Lauren Abdill – Active Minds Blog Changing the conversation about mental health Fri, 20 Oct 2017 12:00:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Struggling with Anxiety? Try Taking a Tap Class Thu, 11 Aug 2016 12:35:10 +0000

I’ve been living with terrible anxiety since I was a little girl. As I’ve grown older, I’ve tried a ton of remedies — yoga, coloring books, talk therapy, medication, meditation, mindfulness, massage therapy, aromatherapy and all the self-care and self-help books I could find. And I’ve got to be honest with you all, my dear blog readers — none of them hold a candle to tap dance.

I danced when I was young and tap was always my favorite class. Since I’m about to start grad school (as well as an intense internship), I decided to re-visit the great art of tap dance so I had some kind of physical outlet during this stressful period.

I’ve only been taking classes for a few weeks and it’s already done wonders for my anxiety.  Here are 4 ways tap dance has helped me — and 4 reasons you should try it, too.

1. You get to let out all of your frustrations.

The whole crux of tap dancing is stomping your feet on the ground — which is incredibly cathartic for someone who’s dealing with intense anxiety or stress. You can physically release all the pent-up feelings that us anxious folks typically hold onto.

2. You really work up a sweat. 

I really wasn’t anticipating this, but you get sweaty during a tap class. Why? Because it’s exercise. And as we all know, exercise is great for anxiety (and depression!). It releases endorphins and increases body temperature, which can have a calming effect. I’ve never been an exerciser; I hate running and don’t at all enjoy going to the gym. So it’s awesome to finally have some kind of work-out routine and get those health benefits from doing physical exercise.

3. It requires you to concentrate on something other than your anxiety. 

Tap dance requires a lot of mental concentration; you have to think carefully about which part of your foot is hitting the floor on which count, how fast you’re transitioning from foot-to-foot, etc. It’s amazing to walk into a tap class and have all your worries melt away — mostly because there’s no room in your head, since you’re trying to get that combination down.

4. It’s a great way to meet people. 

I moved to a new state almost a year ago and still haven’t met a ton of people (mostly because I work from home, running this blog you’re reading!). I can be shy around new people and don’t like putting myself out there, but tap class has been a great way to make friends in a low-stress environment. Everyone is there to have fun; we’re all beginners, so it’s not a competition; we laugh at ourselves when we mess up and cheer each other when we nail a step. It’s nice to have a little community.


9 Mental Health Items Every Student Needs on Their Back-to-School Shopping List Thu, 04 Aug 2016 15:53:37 +0000 Did you know that when you shop Amazon Smile, a portion of all your sales can go to Active Minds and our life-saving work? Pretty cool, huh? Start shopping at and help us change the world!

Now that August is officially upon us, it’s time for new and returning college students to get ready to head back to campus. And with that comes the endless back-to-school shopping trips so you can stock up on everything you need — textbooks, snacks, school supplies, dorm decorations and so much more.

But do you have anything on that list to help support your mental health? Take a look at these nine items, all of which have helped me better take care of my mental (and physical) health during the school year.


It’s one of the most important (and most frequently sacrificed) aspects of mental health maintenance — especially for college students. I’m a big fan of sleep (and good sleep at that). Here are some of the products I’ve used to help myself get eight full hours of shut-eye each night:

1. A White Noise Sound Machine ($49.89)

This handy gadget is perfect for anyone who has a noisy roommate. It has a built-in fan that re-creates the sound of rushing air, creating “white noise” and effectively blocking out noise on a broad range of frequencies. Fraternity brothers chanting outside? No problem. Roommate stumbling in after a fun night out? You can’t hear them, you’re fast asleep.

2. Lavender Breathe Right Nasal Strips ($12.19 for a pack of 26)

Okay, so I was first introduced to these little angels because my husband snores. He went out and bought these and at first I made fun of him — “you got lavender nasal strips???” but now I use them every night. First of all, they help you breathe better, even if you’re not that stuffy. And the lavender scent is just lovely, it totally helps lull me to sleep. Sorry for making fun of your fancy strips, Rich!

3. Melatonin tablets ($4.84 for a bottle of 60)

On nights when I feel wound up and know getting to sleep won’t be easy, I take a melatonin tablet to help make myself tired. Melatonin is a hormone your brain produces to help control your sleep and wake cycles. Doctors were able to replicate that hormone in tablet form, so you can help tell your body “hey, it’s time to go to sleep.” Just make sure you don’t take too much, or waking up can be really difficult!

