Forget all the stress and treat yourself to rest and relaxation

Phil Schurrer and Phil Schurrer

A 2003 study by Kansas State University indicated the number of college students seeking counseling for depression, doubled over a 13-year period. During that same period, the number of students reporting suicidal thoughts tripled.

And that was before the Great Recession, or whatever we call our current economic situation.

From personal experience, I know students whose problems extend far beyond course content or grades will visit me every semester. Sometimes, I advise them to contact the Counseling Center. In many cases, the students need someone to talk to, and I feel the best thing for me to contribute is just to remain silent, and listen.

There’s always a certain amount of mental pain and anguish present in the University community, as we head down the home stretch toward final exams. For those engaged in graduation and job-hunting the tension level increases.

To further add to the stress, the holidays are right around the corner. For many, they bring the chance to return home, visit relatives and reconnect with loved ones. For some, however, loneliness and depression often accompany the annual holiday ritual.

We’re all aware of the need to care for our bodies: exercise, eating and drinking properly and getting enough rest. The primary reason for being at a university is the cultivation of our minds. We stretch and expand them and our horizons, and we take in new information. Hopefully, it will result in both gainful employment and a more healthy and holistic view of life.

But there’s another part of our existence that needs attention. Call it the soul or the spirit; it’s also a part of our existence as human beings. We tend to be aware of it in moments of solitude or quiet – when we lose a loved one or when we ask ourselves where we’re ultimately headed or what the true purpose of life is.

Just as it’s important to get adequate nutrition and rest for our bodies and minds, it is also essential for our spirit to be rejuvenated, especially at a time of year in our lives during which stress levels tend to ramp up.

For a number of people, a place to sit and rest and recollect – recharge their batteries – would be welcome. In addition, many would welcome the chance to be in some sort of spiritual environment to ‘catch their breath’ – a sort of ‘rest stop’ on life’s road.

There are tried and true ways to help ourselves: regular exercise, such as walking; keeping a journal of the events and their affect; or conversations with a close, trusted friend or counselor.

Other external options are also available in the spiritual arena close to the holidays. For 25 years, St. Thomas Moore University parish has offered a ‘Ballroom Mass,’ so named because it took place in the Student Union Ballroom. This year, the tradition is renewed on Sunday, December 6 in 101 Olscamp Hall (the Union ballroom is unavailable; the floor is being refurbished). Mass begins at 8 p.m. and doors open at 7:30 p.m. for seating and music.

Normally, the Mass is held later in the month but because of exams, the onset of Advent (a Christian season of waiting, preparation and renewal) and a desire to make it easier for more people to participate, the St. Thomas Moore parish staff decided to move it closer to the beginning of December.

All members of the University community are welcome. For those who are Catholic, it will be a chance to receive Communion. For those of other faith traditions, a special blessing will be offered. For all, this is an opportunity to stop and rest awhile.

No obligation or commitment is expected; it’s a service offered for the benefit of the University community. It’s a chance for St. Thomas Moore Parish to be of service to the University community, which is what they are ultimately all about. It’s also a chance to take an exit ramp to a spiritual rest stop, if only for an hour or so.

The freeway of life isn’t always free. The costs can be physical, mental or spiritual; the wear and tear can be great. A little ‘R and R’ is always in order – and always welcome.

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