Breathe: Stress reduction goal of mindfulness initiative
Starting today, Mindy Yale wants you to breathe. She also recommends taking time for yourself, meditation, yoga and coloring.
It’s all part of the Month of Mindfulness, a College-wide stress-reduction initiative developed by Yale, a Palm Beach State College instructor for the Massage Therapy program. The month runs through Nov. 18 and features a full schedule of activities, events and classes on all campuses—all designed to promote mental and physical relaxation. As Yale says in her materials:
Mindfulness is the practice of being aware and fully focused in the moment, observing without judgment. It can be practiced anywhere, at any time, by anyone.
A Stewart award winner who has taught at PBSC for 11 years, Yale participated in the 2015-16 Emerging Leaders Program, which culminated in an individual assignment to tackle a College-wide concern. Yale created the Month of Mindfulness as part of her “ReMINDer Project,” which cited studies on the ill effects of academic stress and the extensive research on the health benefits of mindfulness-based stress reduction.
“Everybody at the College experiences stress—students, faculty and staff,” said Yale. “We all have a tremendous workload and struggle on that treadmill of ‘I don’t have time for myself.’ I thought if we could create something that would be reminding people all the time to take a moment for themselves, it actually would increase productivity, increase creative problem-solving, and increase the sense of joy around our campuses.”
The cornerstone of the month is the 30-Day Mindfulness Challenge. Yale hopes everyone will make an agreement with themselves that for the next 30 days they will make themselves a priority and take the time to meditate or otherwise pause, breathe, relax and be in the present moment. In addition to the suggestions in Yale’s guide, she encourages all to take advantage of the various activities, including Meditation Mondays, walking meditations, mindful eating, zone-in-zone meditation spaces, coloring stations, yoga classes and more.
“I felt that I couldn’t just give people a bunch of handouts and say ‘OK, now go reduce your stress,’” Yale added. “There has to be support in the environment and visible reminders saying ‘it’s alright, come in here and take a power nap for 20 minutes, go sit and breathe for five minutes or why don’t you color for a few minutes and get centered and realize that so much of what we’re worrying about, we have no control over—it’s in the future and just being present is a way of regrouping.”
Yale hopes the Month of Mindfulness will be a springboard to a long-term commitment to reducing stress levels at PBSC. As detailed in her ReMINDer Project paper, many colleges and universities around the country have mindfulness programs, including the University of Miami, Florida International University and Florida Atlantic University, as well as other Florida colleges like Santa Fe College. “This is phase one of the project, and I’m hoping it gets the ball rolling,” she said.