YESPlus retreat helps students manage stress

By Samantha Boyle, News Reporter

Last weekend, students came together with campus organization YESPlus to find different ways to manage their stress and anxiety.

YESPlus is a group on campus whose mission is to give students and members of the community practical ways of keeping a clear mind. One way they complete this mission is a four-day retreat held once every semester at the Illini Union.

Arati Paudel, University alum, has been involved with YESPlus since her junior year at the University. She is now the lead student volunteer.

“Even if you have little stress, I feel like there is always more room for happiness in your life,” she said.

Stress management was important for Paudel in college. YESPlus was a way for her to find the tools and techniques to release some of this stress.

“Once you do the whole retreat you have such a personalized feeling,” Paudel said. “You feel like you need to share your experience with other people.”

Cara Braasch, sophomore in LAS, and Emma Ritz, junior in AHS, were first-time participants in the retreat.

“I can see such a difference in myself,” Braasch said. “I was blown away; (it) completely exceeded my expectations.”

Ritz said that she is a very stressed student, but taking the time to participate in the retreat was the best thing she has done at the University.

“There was one moment where I was literally thinking of nothing. My brain was just at peace,” Ritz said.

The participants and instructors meet in one room throughout the four days and work on breathing exercises, yoga, meditation and more.

“We give (the participants) these practical tools that they practice and that actually helps them release that stress,” said Ghazal Bhatia, resident instructor for YESPlus.

These tools are supposed to help people in real life situations, whether it is for school, work or daily life.

“We try to bring them back to that center, to that calm, to that peace state,” Bhatia said.  

On the last day, participants and instructors reflect on how they feel and recognize the transformation that occurred.

“The response is so heart wrenching. I just cry every time,” Paudel said.

For Ritz and Braasch, an overwhelming feeling of happiness came over them.

Ritz hopes to one day teach a session for YESPlus.

“I’m living my happy, true self,” Ritz said.

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