Tuesday, June 30, 2020

5 Ideas for a Safe and Fun Summer in Washington!

Hey everyone, it’s Megan!
I hope the summer has treated you well thus far, despite the restrictions we are all facing. I myself have found it challenging to keep busy, and I’m always looking for new things to do in the area. With that in mind, I wanted to share with you some items off of my summer to-do list; some of which have been crossed off already, while others have yet to be explored. Taking the context of this summer into consideration, it’s important to tailor your activities to current safety guidelines, so the following ideas will all be social distance-friendly for that purpose. Because I’m writing this with a PLU audience in mind, I have specifically included activities that don’t require extensive travel from the general Tacoma area. So, without further ado – here are five ideas for a safe and fun summer in WA!

Rodeo Drive-In Theatre

Port Orchard, 43 minutes away from campus

The family-owned Rodeo Drive-In Theatre is Washington’s largest outdoor theatre complex, with 3 projection screens and a total capacity of about 1,000 cars! Although drive-in theaters are often perceived as a ‘blast from the past’, this activity has experienced a rediscovery of sorts in recent years, and today they are nearly as well-attended as back when our grandparents would go! Bring some friends, some lawn chairs, and pocket money for snacks!

I have yet to check this one off my list, but I am determined to make a night of it sometime this summer! The Rodeo Drive-In Theater is currently up-and-running, and in compliance with Phase 2 reopening guidelines. Gates open 7:30 pm Friday-Tuesday (closed on Wednesday and Thursday), and the show starts at dusk. Check out their website here for a weekly movie schedule, advance ticket purchase, as well as some more detailed information about what to expect. A night at the drive-in theatre will be a memory for the books, and the best part is that there are very few COVID-restrictions due to the nature of this activity; you are automatically socially distancing!

Northwest Trek Wild Drive/Wild Walk Experience

Eatonville, 35 minutes away from campus

The Northwest Trek Wildlife Park is located in Eatonville, WA, and they are dedicated to conserving native Northwest wildlife and natural habitats. Under normal circumstances, Northwest Trek allows visitors to roam their parks and interact with the habitat, but in response to COVID-19 they are now offering alternative experiences; the Wild Drive and/or Wild Walk Experience!

The Wild Walk is the new, safe way to experience the Norwest Trek’s central exhibit area. It allows you to walk down a one-way path to see native wildlife like grizzlies, bald eagles, otters, cougars, wolves, and more – while staying safe, healthy, and socially-distanced. Some things to keep in mind: wear a mask, bring a water bottle, and they don’t take cash!

A map of Wild Walk experience at Northwest Trek.

The new Wild Drive is the other way to see Northwest Trek. This is a separate ticketed experience from Wild Walk, and it offers an hour-long tour of their facilities from the comfort of your own car! You tune into a specific radio-frequency to get the tour audio, and you meet bears, cats, canines, and so much more on the trip. You can order tickets online off their website here, and if you’re interested; act quickly! They seem to be going fast!

Anderson Island

Ferry departs from Steilacoom; Island is 20 minutes away by ferry

This is perhaps my most recent endeavor, as I took a trip to Anderson Island this past week. Anderson Island is the southernmost island in the Puget Sound, and is accessible by boat or a 20-minute ferry ride from Steilacoom. Although the island has a limited array of activities, you don’t need more than one; the old swimming hole. The Ol’ Swimmin’ Hole, or Lowell Johnson Park, has two separate, cordoned off swimming areas – one for the “Big Kids”, and the other for the “Little Un’s”. The park features a floating “V” dock, water slide, sandy beaches, a sand volleyball court, and picnic areas. It is known as “The Ol’ Swimmin’ Hole” by locals because of its historic origin as a gathering place for bathing before electric power was introduced to the Island in the 60’s. Today, it’s just a really good place to spend a summer afternoon.

Although there might be some concerns about social distancing, I wanted to include this idea after my own experience traveling to Anderson Island this week. The old swimming hole was not very crowded despite the amazing weather, and it was very easy to maintain social distancing as few people are spread out over a large area. Some features, such as the floating dock, are a little less distanced, so I’ll leave that up to your discretion. I had a really nice day on the island, however, and would highly recommend this hidden jewel to anyone looking for something to do nearby! You can buy walk-on tickets if you don't have a car, and remember to check the ferry schedule here to plan your trip ahead of time.    

