Friday, April 1, 2016

Establishing a Safety Plan in College

Hi everyone and Happy April! I cannot contain my excitement for it being April already ... hello warmer weather! I hope you all are doing well with your classes and are enjoying your social activities! Today I want to talk to you all about establishing a safety plan when you are in college. Whether you are planning to go to university in the Fall or are there now, it is never too early or too late to make one!

So you all may be wondering what a safety plan is and it is a document that is usually used in a clinical and educational setting for people to determine specific strategies when they notice behaviors in themselves. This can very easily be adapted to making your own personal safety plan while you are away at college. A personal plan can help you cope with all of the stressors of college life: relationship/dating troubles, problems or difficulties in your classes, lack of performance on the athletic field, or the general feelings that come when you transition into college life. DISCLAIMER - this is very general and is meant to help you handle the common/simpler stressors of college life. If you feel that your stressors are getting worse and you feel that your behaviors are becoming more and more unhealthy, please visit your Health or Counseling Center to work through those behaviors!

Here are the items you should include in your Personal Safety Plan.

1. Triggers - These would be things that can lead you to being stressed out or upset. For example: studying for exams, losing a basketball game, receiving a poor grade on a project, fighting with your roommate or girlfriend, or being on social media. When I first started college and into my sophomore year a huge trigger for me was social media. I missed my boyfriend and my family, so seeing them posting about the exciting things they were doing always got me a little down. So, if you know what triggers you to get upset, it is a little bit easier to calm yourself down or to try to avoid it at all costs.

If you think social media is your trigger,
take a brake from it for a day or two!

2. Problem Solvers - You are going to want to identify some coping strategies for when you get upset or when you are feeling stressed about college. Oftentimes when you have these simple stressors, you can't really solve them you just have to move on and work towards the next best thing in life. For myself, distractions were always good at helping me to get my mind off of a disappointment. Usually I would go to the dance studio for an hour, talk with my sister, color or watch some new videos on Youtube. This could also be painting your nails, playing  a pick-up soccer game, or watching a little television. If you're concerned or stress about your schoolwork, some solving skills may be to create a list of everything you need to work on, look over your syllabi to better prepare for future assignments, or just shake it off and study more for the next assignment.

3. Friends and Places - Within your safety plan, you should also include some people who you can go to to talk about anything that is bothering you or who you would feel comfortable going to if you feel overwhelmed. These can be a close friend, a family member, an administrator at college, or a faculty member. You should feel like you are able to ask them for help or just talk about what's going in your life! Another great thing to identify is a place where you can go that provides a distraction. Like I said earlier, for me it was the dance studio. It could be an art gallery, a park, or a favorite store. No matter who or what places you decide on, you will want to have access to them to help you through whatever is currently stressing you out!

My college dance studio was my distraction zone.
It gave me a chance to de-stress and relax.

4. Environment - A final aspect of your safety plan is making your environment conducive to reducing your stress. So think about your dorm room, the building where you live, and the people that surround you. Whether it is a dirty room, a window that faces the road, the people on your floor or your friendship circle, try to change your environment so that helps reduce your stress. While it probably isn't a possibility to change your dorm room or residence hall, it is something to keep in mind for next year when you pick your living arrangements! Whatever it is, do your best to make it easier for you to cope with those common stressors and live a better life at college!

Like I said before, if you feel that your behaviors are becoming extreme, you should definitely seek more help from a counseling professional. They can offer you great strategies to handle your stress, as well as, provide with you another person to talk with about anything that upsets you!

Without a doubt, learning how to cope with stress in high school and in college is super important for your well-being and I hope establishing your own safety plan is a great way to do that for you! Is there anything at the top of your list that you do when you feel stressed or upset? Feel free to add it in the comments!  Have a great weekend everyone!

enjoy the chase,

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