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Remember... it is okay to not be okay.

Leaves seamless pattern, hand drawn autumn background. linear, black and white. Credit: @user24531006, via Freepik

The Flourish, Winter 2021

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Supporting the well-being of all students at Stanford

We may be feeling extremely drained from a trying, and sometimes wonderful, transition back to campus, on top of the collective fatigue and trauma we still carry from the past two years. Add in the stress of the holidays and things can become much more challenging than we can handle alone. With this stress weighing down on us, it can be difficult to navigate these tough times. 

For this month’s edition, we want to focus on tools we can use to find connections within ourselves, keeping us grounded during whatever comes our way this winter. Through gratitude, self-soothing activities, and self-compassion, we can discover ourselves and take care to mind our needs as they change over time. In doing so, we give ourselves permission to open up to connecting with others and foster healthy relationships so that we can flourish in a community of mutual support. 

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Let’s explore these areas together.

Laurie-Hahn-Tapper
Have you noticed it? 

Recognizing the Good.

The bright green grass popping up through the swaths of brown foothills. It’s there if you look closely, emerging more vibrantly each day. 

Noticing the steady greening of the Stanford foothills is my current daily moment of gratitude. The reassuring change of the seasons fills me with content. It doesn’t solve the existential threat of the climate crisis, but it does afford me a daily moment of pause to inhale deeply and enjoy something that feels right in the world. Taking this moment of gratitude for nature pulls me out of an anxious circle of thoughts and grounds me.

Jewish tradition calls this hakarat ha-tov, or “recognizing the good.” Some Jews mark these moments with a blessing as a way of lifting up the sacred in the mundane, the special in the ordinary, the gratitude in the taken for granted. What good will you recognize today?

Rabbi Laurie Hahn Tapper, Office for Religious & Spiritual Life

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We were given 2 ears and only one mouth so for the benefit of all we ought to listen twice as much — Epictetus

Take a moment to pause and check in with yourself. 

What does it look like to connect with yourself and those around you? How do you feel when you are connected with others? What does being fully present look like to you?

When we are fully present, attending with all of our senses to the words and body language of another, indeed we are like the sun and others are able to bloom like a flower in the light of our presence. When we say: “Tell me more...” or ask questions like “How was that for you?” we invite people to explore themselves and make discoveries in real time, right before our eyes — their eyes pointing upward to scan their vast database of embodied memories to respond to our inquiry.

People long to be truly seen. So many of us carry a nagging tension or angst because we feel like our [insert loved one] doesn't “get” us. Hip hop culture birthed the inquiry of truth: “You feel me bro?” Spot on, we all long  to “feel felt” and “get gotten.” Listening and attending with our full presence helps others to feel seen, felt, gotten, remembered, loved, grounded in this ungrounding world. Our radical presence draws people to us like a sunflower to the sun. 

Donnovan Somera Yisrael, ‘89, Well-Being at Stanford

In the Spotlight

50% of Bridge Peer Counseling sessions focus on relationships

After more than a year in quarantine, seeking connection and maintaining good relationships feels more important than ever before. We need to establish caring relationships, be there for one another, and  engage in meaningful conversations. The Bridge can help you connect to others and yourself when you are feeling adrift. 


 

Fallen autumn leaves. Credit: @yuliapetrova, via Freepik

Soothe...Recover...Mend...Build

We’re still adjusting. We’re burned out from the long, fatiguing slog of the past two years. Maybe the excitement and energy of returning to campus has worn off, and now we’re feeling deep-rooted tired. 

Engage in some intentional self soothing. Find something easy to experience that brings you comfort, warmth and peace. Lean in to your being selves, relax the doing self, let yourself heal and your energy gradually return.

When some energy has returned, build yourself a Self-Care Menu so you have a personalized collection of activities, places, and people that help you recover and move toward your flourishing self.

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Sleep Corner

How sweet is a slumber, until it is not. When it comes to eating and sleep there are many nuancesit could be a matter of how you eat, what you eat, and/or perhaps when you eat. 

Has your caffeine gone up as the quarter’s gone down? Whether it’s coffee, alcohol, edibles, or smoking, many bioactive substances can disrupt your sleep cycle. Reflect on the role substances play in your life, and how your current pattern may be impacting your sleep.

Set a caffeine curfew. Limit caffeine to at least 6 hours before you go to bed. This gives your body time to metabolize the caffeine, without impacting your sleep.

Do you get indigestion? Fried, citrus, spice, chocolate, and many other foods can trigger heartburn or other conditions that disrupt sleep. Experiment with having these foods earlier in the day or replacing them with gentler options, like decaf herbal teas, or foods with naturally-occurring tryptophan and magnesium.

The relationship between eating and sleep is complicated, but we know that many conditions and behavior patterns (shift-work, food deserts/swamps, chronic stress, skipping meals) can impact sleep. Having a sounding board can help you to explore what is going on for you.