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Deziree: Hello everyone, welcome back to another episode of Magnolia on Mic. I’m Deziree

Reace: And I’m Reace

Deziree; And today we have another special guest for you all. I’ll let you introduce yourself. 

Carly: Hi everyone I’m Carly. I am one of the staff members working at student health center and in my role I oversee health and wellness programing and also the calm corner space on campus

Deziree: So we all have finals coming up, it’s a bit of a stressful time, things are getting intense, everything’s very busy lately and the weather’s cold so you can’t even really go outside to just destress anymore. So we brought Carly here to discuss a little bit of how we can manage our stresses and what the health and wellness center also can do to help us with this.

So the first question we have for you Carly is what resources does the health and wellness center have for students during the finals season or students experiencing stress in general?

Carly: Yeah so overall we offer three types of resources from the student health center. The first is our medical side. We have nurses on campus full time, Monday through Friday. We also have part-time doctors. Maybe you think this isn’t have-  this doesn’t have anything to do with stress but also something to watch out for is making sure that we’re keeping our immune systems healthy, that if you’re starting to feel like you have the beginning of a cold or something like that, that you take some time to see a nurse, see a doctor and take care of yourself to prevent your body from getting sick. We also have counseling services. We have counselors on campus. It’s free for all NYU Shanghai students. Again they’re here Monday through Friday. So a counseling appointment is what a lot of student like to use if you’re experiencing some extra stress, feel like you need some additional support, feeling overwhelmed. You can make an appointment to speak with our counselors and get some specific strategies and support. And then we also have the 24/7 wellness exchange. Hopefully everyone has that number memorized if not it’s on the back of your ID card. It’s 20599999, that’s also a 24/7 line that students can call after hours, on the weekend if you’re really feeling like you need some urgent support for mental health. And then on top of that we have the piece that I oversee which is we have our calm corner space on campus in room 614 so that’s open every afternoon. A place that has a lot of self-care and relaxation supplies for students. And then we offer some programming every week and specifically during finals, for the last two weeks of the semester we will be offering meditation and mindfulness sessions. Which is a great and not very time-intensive way to get yourself sort of reset and relaxed so we’ll have- we have a Wednesday afternoon mindfulness group and then we’ll also have shorter lunchtime drop-in meditation on Tuesday and Thursday for the next couple weeks. You can always find that in our Monday evening newsletter 

Deziree: Okay

Carly: or on our engage page. 

Deziree: That’s awesome. There’s a lot there for us. I have actually been to the calm corner. I went there for the first time this week and it really is a- a really special space. 

Carly: Yes!

Deziree: I think. I will be taking advantage of that during this finals season

Reace: How can students get in contact with you or the health and wellness center? 

Carly: Yeah! Good question. So the easiest way is that you can always stop by our office on the 6th floor. We’re open Monday through Friday, 8:30 in the morning to 5:30 in the afternoon, so if you’re on campus during those hours and you have a question you can always just drop by. The calm corner is also open for students to use Monday through Friday afternoons so 1 o’clock to 5 o’clock in the afternoon. And then if you have any other questions, the best way to get in touch with us is to email. Our email is [email protected] . You can ask for a doctor’s appointment or counseling appointment through the email. That email is monitored all the time so someone on our team will respond to you within 24 hours. And then I just want to say if there’s something that’s really an emergency or an urgent situation, again we have the wellness exchange hotline 20599999. That’s if you’re worried- have some concerns about mental health and then also our public safety is a 24/7 line that’s also on your ID card. If there’s any kind of medical or just sort of general urgent situation you need to talk to someone immediately it’s after hours you can always call our public safety colleagues. 

Deziree: Okay, thank you so much. So the next question we have for you is do you personally have any recommendations for us to manage the stress of finals? And that’s in regards to our mind, our body, spirit. I know you mentioned meditation earlier. 

