Your State of Mind

Julie Himmelman, Acadia University Dietetic Intern

An article that appeared in the September 2012 issue of MacLean’s magazine titled, “The Broken Generation” stood out for me as a recent university graduate. I connected with the article as it spoke about the obstacles and pressures university students experience these days. It was interesting to look into the impact of a young generation growing up in a culture dependent on constant connections through technology and media devices.

Young adulthood has always been considered a delicate life period with many changes occurring. Some of these obstacles have been present for decades and stem from a wide range of sources, “everything from the stress associated with moving away from home, to academic demands, social pressures, parents’ expectations, and a looming recognition of the tough job market awaiting them”. Having recently experienced some of these stresses myself, I feel mental health is an important issue to be aware of as it plays a fundamental role to overall health and well-being.

The article looks into the difficulties many students face coping with the constant changes taking place around them in a fast pace world where there is no chance to unplug, disconnect, relax, or take time to think for themselves. There is certainly no shortage of connections through the numerous social media venues and this is having an influence on stress management and coping abilities.  There is an ongoing pressure to remain on top of the class as many students are dealing with loans, scholarships or aware of the great expense associated with higher-level education these days.

The article touches on the coping abilities of young adults today, although we have more resources available and technology present; there is the question around whether we are developing the necessary coping skills to deal with life’s uncertainties. It is important to remember that coping strategies can take on many forms from simple tasks to lifestyle changes, such as:

  • forms of personal relaxation
  • trying a new hobby or joining a community group to encourage new relationships
  • organizational strategies to manage time appropriately (ex. daytime planner)
  • one-on-one counseling and/or group sessions
  • forms of exercise (yoga, jogging, fitness classes or meditation to name a few)

It was encouraging to read that more young adults are feeling comfortable enough to attend the clinics and use on-campus mental health resources. However, awareness still needs to be increased to ensure there are adequate resources available for those in need. Mental health issues continue to increase with the anxiety and stresses around daily living; coping strategies need to be available not only for young adults but people of all ages. Mental health services in your community can help to connect you with appropriate resources and may provide information on useful tools around coping strategies and stress management. A healthy state of mind plays an essential role to your overall health.

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