Beating the Winter Blues: a Review on Embracing The Holiday Season, Hosted by Governors State University’s Counseling and Wellness Center

Gaston Beltran, Phoenix Staff writer

“Beat the Winter Blues” was the theme of the meeting hosted by GSU’s Counseling and Wellness center, which met on December 4th last Friday. Just before the start of the meeting we got to play a game called diversity bingo. It’s a game very similar to bingo only the spaces were filled with nice conversation starters ranging from multiple topics including are you a member of a fraternity? Have you ever traveled to another country? Are you a vegetarian? Have you ever lived on a farm? All questions meant to stimulate interaction and familiarity with new peers and others to engage socially, even as we connect digitally. I’ve never played it before, but I love games! Especially ones where I get to know someone better. Zaira lists some apps for people who want to stay connected digitally with their friends and families. She talks about a new feature Facebook is introducing through their Messenger application- Screen sharing! Which is now accessible and with that you can share what you’re looking at with friends and family. Interestingly, some users may find this is somewhat similar to Zoom’s screen sharing technology. What’s a new and interesting feature is the offer of premium prices to increase screen-sharing capabilities and engage in longer lasting, virtual meetings.

Erica Washington-Miyakuni brings up a thought-provoking conversation: mindfulness eating. She says that mindfulness eating can help lower anxiety and depressive moods. Being anxious distracts you from being present, its why we procrastinate sometimes. And that dissociative tendencies may not always be from trauma. One example of this could be a drive to work that you didn’t remember, which is a dissociative quality of distraction.

Erica then leads a short session on breathing exercises with food. She asks the group about how we are feeling when it comes to being hungry then becoming satisfied. Are we trying to eat very fast? What comes to mind when we feel the textures of that particular food? The main point: To pay more attention to what we’re eating and putting into our bodies. Erica then talks about something called eating meditations. Eating meditations are supposed to get people to think more about the appreciation of the food. She says knowing and having an appreciation of the plants themselves, the workers who cultivate all its goods, and feeling and tasting the food in this way gets people to engage in a deeper and philosophical sense of higher appreciation for eating that food.

After taking some time to practice eating meditations, Erica introduces a difficult yet honest subject about some people who must prepare for the upcoming holidays, especially as it focuses on personal loss and death. She says, “Remember you’re not alone”. And to set realistic expectations for anniversary deaths and first times without those significant others- it could be possible to plan personally celebrated activities for the day- and one very important aspect to remember is that one MUST NOT AVOID the feelings that are present. “There’s going to be a new normal for you, and that’s okay”. Zaira adds that it is important to understand how to work through that time to process understanding personal loss(es). You can decide if you want to do something special in remembrance, and it’s okay if you don’t want to. But the most important part to remember is that it’s okay to not be okay, and no matter how you feel, you do not have to deal with it alone.

Below is a link you can follow to make an appointment with the Counseling and Wellness Center if you feel you want someone to listen to you or talk with by phone. and their office phone number is 708-235-7334.

*PLEASE NOTE*: in preparation for GSU’s end of semester Winter Break, the Counseling and Wellness Center will be taking phone consultations up until and ending on their last day of the semester, Friday December 18th.

Be sure to check in with and care for your loved ones Jaguars, I know that they’ll be happy to hear from you.   <3