Local Thrift Shopping

Thrifting adventures last weekend
Refresh your summer wardrobe on a budget! Although this idea is a little vaguer in terms of location, I would highly recommend hitting up some of your local thrift stores this summer. As a self-proclaimed shopaholic, I am always on the hunt for ways to renew my clothing selection, and thrift stores are by far my favorite way to do just that! Although thrifting may seem like a daunting task at first, it merely requires some patience and a good eye for potential in order for your shopping trip to turn into a success. I have countless finds from thrift stores that have now become staple pieces in my closet, and they were all under $5! I normally go thrifting on days that are a little overcast, and I give myself a small budget to work with, as well as a list of a few clothing genres to stick to. This adds a little personal challenge, and it prevents me from getting things I’m not actually looking for. Some of my personal favorites are Bargain World, Parkland Thrift Center (50% off on Saturdays!!!), Goodwill, etc. If you are looking for more upscale finds, I suggest going to thrift stores that are located in high-income zip codes; trust me, it works!

Take a Hike!

At least we tried :-)
Not a groundbreaking suggestion, perhaps, but after months inside; I think it’s worth a mention! I recall the last hike I went on, which was right around the start of quarantine. A couple of friends and I hiked Rattlesnake Ledge thinking that it would be a good idea for social distancing (surprise: we were wrong). With that in mind, I would suggest not choosing the most popular hike in the greater Seattle-Tacoma area, so hopefully you can learn from my mistakes! Washington Trails Association consistently updates their website with information regarding hiking in the time of coronavirus, which I will link here. Here are some things they say to keep in mind:
  •         Plan ahead: Aim for lesser-traveled trails, and pick a couple of backup trails in case your first pick is crowded. For a complete guide of hiking options in WA, check out WTA’s Hiking Guide!
  •        Practice physical distancing: When you see approaching hikers, give them a little “on your right (or left)!” to let them know you’re coming towards them. Give each other space, and cover your mouth when passing.
  •        Clean up: Respect public lands and communities by making sure that anything you bring with you is also brought back/thrown away properly. After all, Mother Earth is going through enough already!

Hiking is such a great way to soak up the summer while still being active, so I will definitely be giving some of our local trails a visit throughout the next few months!


Alright – I think that’s all I have for this time! I hope I gave you all some ideas for activities to try this summer, while still practicing social distancing in the process. We don’t have to be bored just because summer looks a little differently this year, and I encourage you all to make the most out of this time despite some restrictions. Stay safe, everyone!

-- Megan

Monday, June 15, 2020

What are some good foods around Tacoma?

Hi guys,
As some of you might know it, I am a huge fan of Japanese cuisines. And through my 6 years of living experience in Tacoma, I have found some great Asian restaurant around the area. These restaurants that I list below are considered good based on my standards, so feel free to give them a try when you are craving for Asian cuisines.

Around PLU - walking distance

I bet everybody is familiar with the area around PLU, so I will just list them out with less detail. 
Cheap teriyaki restaurants: Happy Teriyaki; Uni Teriyaki
Great food but not so expensive: Zen Ramen & Sushi Burrito; Farrelli's Pizza; Domino's Pizza
More expensive options: Trapper's Sushi; Marzano Italian Restaurant (require reservation)

Other than these restaurants, I've also heard that there are good foods in Marvel Food & Deli Grocery Shop.  This Russian grocery shop is a good place to shop for European ingredients; however, they also serves cooked food in the separated cafe area. Look for the Bakery sign and enter through the separate door on the left.
Here is the address: 301 133rd St S, Tacoma, WA 98444

Tacoma Area 

Dragon's Crawfish
Description: Great place to grab some seafood and share it with your friends! Their Cajun seafood boil is absolutely delicious. I dare you to try the dragon's breath spicy level!
Address: 750 S 38th St, Tacoma, WA 98418
Phone: +12533010020

