Mindful Mondays address student stress

By Kayla Mish, Staff Writer

Students face enormous amounts of stress on a daily basis. Academics, relationships, finances, the future, and current events all have an impact on stress levels and well-being. The Student Management Peers have a strategy to address this stress.

Mindful Mondays, hosted by SMP, are meant to help students relax and take a deep breath. The group holds short 10-15 minute sessions over Zoom.

Alejandra Olaguez-Campos, Senior in LAS and president of SMP, said that students are used to being constantly on the go, meeting deadline after deadline. An important thing to consider, Olaguez-Campos said, is that we are all human, and we need breaks.

“Our main goal is for students to realize that we are all in this together and that it’s ok to take a little break,” Olaguez-Campos said. “It’s okay to stop and think about taking a deep breath.”

Deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation are two techniques they use. Another technique, guided imagery, involves deep breathing and imagining yourself in a relaxing environment, like a beach or a spa. 

Morgan Savage, a graduate student in Health Administration and the graduate assistant for the stress management program, said that these sessions are a way to break up a long, stressful night of studying.

“It’s a nice break to get some relaxation in, take a break from homework, and just take time to relax,” Savage said.

Jennifer Carson, assistant director of marketing for health and well being and former stress management coordinator at McKinley, said that identifying how stress affects oneself is super important; it allows you to more actively understand and manage your stress.

“Stress often affects our overall well-being, with an emphasis on our mental, emotional, and physical well-being,” Carson said. “When we recognize stress and don’t do anything about it, it can certainly take a toll on our overall well being, making it difficult for us to function as normally as we typically might.”

Prioritizing one’s own wellbeing, being patient, having a positive outlook, incorporating self-care and focusing on things within one’s control are a few tips that Carson suggested for being more mindful throughout the day.

“A lot of times we get wrapped up in those stressors, at the end of the day, that tend to be things we cannot control,” Carson said. “When we do that, we sometimes put ourselves on an emotional roller coaster, and then it pulls us away from things that are actually important to us and that we can control.”

In regard to online learning, Carson suggests separating your relaxation space and workspace if you are able to. Try to avoid doing any work on your bed. In addition, having the correct posture, stretching through the day, and investing in some blue light glasses could help. 

Health and Wellness apps are also great tools, specifically the McKinley Wellness app. The app hits on a variety of health and wellness topics that connect students to resources across campus.

“McKinley also has online relaxation videos that students can access through the website and download that include guided imagery, deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation and some relaxing music,” Carson said.

In addition to Mindful Mondays, the group holds a variety of campus events and workshops that can be requested by organizations. The most commonly known events are Break Away from Stress and the Stress Less Party. Some other favorites are the Positivity Campaign and Positive Chalk Talk. 

Carson said that the group gets a lot of positive feedback for the Chalk Talk event from students. Members go around campus and write positive messages and quotes with chalk.

Olaguez-Campos’ favorite event was delivering stress relief packs at the Union.

“It’s nice to see the students reactions because we deliver them during finals and midterms, so people usually have a reaction like ‘yes, I need this!’, which is so nice to see because it’s a small impact that we get to have on students,” she said.

Stress management peers meet on a weekly basis and this semester they are doing virtual workshops. The three workshops are Relaxation of the Mind and Body, It’s All About Time Management, and Simplify Your Stress. These aim to help students with various methods to reduce stress.

Olaguez-Campos said that Mindful Mondays are great if people want help with better ways to cope with stress.

“We all deserve a little break, even if it’s only 10 minutes,” Olaguez-Campos said.

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Editor’s Note: There was a grammatical error that has since been corrected. The Daily Illini regrets this error.