Stress Relief & Self-Care

No matter how hard we fight it, stress is a natural part of college (and life, for that matter). But there are things we can do to reduce stress and help ourselves cope. Here are some of my favorite stress relief and self-care products:

4. A Microwavable Neck/Shoulder Heat Wrap ($20.99)

I’m one of those people who carries my stress in my neck and shoulders — I develop these big terrible knots that make hunching over a book or computer really painful. My sister introduced me to these neck/shoulder heat wraps and they’re amazing — just pop one in the microwave for 30 seconds and you’ve got a lovely heating pad to help soothe muscles and decrease your stress.

5. Eucalyptus Spearmint Pillow Mist ($15.00)

Okay, so this kind of also falls into the sleep category, but this pillow mist from Bath and Body Works is amazing. Just spritz a little on your pillow case before you go to sleep and it will help you unwind and de-stress. I also used to spray some on my winter scarf when I was on my way to a stressful exam or presentation; I’d take deep breaths and calm myself, instead of being anxious about the impending assignment.

6. Carbonated Bubble Clay Mask ($10.39)

I’m a huge fan of face masks for self-care purposes. I have several, but my favorite one to use when I’m stressed is the Elizavecca Milky Piggy Carbonated Bubble Clay Mask. It goes on like a normal face mask but the oils from your skin activate the carbonation and it starts to bubble. Like, a lot. Here’s a picture of me the last time I used it. I spent most of the time laughing at myself; it’s just fun to use. And then once you rinse it off, your skin is beautifully clean and soft. Win-win!

Physical Wellness

There’s no such thing as mental health without physical health and vice versa. So here are a few products I’ve used (or, in the case of the tea kettle, wish that I had used) that benefit both!

10. An Infusion Water Bottle ($12.95)

I know that hydration is an important part of wellness, but I have such a hard time drinking enough water every day. One thing that’s really helped is using an infusion water bottle so the water tastes better; I actually want to drink the water, instead of feeling like I need to. Just store some lemons, limes or berries in your mini fridge and toss them into the infuser whenever you want to spruce up your water.

11. A Pill Organizer ($8.95)

Just like I’m bad at forgetting to drink enough water, I often forget to take my anti-depressant. OR, I’ll take it but then a few hours later I can’t remember if I did or not. I decided to buy a pill organizer, so I always know whether I took it that day or not. I put it in a place I’m sure to see it (right on my desk), instead of  deep at the bottom of my purse where I might see it. I haven’t missed a dose since I bought this!

12. An Electric Tea Kettle ($14.79)

I was a huge coffee drinker in college. I worked at the student newspaper until the wee hours of the night and would guzzle cups of Joe like it was no body’s business. It took a real toll on my teeth and made it harder for me to unwind before bed. I highly recommend trying to switch to tea, or at least subbing in at least one cup of tea for coffee each day. It’s way better for you physically and there’s also something super soothing about a nice cup of hot tea.



Don’t Miss the NFLPA Play to Support Active Minds on Family Feud this Sunday Tue, 28 Jun 2016 12:10:31 +0000  

Are you a fan of football? And mental health advocacy? What about the TV show Family Feud? Man, do we have a treat for you.

This Sunday (July 3) at 8 pm EST, our friends at the NFLPA will appear on a special celebrity edition of Family Feud. Ten football players will divvy up into two teams and compete for $25,000, to be donated to charity — and Active Minds is one of the charities!

Brandon Marshall of the New York Jets, Marcus Cannon of the New England Patriot, Amari Cooper of the Oakland Raiders, Jeremy Hill of the Cincinnati Bengals and Steve Smith Sr. of the Baltimore Ravens will be playing for Active Minds.

They will go up against Thomas Davis of the Carolina Panthers, Cliff Avril of the Seattle Seahawks, Malcolm Jenkins of the Philadelphia Eagles, Terrance Knighton of the Washington Red Skins and Tyrann Mathieu of the Arizona Cardinals.

Steve Harvey, the highly popular and Emmy Award winning host, standup comedian and actor, will host the show. Tune in at 8 pm EST to see if the #StigmaFighter team wins!

