culture. If you are an international student experiencing adjustment challenges or distress from discriminatory encounters and would like to speak to a counselor for support, please contact the Counseling and Wellness Center.


First-Generation Students

As a first-generation student, this is an important achievement, an exciting opportunity and a point of pride! As the first in your family to attend college, you may feel some pressure as you adjust to college life. First-generation students may find themselves confused by the jargon, culture and patterns of expected behavior. Sometimes, this may make it feel harder to fully engage and connect on campus. Regardless of your intelligence, talent and capability, you may benefit from additional support as you adjust to a new environment. Remember that the perseverance, resilience, resourcefulness and hard work that helped you get into college will also help you succeed in college! It may be challenging at times, but many students find that this unfamiliar college terrain helped them to learn more about themselves and to develop greater confidence in their ability to navigate new situations.

      • • Working more hours while enrolled due to added financial responsibility
      • • Receiving less support from family who may not understand the demands of college work
      • • Pressure from family and friends to return home more often and mixed messages about your changing identity (e.g., wanting to succeed but not wanting to be different from your family and peers back home)
      • • Pressure and responsibility from families to be “the first to succeed” in college
      • • Guilt about having the opportunity to attend college while others in your family or community do not
      • • Doubts about your abilities and whether you belong despite good performance
      • • Feeling uninformed when it comes to college resources and processes, such as graduation, job or graduate school searches
      • • Seek support and connection: By getting involved on campus, you are likely to connect with other students and feel more integrated on campus! Also, don’t forget to talk with people you trust, perhaps your family, friends, professors or a counselor, about what you are experiencing as you adjust to college and a new environment.
      • • Utilize resources: Take advantage of the variety of offices, programs and groups designed to assist and support you, such as academic advising, financial aid, the counseling center and affinity groups. Their services can help you navigate the college terrain as well as feel understood and connected. You may also benefit from getting to know an upper-level student or a professor who can provide some guidance. Finding a first-generation college student who has already been there can be especially helpful as they can share tips on how to cope with the first year of college.
      • • Maintain balance: You have a lot to juggle! With the demands of academics, work, family, and a social life, it is important that you find a way to balance competing demands while also prioritizing your self-care and personal needs. Time management is essential and having a schedule can help you manage those competing interests and demands.
      • • Campus Resources:
      • • Online Resources:

Social Justice & Mental Health

As we reflect on historical and recent events, we want to affirm our ongoing commitment to celebrating diversity in all its forms and addressing oppression and inequity. As a counseling center aiming to be committed to ensuring access to care for all students regardless of their background, status or identity, we feel a particular dedication to renouncing oppression in all its forms. We recognize there is still a lot of work we have to commit ourselves towards as individual counselors, a counseling center, a college and a society in order to work towards inclusivity and justice. It is our goal to offer a safe and affirming environment so that all members of the campus community will feel welcome to seek our services. As counselors, we know that various forms of societal oppression exist and impact our lives as individuals.

Many members of our community hold multiple identities that have been marginalized and oppressed in our history. Members of our community have experienced trauma and emotional burden because of the color of their skin, religious faith, wealth status, country of origin, gender identity or the gender of those they love. Others have experienced the divisiveness of the current political climate more indirectly. We know that these experiences can contribute to people feeling unsafe both on and off campus. We also know that witnessing or being the target of hate creates challenges for students as they are developing and flourishing into their chosen majors, social lives and individual journeys.

If you are a student experiencing distress from discrimination and oppression or are struggling to process your experience and would like to speak to a counselor for support, please contact the Counseling and Wellness Center to schedule an appointment.

The following resources are a few that acknowledge the impact of social justice on mental health and well-being.

      • • Racial trauma is the experience of encountering racism and/or harmful racial encounters as a person of color, either directly or indirectly by witnessing or hearing about racist acts that involve loved ones, your community or individuals whose identity closely aligns to yours. Racial trauma is sometimes also described as race-related stress or racial injury.
      • • Racial trauma manifests differently for individuals based on their own unique experiences. However, negative or dangerous racial experiences may contribute to feelings of depression, anger, avoidance, hypervigilance, intrusive thoughts, low self-esteem and physical symptoms, such as stomach upset, headaches and fatigue.
      • • If you are a student of color experiencing distress from harmful, uncomfortable, or dangerous racial encounters or are struggling to process your experience of racist acts and would like to speak to a counselor for support, please contact the Counseling and Wellness Center.
      • • Understanding Racism and its Related Stress
      • • Strategies to Counter the Stress of Racism
      • Conversation about the Intersections of Social justice and Mental Health
      • PoC and Mental Illness Photo Project
      • Surviving and Resisting Hate Toolkit for PoC
      • Meditation App: Liberate - Designed to support Black folks on their path to healing by naming and offering resources for common cultural experiences, such as internalized racism and micro-aggressions.
      • Anti-Asian Racism during COVID-19 Outbreak: COVID-19 concerns have led to stigma and discrimination against people of Asian descent. This stigma creates fear and harms ordinary people. If you’re an Asian or Asian American student who has experienced stigma and/or racism and would like to speak to a counselor for support, please contact the Counseling and Wellness Center. View Responding to Anti-Asian Racism during the COVID-19 Outbreak
      • The Steve Fund: Dedicated to the mental health and emotional well-being of students of color. The organization offers expert resources regarding mental health and students of color. The Steve Fund has created a special keyword, STEVE, that young people of color can text to 741741 to connect with a trained crisis counselor
      • LGBTQIA+
      • • Campus Resources




LGBTQIA+

We recognize that our LGBTQIA+ student populations face challenges that are common for many college students, as well as additional challenges that are unique to their gender and/or sexual identities. We invite students to the counseling center to talk openly about their concerns, mental health, identities and the impact of oppression and discrimination.

If you are a LGBTQIA+ student experiencing distress from harmful, uncomfortable, or dangerous discriminatory encounters or are struggling to process your experience of discrimination and/or identity and would like to speak to a counselor for support, please contact the Counseling and Wellness Center.





Interpersonal & Sexual Violence

If you are a student experiencing distress from interpersonal and/or sexual violence or are struggling to process your experience and would like to speak to a counselor for support, please contact the Counseling and Wellness Center to schedule an appointment.


      • • Campus Resources: Title IX Office
      • • Community Resources:
        • - Boston Area Rape Crisis Center provides services to survivors of rape and sexual assault, their friends and family. Includes statistics and information on services
        • - Beth Israel Center for Violence Prevention and Recovery offers services to survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and community violence, including advocacy, crisis intervention, counseling, and support groups
        • - Safe Link: A Massachusetts domestic violence hotline with support and information about services for anyone affected by domestic or dating violence. SafeLink is run by Casa Myrna, an organization that provides housing, legal, and counseling services to survivors of domestic violence
        • - Violence Recovery Program at Fenway Health offers counseling, support groups, advocacy, and referral services to LGBT victims of violence
        • - Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence offers multilingual services to Pan-Asian survivors of domestic and intimate partner violence, including a 24 hour help line, crisis intervention, emergency shelter, case management (i.e. legal, medical and immigration advocacy) and referral assistance
        • - The Network/La Red is a survivor-led organization that provides a 24 hour hotline, support, crisis intervention, referrals, legal assistance and support groups for LGBTQ survivors of domestic violence




Food Insecurity

Campus and community resources




Financial Insecurity & Homelessness

If you are experiencing financial hardship and/or homelessness, we encourage you to reach out to the Counseling and Wellness Center to talk through your options.
Visit the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless