The faculty and staff here at Mercer have the opportunity to participate in “Healthy U,” an exercise and wellness program that was developed a couple of years ago. The faculty is encouraged to participate in activities in order to earn points, which they can turn into days off of work or dollars off of their insurance. The activities include exercise, stress management, check-ups at the doctor, and nutrition choices. Once a month, they have stress breaks, where the faculty and staff can get together and learn ways to manage stress, said Rachel May, who is in charge of the stress breaks. On Nov. 7, there was a yoga class at which faculty could receive seven points, and on Nov. 17 there was a meditation class worth seven points as well.
During the meditation exercise, there were two recordings, each ten minutes long, and the faculty was encouraged to think positive thoughts and be free of thought, resting and releasing stress. Afterward, they had a discussion as to effective ways of meditating individually or as a group. They talked about things such as getting motivated to release stress and relax, the benefits of relaxing and taking breaks, and the ease of meditating alone. This activity drew around 15 to 20 people, but Lunch and Learns, where the faculty can get a free lunch while listening to a speaker, usually draw more of a crowd, said May. About 40 to 50 faculty members usually attend, May added. At the Lunch and Learns people such as doctors and psychologists come and discuss stress management or give presentations about the importance of being healthy.
The Stress Break that occurred on Nov. 17 helped the staff and faculty learn and discuss the negative impacts of stress, and how relaxation is a more effective way of dealing with high stress levels. The group gathered in the Bear Rock Cafe, and the quiet, dim room provided a good atmosphere for relaxing. The small group also helped. Though the meditation recordings were played on a laptop, the group discussed how simple breathing exercises could be done throughout the day to relieve stress. While the Stress Break itself lasted about 45 minutes, May and the faculty stressed that relaxation exercises don’t have to last very long.
With finals and school work in general, it is important for students to manage stress as well. Breathing exercises are a great way to relax and relieve stress. The Counseling and Psychological Services is a great stress relieving resource. They are located right behind MEP, but if you can’t visit them, they also have online resources to help with stress management.
Visit studentaffairs.mercer.edu/counseling and click on “Online Resources” towards the bottom of the page. There, one can find a link to a website with many relaxation recordings. They cover topics such as breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation and more. Each recording is about 10 minutes long, so it won’t take up much time. It is important during stressful times to take a break and relax, not only for your mental health, but also for your physical health.