4 Things You Need to Know About #MHCC16 Wed, 22 Jun 2016 12:13:09 +0000 FacebookCoverPhoto

We’re already counting down to the 13th National Mental Health on Campus Conference at Sacramento State from November 4-6! (It’s 138 days away, in case you were wondering.) Now that registration is open and planning is full-steam-ahead, here are four important things you need to know:

1. The Conference Theme

The theme of this year’s conference is “Active Minds for Every Mind: Diversion, Inclusion, Unity.” What does that mean exactly? We’re talking about identities of all kinds — race, gender, sexuality, religion, ability, mental illness diagnoses and lived experience — and how those identities intersect with mental health and campus advocacy. It’s going to make for some fascinating keynotes and presentations (stay tuned for more updates on speakers!). Also, how beautiful is this year’s logo?!

2. Ways to Save Money

Are you on a budget but still want to come to conference? We’ve got two ways you can save some money. #1: Register before October 4 to access the Early Bird price. Both chapter and non-chapter members will save $20 on registration — not a huge chunk of money, but it will pay for a few trips to Chipotle! #2: If you want to skip the cost entirely, sign up to volunteer for three hours during conference weekend and we’ll comp your registration!

3. Conference Award, Presentation & Expo Applications are Open

Each year at conference, we give out several awards during the Friday night dinner banquet to outstanding chapters, students, advisors and alumni. Think you deserve one of the awards? So do we! Nominate yourself or your chapter by September 18 to be considered.

Applications are also open if you’re interested in presenting during a session or tabling during the Creative Programming Expo. Get all the details here and make sure you apply by the September 18th deadline!

4. Book Your Hotel Soon to Get the Active Minds Rate

We’ve reserved an Active Minds room block at the Hilton Sacramento Arden West. Want to stay in our block? Visit our personalized group page to make your guestroom reservations. Make sure you book by October 13 (or ASAP, because the block could fill up before then!).

Still have questions about conference? Visit our FAQ page or email Also, make sure to check out our Facebook event!

Stress Less Week: 12 Ways to Practice Self-Care During Finals Fri, 22 Apr 2016 13:05:46 +0000 This #StressLess Week, we challenged our social media followers to take extra good care of themselves by practicing self-care and then posting a #SelfCareSelfie. Once again, we were floored by the response (you guys are excellent selfie-takers) and want to keep this self-care train going.

Without further ado, here are 12 ways to practice self-care, as suggested by our stellar #SelfCareSelfie contributions:

1. Snuggle with a pet


2. Help out your community

3. Take care of your physical health

4. Play an instrument

SCS2 6. Spend some time in the sunshine


7. Spend time with loved ones (bonus points if it’s a kiddo)


8. Practice loving yourself


9. Take it easy


10. Get your nails done


11. Get some exercise

SCS10 12. Get a massage



Stress Less Week: Get Your Active Minds Coloring Pages Wed, 20 Apr 2016 12:13:20 +0000 ColoringBookPages-FBHappy #StressLess Week, folks! To help you de-stress during finals, we decided to jump aboard the coloring book bandwagon by working with a fantastic graphic design student to create some printable pages.

You can download these pages online and bring them to chapter meetings or hand them out while tabling.

Download the coloring book pages here and get coloring!

Send Silence Packing at Auburn University: Instagram Wrap-Up Fri, 01 Apr 2016 15:44:47 +0000 Send Silence Packing, Active Minds’ traveling suicide prevention exhibit, hit the road this week for its Spring 2016 tour throughout the South. The first stop: Auburn University on March 31!

Although the display was relocated to an indoor location due to rain, hundreds of students still made it to the exhibit of 1,100 backpacks, representing the number of college students who die by suicide each year.

Take a look at some of the #SendSilencePacking photos from yesterday’s display that were shared on Instagram!

Photo by @Active_Minds: The #SendSilencePacking road staff has made it to Alabama and can’t wait to meet the @activemindsau chapter for the #SSP exhibit tomorrow! If you’re in the area, be sure to stop by the Campus Recreation Center between 9-4pm at Auburn University to visit the display. #suicideprevention #ssproadstafftravels
Photo by @ActiveMindsAU: Thanks to everyone who helped and attended #SendSilencePacking today! We hope you learned how important it is to talk about suicide and mental health. Thanks to @active_minds for bringing SSP to us!! #MWW16 #ReasonsISpeak


Photo by @ActiveMindsAU: Justin was the definition of an Auburn man. He will always be a member of the Auburn family and his legacy and passion for raising awareness about mental health will continue on through the Send Silence Packing display, located in the Rec Center. #sendsilencepacking #mww2016 #reasonsispeak


