Keeping calm under stress

GVL / Courtesy -
Liz Funk

GVL / Courtesy – Liz Funk

Ashlyn Korienek

While midterms consume the schedules of students across campus, personal care often becomes less important. Students who cannot find time to check back into reality and prioritize relaxation, often find stress building up along with a multitude of health concerns to navigate.

Aiming to mentor high-achieving sorority women in reducing stress, speaker Liz Funk shared her personal experiences at Grand Valley State University Tuesday, Oct. 11, hosted by the Panhellenic Council.

Funk teaches women in her nationwide program to adopt the motto “keep calm and trust that the universe has your back.”

Visiting more than 100 colleges across the nation, she is a New York-based freelance writer and speaker passionate about wellness and women’s issues. Funk has written for organizations including Economist, Washington Post and USA Today.

The program began shortly after Funk published her 2009 book “Supergirls Speak Out.” Her focus was to provide solutions for stress and confidence-building skills.

“When my book was published, I started talking to college women about the pressures on today’s young women trying to be perfect. Women feel like they have to do everything, please everyone and make it all look easy,” Funk said. “It became clear that it wasn’t as important to talk about the problem, but what was really important was talking about solutions.”

Funk highlighted three solutions to reduce regular stress factors, including observing daily thoughts, time management and ensuring self-care.

“Reducing stress is really an inside job, we need to learn how to manage our thoughts and learn to effectively use our brains,” Funk said. “We can shift our perceptions and start seeing our brains as a tool that we can use really effectively.”

Morgan Greenberg, vice president of membership development for the Panhellenic Council, said the group chose Funk to encourage college women to let go of the urge to control every detail in their everyday lives. She said speakers such as Funk encourage the Greek community to feel empowered and recognize their hard work.

“I believe events such as these benefit the Greek community by helping students realize the impact their service can have,” Greenberg said. “Life gets crazy and sometimes busy students in the Greek community forget all of the great things they are doing.

“Speakers with powerful messages like Liz help them feel appreciated and gain a new perspective.”

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 40 million adults in the U.S. 18 and older suffer from anxiety disorders. Funk related to the issue, as she found her problem was not knowing how to control her overwhelming thoughts.

Raising awareness about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Funk started a project speaking about her experience with OCD and how she copes with the anxiety. Her blog, “Befriend your Glowing OCD Brain,” teaches women how to exert mental energy where it matters most.

“When you are inclined to have that weekly freak out, think ‘is this good for my brain?’ If you decide the answer is no, what can I do to calm myself down, feel better and acknowledge the feelings I am having to calm my brain,” she said.

In addition, Funk said students often do not know how to reserve their daily energy in ways to optimize productivity.

“I think all of us should picture ourselves as having a magic battery floating above our heads. You want to make a habit of checking in on your charge,” Funk said. “We take massive action when our iPhones get to 2 percent, but how often do we let ourselves get to 2 percent.”

Funk said relaxation methods like meditation and listening to calming music can help reduce negative thoughts and allow for more concentration and productivity.

“The idea here is we want to figure out what are the activities that charge our batteries in the least amount of time,” Funk said. “The other side of self care is doing something that makes you feel good. It’s really powerful that if we go through a time where we become uncomfortable, we know the skills to take care of ourselves.”