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Students looking to discuss mental well-being, coping skills, de-stressing may benefit from this weekly event

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A person wearing a striped red beanie sits with their legs crossed at the base of a large tree on a bright sunny day, Feb. 18, 2012. This person is practicing meditation, one of the many mindfulness activities meant to help de-stress.  // Courtesy of Caleb Roenigk via Flickr

By Belle Wright

Western Washington University’s Counseling, Health, and Wellness Services are hosting a “Wellness Wednesdays” event every Wednesday on Zoom. The event encourages conversations about mental well being, coping techniques, de-stressing and more. 

Past meetings have covered topics such as getting better sleep and stress management. An upcoming meeting on March 4 will cover self-love. A session on March 11 will talk about coping with test anxiety. 

Almost 30% of adults ages 18-25 suffer from mental illness, making it the highest ranking age group, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

Christopher Edwards, assistant director and coordinator of outreach and health promotion at Western, said some Wellness Wednesdays sessions have a more conversational approach. Some include presentations or speakers, and some are more experimental. 

“Wellness Wednesdays entail weekly, hourlong Zoom sessions with different guest speakers, typically from the Counseling and Wellness Center,” Edwards said. “The sessions are intended to be informal opportunities to learn about specific coping skills, topics or resources related to mental health and well-being.”

Edwards said he believes the event provides many benefits to students who participate.

“There are so many benefits to practicing mindfulness and tending to mental wellness,” Edwards said. “Like reducing stress, improving mood, fostering resiliency, building insight and developing effective coping tools are just a few.”

Edwards said Wellness Wednesdays provide an opportunity for students to come together and form a community during the era of social distancing.  

Zoey Wilson, second-year Western student and business and sustainability major, practices mental wellness methods that work best for her in the midst of a busy quarter.

“Something that has worked best for me this quarter that I’ve been getting into is guided meditations and just being outside in nature,” Wilson said. “Being outside is helpful for me since Washington has a sun deficiency right now.” 

Wilson said if she’s having test anxiety or isn’t feeling well, she will go on a walk to clear her head and feel instantly better. 

She also said she thinks if students check in with themselves more often, it could improve their academic performance. 

“I really do think once people get into good habits of checking in with themselves every once in a while to see where they’re at, they'll do much better with classes as opposed to not doing anything at all,” Wilson said. 

Jan White, a holistic life empowerment counselor and master reiki practitioner at the Artistry of Change: Holistic Counseling & REIKI, said she believes Wellness Wednesdays are a good way to get support during mental health struggles. 

“It’s always better when you have a mentor or people around you who have knowledge of what you’re going through and are experiencing it themselves,” White said.

White said she believes having a healthy mind can improve academic performance. 

“When people are in balance with their mind, they are more able to act from objectivity and focus, rather than letting negative feelings interrupt their focus,” White said.

White expressed the need to only hold mental space for what is helpful, rather than harmful. 

“Especially in academia, you're going to school and your whole focus is on grasping, learning and retaining information,” White said. “Well, how can you do that if you're upset about something emotionally? It won't stay inside your brain, therefore mindfulness creates the ability to be in balance.”


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