Mind, Body & Spirit Wellness during COVID-19 (Guest Blog with Tim Koberna)

Tim Koberna is the Head Athletic Trainer and an Assistant Professor of Kinesiology at Hope College. He is passionate about student resiliency and grit, and approached CAPS about ways to collaborate to support all Hope students–in particular, the approximately 600 student-athletes–during this time. In that spirit, he writes the following to the Hope community in his second of a series of posts.

We continue to see change daily with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in our state, communities and personal lives.  In order to deal with these changes effectively, having a wellness plan for your mind, body and spirit is essential.  Below are 10 tips to help you with continued wellness during these changing times. Each of the following tips can be associated with maintaining a healthy mind, body and spirit.

1.  Find a routine and stick to it

  • Have your day planned and stick to it; eat breakfast, attend classes, and engage in physical activity, social time, reflection time etc.  Consistency is important. If you attended chapel in the past, watch the video posts each Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 10:30 a.m. Even now. If your course lectures are recorded, “attend” class at the time you normally would as much as possible. (Take notes on the things you would have asked in class or sorted out with a classmate in the hallway after class.)

2. Dress for the day you want 

  • Plan your dress for the day.  It is easy to stay in comfy clothes, but if you are remotely attending class, meetings etc., it is still important to dress for success. Your dress will likely still affect each day’s outcomes. Rep your Hope College apparel if that helps you both stay comfortable and get into the college mindset when your environment tells you otherwise. (Order something online from the Bookstore if that helps!)

3.  Move for at least 30 minutes

  • Make it a point to exercise, walk the dog, go for a walk with music (Hope College Concert Series has a Spotify playlist) or a podcast (here’s a good one from Tony Dungy), or work outside in the yard.  Are there any tulips blooming where you live? However you choose, find some time each day to be active whether you do so alone or shared with others (with appropriate social distance, of course). 

4.  Reach out to others

  • Yes, use social media to connect with friends, connect with distant family, mentors, or those who could use a personal lift.  Also, a phone call to check in, say “hello,” or ask if they need anything, can mean a great deal to individuals. Sharing scripture, especially in this Easter season, is also a great way to connect and maintain spiritual health.

5.  Limit media conversations about COVID-19

  • It is important to be informed, but take information and updates in small amounts rather than being consumed with media coverage and the negative opinions of others.  One of the local Grand Rapids news stations has a thorough update at the same time each day–that’s one way we are staying informed!

6.  Notice good in your community

Stop and take notice of what your neighbors, churches, schools, and businesses are doing for the good.  Have gratitude for, and be inspired by their contributions, and feel hopeful for the future.

  • Even in difficult times there is good to be found.  Stop and take notice of what your neighbors, churches, schools, and businesses are doing for the good.  Have gratitude for, and be inspired by their contributions, and feel hopeful for the future. Mr. Rogers encouraged children to “look for the helpers.” For more info about this classic figure in American culture, a Hope alumna has written a book about his life!

7.  Serve

  • If an opportunity presents itself, which you feel is safe, then go ahead, roll up your sleeves, and get involved in helping to make a difference.  This will likely contribute greatly to your own sense of health and well-being.  Not sure where to get started? If you are part of a local church (in Holland or at home) perhaps they can find you a place to serve. If not, check with Volunteer Services at Hope.

8.  Eat well, stay hydrated and sleep

  • Think back to all of the lessons you learned in Health Dynamics: maintain good eating and hydration habits during these stressful times as well.  Avoid unnecessary snacking and choose beverages wisely; if you’re feeling more anxious lately, be mindful of your caffeine intake. Proper nutrition and hydration will serve you better in your academic endeavors and fuel your body for your desired physical activity.  Additionally, proper nutrition and hydration contribute overall to better sleep.  Set goals for water intake, sleep duration, and number of healthy foods you can fit in a day. Hope’s national health survey results historically show that Hope students are better than the national average at eating their veggies!

9.  Find something you can control by being creative

  • Make time for things that you enjoy.  Whether your hobby is exercising, reading, listening to music, or doing puzzles, include it in your daily plan. Block out other distractions and enjoy this time for yourself. These activities are what people mean when they talk about self-care.

10.   Living in isolation while not isolated

  • Live your life one moment at a time knowing that you are not alone.  Remember, we are all in this together, and we will get through this together.  Seek wellness through connections–body, mind, and spirit–as best as you can. Know there are people of Hope who care for you and who are ready to help you move forward to live your best life.  Have HOPE!

#BeStrongBeTrue

#KeepingHOPE

If you would like to connect with someone in CAPS, call our office at 616.395.7945 during our office hours.

Are you following CAPS on social media? We have a Twitter and Instagram account with links, healthy reminders, and other good stuff.

