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Students say a healthy mental state gets them through stressful times

A woman sits on the shore and stares off into the distance at a sunset

BYU-Hawaii students gathered to participate in mindfulness meditation on Feb. 20 to help reduce stress during the midterm exam period in the semester. This was before the decision to move classes online because of the corona virus pandemic. Students said they engaged in deep breathing and relaxation exercises to help manage any personal stressors they were experiencing. Those in attendance said the event helped them from becoming overwhelmed by school and stressed the importance of taking care of their minds.

Alyssa Allen, a senior from Colorado majoring in humanities, shared her thoughts on the importance of taking care of one’s mental health after attending the meditation event. She said, “I feel like if you are not able to take care of all areas of your health, then you are lacking in all areas. Your mind is a huge part of it.”

With the restrictions and call for social distancing due to the corona virus in Hawaii and around the world, Rachel Kekaula, the director of Counseling and Disability Services on campus, said the department is temporarily suspending group events, but she said the office is still open to help students one on one.

“We are following the guidelines of our President's Council, and we are not having groups or crowds," Kekaula said. “The one thing we are trying to help students to know is that we are still open. We are an essential function and we will remain open.”

Kekaula added, “Those who feel uncomfortable leaving their hale, we are also offering telemental health services" that can be done through video conferencing.

Moia Clark, a BYUH alumna from Washington, D.C., was in charge of putting on the event through the university’s Counseling and Disability Services. Clark shared why events like mindfulness meditation are put on and what the center hopes students can gain from their experience.

She said, “At the moment, the center does not have too many counselors, and we want to have events that students can come to, whether they have tough issues or mild ones, but give multiple students the opportunity to take part in something therapeutic or fun.”

Clark spotlighted other events, like mindfulness meditation, provided by Counseling and Disability Services. Clark commented, “Every Thursday, we have ‘Drop in Thursdays.’ There are flyers on our campus, and they can be found on campus labs, for all students who want to stop in.”

However, Kekaula commented, “We are temporarily suspending our Thursday events and looking into moving it virtually and looking at other ways to use technology to provide services.”

Charlotte Day, a senior from California majoring in psychology, shared how she felt recharged after attending the mindfulness meditation event. Day commented, “It is easy to get overwhelmed with midterms and other things which cause someone to worry a lot. So, it is nice to take time to just breathe and not think.”

Allen commented on why she would recommend attending events like these put on by the Counseling and Disability Center. She said, “The mind is a powerful tool to keep everything balanced. If you are able to balance it, you should take advantage of those opportunities.”

Day recommended other students attend such events. She shared, “It is a critical time of year, and it’s easy to be overwhelmed with so much happening, so we should take care of ourselves.”

Clark shared a purpose for putting on these events for students. She said, “Students get overloaded, so it is good to have it once a week to have a place to go to and take your mind off of responsibilities and do something else. One thing we teach is taking time for yourself and doing something other than homework to boost your mood.”