Recovery Student Spotlight- Genera

It is finally September!  From going back to school to the Fall season approaching, September brings us many things.  One incredibly important thing that September also brings us is National Recovery Month!  This Recovery Month, we wanted to give DePaul students in recovery a space to share their experiences with recovery and mental health to help educate the greater DePaul community.  Each week, we will be shining a spotlight on one student in recovery to talk about what recovery means to them, debunk the many myths surrounding mental health and recovery, and much more.  Without further ado, let’s introduce our first recovery student, Genera*! 

Genera is 21 years old and just finished her Psychology degree this past spring.  She identifies as being in recovery mainly from cannabis and alcohol use, but also mental health and domestic abuse.  Genera attends DePaul’s weekly Collegiate Recovery Community (CRC) meetings (which are now virtual) to help support her recovery. 

Tell us about the Collegiate Recovery Community at DePaul 

When asked about what comes to mind when reflecting on the CRC, Genera first thinks of the word “friends.”  She explains that she feels that the CRC is a place where she can get support from those in the community.  In fact, she sees the CRC as her “home group,” meaning she attends other recovery meetings but DePaul’s CRC is home base. While she does note that she came into her first CRC meeting feeling a fear of being judged, that fear was squashed and she now feels quite close with everyone and enjoys attending meetings each week. 

Help us debunk some myths about recovery 

On the topic of judgement, there are a few myths about mental health and recovery that Genera wants to debunk.  The first of these myths is that having a mental illness or being in recovery is uncommon.  She noted that many people identify as being in recovery and mental health disorders are relatively common.  Similarly, she also spoke about how cannabis is a drug and can, in fact, be addictive.  Many people do not consider cannabis to be a substance that can be addictive, however, Cannabis Use Disorder is a diagnosable condition.   

Another myth she wants to debunk is the idea that recovery is “scary.”  She wants to make it clear that it is not scary, and neither are those who identify as being in recovery.  When it comes to recovery itself, Genera points out that recovery is a process, not a simple destination that one “gets to” like many people believe.  She describes the recovery process as a journey that is not linear.  This nonlinear journey, she explains, is one that those in recovery are always on and working towards. 

Genera wants other DePaul students who may be interested in joining the CRC to know the weekly meetings are both helpful and fun. Since joining herself, Genera has invited a friend to come with her to a CRC meetings, promising that they would like it.  She even went as far as to promise her friend that if they did not enjoy the meeting, she would buy them dinner.  Needless to say, she has yet to buy them dinner. 

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

First, Genera wants everyone to know just how wonderful she believes the CRC is.  She notes how welcoming the meetings are and the fact that they are free, making recovery more accessible. She also wishes more people knew about the CRC.  She believes that because of the stigma that surrounds recovery and mental health, people tend to be more secretive about being in recovery and seeking out help with recovery.  Genera wishes that more people knew about the CRC because she believes that the connections she has made during meetings and the support that these connections have provided her have saved her life.   

Finally, Genera wants the world to know that people in recovery are strong.  In explaining the strength of those in recovery, she emphasizes that anyone can be in recovery.  Not only can anyone be in recovery, anyone can be in recovery from anything.  From substance use to mental health to an unhealthy relationship, she believes that anyone can work towards recovery. 

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

*Name is shared with permission 


Planning During a Pandemic

About six months ago, nearly everyone experienced a change of plans in some way, shape, or form.  For many DePaul students, the plans of going to in person classes, sports practices, club meetings, and having outings with friends were no longer a possibility.  In fact, the quick, drastic change in and of itself may have been just as daunting as no longer being able to do all the things we are normally used to doing.  Going into autumn quarter, plans for a new school year also look different than they have during past years.   

In a Psychology Today articlewriter and psychotherapist, Bryan E. Robinson describes the connection between uncertainty and anxiety in the context of the current pandemic.  He explains that due to the way our brains are made to help us survive, any situation that gives indication of lack of certainty creates a feeling of stress.  The brain wants to keep us safe, meaning that if something unexpected happens, it makes it seem like more of a threat than it might actually be and causes us to question if we are able to safely get through it.  With changing plans and constantly questioning the certainty of the near future, it is easy to see how this consistent stress and anxiety can work its way into aspects of our everyday lives and begin to affect the quality of our daily living.  

