Living through a global pandemic has completely changed the course of our lives. Over the past year, we have had to adjust to overnight changes that have affected the manner in which we conduct our daily activities. With all these changes also came plenty of opportunities to reflect on the obstacles we have faced and overcome. Going through hard times can make it difficult to reflect positively, but these challenges also present a perfect opportunity to turn hardship into valuable growth. Read below to learn the ropes of self-reflection and the best methods to maintain this type of thinking within a positive framework.
The Process of Self-Reflection
Self-reflection is the knowledge of your fundamental nature and essence. It is a skill that can be applied to oneself to learn more about who we are. To self-reflect there are four small steps that you can take:
- STOP: Take a step back from life or a particular situation.
- LOOK: Identify and get perspective on what you notice and see.
- LISTEN: Listen to your inner guide, the innate wisdom that bubbles up when you give it time and space to emerge.
- ACT: Identify the steps you need to take moving forward to adjust, change or improve.
Now that you are familiar with the steps required behind the process of reflection let’s learn about when it comes in handy and the best methods to pursue. We typically have no problem self-reflecting when we find ourselves in conflict with other individuals or in a situation where we must question our behavior. However, it is also necessary and beneficial to reflect on cases where the act is not immediately innate.
Some ways in which one can reflect in positive ways are:
- Focusing our reflection on achievements, not mistakes.
- Dwelling on the past can be harmful to the way we spend our time thinking. We all remember that very irrelevant incident that may have occurred but was likely quite embarrassing. Our mind tends to hold onto memories associated with intense feelings of embarrassment, sadness, or hurting. It is best to remind ourselves that no matter how much time we spend thinking about such moments, we cannot change what happened. Instead, we can look forward to future moments where opportunities will arise to create memories associated with happier feelings.
- Remember the things we’ve done well.
- This tip connects well with tip #1. As a way to direct your focus away from negative memories, we recommend balancing your thoughts by remembering the events that have gone well for you. It is imperative to pat yourself on the back every now and then to avoid the brain’s natural tendency to focus on what we did wrong.
- Georgian Benta, the founder and host of The Gratitude Podcast, provides us with a simple example. “At the end of each day, go through what you experienced and find three things that you did right. It can be something as simple as driving to work and back safely, putting the final touch on a project, or being able to respond better to a difficult situation.”
- List things we appreciate about ourselves.
- As previously mentioned, our brain, at times, can be difficult to deal with. It can unwillingly narrow our focus on our flaws, whether they be mental or physical. An excellent way to tackle this issue would be to create a list including things you appreciate about yourself. Georgian Benta suggests that helps with the achievement of a healthy self-image and confidence building. Benta quotes one of his podcast guests, Rino Soriano: “The more value you find in yourself, the more appreciative you are of your life and everyone else.”
- Talk it over with a trusted friend.
- Analyzing things from solely your own perspective can be limiting because we only see what our brain allows us to see. Discussing things with a trusted individual can bring us a new perspective that can impact our thinking moving forward. By having different perspectives, we can think about the event we’re churning over and where it really stands in the scale of things.
Time to Self-Reflect:
To get some ideas flowing on how we can best reflect, here is a worksheet to get started. For those of us who like to write out our thoughts, journaling is a great way to reflect too! Some questions we can write about are:
- In what ways have you grown as a person this year? What/who has influenced you? And what have you learned?
- Write about your top 3 goals. What are they, how will you feel when you achieve them, and finally, what will your life look like?
Meditation is another suggestion for those of us who aren’t inclined to write as much. Remember, it is essential to recognize our struggles and our achievements. Reflecting in a positive manner can show us where improvements in our lives can be made. Benefits of positive reflection include; improved self-awareness improved confidence, provide perspective, facilitate a deeper level of thinking. All are vital to a healthy mind and a great way to perform an act of self-care.
By LIZBETH MARQUES TORRES, ASHLY MORALES
For many of us, practicing mindfulness can often be as elusive as finding the end of the rainbow or any magical creature. Practicing mindfulness can take on many forms.
So what is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is defined as a mental state of awareness or being in the present moment. Practicing mindfulness can be as simple as bringing attention to one’s breath or meditating. Other forms of practicing mindfulness may include taking a walk free from distractions, from our phone, or other forms of technology. At the heart of mindfulness is focusing on one single thing at a time. Anything that assists you with concentrating on the task at hand can be considered a way of practicing mindfulness. Now that we’ve defined mindfulness let’s look at how we can practice mindfulness in a modern world full of distractions.
How to practice mindfulness
- Take a break from technology
- Don’t check your phone first thing in the morning.
- Instead, read a book, journal, make a list, or stretch.
