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When Everything Is Too Much

Each year, around 1,200 students go to the Psychological Counseling Office at the Bremen Student Services Organization. Swantje Wrobel and her team are also available with advice during the corona crisis.

Lockdown, social distancing and uncertainty of what the future holds – coronavirus has really shaken up our lives. At the moment, everyone is adjusting and trying to deal with the new situation. But what happens if your life was influenced by anxiety, depressive moods, or depression before this all happened? The Psychological Counseling Office at the Bremen Student Services Organization provides support during the corona crisis and can still be reached by telephone.

An evening in your favorite pub, the fun house party at the weekend, and even the cozy evenings with your friends on the couch are currently a thing of the past thanks to corona. Even the lectures to which you forced yourself to go in a half-asleep state early in the mornings are now online. The many restrictions due to corona connect everyone. For some people, the restrictions influence their mood, for others they lead to them losing their grip.

“Structure gives people security on a day-to-day basis – especially those who have a previous psychological illness. A known structure is really important for mental health, above all at times when existential fears arise, such as financial problems or a lack of prospective jobs,” explains Swantje Wrobel. The head of the Psychological Counseling Office (PBS) at the Bremen Student Services Organization and her team offer advice to students in personal crisis situations. Wrobel and her team are able to be contacted during usual office hours by phone during the corona crisis. “We are unable to offer personal consultations but strategies to deal with difficult situations can also be developed via phone.”

Tip 1: Create a Daily Schedule

When structure has gone and security is missing all of a sudden Wrobel recommends that a daily schedule, which includes planned meal or learning times, be created. “Most of the time, a daily routine is decided upon by others, for example by means of obligations such as lectures, seminars, or learning groups,” explains the PBS head. If you have no self-discipline, friends or family might be able to help: “You could also get someone to ring you at the same time each day. That would bring structure to your day.”

Tip 2: Set Realistic Daily Goals

Small goals that can be achieved in one day, such as sorting out your wardrobe or reading 20 pages of your favorite book, can also help. It is important that you set a realistic schedule and attainable goals, stated Wrobel. “Revising for 12 hours each day is commendable but rarely attainable under usual circumstances.”

Tip 3: Social Contacts

In times of social distancing, it is not only the physical contact to friends and family that is missing but also self-help group meetings. For people with psychological illnesses or depressive moods, it is often more difficult to maintain contact to their loved ones. “Those affected by depression or depressive moods often shut themselves off because contact to others takes too much strength that they need for caring for themselves,” explains Wrobel. Her tip: Communicate your problems openly and transparently to friends and family. “In this way, relatives will know what is going on and can reach out regularly.” Relatives can then also deal with alarm signals and discuss them with you. “This shows those affected that they are important and that somebody cares for them.”

Tip 4: Ask for Help

If the fear does overwhelm you and everything is too much, Wrobel recommends that you reach for the phone. “Such extreme situations sometimes make it clear that it is time to get professional help. Often, such problems are brushed under the carpet in day-to-day life and are then made smaller than they actually are.”

Tip 5: Fresh Air and Movement

Another tip for everyone from Wrobel so that you deal with the corona crisis well: Turn off the TV from time to time and move outside, get some fresh air, and get your dose of vitamin D. It is not only great for your body but also for your mind.

Psychological Counseling

The Psychological Counseling Office is located in the University of Bremen Central Campus Building underneath the cafeteria (Mensa). Appointments can be made by phone from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesday, Thursday and Fridays and from 2p.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesdays. The phone number is (22 01 – 1 13 10) or you can get in touch via email pbs@stw-bremen.de. There is also an online counseling service. The Psychological Counseling Office services are offered free of charge to students at the university and higher education institutions in Bremen and Bremerhaven.

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