Wellness Wednesday- Boundaries and Creating a Safe Space

Now, more than ever, it is important that we have a “safe space” to allow us to cope with our emotions and regulate them. In this sense, a safe space does not necessarily have to be a physical place; it can simply be having tools prepared to help you feel safe when handling challenging emotions and situations. Here are a few tips we have for setting up your safe space!

  • Set and maintain boundaries. By doing this we are being proactive and protecting ourselves by setting clear expectations with others regarding what is and is not okay. Boundaries can be physical (ex: “Knock before coming into my room”) or social/emotional (ex: “I am not in the emotional space to be able to help you with this problem right now”). It is important for everyone’s physical and emotional safety that we set boundaries and respect the boundaries of others.
  • Know when to take a break and what to do. We all need breaks to ensure that we are preserving our health. This may look like turning off your microphone and camera for a few minutes during a Zoom class to get up and stretch, calling a friend to rant, or even just taking a nap at some point in the day. It is important that we are able to not only identify when we need breaks, but also what we need to do to make these breaks beneficial.
  • Listen to and validate your emotions. Try checking in with yourself throughout the day to take note of your emotions. By doing this, it allows you to know when you may need to take a break or employ some sort of coping strategy to help you deal with said emotion. While there are many things out of our control, we can control how we honor and respond to our emotions. By validating and appropriately responding to our emotions, it is easier for us to feel in control and be able to handle each situation as it arises.

We hope that you find these tips helpful for creating your own “safe space”. If you have any further questions regarding setting boundaries or mental well-being, feel free to contact us via email at “hpw@depaul.edu” or by phone at (773) 325-7129!

Recovery Student Spotlight- Ashantis

In honor of Eating Disorders Awareness Week this week, we will be highlighting stories from DePaul students in recovery from eating disorders.  In this post, we will be spotlighting Ashantis*, a 3rd year student in DePaul’s Masters in College Counseling and Student Affairs program.  They are also in recovery from an eating disorder and wanted to share their experiences and thoughts about eating disorder recovery. 


Help us debunk some myths about eating disorders and eating disorder recovery. 

The most important myth that Ashantis wanted to debunk is the myth that eating disorders have a specific “look”.  Anyone, regardless of body type can struggle with any eating disorder.  It is important to remember that everyone’s struggles with mental health disorders are valid struggles, regardless of what they look like.   


If you could give advice to anyone thinking about starting their eating disorder recovery journey, what would you tell them? 

Ashantis wanted to start by saying that eating disorder recovery is challenging.  One of the main reasons why she sees recovery as a challenge is because it is heavily focused on unlearning certain behaviors and relearning others.  However, she wanted to stress that recovery is worth the hard work.  They described how, after being on their recovery journey for several years, their mind is clearer and they are better able to focus on things such as school, work, and life.  While some days are harder than others in the process of recovery, the work is well worth it! 

What else do you want the world to know about eating disorders, eating disorder recovery or mental health? 

Ashantis wanted to use this section to speak on how eating disorder behaviors and thoughts are quite common in our everyday lives.  Diet culture, specifically, holds a place in society that makes many of us feel that we need to change our weight.  This just goes to show the importance of accepting and recognizing the beauty in bodies of all sizes. 


If you would like to learn more about Ashantis and her recovery journey, check out her Instagram (@iamashantis)! 

If you would like more information about resources and recovery at DePaul, feel free to email the Office of Health Promotion & Wellness at hpw@depaul.edu.  Happy Eating Disorders Awareness Week! 


*Name shared with permission 

Wellness Wednesday- Planning for a Successful Winter Quarter

HeBlue Demons! We hope that you are off to a great start to the Winter Quarter! While Winter Quarter brings a clean slate, both in the sense of a new year and new classes, many students will find the start of a new quarter to be stressful. Understandably so! Stress like this can come from things like pressure to succeed in classes, going back into routine of “sitting” in classes, or just making sure that you are getting all your assignments in on time. The good news is that there are so many things you can do to help combat these feelings and put yourself at ease a little bit. Here’s a couple to try: 

