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Getting out of your head

For anyone feeling the stress during crunch time, take a minute to relax: first, take a deep breath. Second, exhale. Third, consider visiting one of the Mindfulness Workshops hosted by the UNB Student Union this spring.
With three sessions remaining in the term, there’s still plenty of time to stop by, loosen up and learn some key coping techniques.

The workshops were begun in 2010 by UNBSU counsellor Jen Rowett to provide a space to talk about everyday mental health and lifestyle challenges. They were revived this year through a collaboration between UNB Counselling Services and the Student Union, where tackling student mental health has been a key focus this year.

“We have been taking initiatives this year to promote mental health awareness, and we will continue to do so into the end of the semester with some more de-stress programs and events,” said UNBSU vice-president internal Jenn Connolly. “The Student Union strongly believes that there needs to be more proactive programs like this around the University that promote mental health in a positive light.”

While each workshop session has a different theme, they are all designed to equip students with the skills to fight stress when it strikes. Connolly said that after the first two sessions, focusing on awareness techniques and sleep quality, the third workshop on April 2 will be a light stretching and yoga class focusing on relaxation.

Rowett, a specialist in kinesiology and yoga, said that the sessions combine casual theory and discussion with helpful meditative practices.

“We discuss the qualities of mindfulness, such as non-judgment, acceptance, patience, but very applied — ‘how does this relate to everyday life?’ ” she explained. “Typically there’s some theory and then some guided visualization or progressive muscle relaxation. It gets us out of our head. Most of us are pretty disconnected from our bodies, particularly in academics.”

Connolly said that stress management is especially important for students this year due to the compressed academic schedule. Through the workshops, they hope to emphasize that mental health is just as critical as physical health.

“If students are armed with tools to de-stress themselves, they will be better equipped to deal with stressful situations like exams and perform better academically, if not just be generally happier,” she said.

“Students should come to these workshops because they need to give their mental health the attention it deserves.”

To Rowett, simply providing hope and encouragement is her aim.

“If people walk out feeling more confident in their ability to carry on with the day, that’s a really great thing,’ she said. “We all know that feeling of being overwhelmed, stressed, anxious, or feeling disconnected from other people. So we’ve created a space to address that.”

The workshops are taking place on Tuesdays in SUB 103 from 1:30-2:30PM. They are free to attend.

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