- Eliminating electronics at the beginning of the day can reduce anxiety, stress, and worry.
- At night, avoiding electronics a few hours before going to bed can help us sleep better and wake up more rested.
- Go outdoors
- Go for a walk and leave your phone at home.
- By doing this, you remain present while being active.
- Look for new things on your path, pay attention to flowers, clouds, trees, or birds.
Noticing the changing of the seasons in nature is a great way to stay in the present.
- Focus on doing only one thing at a time.
- If you’re eating or cooking, turn off the television, podcasts, radio, etc.
- If you’re ready to take mindfulness head-on, take a yoga class or practice a breathing technique.
- Incorporating regular mindfulness practices into our daily lives can be a life-long journey.
Take your time and enjoy the process.
By JOSE LUIS MENDEZ ENTREKIN
Anti-Asian hate had been a persistent issue going back to when the Covid-19 pandemic began where the previous presidential administration partially and falsely blamed the Asian community. Eventually, escalating to the repeated attacks on the Asian community leading to one of the most recent shootings in Atlanta that left 8 people dead amid the rise of hate crime against Asian Americans. Social media platforms and news outlets have brought a highlight to this struggle by remembering the unfortunate lives that have been lost but also bringing a call to action on issues that have been long ignored.
Since March of 2020, over 3,800 cases of Anti-Asian hate have been reported. Although there have been fewer reports in cities like Chicago some claim that it might be due to other factors like a language barrier or immigration status. However, it is important to understand that these acts of hate crime are never justifiable and come with consequences. Reporting a hate crime should not be ignored because it could help prevent similar or worse encounters in the Asian community that we have seen.
We understand that during these times of uncertainty, mental health can be a problem and it’s important to know where to find help or resources that can help you or your loved ones. Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders (AAPI) mental health experts have shared the following mental health resources specifically for Asian American communities designed to help those who may need a way to cope. If you feel anxious, overwhelmed, or fearful feel free to check these mental health resources or share them with anyone that might find them useful.
- COVID-19: Reducing Stigma
- Check out this video on how to reduce stigma. This video is part of the Asian American Mental Initiative COVID-19 and Mental Health video series. Stigma and discrimination can occur when people link with a particular group, which can create fear or anger to these people. The purpose of this video is to bring awareness of these situations and provide useful resources.
- Asian American Psychological Association
- Focuses on using research, education, policy, and professional practice to advance the mental health and well-being of Asian communities. Also provides fact sheets on Asian mental health concerns, anti-bullying information, and Asian American LGBTQ resources.
By KAREN DAYANA PEREZ, MILEIDI CASTILLO
Productivity culture has led us to normalize working long hours, taking fewer breaks, and neglecting time for ourselves. We are pressured to be as productive as possible and feel ashamed if we are not; this has led us to feel guilty for relaxing. This constant pressure to be productive can cause an excessive amount of stress and lead to burnout. Burnout is feeling physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted due to excessive hours of work. Burnout is different for everyone, but together we can share our experiences with burnout and learn from one another on ways to take care of ourselves and combat burnout.
Burnout can come from studying for an excessive amount of time every day without taking breaks! It is influenced by how we cope with stressful situations, most specifically with a build-up of assignments resulting from procrastination and otherworldly worries. Additionally, bad organizational habits and a poor diet can contribute to burnout. Burnout can also derive from overworking yourself in your work environment.
Burnout has numerous degenerative impacts on our overall physical and mental health. Regarding the psychological implications, burnout is consequential to feelings of anger, depression, irritability, and an overall negative contributor to a negative self-image. In essence, burnout’s negative physical impacts are derivative of the psychological, including but are not limited to overwhelming feelings of fatigue, insomnia, heart disease, high blood pressure, and other degenerative health factors. Burnout is attributed to other disease epidemics and social and racially marginalizing systems of oppression; nonetheless, academic burnout is indeed a setback that hinders student’s lives holistically, increases college dropout, and includes suicidal ideations or definite actions.
Although burnout is always a possibility, we can take steps to mitigate the effects.
Exercises to Combat Burnout
One of the exercises in Finding Your Own North Star by Martha Beck is a complete inventory of your work activities, personal commitments, and relationships.
- After making a list of your everyday activities, you have to rate each item on a scale of 1-10, based on how your body physically reacts to thinking about it.
- Do you physically tense up, get a heavy feeling in your stomach? Or do you feel light and energized?
- You can start with just one category, like relationships, work projects, or personal/leisure activities.
- How does each person/activity on your list make you feel?
- BONUS: (We are trying this) As a part of your weekly planning routine, answer this simple question.