This sense of unpredictability may be starting to spike as we reach back to school season as it can be hard to plan for the upcoming school year and even harder to think about the possibility of another plan being changed.  If you feel uncomfortable because of the possibility of plans changing, here are a few things that may be helpful: 

  • Focus on what you can control.  For some, having a predictable routine is helpful for feeling like they have a stable schedule.  This may look like creating consistent morning and night routines and taking breaks from schoolwork or technology around the same times every day. 
  • Find ways to get what you feel like you are missing from plan changes.  For example, the idea of taking online classes may work fine for some people when it comes to learning the material, but the social aspect of going to classes is what they miss.  If this is the case, it is always possible to contact classmates to set up study and discussion sessions via video chat.   
  • Take time for self-care.  Stress is stress.  Whether you are stressed out by the start of the school year being different from past school years or you feel like you are missing out on fun events, it is important to address your physical and emotional needs.  Dedicating time for self-care activities every single day can help with easing the stress that this uncertainty may bring.  It may help to work self-care practices into your daily schedule to ensure that you take time to do these practices and to give yourself another consistent thing to plan on. 
  • Talk to someone.  If you feel as though the negative emotions of the constant change of plans over the past six months has become too much for you to handle on your own, reach out to someone.  For some people, talking to a friend about their stress is helpful.  For others, it may be more beneficial to reach out to a therapist for guidance with adjusting unhelpful thinking patterns.  Do what you think is best for you!   

It goes without saying that this is a stressful time.  Beginning a new school year is stressful enough without a pandemic.  However, HPW wants to help support you and ease as much anxiety as possible.  Whether it be through 1:1 appointments or helping you find support that fits your needs, we want to do everything we can to reduce as much stress during this time as possible.  Be sure to connect with us via email, phone call, or social media.   

Take care, DePaul! 

How to Fight “Zoom Fatigue”

Since social distancing and online learning began many months ago, the seemingly simple solution to these new social and learning obstacles has been Zoom (or really any other video chat program).  However, if your days have included going from Zoom call to Zoom call with lectures and socially distanced get-togethers and game nightsthere’s a chance that you have experienced some amount of exhaustion from being on call after call.  This exhaustion is known as “Zoom fatigue”.   

There are many ideas about why people are experiencing Zoom fatigue.  In general, most seem to think that it is a combination of too much screen time and the pressure that video chatting puts on us socially.  For example, it is harder for the brain to process non-verbal cues when it is using a video on a screen as the only way of receiving these cues.  Simply put, picking up these cues on a video is less natural than doing so in a face-to-face conversation, causing more stress on the brain.  These factors, along with the fact that video chatting is the primary way class lectures and meetings have been taking place the past few months, are cause for physical and emotional exhaustion.   

With many DePaul classes being online this coming Fall, it is important to have strategies to protect ourselves from Zoom fatigue.  Here are a few ways to prevent and combat Zoom fatigue: 

  • Take breaks from your computer (especially between calls).  Use these breaks to take care of personal care needs.  This could include making yourself a meal, going outside for a walk, stretching, or even just drinking a glass of water.   
  • Change up your work environment.  Even if you are on calls in your bedroom or living room, try to change up the room itself or the specific spot you sit to take calls so that the room feels different from when you are on call to when you are relaxing.  This could look like changing the lighting of the room or sitting at a desk instead of on your bed.  This change will help your brain differentiate when it is time for work and when it is time for relaxation.  
  • If possible, use audio only and only have your video on when you are speaking or contributing to the conversation.  This way, it is easier to focus on what is being said, as opposed to what you are doing or what you look like during the call. 
  • Find ways to socialize other than through video chatting to ensure that “hanging out” with your friends and family is still fun.  This could include writing letters or having “Netflix Parties”.  This is a great time to get creative with ways to connect with friends and family! 
  • Be mindful of your technology use habits even when you are not on video calls.  Be aware of your social media scrolling habits to reduce the amount of distressing news you may be consuming.  Also known as “doomscrolling”, endlessly looking at news and media about distressing topics can negatively impact mental health, so it is important to keep track of and adjust these habits.  Similarly, the blue light that is emitted from our screens can have negative effects on sleep patterns, as well as other areas of health.  This may be reason to consider setting limits on technology use.   
  • As always, pay attention to your needs.  Take time every day for self-care activities to care for your mental and physical well-being.  Have a list of things you can do at any time to allow yourself to take a break and focus on your health. 

