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Women’s Center presents ways to relieve stress

Several women on-campus learned yesterday about driving their own cars, but the discussion wasn’t about wearing seat belts or changing tires – it was about taking the wheel of life and managing personal stress.

Joya D’Cruz, a marriage and family therapist, presented an interactive speech titled ‘Driving Our Own Cars: Managing Stress ‘amp; Dis-Stress in Our Lives,’ during the second ‘Brown Bag Series’ luncheon at the Women’s Center. She was invited by the center to speak on stress in recognition of Women’s Health Month.

‘It’s not my favorite word,’ D’Cruz said, referring to stress. ‘It’s overused. It covers up a lot of more real words ‘hellip; tired, overwhelmed, scared, anxious ‘hellip; it almost diminishes someone’s experience.’

D’Cruz encouraged women to get in touch with themselves so they could better recognize and deal with their stressors and emotions. To do this, she began by asking them to close their eyes, quiet their minds and tell themselves ‘hello.’ She then asked the women to picture setting their stressors on a shelf and making promises to come back to them later.

‘When was the last time you stopped and asked yourself, ‘How am I?” D’Cruz asked.

D’Cruz recommended that the women check in on themselves periodically, as a reminder that they’re still in charge, still sitting in their own driver’s seats.

‘I’m hoping we can learn to have a deeper, better relationship with ourselves,’ D’Cruz said. ‘I don’t have to be driven, even by my own emotions.’

A second meditative activity was led by D’Cruz to make her audience aware of their bodies, including parts they like and dislike, in different situations. She requested that participants close their eyes and picture people they love and trust before picturing others they don’t get along with. At the end of the exercise, they were asked to picture loved ones again.

D’Cruz related the exercise to the existence of opposing parts in everyone’s bodies, speaking about the importance of acceptance of all parts of the self and working so they co-exist.

‘There is a part of you that is really responsible,’ she said, ‘and a part that is not.’

D’Cruz gave the example of a student being conflicted because of having an assignment but wanting to do something fun instead. She said people can learn to check in and bargain with themselves to determine which decisions feel right.’

‘It’s up to us,’ D’Cruz said. ‘We can only be our own best friends.’

Nancy Down, head librarian for the Browne Popular Culture Library, attended the presentation and said she plans to spend more time getting in touch with herself and thinking about her reactions to stressors.’ ‘

‘Whatever happens will happen, whether I worry about it or not,’ Down said.

Mary Krueger, director of the Women’s Center, said she too would like to practice the exercises D’Cruz presented.

‘I really liked [D’Cruz’s] metaphor about driving your own car,’ Krueger said. ‘You can’t necessarily control everything around you ‘hellip; but you’re in charge of how you respond to things around you.’

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