Pop-up sessions allow students to relax

Morgan Van Lanen, Editor in Chief

UWO students are participating in coloring activities, relaxation exercises and guided meditation to focus on the present moment through Pop Up Mindfulness sessions at the counseling center.

These sessions are intended for students to swing by for five or ten minutes during passing times or during class breaks to take a moment to be mindful, UWO counselor Sara Schumacher said. The sessions are offered mainly in small rooms in Sage and Clow Halls during times throughout the school day.

“The Counseling Center and the CALM [Caring Action Leadership and Mindfulness] intern program have been wanting to get mindfulness programing throughout campus because we have a lot available at the counseling center, but we want to make sure it is accessible to all students,” Schumacher said. “And the Pop Up Mindfulness is really for students to have a reset in their day. To have a moment to pay attention to their present self or their present moment and take a break from the constant doing that students experience from day to day.”

CALM intern Jaime Gunderson said the great thing about mindfulness is that it can only take a few minutes to achieve. She said students who think these sessions are only for people who suffer from different mental disorders should realize mindfulness is important for anyone.

“I think a lot of people look at anxiety and depression on a very clinical level and it’s definitely not,” Gunderson said. “I think a lot of us spend a lot of time thinking about what has happened and what’s about to happen. None of those things are things we can control, so this is about letting some of that go and living in the present.”

The Counseling Center came up with the idea for Pop Up Mindfulness with help from the College of Business and the College of Nursing, CALM intern Corissa Burkart said.

Although the sessions were intended to help de-stress the students in these colleges, all UWO students are encouraged to attend them.

“The excuse for nursing students is, ‘I’m always studying,’” Burkart said. “We are acknowledging that they need self-care and that they can’t constantly always be studying, and they need to take that break just for themselves. In the College of Business, they don’t really focus on the mental part of it. A lot of those students say, ‘I don’t have time,’ and that’s pretty common among a lot of students on the college campus.”

However, UWO is not the first college in the country to incorporate mindfulness into the lives of its students. According to an article in The New York Times from 2014 titled “Space to be mindful,” Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh has a Mindfulness Room on its campus.

Although the UWO Counseling Center is just using small rooms around campus for its sessions, counselors and interns are still determining how to better get the word out about the sessions and how to inspire more students to show up, Schumacher said.

Students who are interested in stopping by the Pop Up Mindfulness periods will be given the opportunity to spend time coloring, meditating, relaxing and just breathing. All students need to do is just show up and clear their minds.

“Mindfulness is such an accessible thing,” Schumacher said. “It doesn’t take many tools to pay attention in the present moment. It is so good for our brains and for us as human beings. And we want to get that out on campus as much as possible.”