‘Everyone is going through this together’: MSU mental health professional offers tips for stress management, productivity

By SUBMITTED,

STARKVILLE, Miss.—As Mississippi State continues to closely monitor COVID-19 news and information, the university’s mental health outreach coordinator is offering tips for coping with stress and maintaining productivity during these uncertain times.

Kim Kavalsky of MSU’s Department of Health Promotion and Wellness said individuals and families practicing self-isolation and social distancing can remain close through phone calls, texting, FaceTime and other forms of technology. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines social distancing as “remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet) from others when possible.”

“It can get lonely practicing social distancing, and it’s important that you continue to connect with your support system,” Kavalsky said. “Everyone is going through this together.”

Although exercise may be more challenging with gym closures, Kavalsky said there are other options for staying active.

“Try some online workouts, take a walk or just sit outside and breathe some fresh air,” she advised. “We are finally getting some sunny days and starting to see the world becoming a little greener day by day. It can be calming for the mind to hear the sounds of nature.”

Sticking to one’s routine as much as possible, including a regular sleep schedule, is important, Kavalsky noted.

“Going to bed at a reasonable hour and getting up when you typically would can be helpful,” she said. “For students, focusing your mind on school can be a good thing, so use this added time at home to stay up to date with online course work and limit consumption of the news.”

Practicing mindfulness and “looking for the positives” also can relieve stress during challenging times. Kavalsky said MSU Student Counseling Services is available to support any students who need assistance. Counselors are on call 24 hours a day, and services can be accessed by calling 662-325-2091.

“I realize that it can be hard right now, but I have already seen people sharing wonderful stories of humans being kind to one another in the midst of this situation,” she said. “Finding one thing that you are grateful each day, and being in touch with the present moment—without judgment and using your five senses—can help you stay grounded.”

For updated information and coronavirus resources, including lists of FAQs for students, faculty and staff, visit https://www.msstate.edu/coronavirus. Follow MSU on social media @msstate.

For more on MSU’s University Health Services, visit www.health.msstate.edu.

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.