Take a breath

Courtesy Photo/ www.terryrondberg.com
Wellness Wednesday

Courtesy photo

Courtesy Photo/ www.terryrondberg.com Wellness Wednesday

Rachel Melke

Final projects, presentations and exams are piling up as the end of the semester draws near, causing stress levels to rise.

Grand Valley State University Health and Wellness, together with clinical psychologist Sue Dilsworth from Heart’s Journey Wellness Center in Allendale, has started Wellness Wednesdays as a way of bringing stress levels down.

Wellness Wednesdays take pace from noon to 2 p.m. at a variety of locations and will continue until Dec. 14. The program focuses primarily on breathing exercises so that participants can deal with their stress on their own, but there will also be meditation and yoga. According to GVSU Health and Wellness, many faculty and staff have recently reported these high stress levels but do not have the time to relieve them.

In addition to breathing, participants in Wellness Wednesdays are also taught visualization, progressive muscle relaxation and guided imagery as means of calming stressors.

“I say, if someone can help me manage all that chatter for even 15 minutes, sign me up,” said Lindsey DesArmo, Health and Wellness Coordinator. “That’s all it takes to help produce positive effects on mood.”

Health and Wellness’ mission is to promote and encourage healthy lifestyles to enhance the quality of life for the GVSU community and their families.

“The idea of Wellness Wednesdays is to give faculty, staff, students an opportunity to learn healthy coping strategies to manage their daily stressors,” Dilsworth said. “The primary methods or practices that we want to reinforce are paying attention to the breath … We can manage our moods by establishing healthy breathing practices as well.”

Dilsworth said that breath work calms the parasympathetic nervous system, responsible for “rest and digest” activities, which calms the autonomic nervous system and can lessen the chance of some illnesses, including hypertension, diabetes, digestive issues, backaches, joint pain and insomnia.

“It is our intention to empower people to establish a self care practice in hopes of avoiding or alleviating some of these more common ailments,” Dilsworth said.

GVSU student Lauren LaChance is a client of Dilsworth’s at Heart’s Journey Wellness Center.

“Yoga, but mostly Sue, has taught me how to make sure my stress does not get the best of me,” LaChance said. “Sue has taught me meditation practices, breathing exercises and shown me through yoga on how to relieve my stress and make sure my mind and body are clear.”

Dilsworth said she is excited to help everyone, but especially faculty, staff, and students at GVSU, to learn to take care of themselves before anything else.

“The Grand Valley faculty, staff, and student population is a very elite group of highly motivated, compassionate, progressive individuals,” Dilsworth said. “We as individuals, need to be more intentional about taking time to take care of ourselves body, mind and spirit before we expand energy on being productive students, successful employees, and helpful to others.”

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