Try “Distant Socializing” vs. Social Distancing: Honor our human nature of connection while physically apart

Review by Bonnie VanderWal, Ph.D., LLP, CAPS Staff Counselor

–Article by Melissa DeWitt:  https://news.stanford.edu/2020/03/19/try-distant-socializing-instead/

This short article (linked above) lists strategies for staying connected, a basic human need, while we stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Stanford psychologist Jamil Zaki suggests changing our language about being together while remaining apart, and ways to combat loneliness by digitally hanging out. He also recommends looking at acts of human kindness and compassion, which are more representative of our human instincts in the face of disaster. He reminds us that choosing to be apart is an incredible act of kindness, something we can all do to protect those most vulnerable.

Special thanks to Dr. Sonja Trent-Brown for pointing out this article in her campus-wide e-mail on April 9!

The Pain of Loss (Guest Blog with Tim Koberna)

Tim Koberna is the Head Athletic Trainer and an Assistant Professor of Kinesiology at Hope College. He is passionate about student resiliency and grit, and approached CAPS about ways to collaborate to support all Hope students–in particular, the approximately 600 student-athletes–during this time. In that spirit, he writes the following to the Hope community in the first of a series of posts.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to grow throughout the United States, all of us in the Hope College community are dealing with loss. In some ways, our losses are unique to our own situations, and in other ways, we share some similar disruptions. The magnitude of loss is certainly different for each of us, but for all of us, the effect of these hardships can never be quantified. 

Here at Hope, our losses range from the halting of sports seasons, to the cancellation of the SEED sports evangelism trips, from the virtual shift of the traditional student and faculty collaborative research symposium, to the postponement of theater and art performances and other academic showcases.

Embrace that for which you grieve; name the loss and the feelings you experience, and by doing so you take back the power to continue.

The experts remind us that it is OK and expected to have a host of emotions because of these disruptions, because we recognize that each person has their own way of dealing with grieving.  When we feel the pain of loss, it is a reminder of what we have loved and lost. The experience of anger, sadness, anxiety and all of their different combinations in grief are evidence that we are longing for and missing the things we love.

There is no “right way” to grieve, but the experts agree that we stay healthiest if we let it occur and unfold over time. There may be a temptation for some of us to never show an emotional response as we experience loss, but with the right support and to the right people in our lives we can move through the loss when we take the opportunity to be appropriately vulnerable. Grief becomes most problematic when we either 1) never allow ourselves to feel and express the emotions that arise from the loss, or 2) become unwilling or unable to continue moving forward in life because of the loss.

If there is no right way to grieve, what might someone see in themselves and others during this time? Dr. Jennifer Carter, a sports psychologist from Ohio State shares the following:

Common emotional reactions to grief:

  • Shock/ denial/ numbness/ a sense of unreality
  • Anxiety and fear, which may relate to insomnia and a feeling on edge
  • Second guessing ourselves (If only I’d…”)
  • Sadness and loss
  • Anger
  • Loneliness
  • Questions about why this happened1

Dr. Carter also has some suggested responses you can try as you navigate the pain of loss:

How do we take care of ourselves in times like this?

  • Practice deep cleansing belly breaths to decrease stress and help sleep
  • Engage in your routine, class, exercise or practice, drawing or coloring, listening to music…etc.
  • Seek support from your friends, teammates and family
  • Try to get regular sleep and nutrition
  • Reach out to a counselor, spiritual advisor, peer, friend, teammate, coach or athletic trainer1
  • also, try some of the skills in CAPS’ Discussions with Dash blog posts

On March 25, President Scogin gave a virtual chapel message based on the text of 1 Thessalonians 4:13 (NRSV) “…so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.”  He encouraged the campus to not grieve without hope, which he called “mourning,” because that would have a lasting, harmful effect on oneself.  Instead, he said to “marinate” your negative emotions in hope.

In this midst of this loss, President Scogin pointed toward where to find this hope by paraphrasing Romans 8:28: “God will work all things together for good in the end.” The Christian faith asserts that all will be worked out in the end with God’s goodness as we keep our hope.  

Hope students and student-athletes, embrace that for which you grieve; name the loss and the feelings you experience, and by doing so you can take back the power to continue. With Hope. #BeStrongBeTrue #KeepingHope

People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, renowned expert on grief 2

If you would like to connect with someone in CAPS, call our office at 616.395.7945 during our office hours.

Are you following CAPS on social media? We have a Twitter and Instagram account with links, healthy reminders, and other good stuff.

Looking to learn more about grief, the grief process, or the pain of loss? You can find more about grief and loss on the CAPS web page by clicking on the Find Resources to Help You Grieve button. Other information about Counseling and Psychological Services can be found at hope.edu/caps.

