Director of Counseling Services Marie Shaw offers tips to the Elon community about coping with the stress and anxiety associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and resources to help you through this period of social distancing.
By Marie Shaw, director of Elon Counseling Services
The COVID-19 pandemic is not only an epidemiological crisis, but also a substantial psychological experience. We are experiencing a loss of normalcy, sense of disconnectedness, turmoil in our economic and healthcare systems, and concerns about the health and wellbeing of ourselves and our loved ones. It is normal and expected that these current circumstances may provoke anxiety, stress, fear, sadness, and/or other emotions. There is no right or wrong way to feel. Losing a sense of safety, predictability, and control can be jarring. We are all experiencing these things, at varying degrees, as a collective. This grief is a natural experience and albeit challenging most people are resilient.
Elon is built upon our relationships with one another. As we are each challenged to find new ways to cope and support each other, remember we are in this together. Faculty, staff, and student groups across Elon are offering a variety of virtual events and opportunities to build community and stay connected. We encourage you to intentionally find new ways to stay connected.
Counseling Services has also developed a library of online resources to help you navigate how to care for yourself and our larger community. Here are a few events and resources we’d like to highlight:
- Check out the video “Making the Most of Where You Are” and the associated Coping Worksheet to help you create an individualized coping plan to identify helpful strategies to cope and strengthen your resilience. Counselors are in process of creating additional videos, including Mindful Yoga, a podcast style video on Intuitive Eating with a local dietitian, Creating a Strong Routine, etc.
- Students may also sign up for a Counseling Services virtual workshops, including Stop Trying, Start Sleeping and Soul Collage.
- In partnership with Campus Recreation and Wellness, we will host an upcoming Wellness Roundtable discussion.
- TAO (Therapy Assistance Online) offers guided activities to help overcome anxiety, practice mindfulness skills, and learn strategies to avoid dwelling on your concerns and to develop more helpful thinking patterns. Also, Welltrack, an online interactive self-help therapy, will be launched at Elon within the next week.
- In partnership with the CREDE, ALANAM Sisterhood Circle will continue bi-weekly virtual meetings on April 8 at 12:30 p.m. EST and April 24 at 2:30 p.m. EST
- Virtual Let’s Talk-Odyssey Scholars on April 9 from 2-3 p.m. EST and virtual Let’s Talk-Law Students on April from 12:30-1:30 p.m. EST.
- Virtual International Coffee Hour hosted by the Global Education Center with Counselor on April 9 from 9:30-10:30 a.m. EST and virtual International Tea Hour hosted by the Global Education Center with Counselor on April 16 from 4-5 p.m. EST.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to us. Counseling Services is available via phone at 336-278-7280 during our adjusted business hours, Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. (closed 1-2 p.m.). The crisis counselor on-call remains available 24/7, regardless of your location, by calling Campus Safety & Police Dispatch at 336-278-5555.
Additionally, Safeline and Student Care and Outreach provide additional supports outside of counseling. Safeline continues to offer 24/7 confidential advocacy if you or someone you know is experiencing violence. Advocates can provide resources, create individualize safety plans, and walk survivors through strategies to manage triggers. You may reach an Advocate by calling 336-278-3333 and providing a number that you can be called back at or email the Coordinator for Violence Response at firstname.lastname@example.org. Student Care and Outreach is also available to provide direct outreach to students in need to give a listening ear, work through additional coping strategies, and help students navigate a range of on-campus resources. You may also share concerns with Student Care using their online referral form.
Tips for practicing mindfulness
Due to the emotional challenges of COVID 19, there are more mindfulness resources now than ever before. On an ordinary day, mindfulness is a mechanism to increase self-awareness, reduce anxiety, manage stress, improve concentration and memory. In these extraordinary times, these benefits bolster mindfulness as a means to our much needed peace of mind.
Mindfulness can be formal and intensive or it can be informal and occur in small moments. It’s up to you to decide how strong you want to build your mindfulness muscle; you decide how much you want to live in the present with compassion for yourself and others. Many well-known practitioners are offering free access to online resources to do their part in giving tools to alleviate the suffering so many are experiencing. But don’t tune out before you consider one of the written resources at the end of this page.
Palouse Mindfulness is an online mindfulness-based stress reduction course that frankly is a priceless gem. Taught by a fully certified MBSR instructor, it is highly educational, self-paced and amazingly enough, completely free all the time (not just during the pandemic). There is not so much as one pop-up advertisement. Designed to be completed over 8 weeks, however its self-paced, so you can do as much or as little as you please. Highly recommended!
Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra are sponsoring a 21-day free meditation program as part of their #HopeGoesGlobal movement during COVID 19. It is not as educational about mindfulness as way of life but it provides good practice in a classic Oprah inspirational style and includes a journaling option. https://chopracentermeditation.com/login
Jon Kabat-Zinn is the founder of MSBR, a retired professor of medicine and a great teacher. He has worked with CEO’s, Olympic athletes and of course, college students. If you want to learn a lot about mindfulness from one video, take your pick amongst Dr. Kabat-Zinn’s offerings. Here is his most recent (April 7), but there are many other educational videos from this mindfulness master to be found online.
Tara Brach, is a psychologist and a highly experienced mindfulness teacher. Her mindfulness emphasis is especially useful for so many of us in the Elon community because it encourages self-compassion while letting go of perfectionism. In conjunction with Jack Kornfield, the two of them have made a mindful mini-series “Meditations Daily” for free! But the fun doesn’t stop there. Check out her website, www.tarabrach.com, for several other free mindfulness offerings during the COVID-19 pandemic.
If those aren’t enough choices or you really want to use your social distancing time to dig even more into mindfulness at www.soundstrue.com. There are an abundance of resources, some free and some not, but if you want to deepen your self- and -other awareness, find meaning or just deal better with chaotic thoughts and feelings, you’ll find something here.
A Note about Spotify: Spotify has a host of podcasts. Some are great and some are not. Just because it mentions mindfulness doesn’t make it a valuable mindfulness resource. And though this one is not a mindfulness podcast per se, Brene Brown’s Unlocking Us podcast offers wisdom to those of us seeking deeper self-understanding, richer relationships and overall improved mental health. Whether or not you haven’t listened to a Brene Brown Ted Talk or read one of her books, you won’t regret using some COVID-19 downtime to listen to “Unlocking Us.”
Deeper Dives, Mindfulness Book Suggestions:
- “The Mindful Twenty-Something” by Holly Rogers. This book was written by a psychiatrist at our educational neighbor, Duke. With simple language and examples specifically for college students makes it super easy to read.
- “Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Practice in Everyday Life” by Jon Kabat-Zinn. A book that was so informative and inspiring it helped spark the current mindfulness movement.
- “The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment” by Eckhart Tolle. An immensely popular book. Great for those of you interested in a deep dive and unafraid of a little more abstract material.