For eight weeks, the Women’s Center is having a forum for single mothers at Weber State University and in the surrounding community. Every Thursday at 1 p.m., single mothers will get together to discuss how to be successful in school and in life while raising children on their own.

The group is led by Dorothy Hill, who is part of the Women’s Center.

“The Women’s Center supports women in as many ways as it can,” Hill said. “A lot of women trying to get into school or are already in school are single moms with unique circumstances, and we try to address those.”

During their first session on Sept. 15, the group of about 10 mothers was asked to list their biggest concerns. The results were that they were most concerned about stress management.

The group had Hanalee Hawkins from the Student Wellness Center come in and talk about how to manage stress. She started by telling the history of why people get stressed and the reason behind the reactions to stress.

Hawkins compares stress responses now to situations back in 5,000 B.C., when the danger could have been a bear or something else life-threatening. She described how people still have the same responses even if they are not in life-threatening situations.  Heart rate and blood pressure will increase, and the body will start producing adrenaline when stressed. The hair on people’s arms will even stand on end, which Hawkins said was to help make humans look bigger to their attacker back in 5,000 B.C., when they had more hair to stand up.

“The sole purpose of the response is to keep us out of physical danger,” Hawkins said. “We have 21st-century minds . . . but our bodies are still the same as 5,000 B.C.”

The problem with these responses is the fact that sometimes the stress does not give a person’s body time to calm back down. This can lead to exhaustion, aches and other negative side effects. Hawkins said the trick is to try and prevent or manage this stress.

Hawkins borrowed some techniques from WSU professor Michael Olpin, who teaches a stress management class. One technique is to observe thoughts. Hawkins described how people need to start noticing they are thinking thoughts that are stressing them out. Once those thoughts are recognized, a person can try and stop thinking in that way. Another technique is allowance. Thinking thoughts such as “I can live with this, I am going to go with the flow” will cause relaxation instead of stress.

Hawkins reassured people that changing their mindsets to something more positive can be difficult. She asked, “How long have you been thinking the way you’ve been thinking?”

Christine Orozco has attended the two forums for single mothers. She has three children, but is often taking care of more, including her sister’s children.

“I have relationship challenges,” Orozco said. “My kids don’t like when I find a new friend, like a girlfriend or a guy who likes me. I push them away for my kids.” She is attending the forums to help her succeed in school. “I forgot how to do me,” she said. “I did everything for my kids.”

Despite having had only two sessions, Orozco said she has found the Single Mother’s Forum to be very helpful.

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