Self Help Resources.
Below are links with suggestions and information for dealing with normal transitional stresses of college as well as some specific problems you or your friends may be dealing with. You will also find some online resources and some information about local support groups that are off-campus. Check back from time to time, as more helpful information may be added.
Please note that nothing listed here is meant to replace professional advice or care. If you are a Drew student, counseling services can be arranged by coming to the James A. McClintock Center for Counseling and Psychological Services. The McClintock Center is located next to Health Services in Holloway Annex. During the Academic year, our office hours are Monday – Friday from 9 am-Noon and 1 pm– 5 pm. For off-campus assistance, you may access our referral list.
Useful Sleep Apps from Tuck in Seattle, WA.
Some interesting facts about sleep:
Do not hesitate to get help. View tutoring and academic coaching like athletic coaching – as a valuable resource to help you learn and improve.
Many people find that any kind of stress can negatively impact their studies. Counseling, psychotherapy, or medication may help, but you should also use as much academic support as you need. That little bit of extra help can keep you on track and make the semester more successful.
from Rewire – Change Your Brain by Richard O’Connor, Ph.D.
Procrastination is perhaps the most familiar and universal form of self-destructive behavior. The research shows that almost everyone does it. And it seems to be becoming a greater social problem. In the 1970s, less than 5 percent of people in the U.S. felt that procrastination was a personal problem, while today that figure is between 20 and 25 percent. And no wonder—look at all the instant gratification and distractions available to us today, while whatever satisfaction we used to get from work has substantially decreased.
Procrastination may represent any or all of my self-destructive scenarios at work: misplaced rebellion, self-hate, fear of success, and so on. Like most self-destructive behavior patterns, it is often multiply determined—it serves many purposes for us at the same time. But unconscious fear of success is perhaps the most common motive.
Controlling procrastination is more like controlling eating or exercise than controlling drinking; it’s impossible to never procrastinate. For one thing, often it’s not clear which of two is the most important activity. Study for the exam right now, or eat dinner and then study? Or eat dinner, take out the garbage, walk the dog, call a friend, check Facebook, and then study? But procrastination is a habit that can gradually be replaced by the habit of not putting things off.
Rita Emmett, in The Procrastinator’s Handbook, gives us Emmett’s Law: “The dread of doing a task uses up more time and energy than doing the task itself.” Here’s O’Connor’s corollary: “It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you finally get down to work.” So my first advice for overcoming procrastination is to take a deep breath, pretend to glue your bottom to the chair, ignore distractions, and work for five minutes—only five minutes. Then take a short break but put in another five minutes after your break. Keep on with this cycle until you either are working productively or wear yourself out. The procrastinating impulse in the automatic self won’t respond to logical argument, but it may respond to a narrowing of focus. Eventually you’ll get in a groove and start feeling productive, and the impulse to procrastinate further will dwindle. If it doesn’t work today, try again tomorrow, then the next day, and so on.
If you don’t know where to start, start with what’s on top, or right in front of your nose. As you gradually get into work mode you will sort out your priorities.
A second piece of advice: While you’re sitting glued to your chair, you’re not allowed to do anything other than the task you’re there for (so if you’re working on the computer, no Internet), no matter what attractive distraction might be suggested by your automatic self or a colleague in your office. You don’t have to work on your primary task, but if you don’t, you still have to sit there for five minutes. This can be torture, but it’s great mental discipline. You’ll quickly see how easily distracted you are, but you’re forced to develop the willpower to withstand temptation. Eventually, you’ll get something constructive done.
Hold yourself to precommitments. No television (or Internet, or e-mail) until I’ve cleaned the kitchen. If I get X done, I’II reward my- self with pizza tonight; otherwise it’s peanut butter. Be sure to keep these commitments reasonable, and don’t set yourself up to fail. If you practice and get consistent at this, you can start to up the ante.
Procrastinators don’t reward themselves for finishing. An evening with friends, a special dessert—things that normal people might do to celebrate an accomplishment—these things don’t occur to procrastinators (partly because they’re never satisfied with their results). But it’s important to practice these rituals because, in our minds, the pleasure that comes with the reward comes to be associated with doing a job well. In this way, work itself becomes more satisfying.
