[media-credit name=”Crystal Charriere | The Signpost” align=”alignright” width=”219″][/media-credit]September is Self-Improvement Month, meaning it could be the right opportunity to motivate those students looking to change any aspect in their lives they’ve been wishing to improve upon. One realm of self-improvement could be managing stress and relationship problems better.

“The biggest stressor I see is that our students are busy,” said Student Wellness Center coordinator Hanalee Hawkins. “Time management is really, really hard for them; they have a lot of pressures. The other thing I would say is I think sometimes we have unrealistic expectations for ourselves, and we need to start smaller. Not that we can’t dream big and have that pie-in-the-sky goal, but we don’t really acknowledge the incremental baby steps we need to take to eventually get us to that big dream.”

The Student Wellness Center, Stress Reduction Clinic, and Counseling and Psychological Center are three on-campus amenities students can take advantage of to help them find a healthy way to manage stress and reach the goals they want to without being overwhelmed.

Meditation is one way to help the body relax. The Counseling and Psychological Center offers a weekly meditation seminar on Wednesdays at 12:30 pm, directed by counseling psychologist Craig Oreshnick. These seminars offer a variety of types of meditation, such as deep breathing and mantras, guided meditation, progressive muscular relaxation and autogenic meditation. These seminars are free to students, faculty and staff, and are drop-in.

“If students are dealing with upcoming tests or midterms, the group might be helpful to them in that respect if they’re not wanting an ongoing practice in meditation, although that’s usually when it’s most effective,” Oreshnick said. “It’s usually a small, intimate group that students enjoy coming to. They feel pretty relaxed when they’re done and tend to not want it to end.”

Another drop-in program offered is a group class called “Friends, Lovers & Family”  that is held Mondays at noon in the Counseling Center, SC 280. Family and relationship therapist Mark Adams leads a group discussion based on the individual relationship issues students are having.

“My experience has been that (with) most people struggling with psychological or emotional or mental health stress, all of those things get played out in their relationships,” Adams said. “Whether you are stressed out because of school or finals and you snap at your boyfriend or you’re mean or impatient or short, it all comes out in your relationships. The semester might end, but the relationships don’t, so the effects can be long-term.”

The Student Wellness program, headed by Hawkins, can be used as a guide for students to assess their goals and manage stress levels. Services like personal training sessions at Swenson Gym, online assessments, wellness coaching and peer education are just a few services offered by the Student Wellness program.

“We really help people learn to set realistic goals that are achievable and build their confidence so they want to be engaged in healthy behaviors,” Hawkins said. “If we know where we want to go and focus on the process, it’s much more manageable and much more fulfilling.”

The Student Wellness and Counseling and Psychological centers are both located in the Student Services Building on the Ogden campus.

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