According to a new study published by Boston University, college students struggling with unmotivating depression has reached its highest level, potentially leaving many young people bed-ridden.
University environments are often a difficult switch, given the forced transition of going from living in the comfort of your childhood home into adulthood, leaving the majority of students disoriented and lacking direction.
Students are quickly expected to adapt to unfamiliar schedules, potentially creating repressing feelings that take a significant toll on mental health. Expected to overcome overwhelming situations, make new friends, take on an abundance of school curriculum, and feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression are all common side effects. Not only do many students feel unaccustomed in their new lifestyles; these feelings of depression only make it more laborious to generate incentive for other activities.
Here in San Luis Obispo County, the awe-inspiring nature, welcoming community, and easily accessible activities can make life more accommodating to one’s needs. San Luis Obispo is in close proximity to Morro Bay (home of Morro Rock), and also a short drive to Pismo Beach. Morro Bay offers views of Central California’s coast alongside a harbor lined with restaurants, shops, and locals. A short way down south, Pismo Beach offers restaurants, sand dunes to ATV on, and shorelines for surfing.
San Luis Obispo is home to many college students, yet the majority who are fixed on academics and socializing may be unaware of how beneficial the region’s charming surroundings are to their health.
“There is mounting evidence, from dozens and dozens of researchers, that nature has benefits for both physical and psychological human well being,” said Lisa Nisbet, a psychologist at Trent University who studies connectedness to nature. “Both green spaces and blue spaces (aquatic environments) produce well-being benefits.”
For students who thrive in social settings, meeting new friends at school can be discouraging due to lack of similar interests. Downtown San Luis Obispo offers a plethora of events to bind its community.
Every Thursday night, downtown SLO holds a farmers’ market lining Higuera Street from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The farmers’ market is made easily accessible with a variety of vendors providing an extensive range of products, as well as the occasional street performer gathering cheerful onlookers.
Monterey Street, home to the Fremont Theatre, puts on monthly concerts of local bands or musicians. This venue is one of the more historic locations on the street, which invites 900 community members to enjoy it’s festivities.
Conversely, if being social and outgoing doesn’t necessarily peak your interest, SLO County resides in the middle of breathtaking mountains, hills, trails, and farmlands. Near the campus of Cal Poly, three of the most historical peaks in town are busy with hikers and dogs. Located behind Cal Poly Campus is the P Peak, and down Foothill Blvd, you can access the Madonna Peak and Bishops Peak.
One of the heavier trafficked hiking trails, Bishop’s Peak doesn’t require hiking shoes or a packed lunch, making it an easily accessible trail taking about two hours round trip moving at a slow pace. Once at the top, this magnificent peak offers views circling all of SLO County, from Highway 1, the Cal Poly campus, downtown SLO and Laguna Lake.
Cal Poly encompasses a short, flat dirt trail that brings you to the Architectural Graveyard. The graveyard offers a 9-acre open space of unique, unusual looking structures that are picturesque and eccentric creations.
Each design promotes an inquisitive thought process, as the framework was originally built by the architecture students of Cal Poly. These activities provoke an active mindset and a fast heart rate to noticeably relieve stress while granting great local sights.
Aside from activities to increase your heart rate or grow your friend group, San Luis Obispo is known for its calamity of glassy oceans, all within a 10 minute drive. A couple miles south of SLO County is Avila Beach and Pier, which on a sunny day is crowded with individuals and families enjoying the California weather.
Blues and greens have consistent noticeable benefits on one’s mental health. Avila Beach can provide not only beautiful crystal blue waters, but also surrounding green mountains enveloping the small bay.
On the other side of SLO County, Morro Bay offers other beneficial sights. Contouring Morro’s Harbor is a small walking trail that borders the water, boats and the famous rock. There is also a good chance of seeing sea otters, kayakers and surfers on your stroll.
Beautiful beaches don’t stop there, as some of the most well known beaches in California are located just north on Highway 1. Truly, San Luis Obispo is well known for its beautiful surroundings and community-centered environment.
Mental health can be shattering to some, and for others it can be their biggest insecurity. According to the American Psychology Association, approximately 41.6% of students struggle with crippling anxiety, and 35.8% combat depression in college. Cuesta College’s campus, as well as Cal Poly, offer support programs to help students struggling with their mental health.
Both schools offer students trained professionals who aim to assist in dealing with anxiety and depression. Cuesta College provides services like individual therapy, couples therapy, crisis prevention, eating disorder guidance, substance abuse management, and LGBTQ protection. However, both campuses are not limited to the above mentioned services; they encourage unrestricted one-on-one sessions to ease your emotions and normalize your unfamiliar struggles.