Clutter is highly associated with procrastination. Each of those extraneous items on your desk, workspace, or computer desktop is a distraction, a reminder of something else to do. Mental clutter works the same way: If you have a set of nagging chores, just making a list will help you focus on the present. The list will contain the nagging. Every time we are distracted, we lose efficiency. You can reduce your procrastination greatly by eliminating distracting cues. Take all the items on your desk and make one pile; take everything on your computer’s desktop and put it into a single folder. You can attend to these things later.
Of course, personal computers and wireless communication have created many more temptations to procrastinate—games, Facebook updates, checking on the news. Tweets, cell phone calls, and instant messages constantly break our concentration If we really want to focus on something, we have to remove temptation and prevent interruptions. If you work on your computer, turn off your Internet browser and make it difficult to get back on. Put the phone on silent; leave it in another room. Multitasking is a myth.
Procrastinators often don’t really understand how work works. They tend to assume that other, more productive people are always motivated and ready to go. What they don’t realize is that work comes first, and motivation follows. If we can make ourselves face the task ahead of us, it’s not usually as bad as we think, and we start to feel a little encouraged and productive. Procrastinators also tend to assume that work should be easy, and if it’s not, they’re at fault. It’s an illusion leading only to self-blame to assume that those who are good at work skills always feel confident and can finish things easily. Most people who are really successful expect to run into roadblocks and hard times; that’s why they call it work, and it’s not your fault. If you keep waiting till you feel motivated and confident, you may wait a long time.
Sadness can certainly be a sign, but once you start experiencing an empty feeling you might be able to tell that it’s depression.
Feelings of restlessness or excessive irritability can be signs of depression.
If you experience significant weight loss without trying, or without a diet, you could be depressed.
If you find yourself focusing on death or suicide, with or without a specific plan, seek help. You may very likely be depressed.
Depression can make it harder for you to focus on tasks at hand and can also make it more difficult for you to make decisions.
As members of the Drew Community, we all share the responsibility to create a climate of respect – for each other and ourselves. We can often intervene in situations where someone’s safety is being threatened by their own or someone else’s behavior. You have many opportunities for intervention before a situation progresses and becomes a crisis. We can all do our part to prevent racism, sexism, heterosexism, interpersonal violence, bullying, sexual assault, alcohol or drug poisoning.
Know your options. Once you’ve decided whether you want to handle the situation directly or indirectly (or a little of both), think of all the possible options for doing so. For instance, if you’ve decided to speak directly to the person displaying problematic behavior, do you want to do it right there in the moment, or take them aside later? If you want to deal with it indirectly, what resources can you access to help you handle the problem?
It takes courage to challenge negative behavior. If you think it is too uncomfortable to intervene in a dangerous situation, remember: Not intervening does the offender a favor.
Go with a friend who knows you well enough to know if you’re behaving differently and who will not be afraid to call for help
Your Time To Act Is Limited!
You need medical attention immediately.
Do not go to a restroom or isolate yourself.
Tell more than one person of the condition you are experiencing.
Get to a safe place.
Get her or him immediate medical attention.
Do not leave her or him alone for any reason.
Keep her or his beverage for drug testing.
Public Safety 973-408-4444 or Morristown Memorial Hospital Hotline (973) 540-0100
Using date rape drugs in the commission of a sexual assault is a first-degree crime and constitutes Aggravated Sexual Assault.
Do you ever feel like your phone is controlling your life? Check out this article for tips on getting control back: Smartphone Detox: How To Power Down In A Wired World
The first year at college is often a significant adjustment for students, even if they have been happy and successful in high school. Here is some timely advice from Deborah J. Cohen, Ph.D. from Psychology Today that may be helpful. Counseling and Psychological Services can help with workshops, counseling, or therapy.
Consent For Sexual Activity
Ask for consent. Don’t assume a partner is OK with what you want to do, always ask. Be direct. If you are unsure that you have consent, ask again.
by Marianne M. O’Hare, PhD,
New Jersey Licensed Psychologist
When a parent sends their child off to college for the first time, it is a transition, not only for the child, but for the parent. Whether this is your first, middle, last, or only, sending this young person to college is not the same as “going back to school.” Going to college is considered to be a rite of passage and a time of separation for both parent and child.