Mandolin Sushi & Steak House
Description: This is a Japanese Teppanyaki (steakhosue) that offers great sushi. I've never tried their Teppanyaki yet, because the Salmon sashimi bowel that they offer is too good.
Address: 3923 S 12th St, Tacoma, WA 98405
Phone: +12533014969

Samurai's Japanese Steakhouse
Description: For me, Teppanyaki is more about performance, or the experience, rather than the food. The fried rice here, tho, is amazing. The average cost here is around $20.
Address: 3630 S Cedar St, Tacoma, WA 98409
Phone: +12534759000

Harvest Buffet 
Description: All you can eat with plenty of food choices. Go when you are hungry!
Address: 3121 S 38th St, Tacoma, WA 98409
Phone: +12534723888

Milk tea shops:

Bambu Tacoma

Description: Really good milk tea shop that offers varieties of Vietnamese drinks as well as some milk tea.
Address: 773 S 38th St, Tacoma, WA 98418
Phone: +12532123882

Share Tea (in Tacoma mall)
Description: A traditional Taiwanese style milk tea shop located in Tacoma Mall. (Btw, Tacoma Mall reopened on June 8th)
Address: 4502 S Steele St, Tacoma, WA 98409
Phone: +12535333483

Donut shop:

Krispy Kreme
Description: You should definitely try their original kreme donut! (High Caloric Warning)
Address: 4302 Tacoma Mall Blvd, Tacoma, WA 98409
Phone: +12534726888


Sushi Ari Japanese Restaurant 
Sushi Ari | Puyallup, WA – Art LoieDescription:  "The Best Sushi in Puyallup" as they said. This sushi restaurant opens at 3 pm in the afternoon. They have many different Japanese Donburi and many tasty sushi!
Address: 206 39th Ave SW, Puyallup, WA 98373
Phone: +12534462900


Mama's Pho
Description:  This is one of the best pho places to go to in Tacoma area. Their food is cheap but real good! Try out their Set 26 if you want some extra extra proteins.
Address: 9312 S Tacoma Way #150, Lakewood, WA 98499
Phone: +12535822211

New Gangnam BBQ
Description:  A Korean BBQ restaurant that offers high quality BBQ buffet. They also have a lot of tasty Korean food here.
Address: 9104 S Tacoma Way, Lakewood, WA 98499
Phone: +12535811200

Tacoma Szechuan
Description:  This is the only Chinese restaurant I know around the area. I serves decent Szechuan Chinese cuisines. I can't eat very spicy food, so I always ask for little spice.
Address: 9701 S Tacoma Way Unit 102, Lakewood, WA 98499
Phone: +12535810102

Cho Dang Tofu (Alternatively: Ho Soon Yi Restaurant)
Description:  Both of these Korean restaurants are very good, but many of my friends consider Cho Dang Tofu to serve the best Tofu soup around the area. Ho Soon Yi Restaurant, however, have more food options. Their prices are about the same though.
Address: Cho Dang Tofu: 9701 S Tacoma Way #101, Lakewood, WA 98499
              Ho Soon Yi Restaurant: 8501 S Tacoma Way, Lakewood, WA 98499

Food Corner in Pal-Do World Market
Description:  Pal-Do World Market is a Korean grocery shop, and there are many small Korean restaurant in its food corner.
Address: 9701 S Tacoma Way Unit 102, Lakewood, WA 98499
Phone: +12535817800

Milk tea shops:
Hi Bubble Tea
Description:  A milk tea shop that offers most of the "traditional" milk tea options that you can think of. It's quite sweet, however, so I recommend a 70% sweetness.
Address: 8510 S Tacoma Way Ste F, Lakewood, WA 98499
Phone: +12533145308

T-Town Cafe
Description:  This Korean cafe that has the best shave ice around the area. They also have good beverage for you to enjoy.
Address: 8515 S Tacoma Way, Tacoma, WA 98499
Phone: +12535841524

Federal Way

Tokyo-ya Ramen
Description:  This ramen restaurant is kind of far away, but it is worth trying if you happen to be around the area. I think it has better ramen than Zen. The dinning environment is good.
Address: 31507 Pacific Hwy S, Federal Way, WA 98003
Phone: +12065926552

