By: RYAN L. GRUENEWALD
Your car won’t start. The babysitter cancelled. The paper you haven’t started is due tomorrow.
No matter where you go or what you do, stress is a daily part of life. How you choose to cope can deeply impact your education as well as physical and emotional health. The IU South Bend Student Counseling Center wants to help.
The center has resumed workshops that guide participants in the use of mindfulness as a positive coping skill.
Mindfulness, a method that emphasizes deep breathing, is about “being present in the moment,” said Amy Dayton, staff social worker at the center. “We think about what happened yesterday, we’re concerned about what’s going to happen tomorrow or next week. And that can raise our anxiety levels. [Mindfulness] reduces that and helps us enjoy what’s going on right now.”
Depression, sadness or the feeling of being overwhelmed might manifest behaviorally as overeating, sleeping all day or drinking to excess. According to Dayton, who facilitates the groups, mindfulness is a great alternative to such negative coping skills. It not only helps with anxiety but can ease symptoms of depression and reduce physical pain.
“People can get really sick if they don’t manage their stress wisely,” Jamie Jacobs said. Jacobs is a mental health worker and is seeking a masters in social work.
“Mindfulness can bring a balance to your thoughts and emotions. But it’s not easy to master for most people and for more severe cases is only one element of treatment,” Jacobs said. For instances that go beyond the scope of the group, Dayton made clear, there is individual counseling or referral to outside entities.
On Wednesday, Feb. 5, the group session will focus on “eating with mindfulness”—there will be snacks. On Wednesday, Feb. 12, Dayton will present the theme “relating with mindfulness.”
The groups take place at the center’s office in the Administration Building, room A130. The workshops start at 4 p.m. and last an hour. As with every service the center provides, the classes are free. All students are welcome to attend.
“Come as you are,” Dayton said. There is no dress-code. “You don’t need yoga pants… You don’t have to register. Just walk in and say ‘Hey, I want to be part of the group.’”
Those prone to anxiety might feel apprehensive about attending. Dayton assured that the groups are small and the atmosphere is as open and relaxed as possible.
“We don’t share deep personal concerns. Not like individual counseling,” she said. You will, however, be expected to participate. For those involved with individual counseling at the center, Dayton pledged that privacy will be upheld.
In addition to the groups previously mentioned, the center will hold hour-long sessions inclusive of staff and faculty on Feb. 21 and Mar. 12. The topics are “eating mindfully” and “being mindful at work” respectively. Both will begin at noon.
The center’s staff offers many other services to enhance student success. Test anxiety workshops are held on Thursday at 3 p.m. and free online mental health screenings are offered at their website, www.iusb.edu/student-counseling.
Consultation is also provided for individuals that might be dealing with challenges concerning (but not limited to) family, relationships, time management or the loss of a loved one. Walk-ins are welcomed.
The counseling center is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and on Friday by appointment. For future dates students are urged to keep an eye on the bulletin board outside their office, call 520-4125 or stop in.