Stress relief, mindfulness meetings ease anxiety for finals


Nikol Slatinska

With finals coming up, many students are feeling more stressed than ever. Fortunately, the school offers resources to help relieve the pressure of upcoming exams and final report cards. One of those resources is outreach counselor Lesley Thalhuber’s Stress Reduction and Mindfulness Practice, which occurs Mondays from 4:1-5 p.m. until winter break.
Although the meetings were initially created for a limited number of students, Thalhuber is now offering it to anyone who needs it.
“At first when I was creating it, I was thinking about our students here who deal with anxiety,” Thalhuber said.  “But in the end, I decided to have it be more open because the same kind of skills can help someone with a diagnosed illness like anxiety or someone who’s just struggling with stress and needs similar coping skills and strategies.”
The meetings have been going on since mid-November and have maintained a set structure. They begin with an icebreaker activity for the students to get to know each other, then go on to practice different skills to help increase mindfulness and decrease stress. Thalhuber said there are many different methods that work for different people when it comes to dealing with stress. Many of those methods are based on the senses, like focusing on a sound or set focal point. Thalhuber hopes that by exploring many different strategies for stress and mindfulness, everyone will find at least one that works for them.
For senior Jodie Bappe, deep breathing exercises have helped with managing anxiety, and she’s noticed an improvement in her attitude towards starting a new week of school.
“The group meets on Mondays and I really look forward to it,” Bappe said. “It adds a silver lining to a rather dull day.”
Besides helping her maintain her anxiety, Bappe has met other people going through similar circumstances at the meetings. The icebreaker activities are her favorite part for that reason. They usually involve thought-provoking questions and freshly brewed tea.
As for determining how much the meetings help reduce stress, Thalhuber said the students are doing pre and post-measure anxiety scale self-assessments that they will compare at the end of the semester. She hopes to see an improvement in their stress levels and be able to continue the meetings after break.
“I’m trying to sweet-talk Thalhuber and the other group leaders into continuing next semester,” Bappe said. “It’s a shame that word didn’t really get out about [the meetings], but at the same time having a small group is really nice. I just hope that if somebody needs it they will be exposed to the opportunity.”