Bangkok Garden Street Food 
Description:  Delicious delicious Thai food. It's located right next to Tokyoya Ramen. So have fun choosing between these two if you enjoy both Thai food and Ramen. I recommend the Pad see ew noodle.
Address: 31509 Pacific Hwy S, Federal Way, WA 98003
Phone: +12539468833

85°C Bakery Cafe
Description:  A Taiwanese bakery shop that also offers good milk tea! I once bought 8 egg tarts and 2 cups of milk teas from them. Also located right next to Tokyoya Ramen.
Address: 31503 Pacific Hwy S, Federal Way, WA 98003
Phone: +12064292506

Share Tea
Description:  There is a share tea in Federal way too!
Address: 31217 Pacific Hwy S #B-101, Federal Way, WA 98003
Phone: +12065926029

Beautiful sunset in PLU

So that's about it for my recommendation of good restaurant around Tacoma. I hope these good foods can fill your stomach up properly, and make your day even better!~

Best wishes,
Bryan Yuan

Credits: Food images taken from Google

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Quarantine Life!!!

Hey guys,
I hope everyone is doing well and staying safe in the current COVID-19 situation.
As we all know, Washington state government had extended the "Stay Home - Stay Healthy" order to May 4th (Link here).
Following this policy, I have stayed in my house for almost two weeks. I have never experienced quarantine life before, and I bet it's the first time for many of us too. So I just want to take the opportunity to write down what my quarantine life feels like during this time.

COVID-19 Situation Currently - 4/17/20

U.S. Total Cases: 661,712
Washington Total Cases: 11,152
Pierce County Total Cases: 1058
Parkland Total Cases: 55

Becoming "Michelin 3 stars chief"

I am not a good cook, but at least I haven't burned my kitchen yet.
stocked up and ready to go~
Before quarantine started, I felt like I didn't have the time nor motivation to cook good food for myself. I often just cook fried rice or dumplings for lunch, since they were easy to make.
When the classes turned to online lectures and AYCTE meal stopped, I realized that I had more time to cook for myself and to try the recipes that are more complicated than fired rice. (I also filled up my fridge, so I can stayed at home for two weeks without having to go out.)
I am a big fan of Japanese cuisines, so I that's what I started with.
I attempted Oyako Don (chicken bowl) at first and later tried Japanese style sweet curry. I found that you can buy cooked eel at HMart, so I cooked Unagi Don for dinner once. After tons of failing, I finally started to feel like I am making progress in cooking now. After all, if you cooked the food, it will always be delicious to you.

Pork bowl + Natto + Umeshu Highball = Japanese style dinner?
Unagi Don

Pull-ups for arms and backside muscles

Starting Gym at home

Quarantine is not an excuse for not exercising.

While lacking equipment at home, I was still able to train efficiently using body weight exercises.
At first, I thought body weight exercises won't be as effective as working out in gym. I was totally wrong. You can train different muscle groups by doing push-ups in different positions; and pull-ups can be quite hard if you do it in a full motion. I definitely recommend you to search for some videos on Youtube to learn about it!

Me playing Ring Fit Adventure
In addition to body weight exercises, I also use Ring Fit Adventure to help me train. If you don't know what is it, Ring Fit Adventure is a game on Nintendo Switch that allows player to play the game by working out. To fight the monster in this game, player need to perform certain exercise. Although it is not so efficient in building muscles, it can help with getting your heart rate up and preparing you for heavier work outs. Above all, it is a fun game to play.

Taking a break outside

Stay at home and save lives, but also don't forget to take care of your own mental health by taking a break outside.
Staying at home alone can be really depressing. While it is important to stay at home, you can have a nice breath of fresh air outside if you can maintain safe social distance.
After all, keeping a positive attitude is just as important as being physically healthy.