Carly: Yeah. So I think what I like to recommend to students is to- a couple of big things. First of all think about balance. So balance is something that we should hopefully all be thinking about all the time. And that’s between the work that we need to get done for school, some of our other commitments if we have on-campus jobs or clubs or extracurriculars. As well as balancing that with, you know, things we enjoy to do and having social time and all the other things in our lives, exercise and quiet time and thinking about the future. So there’s a lot that’s always on our plate and so I think during finals it’s good to remember that idea of balance but then also be kind and gentle and flexible with yourself to realize that during finals time that balance might need to look a little bit different. So for example you know, if you’re someone who loves to go out and socialize all the time and you have a bunch of deadlines coming up, maybe a good balance for finals is to like between Friday and Saturday nights go out one night and stay in one night and rest or work on study. A couple other things is to, again going back to what I said earlier, remember to take care of your physical health. So along with being stressed, stress also puts- makes an impact on our immune system and our overall body functioning so some of the habits that we tend to do when we’re feeling super stressed like staying up all night, drinking a bunch of coffee,

Deziree: Guilty, guilty

Carly:  eating a ton of junk food or skipping meals like those are all things that put stress on our bodies as well. So if we can think about… I know it’s really often times not practical to say “sleep eight hours a night” “eat three perfectly healthy meals” during finals time. But again to think about giving your body some of the stability it needs to function well can really help. It helps us feel less stressed and also helps prevent cold and flu and other sort of physical things that can happen at times when we’re feeling stressed. Sleep is another really good one. I know that students feel like sleep is something that can be sacrificed during finals time but actually one of our longtime campus doctors, Doctor Misch, always says sleep is a superpower and I think it’s true. Our brains work alot better when we’re getting some rest. So even if a perfect eight hours a night is not feasible during finals time, encourage people to think about making time for rest, thinking carefully about how productive you’ll be if you stay up all night, if you’re trying to study for an exam or a test actually sleep is really important to let your brain retain that information. So often times even when we feel like we have so much work to do actually taking some time to rest and get a night’s worth of sleep is going to make us work better during the times that we’re awake. We can focus better, we can- our brains remember things better so just keep that in mind. Another thing is to set- at this point I’m not sure when this episode will come out- but if you have a week or two weeks where you have a lot of deadlines thinking about setting small realistic goals for yourself everyday rather than just trying to get something totally done in one day that’s not realistic. So breaking up the work into small realistic goals. Another thing is exercise. So this is something that you know think about what’s the right balance for you to keep your body active in a way that makes you feel happy, it makes you feel energized, but not exhausted. So again if you’re someone who loves to go to the gym and workout an hour a day everyday, maybe during finals time you don’t have an hour every day to do that. Or maybe that’s not really benefiting your overall priorities, but you can still do something maybe thirty minutes a day, or get together and have a dance party with friends or something

Deziree: That sounds nice

Carly:  that you’re keeping yourself physically active but not exhausting yourself and redirecting your energy a little bit towards study or work. And then finally, I know this is a long answer I live and think about this all the time

Deziree: These are really good recommendations  

Carly: Finally yeah, I think mindfulness and meditation is a really good practice and part of why I offer extra chance to do it during finals time is because there’s a lot of techniques that can really help people’s bodies relax quite easily. So there’s breathing techniques that can help you deal with sort of immediate feelings of anxiety. You know a lot of mindfulness techniques are really easy for people to learn once and repeat on your own, so you can use them and you can come join us during a group session. But then also later on if you need to sort of calm and center yourself before an exam you can use some of the same techniques. If your having trouble falling asleep at night you can use some of the same techniques. So I think it’s you know, mindfulness practice is a really powerful sort of multi-use tool that I think students can build skills and use it and it can make a pretty immediate impact.

Deziree: That’s awesome. I think I’ve noticed that’s it’s super easy to give up on the most important things during a finals season like “I’m gonna stop sleeping” or “I don’t wanna eat this meal because I don’t have time. I have to finish this assignment” so it’s really good to reminded sometimes I think that those are the things you really need to have in your life. Things you need to focus on.

Carly: Yeah! Otherwise we burnout. Like that’s only sustainable for at most a few days. So if we still have a couple weeks of go left in the semester, I think it’s really helpful to just think about not starting anything new, not adding anything to your routine right now, but thinking about what already works for you, what helps you feel positive, what helps you feel in a good mood, what helps you feel rested. And just think about how to sort of rebalance those things in your life. And say no to extra stuff, that’s another thing. Saying no is self care as well too. This is the other time of year where there’s a lot of like holiday parties and campus events going on and sometimes just choosing to say no to things that you don’t feel like you have enough time to do is actually a really important way to help your overall stress level. 

