Energizing for Stress Awareness Month

The importance of physical and mental health working together

Rebecca Barkley works out at the Student Recreation Center for a healthy body and a clear mind. Photo by: Marissa Russell | Lifestyles Editor

April is recognized as National Stress Awareness Month, and students must find ways to stay collected and motivated as the semester draws to a close.

Ian Lawson, leadership development leader of Career and Professional Success, created an event called “Energize!” which is an exercise that encourages you to take frequent breaks to keep the flow of ideas going. The event is supposed to help keep energy up, offering tips on the use of snacks, water and physical activity to help achieve this objective.  

“Where we’re talking about energizing, this [event] is more like inspiring or keeping the flame alive,” Lawson said. “Because if you’re a leader, and you have a team, you have to be able to keep things rolling. You can’t have people getting down.” 

No one has shown up to the recurring event, but Lawson comes every time and waits just in case. He wants to be able to teach the participants how to be that “driving force” in the workplace.  

The point of this event is to maintain energy and motivation in order to be a positive presence in places that feel draining. 

“[Energize] was a workshop that was designed to keep up the motivation and to keep the ball rolling. It wasn’t about celebrations, but it was about recognizing others and being able to kind of show up and put your best foot forward,” Lawson said. 

There are many ways to stay motivated, and this event discusses one that many students’ use as an outlet to staying healthy physically and mentally. Freshman Alison Reinig is a Student Recreation Center fitness coach who started working out to build her confidence and cope with her emotions. 

Reinig feels that working out is the only way to get her through a long day. Afterwards, she feels energized and motivated to finish her homework and other responsibilites. Reinig started training others because she wants to help them achieve their goals and feel as good as she does. 

“If other students are struggling, I want to help them and be able to encourage them, keep them motivated to keep going,” Reinig said. “I know a lot of people struggle with confidence. And I’ve been the most confident I’ve ever been now and that’s through working out and being hard on myself to get to the point where I’m at. I know you can do it as long as you put the time in, and I want to help others achieve their goals.” 

It’s always important to have something other than school to do, and for Reinig and a lot of other people it’s working out. The Energize event gave tips on what snacks to eat and the amount of water intake needed to have a healthy, energetic relationship with exercising. 

These tips are important while exercising and working on assignments because they help you stay focused, motivated and energized. Having a full stomach and taking breaks while working is beneficial. To Reinig, without following these tips, getting her work done would be impossible. 

“Taking little breaks here and there helps you to concentrate when you are working. If you just go consistently the entire time, you’re going to have mess-ups,” Reinig said. “But if you take the time and then go back to it, then the probability of you doing better is greater.” 

Reinig believes that physical and mental health work together. If one isn’t doing so well, the other is going to start declining. Some of the people she has trained have never been into working out before and she says that now that they are physically active, they are feeling better mentally and that they feel like their life has changed since. 

“If you’re just sitting around doing nothing all day and eating unhealthy food, your physical health is going to go down. And if your physical health goes down your mental health follows it. Once you get both of those on track, you’re more likely to succeed,” Reinig said. 

Diagnostic Medical Sonography sophomore Alexis Bauman is one of Reinig trainees. Before this semester, she would work out occasionally, but never fully got into it until she started working out with a fitness coach.  

She said that after she learned to properly work out and be comfortable in the gym, it became more enjoyable. Working out makes her feel confident, energized, and motivated.  

“I’ve seen a huge impact, I feel better emotionally, and school has been a lot easier for me. I’m not dreading homework as much as I was before,” Bauman said. “And physically, I can do more things. I never felt any motivation to [walk to class] and now I don’t like to drive anywhere.” 

Exercising has been told by many that it helps your mental health. Everyone Bauman knew that worked out would tell her about the vast improvement in her physical and mental wellbeing she would feel if she exercised, but she never believed them until she tried it herself. 

Bauman explains that it makes her feel less stressed out about her agenda, making her feel more prompt to get things done. To her, everything felt like such a big task, and it was hard for her to complete simple things. That changed tremendously since she started working out. It has helped her manage stress and anxiety, too.  

“I think it’s more of a mental thing. I don’t feel as trapped in my mind, which makes me more motivated than I normally would be. And I think clearing my mind is a big thing for my motivation,” Bauman said.