Nice Summer Weather

Wish you all good health!
Bryan Yuan

Friday, March 13, 2020

How to protect yourself from Coronavirus Disease

Hi guys,
This is Bryan.
I am sure that everyone has some understanding about the Coronavirus situation now in US.
If you are still not sure what's going on, I strongly recommend you to look at this situation summary from the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention - basically USA's government agency for illnesses).
For Pierce county, by far (3/11/20), there are totally 17 confirmed cases with cases been confirmed in Lakewood, Gig harbor area, Tacoma, University Place, and Puyallup. You can find more information in this web page.
For this week's blog post, I will talk about how to protect yourself and others from Coronavirus Disease and what to do if you feel sick.

Useful Information

Counselling, Health & Wellness Service Phone number: 253-535-7337
                                                                Email: hopperea@plu.edu

Disease Transmission for 2019 Novel Coronavirus

Coronavirus is transmitted through droplets (tiny liquid drop from mouth/nose), meaning if a infected person cough or sneeze, the tiny liquid drop will carry the virus around to other individual. 
The virus can also be transmitted through contact if an infected individual has coughed on his or her hands and touched it. 
Take a look at the picture below for how virus is spread:

Image result for coronavirus droplet transmission
This drawing clearly illustrate how virus is transmitted from infected individual to healthy individual through multiple pathways

Preventative Methods

Since we know this coronavirus is spread through droplet, we need to cut the route of transmission. 
1. Cough on a tissue/ your sleeve 
The best way to cough is to cough on a tissue paper and throw it in the trash. 
When you don't have a tissue on your hand, cough on your sleeve, because you can spread the germs around if you cough on your hand. 
Be sure to look at the picture below for the proper technique of coughing and try to cover your mouth completely with your sleeve when coughing. 
Image result for how to cough

2. Wash hands VERY VERY OFTEN + avoid touching face
Washing hands can significantly decrease your risk of acquiring the virus. 
Washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with hand soaps is recommended by CDC. 
When to wash your hands? As much as possible, but definitely before you eat, before returning home, and after using bathroom. 
Here is a link to hand washing information. 
If that is not available to you, use hand sanitizes that contains at least 60% of alcohol
Because coronavirus infects human body by contracting with human lung cells (you may want to look at this research article for detailed information), you should avoid touching your face, especially mouth and nose. If you have to, wash your hands before you touch your face. 

3. Avoid close contact with people who are sick
Stay at least 6 feets away from people who are sick. 
Personal opinion: try to avoid crowded public places. This is not recommended by CDC. However, infected individual can spread the virus without showing the symptoms (Reference), and infected individual can stay asymptomatic (no showing of symptoms) for 14 days (Reference). So an asymptomatic individual can spread the virus to you without you even noticing it. It's scary to think about it, and that's the reason why you should exercise extreme caution. 

4. Disinfect household objects 
If possible, you should clean your house daily with regular household disinfectants, alcohol, or bleach solution (5 tablespoon per gallon of water).  
Thinks that you should clean include: tables, phone, hard-backed chairs, doorknobs, light switches, remotes, handles, desks, toilets, sinks, and anything you often touch. 
You can refer to this guideline for how to disinfect your house properly. 

What to do if you feel sick

Feeling sick doesn't mean that you are infected by coronavirus!
Coronavirus disease is a respiratory (breathing) disease which infected individual often shows similar symptom as flu or common cold. Please be aware that we are currently in the flu season as well, so even if you are sick, you may not have the coronavirus disease. 
According to research, most of the infected individual will develop fever (98% of patient) and cough (76% of patient). Other symptoms include fatigue and muscle aches (44%), difficulty breathing (55%), and coughing sputum (28%). Be aware that these symptoms are mostly similar to the symptoms of flu. (Link to research)
If you feel sick, stay home and avoid public places. This helps protect others from getting sick too!
If you have to go out, wear a face mask. CDC currently does not recommend healthy people to wear mask. (Personal opinion: this may be due to the shortage of mask supplies around the world, and the need to allocate resources for the hospitals.) 
Call your doctor if you think you have been exposed to coronavirus and have developed symptoms like fever, coughing, or shortness of breath. 
If you don't know who to go to, make an appointment with the PLU Health Center. Let them know about your symptoms beforehand, so they can be prepared for it. 
You may want to consider using this Lute Telehealth app for health counselling.  

