Anxiety and stress management seminars to return

Rachel Hollcraft, General Reporter

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Winona State University Counseling and Wellness Services is hosting an Anxiety and Stress Management Seminar available to all students.

The seminar is offered every Tuesday between Sept. 25 and Oct. 16, from 2 – 2:50 p.m. in the Winona State Counseling Services Relaxation Room in the Integrated Wellness Complex.

The purpose of the seminar is to provide skills for students to use to help manage anxiety and stress.

Each of the four sessions focus on a different part of anxiety and stress.

Session one is focused on understanding anxiety and stress. Session two teaches skills to help manage physical effects of anxiety and stress.

Session three is about calming the mind. Session four focuses on creating new habits to manage levels of anxiety and stress in the future.

Students do not need to come to all four sessions of the seminar. This seminar is one of two that Counseling and Wellness Services offer every semester.

The seminar is intended to be an educational experience, to help students learn where anxiety and stress come from, how anxiety and stress can be recognized and how students can manage anxiety and stress. The structure the four-week long seminar can be especially helpful for students who want to learn skills to deal with anxiety and stress but do not want to attend individual counseling.

The seminar was created six years ago when Winona State Counseling and Wellness Services found that the number of students who experienced overwhelming stress and anxiety had increased.

The seminar is run by counselor Eunie Alsaker, who believes the seminar gives students practical skills to cope with the anxiety and stress of the academic year.

“We hope [students] will gain a better understanding of stress and anxiety so that when stress hits, they can say ‘I have some ideas of what I can do. This might be hard, but I can do this,’” Alsaker said.

The seminar itself is designed to be stress-free, students who come to the seminar can listen or participate in conversation with Alsaker and peers.

Dahlia Garofalo, a junior English major, is attending the seminar and enjoys the way the seminar is run as well as the environment of the sessions.

“[The seminar] does a good job of treating the entire mind and body. It has a holistic approach, in terms of not just treating symptoms, but figuring out what’s wrong and finding the underlying [issue]. Eunie is a very down to earth kind of person- very non-judgmental,” Garofalo said.

The four sessions are intended to approach anxiety and stress as complex issues with multiple parts, including the body and mind. Students who attend come with different questions and backgrounds, but with reading handouts and optional conversation, it is possible for all students who attend to learn something about managing anxiety and stress.

“I’m really hoping to walk away with some skills on how to manage anxiety, and to figure it out by talking and exploring it a bit more, and figuring out what the underlying thing might be. Like being able to address my anxiety head on, instead of just trying to chase after the symptoms of it,” Garofalo said.

Garofalo is not alone in wanting to learn how to manage anxiety. A study conducted by Penn State in 2015, found that over 100,000 students attending 140 colleges and universities across the nation, sought mental health treatment during the academic year. Anxiety was the number one concern among those students, and stress was fourth on the list.

“Stress is inevitable, so having confidence and skills and responding to it so we can transform it into something positive is one of the building blocks of resilience,” Alsaker said.

Even if students do not seek out mental health treatment, it is likely that most students feel some level of stress or anxiety at one time or another.

“It’s definitely worth it [to attend] whether you have a little bit of stress or a lot of stress,” Garofalo said. “It’s not going to do all the work for you, you’re going to have to do work on your own, but it’s going to give you the tools to face your anxiety and stress and start to work on it.”