  • Find an effective way to plan. Everyone has their own preference of ways to plan their schedules and organize their academic assignments. If you do not know how you prefer to plan, or have never made a plan before, it’ll be a good idea to try out a few different methods and use what you find works best. Regardless of how you plan, having a strategy for this quarter might help you feel more organized and comfortable with what you have to get done and when you need it done by. 
  • Look ahead at your coursework and try to anticipate when you will have things like more challenging assignments and exams. If you know when to expect the bigger (and sometimes more difficult) assignments, it will be much easier to plan the things you need to prioritize and figure out how you will be able to successfully shift your schedule and get everything done that you need to.  
  • Be sure to schedule in time for self-care.  It is always important to make self-care a priority to help deal with stress. Try to have a few different go-to activities that help you take care of your physical, emotional, social, and/or environmental health. Consider this like your self-care toolbox. By having many tools in this toolbox, this ensures that you won’t find yourself without a backup plan. Make sure you are doing things every day that will help you take care of yourself – you might even have to pencil these breaks into your schedule! 

We hope these tips will help you find ways to feel a little more organizeda little more prepared, and a little more confident this quarter! 

Take Care of yourself. Take Care of Others. Take Care, DePaul! 


Celebrating Holidays During a Pandemic

We are finally at week 10 of Fall Quarter!  Once we get past finals, we get to rest and relax for a long winter break.  During this break, many of us will be celebrating a variety of holidays.  With the pandemic, some of these holiday plans may look different.  While this may be initially upsetting, there are ways to still have a great holiday season, even with all that is going on in the world.  Here are a few ways to do this! 

  • If you do plan to travel and meet up with others, do so safely.  Adhere to guidelines like wearing masks and staying 6 feet apart from others to ensure that the risk for getting COVID is as low as possible.   
  • If possible, find new ways to connect with others A silver lining of this time is that it allows us to come up with new and creative ways to do things like connecting with others.  This may look like sending cards to your friends and family to tell them why you are thankful for them on Thanksgiving or having a virtual celebration over Zoom foNew Year’s Eve.   
  • Look for joy and excitement in the little things.  Maybe you are going to try a new Christmas cookie recipe or you are just excited to see holiday lights and decorations up around your neighborhood.  Looking for joy in the little things can help you focus on what is going well, as opposed to focusing on what may not be going as well.  While it is okay to feel however you are feeling about the changes that come along with celebrating holidays during a pandemic, showing gratitude for the little things may help cope with these feelings and boost your mood 
  • Create boundaries to protect yourself and your health.  Maybe there are some topics that you are not comfortable discussing with family members due to differing opinions.  Maybe you are struggling with your relationship with food and need a little help coping with food-focused holidays, like Thanksgiving.  If this is the case, set clear boundaries both with yourself and others to ensure that you are protecting your health.  If you need help coming up with appropriate boundaries to set, speak to a friend, family member, or therapist to help you brainstorm. 
  • Take time for self-care.  While this is supposed to be the “most wonderful time of the year”, it can also be stressful for many reasons, even without a pandemic.  It is okay to take time to yourself to ensure that you are able to cope and re-energize as well as possible.  Be sure to schedule in time for rest and self-care activities, especially if you know you will be busy and less likely to prioritize self-care.  


With these tips in mind, we hope you have a wonderful holiday season and winter break!  Be sure to take care of yourself for a successful finals week so you can push through to a nice, long break.  If you need any 1:1 help, always feel free to contact us via email (hpw@depaul.edu) or our social media (@HealthyDePaul on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram)! 

Coping with Disappointment During the Pandemic

Due to the pandemic, many things have been postponed or cancelled.  From concerts to film premieres to family gatherings, many of the events that we look forward to simply will not be happening when we want them to or how we want them to.  It is easy to feel disappointed because of all these changes.  While it is okay to feel however you feel, it is also important to have healthy ways to deal with these feelings.  Here are a few ways to help deal specifically with disappointment during the pandemic.   

