With another semester coming to an end and final exams around the corner, Texas State’s Office of Disability hosted a two-part event to help students learn how to deal with stress, depression and anxiety.
The first part of the event, Healing Arts, was held May 1 in the LBJ Student Center, room 3-7.1, 4 to 8 p.m. The program incorporated art-based interventions while strengthening the connection between learning and creativity. what day did this take place??
Students were able to join at any time and relax by coloring, painting, drawing or showing their creativity in various ways, all while having an open discussion about the topics of depression and anxiety linked with stress.
Shay Harris, assistant professor in the Department of Counseling, Leadership, Adult Education and School Psychology, provided information on mental health and coping mechanisms with students. She shared the possible signs and symptoms of stress and anxiety that occur among college students and the importance of having a support system.
“It’s important for college students to see a mental health professional because some cultures see mental health as non-existent,” Harris said. “It’s really important to me, as a woman of color, to be able to share the importance.”
Additionally, Harris shared pieces of advice for dealing with stress and upcoming finals. She emphasized journaling and how the activity can be helpful in times of anxiety.
“Take either five minutes or 30 seconds to just breathe and be aware of your surroundings,” Harris said. “Take a moment and be kind to yourself.”
The Healing Arts portion included a visit from therapy dogs to help students relieve stress and calm nerves.
The second part of the event was a mindfulness activity of cooperative skills through movement taught by senior lecturer Pat Stone and ODS administrative assistant Amber Cantu. The movement skills class took place in the LBJ Student Center, room 3-14.1 from 5 to 6:15 p.m.
The class included guided relaxation and the need for an individual’s pure awareness, generating a sense of peace. It was a lesson on communicating nonverbally to facilitate finding commonalities, building relationships and contradicting isolation. The mindfulness activity shared the idea of touch in a playful, calm and non-competitive way to allow trust amongst individuals.
Stone has a long history of teaching mindfulness through cooperative skills, and said creativity and expression creates feelings of empowerment.
“Expression is empowerment,” Stone said. “I believe this practice of being in the moment allows healing and deep listening and through contact, creates a connection.”
Stone expressed how this form of articulation helps reduce stress and aid in participants not feeling alone.
“When you’re stressing, you are worried about what you just did or what you are going to do, which means you are never really present,” Stone said. “You have to be present to support a partner and because you are so connected it contradicts isolation.”
This is the first time the mindfulness activity was introduced, but the Healing Arts presentation and workshop has occurred every semester for the past couple of years.
Harlan Ballard, assessment outreach and retention coordinator for the Office of Disability Services, said the goal of organizing the event each semester is to provide the Texas State community with ways to relax during finals, even if attendance is not high.
“The purpose of (the event) was to give students, staff and faculty an opportunity to compress, destress and unwind as they prepare for final exams,” Ballard said. “We don’t have a large crowd, but a very engaged and interactive crowd.”
ODS is hoping to be able to put on the Healing Arts event twice a semester, once before midterms then ahead of finals.