Separation is not always easy. It is very common, during a transition, to experience very mixed emotions. There will be times when you will feel happy and rejoice at the quietness of the house and your free time. There will also be times when the quietness becomes overwhelming. You will be delighted to become reacquainted with your spouse and, then, sad because you used to do “everything as a family.” You will feel confident that your child will adjust and do very well. Then, you will feel anxious and fearful that you might not have prepared him/her well enough for college life.
Through all these mixed up, normal emotions, you now have the opportunity to discover yourself as a different person, which is exactly what your child is in the process of doing.
It’s very important to realize that, during this time, both parent and child have the opportunity to grow, change, and develop in terms of your own identities. Children become adults and parents develop a new role in their child’s life. You and your child can develop a new adult-to-adult relationship.
In order to foster an adult relationship with your child, here are some, hopefully, helpful suggestions for parents:
So, here you are, doing the best you can. Expect that this time will be like a roller-coaster ride. You and your young adult are going to have your ups and downs. But, think of the satisfaction you will have at the end of the ride. In the words of Arnold Lobel, “All’s well that ends with a good meal.” In my words, “A good night’s sleep and things will be different in the morning.” And, most importantly, keep in mind my inexact quote of Alfred Adler, “If you want something for your child, more than the child wants it for him (her) self, if it is not attained, you, not your child, will feel sad, frustrated, and discouraged.” I wish you a calm, quiet, and fulfilling experience.
by Marianne M. O’Hare, PhD,
New Jersey Licensed Psychologist
Making the transition and adjusting to college life is not always an easy process. You have just left or will shortly leave everyone that you love and who provides you with support. You may have left lovers, pets, and good friends. You are moving into a room with strangers (who may be very different from yourself) after having your own room for maybe seventeen years. No one knows you or cares about your accomplishments. And you know no one, but you’ll try to find a group and fit in.
Some students will seem to have an easier time than others. But don’t let them fool you. Everyone is feeling some anxiety, some trepidation, and some sense of adventure. This is a time when you will become more independent and confident. This is a time when you move from being a child to being an adult. It is inevitable that you will experience ups and downs.
There are some students who may face even greater challenges than others while going through transition to college. For these students, it’s important to know that you are not alone. A number of students come to Drew with a history of mental health concerns and/or are currently on psychotropic medication. Today, because of the advancement of psychotropic medications, students who come to college after months and even years of psychiatric assistance and have had difficulties with depression, bipolar disorder, substance abuse, traumatic childhoods, and eating disorders, to name a few, attend and successfully complete college.
Because we know that this can be a time of turmoil and adjustment, it can potentially lead to emotional and psychological issues, Counseling and Psychological Services is here to provide you with support services intended to help you reach your personal, social, and academic goals. Through individual counseling and group programs, we hope to help you deal with your concerns, understand yourself, explore alternatives, make decisions, and cope with problems.
Counseling and Psychological Services is technically a “short term” facility (that means time-limited). However, we can provide limited support for all Drew students. In addition, we recommend the following:
I welcome you to Drew. It is my wish that you are all able to make a smooth and easy adjustment. However, I am more realistic than to believe that you all will. Try to be realistic also. Recognize when and if you are having difficulties, stressed or overwhelmed. Talk to someone about your feelings. Talk to us about them. You can reach us at x3398. We are located next to Health Services in the Holloway Annex.
By Marianne O’Hare, PhD,
NJ Licensed Psychologist
Balder was the god of light in Norse mythology. He was the son of the chief god, Odin, and the goddess Frigg.
Balder was loved by all except the wicked Loki, who, jealous of his popularity, plotted his death. Balder’s mother had made all things—living and non-living—swear an oath that they would never harm her son. So there was no weapon that could hurt him.
Nevertheless, Loki cast about for a way to destroy Balder. One day he learnt that there was one plant, the mistletoe that had not sworn the oath to Frigg.
He obtained a slender branch of the tree, sharpened one of its ends, and hastened to the great hall where the gods were feasting. They were entertaining themselves by good-naturedly flinging rocks and spears at Balder, knowing full well that nothing could harm him.