- What will I say NO to this week? You don’t need to carry it all by yourself!
burnout – APA Dictionary of Psychology
Power Down: 4 Ways to Fight Digital Burnout
By CHRISTOPHER GUIA CORTES, GREISY HERNANDEZ, NATHEN ORTIZ
With all the exams, assignments, and studying that has to be done, being a student can sometimes take a toll on your mental health. Despite these academic obligations, caring for ourselves is one of the most important things we can do to assure our mental and physical well-being. Obtaining good grades should not come at the cost of your mental health, so here are some helpful tips that you can follow while studying!
Tips for studying and having a good semester/quarter!
- Pomodoro method: This method allows you to rest in between studying as it requires you to work for 25 minutes straight. Once completing a successful study session, you are able to reward yourself with a 5-minute study break. During these short breaks, we recommend that you drink water and have a light snack. It is important that we care for our bodies and one way we can do this is by staying hydrated and ensuring that we eat a full meal at least once a day.
- Be organized: Google Drive: Create folders and make tabs dedicated for each of your classes. Make sure you title your google document with the name of the assignment followed by the due date.
- Google Calendar: We recommend that you schedule your study times and be specific about what readings or tasks you aim to complete during that time. Additionally, at the beginning of the semester/quarter, make sure that you read your class syllabus and be mindful of upcoming deadlines. Staying organized by using a physical agenda or a platform like Google Calendar allows you to stay on track with any assignments you need to complete and allows you to schedule your time accordingly in order to avoid overbooking yourself.
- Reach out to resources and services at your school: Inquire about any accommodations made available through your school’s Disability Services Center that can offer you a reduced course load, extra time on exams/assignments, and priority registration for classes. Further resources such as the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), Health Services (e.g. access to free therapy), and academic or major advisors, may further aid you through your college journey. Additionally, we encourage you to attend weekly tutoring, go to office hours, reach out to your peers, and keep an eye out for study jams that are hosted by student-led organizations for further academic help. These also make for good opportunities to meet new people and get in contact with certain organizations on Campus!
Lastly, be aware of your capacity:
Take note of ALL your roles in and outside of school. Practice saying no or allow yourself to take a mental health day off when you need it. Avoid cramming and burnout by being aware of your capacity, (DON’T OVERBOOK YOURSELF)! Ask for extensions, most professors and faculty will be understanding and willing to work with you, especially during this pandemic. We also recommend that you practice the art of skimming. No one expects you to complete all readings assigned to you so learning how to skim readings and focusing on the most important topics will allow you to get the main points of the readings assigned. Lastly, we urge you all to celebrate every win, no matter how small! Remember that what you are accomplishing as a student is no easy task so be nice to yourself!
“If you get tired, learn to rest not to quit” – Banksy
By ANAHI CRUZ BAUTISTA, DENI RODRIGUEZ
Our mental health and well-being are some of the most important parts of taking care of ourselves. Oftentimes we neglect our mental health because of other priorities, however, our well-being should always be a priority. The ongoing pandemic continues to cause us stress because of several contributing factors like work, school, and the political climate. If you have considered seeking therapy, we encourage you to. Therapy can be a great way for you to talk about your feelings without feeling judged. As first-generation BIPOC, it is even harder to find a therapist with whom we can relate or feel comfortable. Below are some sites where you can find Black and brown therapists.
Whole Brother Mission
- The Whole Brother Mission is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that seeks to equip men to be whole in every area of life. They do this by connecting men with licensed mental health professionals, life coaches/mentors, and resources to establish a better quality of life.
- They have a nationwide network of counselors, therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, mentors, and life coaches with a variety of specializations to serve you best.
- If you are interested in their services or if the cost has kept you from getting additional support, please complete this form and a team member will be in contact within 48 hours.
The Boris Henson Foundation
- The Boris Henson Foundation has a mission to provide support and bring awareness to mental health issues that plague the Black community. Their vision is to eradicate the stigma around mental health issues in the African-American community.
- If you are looking for a therapist or mental health services, check out their directory.
Latinx Therapist Action Network
- Latinx Therapist Action Network is an online platform and network of Latinx mental health practitioners honoring and affirming the dignity and healing of migrant communities marginalized by criminalization, detention, and deportation. They strive to make therapy accessible and affordable.
- If you are looking for a therapist, check out their Directory – LTAN.
- The therapists listed in this directory are committed to providing therapy or other mental health services for those in need on a sliding scale for a maximum of 12 sessions at this scale. The sliding scale starts at $25 and goes up to $75. The pricing will vary based on the agreement between the therapist and the client.
