Mental health prioritization through volunteerism, community action and general merriment
It unfortunately snowed, but luckily it is just about time to go home for Thanksgiving break. And then a few weeks after that, it is Christmas break. However, I am here to inform you about ways to be in good spirits while you might be struggling with seasonal depression, loneliness, missing family or just the fact that you are over this semester and just want it to be done — you are not alone, nor will you ever be alone.
By being a part of the Student Health Services organization, NDSU Well-Being Peer Educators, we had the opportunity to have a tabling event at the Union last week. The NDSU Well-Being Educators are there to inform students and faculty about ways to better their health. At our table, we talked about suicide prevention over the holidays, along with things that will keep you in good spirits this next couple of months.
There were many people who stopped by our tabling event and said how much they appreciate us talking about suicide prevention and ways to cope with loneliness, depression and suicidal warning signs and what they can do over the holidays that will keep them in a ‘cheery’ mood.
To those who didn’t stop by our tabling event that we had the opportunity to do through the well-being educators, I am here to inform you about suicide warning signs, ways to prevent suicide, holiday self-care tips and fun volunteer activities going on around the Fargo-Moorhead community.
Our Suicide Prevention Over the Holidays tabling event informed students and faculty about suicide warning signs. Suicide warning signs include acting anxious or agitated, behaving recklessly, sleeping too little or too much, withdrawing or isolating themselves, talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain, saying that they are a burden to others, increasing their uses of drugs or alcohol, showing rage or talking about seeking revenge against someone, feeling hopeless or saying they have no reason to live or talking about wanting to die or kill themselves.
If you know someone who you think has any of these warning signs, I recommend sitting down and having a meaningful conversation with them. This conversation can include asking them how they’ve been, why they have been thinking these things, telling them that they are loved and that you are always there for them and lastly, giving them resources that can help them better their mental health.
This person might be scared to call ask for help; you can ask them if they would like you to reach out for them. Therefore, they will not feel as intimidated and scared to talk about their feelings.
Resources to call include the FirstLink Hotline (211), the NDSU Counseling Center ((701) 231-7671) or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255). These resources will be happy to help you or a friend out who might be struggling.
Other ways to prevent suicide include showing or demonstrating your care and concern for your loved one, talking about suicide, reducing access to means of self-harm, following up on how this loved one is doing and then direct them to support services, whether this is the FirstLink Hotline, the NDSU Counseling Center or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Sometimes all people need is for a friend to reach out and ask them if they are doing okay.
Along with ways to recognize warning signs and ways to prevent suicide, there is holiday self-care tips, volunteer opportunities and community events that we had the opportunity to inform others about.
Holiday self-care tips include making time for yourself; reflecting on what you’re grateful for; remember that it is okay to grieve; to take time for deep breathing, meditation or music; finding ways to be active; getting proper sleep and nutrition and connecting with someone you trust can all be beneficial to staying positive, happy and healthy over the holiday season.
You can make time for yourself by reflecting and writing down what you are grateful for. While journaling, do some deep breathing or find a meditation that you like. By being active, you are going to feel more productive, have more energy and have an overall better day. I try to go to the gym just about every day.
If you are more of a fan of gym classes, I would recommend CycleBar in West Fargo. I took a class last Saturday and I absolutely loved it. If you go to the Fargo Cycle Bar site online, your first class is free. Now is your time, try a new exercise — I don’t regret it.
If you find joy from spreading holiday cheer to those around you, I would think about the volunteer opportunities around Fargo-Moorhead. The Salvation Army, Churches United, Great Plains Food Bank and the New Life Center are always looking for volunteers — especially around the holidays. The Great North Pole is also looking for volunteers from Dec. 6-10.
The Volunteer Network at NDSU is a good one to check out as well. By being a part of the Volunteer Network, you will get frequent emails about the volunteer opportunities in our community.
Taking care of yourself and volunteering are great ways to spend your time over the holidays. If you like to attend events, our team came up with a short list of community events that are going on in the month of December.
The Christkindl Market is Nov. 18-21.
The Christmas Tree Lighting is Nov. 23.
The Xcel Energy Holiday Lights Parade is Dec. 4.
The Northern Express takes place Dec. 10-12.
Along with these community events, there is always ice skating, NDSU winter sports and Fargo Force games to attend.
By having a tabling event at the union that discusses ways to stay joyful over the holidays and how to notice suicide warning signs and ways to prevent suicide, I believe we can all be more informed at NDSU. Christmas is the best time of the year, if we can prevent suicide, recognize warning signs, take care of ourselves, volunteer and attend the holidays, we will be in good spirits.
Happy Holidays everyone, and I just want to say that you are so loved, and you will get through anything that comes your way this holiday season.