‘DeStress Monday’ helps students cope with stress

By Megan Rule | Staff Writer

Baylor Student Life’s weekly What’s New BU email this week brought a new series of Monday Healthy Tips from Monday Campaigns – DeStress Monday.

According to the email from Baylor Student Life, every Monday this month, DeStress Monday serves to create a plan to reduce symptoms of stress. This weeks DeStress Monday began with tips for deep breathing in order to start the semester off on the right foot. Deep breathing leads to being present, which also eases anxiety, according to the DeStress Monday website.

“It’s important to remember to slow down and focus on your own health and mental sanity,” said Kasey Kinzel, a Quito, Ecuador senior. “We have a chance to start the new year and semester out on the right foot and we can do this by taking the time to relax and breathe. It helps to clear your mind and alleviate stress.”

Shallow breathing can actually exacerbate the symptoms of anxiety, according to the DeStress Monday website. That is why it is important to understand deep breathing, or belly breathing, and perform it properly.

“This ‘full oxygen exchange’ slows blood pressure and the heart rate, producing a calming effect for the whole body,” the website said. “To make sure you’re breathing deeply, visualize your whole torso taking in air like an inflating balloon, through your nose, down into your chest, all the way down to your belly.”

Not only are the physical aspects of deep breathing important, but the mental aspects play a role in its effectiveness as well. These include finding a quiet area with limited distractions, sitting with proper posture and concentrating really hard on the breathing techniques. Following these tips help with both mindfulness practices as well as reducing stress.

“Even if you don’t practice yoga, focus on breath can be beneficial as well,” said Lynn-Holly Wielenga, a yoga instructor at YogaPod Waco. “Deep breathing can reduce stress as well as improve sleep quality, really it helps develop a strong and focused mind which is important.”

The Monday Campaigns is a non-profit public health initiative that seeks to dedicate every Monday to health. Individuals and organizations come together to share tips and commit to healthy behaviors to end diseases and promote overall health. The campaigns are shared on Monday because, according to the website, Monday is associated with being the beginning of the week and holding potential to positively affect behaviors as people are more likely to start a new habit with a fresh week.

“Even if you don’t have time to go to a studio for a yoga class, you can take two minutes to focus on your breathing,” Wielenga said.

More information for the DeStress Monday Campaign can be found on its website. The complete What’s New BU email can be found online as well.