For more providers and services, check out these links:
Setting Goals Being SMART
It’s the beginning of the new year! After 2020 feeling like an eternity, we all carry with us a sense of optimism that 2021 will bring positive change. Although there are external forces beyond our control, as students we can and should still continue planning for the future and setting goals.
You can set goals for anything! Your goals may regard academics, health, or other personal matters. Regardless of what your goals are, however, you can use a SMART approach to achieve them. Read below for tips on how to set and complete your objectives!
SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely. Thinking through each of these encourages us to think about the aspects of our goals.
Be as specific as possible with your goal. What exactly do you want to be done? The clearer your objective is, the easier it will be to identify what you need to do.
Let’s say my goal is to be “be healthier,” this year. Health encompasses many aspects! With a goal like this, it may be hard to know where to begin. If I narrow my goal to sleeping more, it may seem more plausible than just “being healthier.”
Keep track of your goal. Find a way to measure or quantify your progress so you know whether or not you are moving forward. Remember that everyone and every goal will vary! How much I can achieve and how much I should achieve will depend on my personal capacity and target.
Going back to sleeping more as a goal, I can start by assessing where I am currently at. If I find that I only sleep 5 hours a night, what are the measurable steps I can take towards sleeping more. Can I start sleeping 6 hours next week, 7 hours the week after that, and then 8 hours after that? My timeline may end up differing, but I know I will have achieved my goal when I finally consistently sleep 8 hours a night.
Be realistic with what can be achieved. Is your goal something that is plausible given your constraints and resources? Of course, always shoot for the stars but take small and possible steps while you get there.
If I have poor sleeping habits, it may very well be impossible to change the way I sleep in a matter of a few days. I simply cannot go from sleeping 5 hours to a full 8 hours in a span of two days. I need to assess and change habits, get rid of obstacles, and more; therefore, I should step back and think about what actually can be done.
Make sure your goal matters to you. Are you trying to reach your goal because others want you to, or because you feel pressured to do so? As long as you deem your goal important, it is.
When speaking to a friend, I may find that they don’t think of sleeping more as a goal. Remember, it is your life, and you can do with your time what you think is worthwhile.
Set a timeline. Think about how long you would like to take to achieve your goal. Some timelines may be more flexible than others. Personal goals can be met whenever you want, but other goals like academics may be more restrictive. Whatever it is, make sure you are aware of the time you have available.
Being SMART helps you think of various aspects of your goals. As you think about goals this year and beyond, use these questions as guidance:
- What exactly do I want?
- How will I know I am achieving it?
- Is my goal within my reach?
- Does this goal matter to me?
- When do I want or need this goal accomplished?
Mental health has been a taboo topic for many years and seeking professional help was frowned upon. Fortunately, mental health is now a more widely accepted topic and it is now encouraged to seek professional help to start healing. Remember that seeking therapy does not mean that there is something wrong with you, it means that you are investing in a better version of yourself.
Immigrants Rising’s Mental Health Connector provides undocumented young people with psychological support. The experienced and culturally responsive mental health therapists volunteer to provide free and completely confidential services, tailored to meet the needs of each individual. All undocumented young people who reside in California and are comfortable conversing in English are eligible for the services.
Are you interested in receiving mental health support?
If you feel ready to receive mental health support, start by filling out this questionnaire. This questionnaire is to connect you with a qualified therapist who can support you. You are also welcomed to email the Mental Health Team for more information about this service, all inquiries are strictly confidential.
Disclaimer: this is not an emergency service. If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs immediate help, text HOME to 741741 or call 1-800-273-8255. Both services are free and available 24/7.
Are you interested in providing mental health support?
If you are a licensed mental health professional who is interested in volunteering your services, please fill out this questionnaire. You may also email the Clinical Director, Dr. Loren Krane, for more information about the service.
Visit Immigrants Rising webpage for more information.
2021 is here! Although it is a new year, 2020 left behind a lot of stress, anxiety, and anguish. If you could use some self-care and grounding tips, stick around because we got you covered! Immigrants Rising has come up with a grounding and self-care toolkit to get you started on your healing journey!
Practical Ways to Decrease Stress & Anxiety in Any Situation:
Mindfulness & Meditation
Meditation reduces stress and anxiety, develops awareness of the breath and body, and helps the mind focus on the present moment.
Grounding is a quick and effective way to reduce the intensity of emotions and anxiety. Use your five senses to soothe and reset your nervous system: Sight, Hearing, Smell, Taste, and Touch.
Deep breathing increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes a state of physical and emotional calmness/soothness. Check out Breathing Bubble, a guided breathing exercise.
In the mood for writing? Learn about your triggers and write down what they look and feel like. Next, begin journaling and thinking about what you need right now.
For the full PDF toolkit, click here.