“Survive and Thrive” forum breaks down stress

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    About 140 TCU students relaxed into their seats, bowed their heads and took several deep breaths as part of a stress and mindfulness forum Friday afternoon in the Brown-Lupton University Union Auditorium. 

    A faculty planning committee from the Harris College of Nursing organized the “Survive and Thrive” forum with guest speaker Elissa Epel, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco. 

    Epel said self-doubt and emotional suppression play a significant role in the stress levels of college students. 

    Epel also explained how stress affects physical health. 

    “What stresses us out is that we’re not sharing our true feelings with each other, and part of what we are really experiencing is much more anxiety and self-doubt than we are willing to admit,” she said. 

    Stress is in more than just the mind, Epel said. It can lead to cancer, hormone imbalance, aging, chronic disease and low immunity. 

    Epel told students ways they can reduce stress through mindfulness, breathing exercises, meditation and sharing experiences with others. Mindfulness is a valuable tool from the presentation, which involves being aware of stress and then taking steps to reduce it, Lauren Clemence, a first-year nutrition major, said. 

    At the end of the lecture, Epel asked students to raise their hands and share more about their emotions after learning about stress, but no one raised their hand. 

    “I think that people don’t want to look vulnerable or be different. And that was a case in point," Epel said. "The fact that in a big group, no one would say that they would be willing to share that with others.” 

    “Survive and Thrive” was the second event the Harris College of Nursing has put on about mindfulness, Suzy Lockwood, a professor of nursing who helped organize the event, said. The faculty said they hope to continue with an annual forum.