The uncertainty of what this upcoming academic year will bring is likely to cause some nervousness and anxiety as we prepare to (virtually) return to classes.  Now is a great time to assess your own worries and create a plan for adjusting to these changes and managing the emotions that may come from these changes.  By beginning with learning how to reduce your chances of Zoom fatigue, you are already taking steps to learning how to create healthy habits regarding technology use.  Continue to take time to develop your own self-care practices so that you have healthy tactics to turn to that will help you handle stress and its effects.  Remember, HPW is always here to help you with becoming your healthiest self, either through 1:1 support or providing resources.  Remember to Take care of yourself, take care of each other, take care DePaul!  

Wellness Wednesday- Mental Illness and Recovery

Last week, we talked about mental health and why it is important.  This week we are expanding more on mental health by talking about the prevalence of mental health disorders, the stigma that surrounds these disorders, and what we can all do to support the mental health needs of ourselves and others! 

Let’s begin by looking at a few numbers.  The National Institute of Mental Health has found that nearly 1 in 5 American adults live with a mental illness.  However, 7.7 billion adults have both mental health disorders and substance use disorders, which is known as Co-Occurring Disorders (National Institute on Drug Abuse) Shockingly enough, the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that only 9.1% of those with co-occurring disorders have received treatment for both disorders and 52.5% have not received any treatment at all.                                                                                                                



While mental illness is not uncommon, there is still stigma surrounding these disorders.  There are many factors that contribute to mental health stigma.  Let’s examine a few: 

Language: Simply put, the language we use has an impact.  The words we say and the way we use these words reflect our ideals and beliefs.  Therefore, if we use stigmatizing language (such as the words “crazy” or “psycho”) as insults, it generally implies that those that struggle with mental health are not good people, when that is clearly not the case.   

Lack of awareness and education: Not only does lack of education make it hard to recognize when one might need help, but it also helps contribute to the misconceptions that surround those with mental illness and substance use disorders. 

The idea of “normal”: With the lack of accurate representation of mental health and substance use disorders in the media, it can create the illusion that it is not normal to struggle with mental health.  However, the statistics that have been presented previously in this post show that struggling with mental health is not uncommon.   

With all these factors that keep the stigma going, there is one thing we can all do to help erase this stigma- be active bystanders.  Being an active bystander can look like many different things.  It could look like politely correcting a friend after they used stigmatizing language.  Or it could look like educating yourself by listening to what those that have mental health struggles have to say and believe it.  Or it could simply be not judging someone who you suspect is struggling with substance use.  Different people have different levels of comfortability and different ways of interacting with others, so it is okay to do whatever it is you need to do to be an active bystander.  The best thing you can do is something.  

Before we provide you with some resources, let’s take a moment to see what DePaul community members in recovery have to say about mental health, substance use, and recovery: 


As you can see, recovery and mental health take a bit of effort, but this effort is worth it.  It can be especially helpful to know that you are not alone in dealing with mental health struggles.  If you are looking for more support, here are some great places to get you started: 

DePaul Resources: 

  • Office of Health Promotion and Wellness 

  • Collegiate Recovery Community 

  • University Counseling Services 

  • Center for Students with Disabilities 

  • Dean of Students 

  • Office of Multicultural Student Success 

  • Adult, Veteran, and Commuter Student Affairs  

Other Resources: 

  • Hope For The Day 

  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration  

  • National Alliance on Mental Illness  

  • National Institute of Mental Health 

  • National Institute on Drug Abuse  

In case you missed it, here is the link to our Wellness Wednesday discussion:

Take care!

Executive Functioning and Online Classes

It seems that there are often two types of people in the world- those who like pineapple on pizza and those who do not, those who are better at reading and writing and those who are better at math and science, those who are generally well organized and get assignments done early and those who forget about an assignment due tonight at 11:59 pm and end up starting it at 11:20 pm.  However, it is quite clear that everything shifting to being online may also cause shifts in certain habits and mindsets.  If you find that you were once one of the people who had everything organized in their planner and always had everything done days ahead of time, but have now shifted to being one who forgets about assignments and is struggling to get them done when you do remember, you are not alone.   

If you are struggling with these skills, you may be struggling with something called “executive functioning”.  Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines executive function as a “group of complex mental processes and cognitive abilities (such as working memory, impulse inhibition, and reasoning) that control the skills (such as organizing tasks, remembering details, managing time, and solving problems) required for goal-directed behavior”.  This definition includes multiple skill sets that work together to enhance your ability to get things done, such as schoolwork 

 Many people struggle with these skills on a regular basis.  However, with everything being online, it is much easier to miss deadlines, misinterpret what you are supposed to do for an assignment, or lack the focus needed to sit through a zoom lecture and take helpful notes.  Struggles like these may feel daunting and frustrating, but there are ways to set yourself up for success!  Let’s take a look at a few! 



