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Hotline Roundup: Your Questions. Answered.    

Hotline Roundup: Your Questions. Answered.

If you haven’t heard the news, The Local Optimist Hotline is back, and it’s here to stay! 

We created The Local Optimist Hotline as a way to get to know you and hear about the issues you’re experiencing in real time. Even though we are all going through a lot of similar things, we still continue to feel alone. That’s why we created this Hotline series. It’s a place to see that other people are going through some of the same challenges you are, and to get real answers from a real person.

That’s right, the Hotline is answered by a real person - our Mental Health Lead, Meadow. In each column, she’ll respond to questions she’s received from multiple individuals texts, not on one particular person, to help highlight the common threads running through many of our mental health issues. The language and names have all been changed to maintain the confidentiality of our users. 

If you have questions for the Hotline, make sure to send them to us here.

Art by FISK

This year has been a lot. I just feel anxious and overwhelmed. My mind keeps racing, especially when I’m trying to fall asleep but at the same time I feel like I’m floating through my days. I feel stuck in life. What can I do?

I hear you. 

While we’re all in this together, this year still feels so dang isolating like it’s some sort of masochistic irony the universe is using to toy with us. 

Right now, so many of us are struggling with increased levels of anxiety, or maybe experiencing it for the first time, along with sadness, fear, and even anger. We really are learning (some the hard way) that setting up ongoing routines and practices for our mental health are vital. It’s not about one’s “self care” routine. It’s about implementing daily practices that add up over time to help us be our best selves for the long haul. 

Our jobs are not to change our lives or bodies, or to be our most productive selves. Our job is to stay safe and stay well. 

These 3 tips can help you do just that:

1. Meditation / Mindfulness Practice

If there is any practice that only gets better with time, it’s meditation and mindfulness. It’s sort of like working out. It can feel good immediately after (not always) but it takes some time to really see the meaningful changes and benefits meditation creates. 

The other reason mindfulness is so important right now is because the kind of stress and anxiety we are having this year is different than typical stress and anxiety. It’s actually triggering a different part of our brain! Because of that, mindfulness is one of the best ways to ease our feelings of anxiety right now. 

I love Headspace and The Big Quiet. Both have guided meditations that lead you through exercise and visualizations, and explain the benefits in real time. Uninterrupted also did an IG live the other day with Om Girl Alli, and I loved her meditation as well! 

2. Journaling

Starting a journaling practice is an easy, free, and cathartic way to get all your thoughts out of your head and onto a page. It feels like it physically makes more space in your head. 

To start a journaling practice, try responding to one of these prompts:

  • What is one thought that’s been on your mind a lot recently?
  • What are three emotions you are currently feeling?
  • What is something you are grateful for?
  • What is something you give yourself permission to do?

3. Hobbies 

Hobbies are a great way to put you into a flow state - the optimal level of consciousness where we feel and perform our best. Another way to put it is “being in the zone.” The flow state has so many positive benefits on our brains, some researchers claim it’s the true answer to happiness. To learn more about this concept, check out these reads: Flow State Toolkit & How Can Playing Help Us Heal

School has started again and it’s not going well. I can’t find motivation. I’m stressed out!! How can I help myself stay on task and stay focused? 

You are not alone! In fact, we’ve been hearing so much from students this year that we started our Student Series to help showcase stories around the country to help us feel a little more connected. 

College is hard enough without a global pandemic and an unpredictable political landscape. One thing I actually learned in college that revolutionized my coping, productivity, and time management was The Stress Curve. It's all about how too little or too much stress can cause us to have a lack of motivation. But there is a middle ground, called the Optimal Level of Stress that helps us perform our best without feeling overwhelmed! 

Another tip I would say is to really prioritize time management and organization. Get a planner. Start making to-do lists. Prioritize them even! What do you need to do today and what can wait until Wednesday? Set timers while you’re working on tasks. Blocking out time for activities out can help you stay focused and then you can take a true break at the end of that timer. That way, rather than growing bored and aimlessly scrolling, you know you have 20 minutes to finish this assignment and afterwards you are going to walk to get a coffee. 

Also, keep a list of tried and true coping mechanisms. For those days where it’s too overwhelming, and you need to prioritize yourself first, you will already have a list of things that you know can make you feel better. That way, you’re not relying on your already burned-out brain to come up with ideas in real time. 

Hope that helps!

Remember, if you have questions you can submit them to the Hotline anytime at 310.299.9414 and get real answers from a real person.