BC counselor teaches students how to work through stress

Jennifer Schmidt along with students Elise Huntley, Elaine Connelly and Kristen Hylen discuss the Ravens CARE program as a part of SHARP Academy's first Professional Forum on Feb. 8.  Photo courtesy of Jennifer Schmidt.

By Ellen Petersen, The Circuit.

Mental health provider Jennifer Schmidt delivered a talk entitled “Resilience Boosters: How to develop a growth mindset” on Thursday, March 16 in the Dining Hall Boardroom.

Schmidt works in the Benedictine College Counseling Center and also advises Ravens CARE, the on-campus group who works to bring awareness and support for Title IX cases.

During the talk, Schmidt emphasized that stress, which is normally deemed bad, is actually an immense positive.

“This particular training is especially relevant to all students,” Schmidt said. “Our students are high achieving, bright and they deal with a lot of stress. This is designed to shift their mindset that stress in itself isn’t a bad thing. We just need healthy coping mechanisms.”

Schmidt believes other Benedictine College faculty members agree that students today deal with an unprecedented amount of stress, which is why the program was started.

“One of the academic departments on campus had asked me to develop some sort of basic program for their seniors who were experiencing a lot of stress,“ she said. “[During these stressful times] you are developing something far more important. If you keep that in mind, stress will dissipate.”

Junior Katie Nelson, now training to become a peer support member, took away helpful ideas on how to de-stress and hopes to use these tools to support others.

Some of the ideas Schmidt gave students included a mapping out of ones own behaviors and reactions in stressful times. Schmidt also provided students with basic ways of relaxing the body through repetition and breathing exercises.

“I will definitely be using the positive phrases [to encourage myself],” Nelson said. “I really just want to help people. The least I could do is be there for someone when they need it most.”

During the program, Schmidt referred to the science behind “cognitive reframing.”

Cognitive reframing, she explained, resides in positive self-dialogue so as to rewire your brains patterns of thinking.

The rest of the talk also consisted of resilience-boosting activities such as engaging in new hobbies and environments and diving in to volunteer work. Schmidt reinforced these ideas with a Ted Talk video and a book entitled The Upside of Stress, both by Kelly McGonigal.

Ravens CARE is hosting several other events throughout the semester, including another opportunity for those who missed “Resilience Boosters” on March 30.

For those wanting more information, contact Jennifer Schmidt at jschmidt@benedictine.edu