Deziree: For sure, thank you.

Reace: What keeps you going in stressful times? 

Carly: Me personally, I sleep a lot. Maybe that’s why I talk about it. I think something I’ve learned, and I’m a bit older than your generation, is that actually when I feel stressed I try to go to bed a little bit earlier. I also- I think, yeah. I think it’s also helpful to know that one of the things that- and this mindfulness practice can help with this too- is feelings are always changing. Even if your feeling- if I’m feeling really stressed in a moment or feeling really anxious about something just building some awareness that the anxiety is not going to always be there. I can breathe through it. I can you know, it will shift, it will change. Finals will not be forever. I also do- I don’t really have a secret. I just sort of do the things that I feel like help me feel centered. I try to spend some time outside, I try to take breaks, not look at a computer all the time. I try to take lunch break and dinner break you know I think that’s important to really say “Okay I’m gonna take thirty minutes to like walk away from what I’m doing, eat, maybe have a little walk around or talk to someone” I try to also leave my time- my social time a little bit flexible and I’m human too so I feel- sometimes I feel like “Wow I’ve really been low key on the weekend lately. I haven’t really been seeing friends” But I also know that friends will be there. There’ll be other times. A week or two later I’ll probably feel like I have some more time and energy to do these things. So just trying to take a sort of longer term view and know that even if today or this week I don’t feel that balanced, maybe I feel like my work-life balance isn’t exactly where I want it to be,  I know that next week, next month I’ll be able to catch up. 

Deziree: So this is kind of a bonus question because I know a lot of us here are going to be staying in Shanghai. We’re missing home, it’s holiday season. This is usually the time when we’re closest with family so as another expat in Shanghai do you have any suggestions for balancing missing home while feeling this pressure?

Carly: Yeah, so I’m from the U.S. and I’ve been in China since before COVID. So this is about three years since I’ve actually been back to see in-person see my family and my friends in the States. A couple of things that work for me I think, okay there’s one which college students may not be on the same vibe, but I enjoy scheduling. So I tend to schedule phone calls with my family, Zoom calls with my family similar to scheduling meetings and things. I’ll actually arrange a time and sort of put it on everyone’s calendars and set up a Zoom. I think having that intentional time helps everyone sort of come to the conversation ready to give attention and spend good time together. And actually for me I like to schedule those times, I know this doesn’t work for everyone’s time zone, but in the morning on the weekends. And actually I find that that’s something that helps me start the day in a good mood. First of all it’s something that makes me get up in the morning. And not sleep all day. So for me I think it’s a nice way to start a Saturday or a Sunday morning is to sort of spend time with family and friends. I do the same with friends. We schedule Zoom calls and then stay connected on the group chat in between. And another thing that I’ve found to be really sort of a surprising boost for me is I try to to think about sending or getting not necessarily expensive but meaningful gifts for my family in the U.S. So like around Thanksgiving time I’ve worked with a local flower company in my hometown to deliver like a table bouquet to my family on Thanksgiving and I think about… yeah I try to think about usually I look for gifts that are online small businesses in the U.S. where I can order things from here and have them delivered. But I find that when I’m thinking about doing that for friends and family I think I’m sort of honoring the relationship and also holding them in my heart in a pretty special way. And I think it actually helps all of us feel more connected. And of course people love to hear, this is one thing I should do more, is to share photos and scenes from my life in Shanghai to help others sort of know about my life here and understand it more. Yeah. And then chosen family! You know I think that I’m someone who’s lived away from home for a really long time and lived out of my country for a pretty long time so thinking about really building a chosen family here, creating new traditions, and knowing that the other people who are also here and away from home there’s a shared connection there. You can-I think those relationships you can- you can be close to people and build community in a really special way. Just by sort of being united through the feeling of being away from home. You don’t have to spend a lot of money, you don’t have to do something special but like getting together I think can be a really big boost to when you’re feeling far away from your family of origin. 

Deziree: For sure, thank you so much

Carly: Yes

Deziree: So that is the end of our episode. Thank you all so much for listening. We’ll be having a Christmas episode in a couple of weeks too so I hope you guys can all tune into that. Thank you so much Carly for being on the show.

Carly: Thank You.

Deziree: And that is all

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