Photo by @berrrgz_: Each one of these backpacks has a story. Each one of these backpacks represents a life of a student that was lost to suicide. Everyone come check out this amazingly powerful display in the rec center. Come join the fight and help end the stigma and let’s Send Silence Packing. #reasonispeak #sendsilencepacking
Photo by @hayden_massey: Come out to court 6 in the AU Rec & help us #SendSilencePacking as we promote Mental Wealth on Auburns Campus
Photo by @alexandriamadison: 1,100 college students give in to the darkness that is suicide. Come help us raise awareness and bring attention to a topic that isn’t talked about enough. #sendsilencepacking #mww2016 #ReasonsISpeak #seeyoutomorrow
Photo by @headnicincharge: These backpacks represent the 1,100 college students who die by suicide each year. Some backpacks offer personal stories as well. Please…please reach out to friends, family, and even strangers if you think someone is considering taking their own life. Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among college students. #SendSilencePacking
Photo by @auburncampusrec: Be sure to stop by the #SendSilencePacking event held on the basketball courts for Mental Wealth Week! This is a traveling exhibition of 1,100 donated backpacks, representing the number of college students lost to suicide each year. The event is located on Court 6.
Photo by @allysonhumate: The 1,100 book bags in the #sendsilencepacking exhibit represent the number of college students that take their own lives each year. These students shouldn’t have to suffer in silence. Ask questions, take interest and bring back hope for tomorrow. #mentalwealthweek
Photo by @emmakatebrannon: Today I read over 200 true life stories written by families affected by suicide. Every year 1,100 college age students complete suicide and many more contemplate it. The only way to help is to talk about it and remove the stigma attached to mental illness so that those suffering feel comfortable asking for help. Do what you can to help prevent suicide and talk to the people around you about their mental health! #mentalwealthweek #sendsilencepacking
Photo by @wareaglewoodward: Stop by the Rec and Wellness Ctr today to see the #sendsilencepacking event. Reduce college suicide.

Next week, Send Silence Packing will be traveling to Emory University, UT Chattanooga and Austin Peay State University. Check the blog next Friday for another Instagram wrap-up!

16 Years Ago Today: The Story of Active Minds Thu, 24 Mar 2016 05:00:05 +0000 16 years ago today, Alison Malmon’s older brother, Brian, died by suicide. She returned to her campus at the University of Pennsylvania after his death, determined to help save other lives.

So she started Penn’s first mental health awareness group in her dorm room. With that, Active Minds was born.

Take a look at our infographic about how Active Minds has grown & help us honor Brian’s legacy:

brian-s-legacy-final (1)


Send Silence Packing is Going Back on the Road Wed, 16 Mar 2016 12:00:45 +0000 Send Silence Packing, Active Minds’ acclaimed suicide prevention exhibit, is hitting the road again this spring for an incredible tour through the southern states.Spring_2016_Promo

Send Silence Packing consists of 1,100 donated backpacks, representing the number of college students lost to suicide each year.  The program is designed to raise awareness about the incidence and impact of suicide, connect students to needed mental health resources, and inspire action for suicide prevention.

The spring tour will travel to 11 campuses from March 31 to May 2. Keep an eye on #SendSilencePacking on Instagram during the tour, so you can see live pictures from the displays.

Each week during the tour, we will be posting Instagram wrap-up posts, with our favorite pictures from each display. Stay tuned!

Northwestern University
Northwestern University
Eastern Michigan University
Eastern Michigan University
University of California, Santa Barbara
University of California, Santa Barbara


#MHCC15 Social Media Guide Thu, 12 Nov 2015 08:27:53 +0000 AM-2015-Conference-details_dateAre you coming to #MHCC15 this weekend? We sure hope so! It’s the #StigmaFighter event of the year and we have an all-star line-up of keynote and session speakers.

During the National Mental Health on Campus Conference (MHCC, get it?), we’re inviting all attendees to tweet their hearts out. Below you’ll find the handles for our speakers on Twitter. Follow them now so you can start tweeting right away at conference and read on for more social media tips & tricks:

 Social Media Tips & Tricks

  • Posts with pictures tend to be more popular than those without. (Extra tip: if you’re savvy at design, you can use a phone app like PicsArt to make a quick graphic of a quote or saying!)
  • Follow other chapter leaders that you meet and tag them in your posts. This also makes it easy to stay in touch after conference.
  • Always use hashtags! Any topic can have a hashtag; this helps users find content they want. (For example: “Great discussion about #socialjustice and #mentalhealth with  @ValenrichLLC at @Active_Minds’ #MHCC15”)