A picture of the view from Purgatory hiking trails during sunset.

Maintaining Your Mental Health in San Marcos

By Kaitlyn Benacquisto
Blog Content Contributor 

This past week was Suicide Awareness week.  Sadly, suicide is the second most common cause of death among college students. College, especially freshman year, is a huge transition for people, being without their families and typical support systems. It is important to check up on your friends, especially if they are showing signs of depression. Here are some local resources for anyone who is struggling with mental illness or suicidal thoughts.

  • Counseling: Counseling, or therapy, is critical when dealing with mental illness. While medication alone can help to get you out of bed and feeling up to par, therapy will help you to get your life back completely
    • Counseling Center at Texas State University: The university counseling center has many resources–all of which are free to students. There are various group counseling sessions offered, for situations such as the death of a loved one, or for mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder and anxiety. There are also individual counseling sessions available. If you are not at the point to where you feel as if you can leave your home or safe space to go to counseling, there is an online therapy tool called TAO–the link can be found on the counseling center’s website. Other great resources offered include referral services for more long term situations, mental health screenings, workshops and at-risk trainings.
    • Local therapists: Finding a therapist in San Marcos might be a good idea if you are looking for something more permanent than the counseling center.
  • The Outdoors: Being outside is great for your mind, body and soul. If you don’t believe me, believe the research. Being outdoors, especially if you are doing some exercise: like taking a walk, releases endorphins, which in turn triggers positive feelings in the body.  Multiple studies show that any green environment helps improve self-esteem and mood. The benefits of being outside can last up to seven hours.
    • Purgatory Trails: There are two sections (an upper and a lower) of Purgatory, located at 1753 Valencia Way and 2102 Hunter Road. Together, the trails cover over 800 acres. Lower Purgatory is the most popular, with more than 12 miles of trails that connect to the Upper Purgatory trailhead. Both trails are great for trail running, mountain biking and Upper Purgatory is great for birdwatching.  Be sure to bring water!
    • Barton Creek Greenbelt Trails: Barton Creek Greenbelt Trails, or “the Greenbelt,” has around 13 miles of trails. The Greenbelt is great for mountain biking, rock climbing and several swimming holes along the trail. There are several trailheads, make sure to research which trail best serves your interests. There are no amenities such as bathrooms or water on the trails.
  • Yoga/Meditation: Yoga and meditation go together like peanut butter and jelly. I think if you’re doing one, you might as well dip a little into the other. Yoga has many benefits for the body, like improved flexibility and a healthier heart, while meditation brings more spiritual benefits. These benefits include mood improvement, stress management, improved concentration, depression and anxiety relief, according to USA Today.
    • Red Dawg Hot Yoga: Red Dawg Hot Yoga is San Marcos’ first hot yoga studio. Hot yoga is meant to maximize your body’s ability to go back to its most natural, healthy state, where dehydration, fat cells, stress and disease cannot thrive. The heat also increases fat burn and metabolism rates as well as detoxing your body. Classes are anywhere from 85-105 degrees.
    • Shine On Yoga: This studio is located straight off of University Drive in close proximity to campus. There are a variety of classes offered throughout the day, with heated and non-heated options. Some classes offered include core yoga, yoga shred, AcroYoga, and restorative yoga.
    • This is the logo for the meditation app Headspace.
      Headspace, named the best meditation app by New York Times, is free on the App Store on iPhones. Screenshot by Kaitlyn Benacquisto.

      Headspace: Headspace is a meditation app for your phone. It was ranked the best meditation app by New York Times. It has a variety of meditations for beginners, with well-guided sessions, to professionals, with less structure. Headspace is perfect for people on the go who don’t have a lot of time, like students!

    • Youtube: Youtube offers a variety of guided meditation videos. For example, there are some for insomnia, self-love, relaxation, anxiety, and even five-minute sessions for busy people.

Grades, social lives and jobs are important, but you are the most important. Make your mental health and well-being a priority with these local resources. If you or someone close to you is thinking about committing suicide, please call the suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255 immediately. You can also visit the suicide prevention website to learn other ways to help yourself or how to talk to someone who is thinking about suicide.

Featured image by Kaitlyn Benacquisto.

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