  • Look for things to be grateful for and take time to recognize them.  When there are so many things going wrong or making us feel negative emotions, it can be easy to get caught up with those emotions.  However, finding things that we are grateful for can help with lifting moods and focusing on more positive things.  One way to do this may be to write down what you are grateful for.  Another thing to do may be to identify people that you are grateful for and send them a nice note to let them know that you are grateful for them.   
  • Find ways to add excitement and happiness throughout your daily routine or weekly schedule Maybe you plan to make yourself a really great latte midway through your day.  Maybe you and your friends schedule a weekly zoom call.  Whatever it is, try to plan something that you can look forward to that you are also able to control.  This way, you are still having some fun, but because it is on your own terms, it will be much harder for something to get in the way to prevent it from happening.   
  • Find ways to express your disappointment.  Having an outlet to express how you are feeling is an important self-care strategy that helps to manage difficult emotions.  For many people, being creative is a great outlet.  Some benefit from painting, dance, or playing an instrument.  Doing something as simple as writing down your feelings can help.  
  • Talk to someone.  Knowing that so many people are dealing with disappointment right now, it may be a good idea to talk to friends and family members about how you are feeling.  This way you may be able to feel some comfort by verbally expressing your feelings and speaking to someone who may be able to empathize with how you are feeling.  If you need more support than a friend or family member can provide, it is always a great idea to talk to a professional, like a therapist.  

Again, it is completely okay to feel whatever feelings come up during this time.  It is important to honor and acknowledge those feelings.  However, it is equally important to find healthy ways to deal with those feelings.  If you need any further support with dealing with these tough emotions, do not hesitate to reach out to us via email (hpw@depaul.edu) or our social media (@HealthyDePaul on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram)! 

How to Create a Self-Care Plan

At the Office of Health Promotion and Wellness, we often talk about self-care.  Self-care is the specific, intentional tactics we employ to ensure that we are taking care of our physical, emotional, social, and environmental health.  One of the great things about self-care is that there are many ways to practice it.  The activities that we incorporate into our self-care practices can be anything from running to listening to music to cooking.  However, with there being such a wide range of ways to practice self-care, it can be challenging to find the self-care routine and practices that work for you. 

If you are struggling to create and perfect your self-care plan, consider some of these tips: 

  • Assess your needs.  It is important that we have self-care practices that address our physical, social, emotional, and environmental health.  However, some of us may need to focus more on one are of health than another.  Try to look objectively at your overall health to see if you need to spend more time on activities for one type of health over another.  For example, if you find that you struggle with stress, you may want to prioritize self-care activities that will help you cope emotionally. 
  • Try new things.  When it comes to having self-care activities lined up, it is important that you enjoy said activities so you are even more motivated to do them.  While you might already have some things in mind that you know you like, be sure to try something new every once and a while so that you can add to your tool kit of self-care practices.  
  • Consider your schedule.  Take note of how much time you have for self-care activities during each day of the week.  Maybe your weekends have larger open periods of time than your weekdays.  If this is the case, have a list of self-care activities that last 5 to 10 minutes to do during weekdays and have a list of activities that take a bit longer than you can utilize over the weekends.  Be sure to customize your plan to your schedule so that you are able to practice self-care every day. 
  • Be prepared for your plan to grow and evolve with you.  As human beings, we are all always learning and growing.  Because of this, it is understandable that your current self-care plan may be different from what your self-care plan is a year from now- and that is okay!  Take time to reassess what is and is not working and adjust your plan from there.   

With these tips in mind, it is important to create the best self-care plan that will work best for you.  Moreover, it is equally important that you begin utilizing these strategies as soon as possible so that you have tools in your toolkit before you get stressed, burnt out, or run down.  For example, if you wait until finals week to start creating a self-care plan, it will be harder for that plan to feel effective and to find the time to begin employing these strategies.  However, if you begin a few weeks before finals, you will have a set routine that feels more comfortable and natural to help prevent you from feeling entirely overwhelmed once finals do come around.  All in all, be sure to do what you can to take care of yourself every day, even if it is just for a few moments.  If you need any support, always feel free to reach out to us at hpw@depaul.edu 

Coping with Academic Pressure

Something that many college students commonly experience is pressure to succeed in their academics.  Whether this pressure comes purely from oneself or additionally from those close to them, such as family members, it is important to understand how to deal with this pressure.  As with any form of stress, pressure to succeed in academics can lead to many physical and psychological effects.  Prolonged and intense pressure can lead to trouble sleeping, appetite changes, irritability, and many other effects.   

With the understanding of how stress can negatively affect both the brain and the body, let’s take a look at a few ways to decrease the weight of this pressure. 