As of this moment, the treatment for Coronavirus Disease has not yet to be developed. Hence, the best treatment for the disease is to not get it! Please exercise these preventative methods to protect yourself and others from 2019 Novel Coronavirus. Stay healthy and stay strong! 
Best wishes,
Bryan Yuan

Monday, February 24, 2020

Stress & Anxiety in College: What It Looks Like and How to Cope

Happy Monday, Lutes!

My blogpost this week has a slightly different feel than usual. While thinking of topics to write about for this blog, I always try to find an avenue through which I can offer some insight, tips, or suggestions – whether it relates to residence halls, meal plans, job interviews, or anything in between. This week, however, I want to shift your attention towards something most of us (read: all) deal with from time to time; the feeling of being stressed and/or anxious. It comes as no surprise that college students often find themselves stressed with meeting deadlines and keeping up with our workload, but further than that, more and more students are struggling with stress and anxiety beyond just school itself.

Despite Mental Health Month being in May, I figured that the beginning of the semester would be a better time to discuss the importance of maintaining one’s mental health. After all, education is the first step towards preventing and coping with difficulties with mental health. Given the scope of this topic, I will narrow the focus on symptoms and signs of being stressed and anxious – and walking you through some steps you can take to cope with and handle these feelings. I myself have been feeling particularly overwhelmed and anxious recently, so more than anything I want to let you all know that you are not alone in feeling this way! To start off, let’s look at some different levels of stress and how they vary.

What is Stress?
They ways in which stress manifests is often referred to as a “fight or flight” response. As the words suggest, the feeling of being stressed causes our bodies to either run away from a stressor, or tense up and fight against it. In other words, stress is our body’s natural reaction to a challenge. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), there are three types of stress: acute, episodic acute, and chronic.

Symptoms and Signs
The descriptions above give you general idea as to whether the stress you are feeling is rooted in everyday concerns and difficulties, or if the problem goes beyond surface-level stressors. Realizing that the feelings you are experiencing are a result of stress can help you navigate your emotional and cognitive state during distress. Although searching for symptoms in and of itself is rarely relaxing - it is helpful to know which symptoms to look out for when you're feeling overwhelmed. 
Here are a some different symptoms and signs of feeling stressed:

Stress vs. Anxiety: What’s the Difference?
People often confuse the feeling of stress for being anxious. This is not surprising, as the two share many similar symptoms and signs – the feelings are similar in many ways. Stressful feelings include feeling frustrated or nervous, and these feelings usually relate to everyday stressors which may cause us to feel overwhelmed. Stress isn’t necessarily always bad either. Think about the feeling you get in your stomach prior to taking a big exam, or giving a presentation. In moments like these, stress is not only expected, it might actually help you prepare for and succeed at the task at hand. Anxious feelings, on the other hand, include fear, unease, and worry.

The key difference between stress and anxiety is whether what you’re feeling is a reaction to things that are happening now (stress), versus worrying over situations that may or may not happen in the future (anxiety). A constant feeling of being on the edge and worried about something – usually fearing the worst – are intrinsic to feeling anxious. Anxiety is the stress that persists even after the stressor is gone. It is important to note that anxiety can instill a feeling of hopelessness due to the overwhelming nature of thoughts and feelings that come along with being anxious. This sense of not knowing what to do or how to pause your thoughts can cause significant distress in one’s life. Understanding the feeling as your body’s natural response to a situation can help alleviate some tension when dealing with anxiety.

Feeling stressed is not the same as being anxious. Stress is something that is usually temporary and can be alleviated; anxiety might be a constant, unrelenting sensation which might require professional resources in order to treat.

How to Cope with Anxiety
Approach, don’t avoid. A common symptom of anxiety disorder is to intentionally avoid situations that trigger your anxiety. Avoidance, however, tends to make anxiety worse over time. Avoidance can help prevent anxiety in the short-run, however, it is important to deal with anxiety head-on by taking small steps to approach anxiety-provoking situations in order to make long-term progress. This is easier said than done, and if you find it impossible to make progress in this area on your own, it is time to reach out to a professional.

