Occupational therapy students plan to manage stress


Change is stressful.  There are plenty of resources for students to manage stress at Gannon University and senior occupational therapy students are adding to this list with a mindfulness research group.

Meghan Davis, Jennifer Andromalos, Kiley Mie and Annie Yovich, under the direction of faculty adviser, Amy Brzuz, Ph.D., will be hosting sessions open to all Gannon freshmen beginning Tuesday from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in Room 2007 of the Palumbo Academic Center.

Other sessions will take place at the same time each Tuesday until March 24.  Those in attendance will learn intervention techniques to deal with stress including journaling, qigong and meditation.

According to the National Qigong Association (NQA), qigong is ancient Chinese healthcare technique comparable to yoga that incorporates breathing, posture and focus.

The word qigong is made up of two Chinese words that mean “life-force” and “accomplishment” or “skill,” so translated qigong means to cultivate life-force.   It includes different types of exercises that focus movement and breathing, including tai chi.

The NQA says the gentle movements emphasized in qigong aid in relieving stress and improving stamina.  Studies suggest that practicing qigong can help lower high blood pressure.

The students conducting the research group will use verbal explanation, videos and interventions to teach participants about stress management.  The research portion asks participants to complete surveys related to their stress levels and mindfulness as part of self-evaluation.

Davis said the group decided to work with freshmen because research marks transitioning into college as stressful.  She added that college freshmen have to live away from home and leave their high school friends and family, build new friendships, face vigorous academic demands and must adjust with time management.

“Through research we also learned that students who develop effective ways to cope with stress early in their college career, can transfer those skills into their future professions,” Davis said.

Davis said she and her partners are excited to conduct their study and see the results.

“We hope students will learn these mindfulness-based interventions and incorporate some or all of them into their daily routine in order to manage stress,” she said. “We are hopeful that these mindfulness-based interventions will make a positive impact in students’ lives.”

The research is based on scientific studies as well as anecdotal evidence.  Davis said she and her group have all participated in at least one mindfulness-based intervention.

She said some of the group leaders have also taken qigong classes at the Recreation and Wellness Center and plan to include these interventions in their daily routine as part of the study.

“Whenever we feel stressed or anxious about school, relationships or life in general, we use these techniques to alleviate stress,” Davis said.  “I, for example, have used journaling and meditation to reduce my stress.”

Interested students are asked to contact Davis by email at [email protected] or by phone at 330-604-3997.  The research adviser for the study can be also be reached by email at [email protected]  The deadline to sign up and participate in the study is Friday.



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