  • When learning about new concepts in class, begin by focusing on truly learning and understanding the concepts.  It is easy to focus solely on getting a good grade in the class or the possibility of getting a grade that is less desired.  However, if you shift the focus on understanding the concept before focusing on attaining a certain grade, there is less pressure to simply repeat the information for the chance of gaining a specific amount of points.  That way, when it is time to show this knowledge on a quiz or assignment, it will be easier and more natural for you to show an understanding of the knowledge.  
  • Try your best, but also understand that your best is constantly changing.  For example, your best may be different on a day when you got 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep and were able to eat a great breakfast versus a day when you were coming down with a cold and there was loud construction going on across the street from you.  While some “bests” may end up with different results than others, allow yourself to feel empowered by the fact that you did everything in your power to succeed.  If the results were not what you were hoping for, be sure to give yourself grace and understanding to allow yourself to be resilient and continue to do your best.  
  • Know your value outside of academics.  Understand that all of us have value and worth that have nothing to do with what we do or do not achieve in school.  If you are struggling to recognize this, try creating a list of things you love about yourself that does not include things like grades or GPA.  For example, are you good at listening and supporting friends?  Have you seen major improvements in your skills at watercolor painting over the past few months?  Do you continue to try hard in everything that you do, even when it is hard?  All these things have little, if anything, to do with academics, and yet they are still traits that are important and valuable to have.  Try to look at yourself holistically to understand that you are great regardless of the grade you got on that essay.  
  • Take care of yourself.  If you neglect your personal needs, it will be harder to focus on achieving what you want to achieve.  Similarly, if you are able to achieve what you are hoping to achieve, it will not be as enjoyable or as gratifying as possible because of the exhaustion and frustration that comes from neglecting your personal needs.   

While it is important to work hard in academics, it is important to balance your drive to succeed and your mental health and stress levels.  In doing so, the process of achieving in academics will be much more fun and rewarding.  If you need any help or want someone to talk to, feel free to email the Office of Health Promotion & Wellness at hpw@depaul.edu. 

Reflections on Recovery

As we near the end of National Recovery Month, it is important to reflect on the stories and thoughts that DePaul students in recovery have graciously and bravely shared.  In this post, we will review the many myths that the students in recovery have helped us debunk and discuss why DePaul’s Collegiate Recovery Community (CRC) can be such a helpful resource. In doing this, we will be able to become more educated so that we can all be better recovery allies. 

The first major thing to take away is that anyone can be in recovery from any number of things.  From the last three recovery student spotlight posts, we have seen students in recovery from substance use, anxiety, depression, and even experiences like domestic abuse.  It is important to understand the variety of disorders and experiences that someone can be in recovery from so that we are better able to support those in recovery.  This support can look like many things, including helping with finding resources, being there to listen, or simply just letting the person in recovery know that you believe their struggles and believe in them.  

When speaking about recovery from substances, it is important to remember that struggling with substance use is not a moral issue.  If we look into the neurobiological aspects of substance use disorders, it is easy to see how struggling with substance use is not a choice or a matter of “not being strong enough to stop. Recovering from substance use disorders can be challenging, which is why it is important to be supportive of those in recovery, as opposed to blaming them. 

Finally, if you are in recovery, you are not alone.  These past few weeks, we have heard from only a handful of students in recovery at DePaul.  There are many students at DePaul, as well as in other universities across the country, who are in recovery.  This is one of the reasons why the Collegiate Recovery Community (CRC) exists.  The CRC is meant to be a place where students in recovery can relate to one another and support each other in their recovery journeys.  If you would like more information about becoming part of DePaul’s Collegiate Recovery Community, feel free to email the Office of Health Promotion & Wellness at hpw@depaul.edu. 

Recovery Student Spotlight- Katherine

Welcome back to another Recovery Student Spotlight.  This week, we will be spotlighting Katherine*, a senior at DePaul.  Katherine is 32 years old and Psychology major.  She identifies as being in recovery from heroin use and an anxiety disorder.  Katherine attends DePaul’s weekly Collegiate Recovery Community (CRC) meetings to help support her recovery 

Tell us about the Collegiate Recovery Community at DePaul 

Katherine explained that when she hears “Collegiate Recovery Community, she first thinks of the word “security.” She spoke about the value that she finds in having a safe group to go to that will listen to her nonjudgmentally.  While she noted that she does not always feel like going to CRC meetings, the meetings are helpful to her recovery as they provide her with structure.  Not only that, but the CRC gives her a sense of accountability to show up to support both her own recovery and the recovery of others.   