Keep yourself busy. This is a similar philosophy to approaching anxiety head-on, but the main purpose behind this strategy is getting out of your own head. The trickiness with anxiety is that it can lead you to feel as though you’re trapped with your own thoughts, and a common symptom of anxiety is not being able to shift your focus away from your worries. The easiest way to get out of such a headspace is to keep yourself busy. Again, this is not always possible when experiencing particularly intense anxiety, but it may help prevent a state of panic if you are able to keep yourself busy with things that don’t allow you to think too much.

Learn your triggers. Is your anxiousness tied to your family, friends, relationships, or school? A helpful way to deconstruct your anxiety can be to identify certain patterns in the thoughts/situations that trigger anxiety. Writing down your unfiltered feelings in a journal can help you identify some common themes or patterns in your fears and worries. Getting a sense of what lies behind your fear can help you put it into a greater perspective, consequently making it feel less like a “real fear” you should be concerned with, and more like a product of underlying concerns.

Put things into perspective. Whenever I feel as though my anxiety is taking over, I make a point of identifying things that I am grateful for, which takes me out of a clouded headspace. I will say, this isn’t easy if you are experiencing a panic attack, but if you are able to steer your thoughts, try and guide them towards a bigger picture that might make your worries or fears seem less impactful. Asking yourself “Is it really as bad as I think?” can make you realize that the threat you're facing is not as bad as you might feel like it is.

Deep breaths. Focused breathing has proven to be an effective coping method for reducing anxiety. This is a mindfulness approach to coping with anxiety, which I encourage you to read further into if you find yourself feeling extremely anxious. Inhale and exhale slowly. Repeat, and focus solely on your breathing until you feel the tension in your body begin to release. If your mind starts wandering while performing this exercise, keep shifting your focus back to your breathing as many times as you need. The goal is simply to give your mind a break from constant spinning thoughts.

Talk to someone. When you can’t take another minute of what is going on inside your head, it’s time to talk to someone. Contact a person you trust and who knows you well, and discuss what is bothering you. Tell them that you are feeling overwhelmed, and let them know that you might need them to follow up with you in the next few days.  If you don’t want to talk anyone at the moment, you can write your thoughts and feelings down in a journal or a piece of paper. If you feel as though none of your friends or family are able to help you, you should really consider making a call to the counseling center.

When is it time to ask for help?
Although self-help coping strategies for anxiety can be very effective, if your worries, fears, or panic attacks have become so great that they’re causing extreme distress or disrupting your daily routine, it is important to seek professional help. A tell-tale sign that you should pursue counseling is if you’ve started to avoid certain situations because you’re afraid of becoming anxious or having a panic attack. The good news is that panic attacks – and anxiety in general – is highly treatable. Anxiety disorders respond very well to therapy, and usually within a relatively short amount of time. In fact, many people only need around 5 to 8 treatment sessions before seeing significant improvement.

Campus resources
Luckily, PLU has great resources available to those who struggle with extreme stress and anxiety. The PLU Counseling Center is a free mental health counseling resource available to all currently enrolled students. It is located on the third floor of the Anderson University Center (Room 300), and offers the help of an experienced team of licensed psychologists and mental health counselors. Your first appointment will serve as a “screening intake” visit. This means that you will meet with one of the licensed psychologists or mental health counselors to talk about your concerns and determine the best plan of action. From there, you can create a plan for how to go about treating your anxiety.

Due to confidentiality concerns, all appointments must be made by phone or by visiting their office. To schedule an appointment with the PLU Counseling Center, call (253)-535-7206.

** For urgent mental health support after business hours (including weekends and holidays), contact the Counseling Center Crisis Line at 253-535-7075.  You will be connected with a crisis line professional who works closely with PLU’s counseling office. 

If you are currently dealing with intense stress and/or anxiety, I hope you leave this blog knowing that 1) You are not alone (!!!), and 2) There is help available to you. Making the first phone call is always the hardest step, but I encourage you all to pay extra attention to your mental health and overall wellbeing this semester. I certainly will :) 

-- Megan