Life comes with a lot of ups and downs, and sometimes, it’s more than one person can handle alone. Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) understands that there are some students who may not need regular therapy sessions, but still need assistance in dealing with the general stress and anxiety of college life. This realization led to the creation of Breathe, an online program to help students learn healthy ways of dealing with stress. Breathe is divided into four sections: “Introduction to Breathe and Stress Response,” “Test Anxiety,” “Sleeping,” and “I’m Overwhelmed.” Each section contains a video and five to eight audio recordings that students can easily access at any time.
Like many first-years, Zana Rashid had a hard time transitioning to life at Northwestern. Having moved away from her family and friends, she felt homesick and lonely. After a meeting with CAPS, her therapist recommended that Rashid try using Breathe. “I only used [the videos] for about two weeks, but at that time, I used them on a regular basis,” she said. “I stopped using them eventually because I remembered what the recordings said. They really teach you the techniques so you can do it on your own.”
Rashid is now doing much better, but she would recommend Breathe to other students feeling overwhelmed and stressed. “It’s one of the more accessible relaxing techniques,” Rashid noted. “It’s so easy and simple to do, just going from south to north is a long walk, you can easily play the videos on your phone.”
Some students may find different functions of Breathe to be most helpful. Senior Darlin Gonzalez struggled to fall asleep at night, sometimes lying in bed awake for almost 3 hours. Once she started using the “Yoga Nidra for Sleep” video from the “Sleeping” section of Breathe, she saw a significant improvement in her ability to fall asleep. “The recording has really soft music, and she speaks slowly, in a low volume,” Gonzalez noted when explaining how the audio recording helped her learn to let go at night. These days, Gonzalez is usually able to fall asleep within 20 minutes.
There are other options for students looking to de-stress. You can listen to calming music or ambient sound recordings, get some exercise by going on walks and doing yoga, or you can meditate. Of course, if Breathe isn’t working for you and you need more help, you can always schedule an appointment with CAPS by calling 847-491-2151. Learning how to properly handle stress will not only benefit you throughout your journey in college, but it will also be important for the rest of your life.