Help us debunk some myths about recovery 

When it comes to myths about recovery, one of the biggest myths Katherine wants to debunk is the false belief that substance use disorders are a moral issue.  In fact, Katherine sees substance use disorders as something that has many different facets to it, all of which affect each person in recovery differently.  Since certain substances can become begin to feel necessary for a person with a use disorder to live, this causes a reaction to do things that the person would not normally do.  Because of this, Katherine does not see this as a flaw in someone’s morals. 

Another myth that Katherine wants to debunk is the myth that recovery can only be effective when someone with a substance use disorder wants to recover from the beginning of the process.  Katherine remembers that when she went to a recovery program back in 2017, she did not feel ready to recover.  Seeing that she had the opportunity to go to another treatment program after previously trying to recover eventually made her want to give recovery another chance.  From there, she started to become more physically healthy, which made her more determined to work towards recovery.  Katherine explains that she is grateful to be alive and to have been given the chance to recover, even though she did not feel willing to use these resources at the beginning of the process. 

What do you want the world to know about recovery and the CRC? 

Something that Katherine wants other college students in recovery to know is that it is okay to struggle and seem outwardly successful at the same time.  She explains that this is part of the reason why the CRC is so helpful.  The CRC allows Katherine and other students to be vulnerable in talking about their struggles and feel supported by people who have similar goals to and want to be there to support and listen to one another.  In fact, she claims that the CRC is one of the biggest forces that allows her to continue on her recovery journey because of the peer support that she receives and gives to others.   

If you would like more information about DePaul’s Collegiate Recovery Community, feel free to email the Office of Health Promotion & Wellness at hpw@depaul.edu.  Check back next week for another Recovery Student Spotlight interview!  Happy Recovery Month! 

*Name is shared with permission. 

Recovery Student Spotlight- Josh

Welcome back to another Recovery Student Spotlight.  This week, we will be spotlighting Josh*, a senior at DePaul.  Josh is 22 years old and a Public Relations major.  He identifies as being in recovery from Depression and Anxiety.  Josh attends DePaul’s weekly Collegiate Recovery Community (CRC) meetings to help support his recovery.  

Tell us about the Collegiate Recovery Community at DePaul 

When reflecting on what the CRC means to himJosh thinks “support.”  He feels that the CRC is a place that others can fit in and be comfortable with each other.  Noting that he is a transfer student, he explained that the CRC is somewhere that he was able to find a community at DePaul.  In fact, Josh said that if someone were to ask him about the CRC, he would begin with sharing just how fantastic the people in the group are.   

Josh talks about those in the CRC so highly because he appreciates their commitment to bettering themselves.  However, not only are they committed to bettering themselves, but they are also committed to helping support others on their journey to bettering themselves.  Along with the CRC being a supportive place, Josh also wants to make it known just how welcoming the group is.  Most importantly, Josh likes that the CRC is a place where people seem to understand each other and their struggles.   

Help us debunk some myths about recovery 

The biggest myth that Josh wants to debunk is that people in recovery do not try hard enough to recover.  He describes that struggling with substance use or mental health can be quite a heavy burden.  While it certainly can be a heavy burden, Josh shares that those who do not personally deal with these struggles typically do not understand just how heavy of a burden they can be.  Because of this general lack of understanding, those who do not struggle with substance use or mental health issues typically do not see all the work that goes into recovery, leading to the false belief that those in recovery are not trying hard enough to recover.  However, Josh emphasizes that those in recovery actually work quite hard to live the best lives possible. 

What do you want the world to know about recovery and the CRC? 

The first thing that Josh wants the world to know about recovery is that those who are in recovery need support from everyone.  Josh mentioned that, while groups like the CRC are important for support, the support of friends, family, and loved ones is just as important.  The most important thing, however, that Josh wants the world to know is that those in recovery should not automatically be seen as “leaders” when discussing the topic of recovery.  What he means by this is that, while many people in recovery want to speak about their experiences, just as many simply do not feel comfortable being open about it.  Josh explained that struggling with substance use and mental health is something that some people prefer to keep private.  Because of this preference for privacy, it would not be fair to expect all people in recovery to openly share their experiences.  In general, he wants people to know to not push those who want to keep their stories private to share, but to instead listen to those who are open to sharing.   

If you would like more information about DePaul’s Collegiate Recovery Community, feel free to email the Office of Health Promotion & Wellness at hpw@depaul.edu.  Check back next week for another Recovery Student Spotlight interview!  Happy Recovery Month! 

*Name has been changed to respect the student’s privacy.