  • You might have heard this one before but write everything down.  When you write down tasks, make sure you write them down in a way that is beneficial to you.  Some people find it helpful to organize their assignments by the date that they are due.  Others may think that it is more helpful for them to make a list the night before of things they need to complete for the next day as it mentally prepares them for doing tasks that day.  Different methods work for different people, but having tasks and assignments written down will help with seeing what work needs to get done and mentally preparing to do so.   
  • Create a daily routine and stick to it as well as you can.  Like writing things down, having a daily routine will help give you an expectation as to how your day should go.  For example, if your morning routine is waking up at 9:00 am, having breakfast, and then sitting down to do an assignment, it will feel more natural to get something done for classes after you finish your morning coffee and bowl of cereal.  If you get into the habit of completing tasks at a certain time of the day (or multiple times throughout the day), you will be more prepared to get tasks done when that specific time rolls around.   


Task Initiation and Focus 

  • Try not to multitask.  When you are doing multiple things at once, it is harder for your brain to focus on each task enough to get them done well.  It is tempting to try to get as many things done as soon as possible.  However, doing each task on its own will be easier in the long run.  Plus, doing tasks individually will increase the likelihood of each task being done with a higher quality.   
  • Set a timer for how long you are going to work on a task.  Maybe one day you have an essay to write, a discussion board to post, and a chapter you have to read.  Depending on how long the chapter is, you could give yourself 45 minutes to read it and take quality notes.  Once that is complete, give yourself half an hour to write your discussion post.  When you go to work on your essay, give yourself 30 to 45 minutes to write each sectionSetting a time limit will help keep you focused on your task because you know that you only have a certain amount of time to finish, so there is no time to waste.  Of course, if you do not finish an assignment during said time slot, that is fine.  This is just a mental trick to help keep as much of your focus as possible.  With that said, it is important to consider how much time you will realistically need to finish something.  Maybe it takes longer for you to read an article than it does to write a reply to a discussion post.  Fit your timer to your needs. 
  • Set alarms for when you need to start a task.  For some people, the hardest part of doing an assignment is starting.  An alarm will help keep you accountable for sitting down and starting whatever it is you need to start.  Not only that, but if you set your alarm at 10:00 am to remind you to start an assignment at 1:00pm, then you are able to mentally prepare yourself for actually starting, whether that means taking the time before your alarm goes off to truly relax or to prepare what you need ahead of time (such as getting out materials or reviewing information). 
  • Allow yourself to take breaks.  Taking breaks will help you to avoid looking at your computer screen for too long and feeling overworked.  It is easy to think that because we are home, we must get everything done as soon as possible.  However, this can quickly lead to burnout and unnecessary stress (on top of all the other things causing stress right now).  If you need to, schedule in breaks like you would schedule in any other task throughout the day.  Maybe you try to read two chapters of your textbook at 9:30 am and then you have an alarm go off at 11:00 am as a reminder to take a break.  Breaks can allow you to rest and recharge so you can get tasks done with more quality and energy. 


General Tips and Reminders 

  • Take care of yourself.  This situation is likely scary and overwhelming for many people.  It is always important to take care of yourself, and now is no exception.  If you must set alarms to take breaks for eating snacks or stretching or you need to write your preferred self-care activities into your daily schedule, do it.  Taking time to care for yourself is just as important as taking time to complete that discussion post. 
  • Create boundaries.  This was mentioned before, but it is easy to fall into the trap of feeling like you must always be productive while you are home.  This is not the case.  In any situation, pandemic or not, boundaries for work and relaxation are a must.  If you are struggling with how you will create these boundaries, try asking yourself these questions: 
    • What time of day is reasonable to for me to start working? 
    • When do I need to be done working by to avoid stress and allow myself to unwind?  
    • Will it be helpful for me to use technology during breaks? 


On a final note, do not feel bad for struggling with these skills.  Whether you typically struggle with executive functioning or switching to remote learning has caused this to become a struggle for you, it is okay.  What is most important is that you try your best.  Not only that, but it is crucial to remember that everybody’s best is always changing.  Some days are better than others, and as long as you give your best each day (no matter what that best looks like in comparison to other days), that is something to feel good about.