Loki stole up to the blind god Hoder who also happened to be Balder’s brother and asked him why he was not hurling things at Balder like the others.
“I cannot see,” said the god.
“Throw this,” said Loki, thrusting the weapon he had made, into his hands. “I’ll guide you.”
Hoder flung the sharpened branch.
It pierced Balder, and he fell down dead.
Loki did not go unpunished. The gods chained him to rocks in a deep cavern. There, he awaits his release, for according to Norse mythology, he will eventually break free and take his revenge on the deities who had attempted to bind him for eternity.
—A story from Norse Mythology
We are not gods. We are human. However, like Loki, we humans experience moments of anger, frustration, resentment, annoyance, and jealousy. And, like Loki, we might form a plan to destroy our rivals. Also, like Loki, there are times when we do not directly express our anger and jealousy, so we get someone else (who may be blind to what is going on) to do our dirty work.
Anger, jealousy, frustration, annoyance, and resentment are human emotions. No emotion is either right or wrong, or good or bad. And, emotions cannot hurt anyone, except maybe the owner if the feelings are allowed to fester. It’s better to get these feelings out in the open. Or is it?
Expressing anger (and its many variations) is a tricky business. Anger is one emotion that, by expressing it, can cause us to feel more, not less, of it. Anger begets more anger. So, depending on how it is expressed, it can be dispelled or it can become rage.
Like Loki, when we are angry our thoughts are filled with retaliation and getting even because of how “unfairly” we’ve been treated. How angry we become in a situation is influenced by the meaning we give to the event. And, what we do with our anger (behavior or conduct) depends largely on our interpretation of the event, past experiences, and our “rules” or beliefs about our unfair treatment. As a result, our conduct (or the behavioral expression of our angry feelings) may lead to persistent anger, violations of the rights of others, aggressive behaviors, and/or violence.
Aggressiveness, poor impulse control, and intense anger and hostility are, also, highly correlated with abuse or withdrawal from alcohol or other drugs. If you are not thinking clearly to begin with, have a perception of being hurt or unfairly treated, adding (or withdrawing from) substances which cloud thinking can only lead to intermittent explosive behavior or loss of control of aggressive behavior.
Loki’s jealousy and rage meant plotting, loss of control, and violence. Although punished, he still felt hurt and unfairly treated. And, according to the legend, he continues to plan his revenge.
If your anger reactions are troublesome to you or if you think your angry feelings can break free in hopes of getting revenge, please contact Counseling and Psychological Services. You can learn to understand your anger and harness it so that it can serve you constructively, not destructively.
Seasonal Affective Disorder, sometimes called winter blues, is a biologically based disturbance of mood that affects up to 5 million people in the northeastern United States. Common symptoms include increased sleep, increased appetite, weight gain, depressed mood, and low energy. It does not seem to be connected to the cold, but rather to the intensity of the light in the winter sky at northern latitudes.
You can do a trial of light therapy for SAD at the Counseling Center.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression with symptoms that occur during the winter months and usually subside during the spring and summer months. The main age of onset of SAD is between 18 and 30 years of age. The irregular sleep/wake schedule of most college students may exacerbate SAD because students may sleep very late and spend less time in daylight than most people.
What causes SAD is a topic of ongoing research. What is known is that it has something to do with the amount of sunlight you receive. As seasons change, there is a shift in our “biological internal clocks” or circadian rhythm, due partly to these changes in sunlight patterns. This can cause our biological clocks to be out of “step” with our daily schedules. In addition, Melatonin, a sleep-related hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain, has been linked to SAD. This hormone, which may cause symptoms of depression, is produced at increased levels in the dark. Therefore, when the days are shorter and darker the production of this hormone increases.
When used correctly, light therapy can help to alleviate fatigue and lethargy, and provide some relief for depression, during the shorter days of fall, winter, and into spring. Relief from depression may be gotten by spending 30 or more minutes outside in the sun every day because the effect of sun light registering on the brain through the eyes boosts mood. Though this may help many people, the sunlight in winter may not be bright enough to ease symptoms, so artificial light therapy might help depression.