If you have heard about “stages” of grief, the most famous grief and researchers and writers are Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler. More information about Elisabeth Kubler-Ross is available at ekrfoundation.org. A link to the page for David Kessler can be found at grief.com.

1 Carter, Jennifer, PhD.: The Ohio State University Scarlet and Grit Blog, Dec. 2014 https://u.osu.edu/sportpsychology/2014/12/

2 Elisabeth Kubler-Ross Foundation: https://www.ekrfoundation.org/elisabeth-kubler-ross/quotes/

DISCUSSIONS WITH DASH (Coping Skills during COVID-19 Response)

KJ Boyd, staff counselor in Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), shares a TIPP for remembering four skills to regulate yourself in times when you are feeling overwhelmed. Dash is her canine co-worker and scene stealer.

How Busy Is Too Busy?

A recap of September’s An Honest Conversation about doing too much.

How important is a double (or triple) major? What is a healthy level of involvement on campus? How much do I need to have on my resume for employers or grad schools to select me? How does all of this busyness affect my soul? In the most recent installment of their monthly series An Honest Conversation, CAPS brought together a panel of Hope staff members to address these and other student questions.

Alyssa Boss from Academic Advising and the Office of the Registrar noted that Hope students were very actively involved in high school–often participating in athletics, honors courses, and volunteerism. Just as they worked hard in high school to have a strong college application, they bring the same expectations to their college experience in order to have the most compelling resume or graduate school application.  She asserted that what actually matters most to employers is your Hope College degree and evidence that you are applying what you have learned.

Think about the quality of your experiences rather than the quantity.

Shonn Colbrunn, the executive director of the Boerigter Center for Calling and Career brought both his current role and his past experiences in human resources to bear when he added that what employers are looking for on a resume are 1) an internship, hands-on experience, or a field placement that is related to your career interest, and 2) community service, leadership role(s) and/or varsity athletics to demonstrate commitment and balance.

Hoping two or more majors will help you stand out?  Alyssa recommends that when you have an interest in two disciplines that work well together (e.g., business administration and communication) you might consider that path, but otherwise it may be less important than you think. 

Ellen Awad, Director of Student Life, gave this advice:  be a student first and make academics the priority.  Since research supports that students who are involved on campus (e.g., organizations, employment, internship) have more positive academic outcomes, you are the best to assess and determine what you want your involvement to be.  Ask yourself, “Does this activity contribute to your life in a positive way?  Does it cultivate community and sense of belonging, satisfaction, and joy?” If opportunities arise when you and your friends both want the same leadership roles?  Ellen suggests finding a way to still be a good friend. An additional thought from Ellen would be that it is both OK and recommended to re-evaluate your involvement yearly. 

What is it that is nurturing my soul, and what is robbing my soul?

Jennifer Ryden, Chaplain

Jennifer Ryden, Chaplain of Discipleship from Campus Ministries, highlighted the Psalms to remind students that busyness can be an enemy to the soul. Habits can take the place of things that provide flourishing in our lives.  Even if we determine that we do not want to be too busy, we find that our calendars are already full with “good things.”  Jennifer likes to re-calibrate students struggling with busyness by asking, “How are you doing as a disciple of Christ?”  Jennifer recommended soul-care or self-care for students’ continued growth.

CAPS Clinical Director, Bill Russner responds to a student question at An Honest Conversation in September.

Bill Russner, Clinical Director for CAPS, added that mindfulness is a way to address busyness.  In a mindful approach, people learn to be fully present and experience what is going on in and around them.  Mindfulness helps us choose intentionally without additional guilt or pressure, and has physical and mental health benefits.

Stepping down gracefully

Our panel members were not the only contributors to the event.  A student in the audience asked how students can “step down eloquently” once they have over-committed.  Hope staff encouraged honesty and face-to-face encounters to communicate that one has re-evaluated “and for me at this point in my life, this is not what is best for me.”

Many thanks to Ellen Awad, Alyssa Boss, Shonn Colbrunn, and Jennifer Ryden for their time and expertise.  Additional thanks to Char Houben, MA, LPC and WMU Doctoral Student, for taking notes during the panel.

September’s event was the first of three monthly An Honest Conversation events this fall.  Join us Wednesday, October 23 for Mental Health FAQ, and Tuesday, November 19 for Sleep at 7:00 p.m. in the Bultman Student Center’s Schaap Auditorium.

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Our new blog!

We at CAPS are excited to regularly share quality resources and highlight our campus-wide programs in this space. Please also follow us on Twitter (@hopecollegecaps) and Instagram (hopecollegecaps) for more frequent communications!

Watch for our next post very soon that recaps our September panel discussion, An Honest Conversation: How Busy Is Too Busy?

As always, call our office (616.395.7945) or stop in during business hours to schedule an appointment.