Students use “mindfulness” to take a stress free journey through music and art

by Whitney Dowds

Music could be heard throughout the Cheshire Community Room during the “Hukana Matata: Stress Management Workshop” where 23 students used music and art therapy techniques to escape the stress that results from the final weeks of the semester.

Students were instructed to stand up and spread out their chairs throughout the room to create a more relaxed atmosphere. Rob Koch, the Director of Outreach Education & Counseling, then told students to close their eyes and imagine they were somewhere else, as far away from the stress of their classes as possible.

As students began to relax, Koch and Trish Moore, the Coordinator of Women’s Crisis Center, began to play soft music with a wind chime and drum sticks.

“Once relaxed we were able to move on to reducing stress through different ‘non-judgmental’ activities,” said Koch. “If everyone is doing similar things, there is less chance of feeling foolish.”

Koch wanted students to gain the mindset that “everything is right with the world.”

The workshop emphasized “mindfulness,” which means focusing on the present time period and not worrying about what the future holds.

“It reminded me that it is possible to quiet my mind for a few minutes and that I feel better for it, and that’s the message that I want students to get from it as well,” said Tracy Mendham, Coordinator of Learning Assistance for the CAE. “Stress and anxiety are significant issues for students, but Outreach and other resources are available to help, so students can be more comfortable and even perform better academically when they are more at ease and focused.”

The workshop also included tracing random loops with markers or crayons on a blank sheet of paper slowly filling up the entire page with those loops. Students began by tracing the loop with the hand they write with and then switched hands. Koch said that doing this exercise can alleviate any headaches students have.

The Center for Academic Excellence (CAE) collaborated with the the Center for Outreach Education & Counseling and the Women’s Crisis Center to put on the workshop on December 2 starting at 7 p.m. The event was led by Rob Koch and Trish Moore.

Be sure to check out the Therapy Dog workshop on December 10 at 12:30 p.m. in Spagnuolo Hall.

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Special Note: My favorite article to write about was my feature writing article from last semester, as I interviewed my cousin Ben on his experience with plowing through mountains of snow, all while spending hours away from his family. Check out my cousin’s struggle for 5-6 hours to get home to his family, while clear roads last winter through the worst of snow storms.

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