Fall and winter seasons are characterized by a reduced amount of daylight. Research indicates that light affects the receptors in our brain that produce serotonin, which in turn affects people’s mood. Light therapy has been shown to be effective in up to 85 percent of diagnosed cases. A research review commissioned by the American Psychiatric Association in Washington, D.C., concluded that as little as 30 minutes of light therapy 3 or 4 times per week is an effective treatment of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and other forms of depression. This review appears in the April 2005 American Journal of Psychiatry.
Studies of light therapy for depression have not been limited to SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). There is promising evidence that it may be effective in non-seasonal depression as well. Light therapy also works well for bulimia, PMS, Insomnia, and chronic fatigue.
Side effects, although minimal, have been reported by a very few people. These side effects are not dangerous and are usually temporary. They can be remedied by reducing exposure time.
People occasionally report eye irritation and redness that can be alleviated by sitting farther from the lights or for shorter periods. Some people report slight nausea at the beginning of treatment. These usually subside a few hours after treatment is finished and, generally, disappear after several exposures.
The most dramatic side effect, and one that occurs infrequently, is a switch from the lethargic state to an over-active state in which one may have difficulty getting a normal amount of sleep, become restless and irritable (even reckless) and be unable to slow down, or subjectively speedy and “too high”. This state is called hypomania, when milder, and mania when more severe. People who have previously experienced these states in late spring or summer are particularly vulnerable. If this occurs, the use of lights should be reduced or terminated.
It is possible that you may become depressed during a cold or viral infection. Light therapy could at this time cause irritation. However, soon after the infection or virus has cleared up, the positive effects of the light will return.
If you have an eye or skin condition which is affected by bright light you should consult a doctor before embarking on light therapy. Do not undergo the bright light treatment if you are suffering from disorders such as:
Those who have received partial benefit from antidepressants often begin light therapy without changing drug dose. Some people find a combination of light and drug treatment to be most effective.
However, some antidepressant drugs, the tricyclics (imipramine, nortriptyline, desipramine, amitriptyline), as well as lithium, St. John’s Wort, and melatonin, are known or suspected to be “photosensitizers”, i.e., they may interact with the effect of light in the retina of the eyes. Users of antidepressant or other drugs should therefore check with their physician or ophthalmologist (eye specialist) before commencing light treatment.
Please sign our release form before using the light. Thank you.
There are many commercial products for light treatment. Older devices use flourescent lights, newer ones use LED’s and are less expensive. If you attempt to build your own using flourescent bulbs, make sure that you use an plastic diffuser in front of it that will filter out the dangerous UV light that could damage your eyes. Your eyes should receive 10,000 lux for optimal treatment. Lower light levels require longer exposure periods. There is some newere research that suggests you can use much lower intensities of specific frequencies of blue light.
Remember the intensity of the light depends on how close it is to your eyes. If the treatment device delivers 10,000 lux at 12 inches, it will only deliver 2,500 at 24 inches. In other words, to receive the equivalent light you would in 30 minutes at 12 inches you would need 2 hours at 24 inches. (Intensity is proportionate to the inverse of the distance-squared.) If a device claims to deliver 10,000 lux – find out at what distance. Better light boxes will deliver 10,000 lux at 18 inches or more. Cheaper devices require the device to be much closer, which may require some tricky placement.
More recently, research has indicated that it is a certain part of the blue light spectrum that is necessary to reset our circadian rhythms. The blue light does not need to be quite as bright and can be equally effective. Blue LED modules may be excellent choices since they do not create the dangerous ultraviolet light, use less power, and may be more comfortable.
Examples of SAD treatment device are given below. These are not meant as endorsements, just examples of what you can find.
America’s National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH) has an excellent “fact sheet” on SAD: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/seasonal-affective-disorder/index.shtml#pub4
Search “Seasonal Affective Disorder” (SAD) and/or “Light Therapy” at http://www.mayoclinic.com.
Medline Plus has a resource page with lots of good information as well as other links: https://medlineplus.gov/seasonalaffectivedisorder.html
Interview from the Americal Psychological Association: https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2013/02/seasonal-disorder
Students can anonymously take a free, online screening for depression.
Of course, if you have any questions about your results, you can call and schedule an appointment with a counselor at 973-408-3398 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.