Marquette Wire

Mastering Joy program works to de-stress faculty and staff

Maredithe Meyer, Health Reporter

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Faculty and staff tackle high stress in the university’s eight-week Mastering Joy series hosted by the Employee Wellness program.

The free series has been running every Thursday from Oct. 1 to Nov. 19. The program partnered with CORE/ El Centro, a non-profit wellness center, to design the stress relief curriculum.

“One of our top three risk factors (in employees) is stress, so we try to do a lot of programming based around stress,” said Kristin Kipp, director of Employee Wellness.

Kipp mentioned the annual Human Risk Assessment that measures employee health. She said the tests show stress as a reoccurring problem.

The eight Mastering Joy sessions include five talks and three activities. KeleMarie Lyons, lifestyle coach and owner of Pinnacle XL, is speaking at multiple sessions.

Her talks cover the different things that interrupt happiness such as stress, bad habits and self-talk. She helps employees understand those interruptions and gives advice on how to make positive lifestyle changes.

“The class was developed on the premise that what you try to master you get more of,” Lyons said in an email. “That said, if you try to master joy you will have more joy.”

The activities include spiritual yoga, acupuncture, massage and movement.

“Yoga connects the mind, body and spirit,” said Gretchen Baumgardt, who taught a spiritual yoga session last week. “It is a gentle way to de-stress and focus on the breath.”

Baumgardt is a visiting assistant theology professor who specializes in therapeutic yoga and meditation. She worked in Campus Ministry from 2006 to ’11 but now teaches theology and counsels people of all ages through yoga and meditation.

To combat stress, Baumgardt recommends anti-anxiety breaths, or inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth – with the exhalation lasting longer than the inhalation.

“Being able to stay in the present moment helps us remember who you are and where you are,” she said.

Forty faculty and staff members out of 2,700 Marquette employees signed up for the series. Kipp said that enrollment rate is normal for wellness courses like Mastering Joy. She said she would like to see the attendance rate increase and have the program offer more accessible and extensive services with aid from a larger budget.

Kipp said she hopes the attendees will pass along the stress management tools to their friends, families and colleagues.

“Employees have already commented how the program is helping them to be more aware of their bodies and their emotions,” Lyons said. “It is when people become more aware of their current state that they can begin to make a change.”

The upcoming sessions include Mindful Mediations taught by Larry Birkett, associate director of the Marquette Spirit Shop, and Movement taught by Kipp.

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1 Comment

One Response to “Mastering Joy program works to de-stress faculty and staff”

  1. Brian Magrath on October 21st, 2015 5:52 pm

    Just thought I’d mention Preventatism to you, which has been around for 30 years or so, and offers a continual defence against stress, to be used in any situation.

    Preventatists are always willing to share their knowledge.

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