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Professors give tips on dealing with stressful times

Photo by niklas_hamann on Unsplash

by Chloe Bachman

Features Editor

Coronavirus is now a household name all over the world. As the pandemic has spread and stay-at-home orders are now common, this can be a stressful time for anyone and everyone.

Two Rochester University professors — one from a spiritual perspective and the other from a psychological angle — have given tips to students on how to deal with stressful times.

In an email to students in her Spiritual Formation class, Dr. Naomi Walters, chair of the Department of Bible and Ministry, recommended a daily spiritual practice called Examen. She recommends the following steps to bring you peace of mind:

  1. Silence/Breath: Take a minute — 60 whole seconds — to focus on your breath, and to remember that God’s presence is as close to you as your next breath, even when you aren’t thinking about it.

  2. Reflection: Prayerfully review your day, paying attention to these questions: What was the most life-giving part of my day? When today did I have the deepest sense of connection with God, with others or with myself?  What was the most life-taking part of my day? When today did I have the least sense of connection with God, with others or with myself?

  3. Silence/Breath

In an email to the RU community, Dr. Gordon McKinnon, professor of psychology, offered suggestions on maintaining good mental health during this uncertain time:

  1. Maintain life as normal as is possible in this extraordinary situation. It is clear to everyone that life is different and may be for some time. Continue to engage in your academic work at home and work. Beyond that, have time to enjoy your family.

  2. Reduce how much of the news that you watch and your children are exposed to. You can’t and shouldn’t try to shelter your children from the current situation, and yet, they should not be overexposed to it. This may include reducing using social media and increasing your family interactions.

  3. Make a decision to be more compassionate toward others. As we all face this crisis together, we are all experiencing the same fears and anxieties about what is unknown. This is a time when we need to support and help each other.

  4. Be sensitive and aware of your children’s thinking about the virus. Children may harbor many fears related to the situation such as the ongoing stress associated with the changes in family routines and living conditions, fears of separation from parents, or parents getting sick or the fears that a parent may die. Be as reassuring as possible under the circumstances.

  5. Stay connected with friends and family. Utilize online platforms to contact and connect with others. Although we’re encouraged to engage in physical and social distancing, that doesn’t mean isolation. Use and FaceTime. You cannot underestimate the value of seeing someone and what they mean to you personally for your well-being. If you are at a workplace, and your children are home, connect with them by a video conferencing tool rather than just the phone.

  6. Find time to relax and breathe. Relaxation and breathing are ways to manage the feeling of control within your own body. This is literally an action that is incompatible with anxiety. It is a countermeasure for reducing anxious feelings.

As we enter our third week of "Stay Home. Stay Safe" in Michigan, daily life and routines are still interrupted and unusual, which could cause stress, anxiety and depression in your life. It is important to help one another and lean on God during these times. 

Read more of Shield's in-depth coverage about RU and the impact of COVID-19



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