By Kelsey Jochum, Content Editor
On Thursday, February 9, students and faculty alike joined in the CPACS common area to learn a little more about how stress affects their lives. The presentation, titled “Stress Management: Managing life, work and family expo,” was led by Cathy Pettid, M.S., LMHP of the UNO Counseling Center.
“Stress does not occur in a vacuum,” repeated Pettid throughout the presentation. “It is affected by everything that’s going on in our environment.”
The presentation began with Pettid asking the group to join her in a few stretches and yawns. By doing this, members of the group could relax their muscles and truly begin to practice what Pettid preached.
Next, the group learned that not all stress in life is bad. In order to perform well in most daily activities, Pettid stressed that it is important to have some “good stress.”
“We try to figure out what an individual’s peak performance is and use that to find his or her ideal stress level,” Pettid said.
Pettid explained the six areas of wellness in a piece titled “How Wobbly is Your Wheel?” The group was asked to draw a wheel with six spokes, each representing one of the six areas of personal wellness: social, physical, intellectual, spiritual, emotional and environmental. By marking how far out on each spoke their wellness stood, the group members could visualize the balance in their lives and learn about which areas of life they could focus on improving.
“While each area of personal wellness is important, the one I find very important to improve in is environmental,” said Pettid. “Environmental wellness is about having a sanctuary, a place where you can just sit down and think, ‘Okay, I can cope.'”
After addressing the different forms of stress in one’s life, Pettid switched gears and began speaking about the ways to counter stress day-by-day. By using what she labeled “The Four Levels of Defense,” one can approach stress in a healthy way. The four levels follow a simple alliteration: rethink, reduce, relax and release.
“If you can keep these four things in mind when you’re having a bad day, you’ll be in good shape,” Pettid encouraged. “And when all else fails, just laugh. It truly is one of the best medicines for stress management.”
Possibly the most interactive portion of the presentation was the relaxing meditation that the group participated in. Pettid began by dimming the lights and playing soft, relaxing music. The group members were asked to close their eyes, listen to the music, and follow Pettid’s nstructions, which consisted of breathing techniques and zone relaxations. By the end of the meditation, most people in the room agreed that it helped them to feel more at ease and less stressed.
When the presentation closed, students and faculty were encouraged to visit tables set up in the back of the room. Each table was hosted by a different campus resource, representing Student Health Services, the UNO Counseling Center and the Chancellor’s Commission on the Status of Women. Also, MavRec massage therapists provided chair massages to those who wanted to stay and enjoy yet another relaxation opportunity before re – entering the stress of daily life.