A Mindfulness Exercise with a Re-Purpose 

Abby Peterman, Staff Reporter

On October 13 at noon, there was a gathering in the Honors Lounge organized by the CSC, the Creative Sustainability Council, and the DBSA, the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. At this re-purposing event, the CSC and DBSA joined together to make plarn out of used plastic shopping bags while using the activity as a mindfulness exercise. This meditative activity helped participants become more focused and attentive while giving everyone a sense of community. Plarning helped improve participants’ mental state while assisting the CSC in the process of making sleeping mats for people experiencing homelessness. 

Two leaders from the DBSA were there, Andrea Pammer, the Director of Counseling Services, and Brennah Staunton, a student facilitator and peer. Pammer said that the “DBSA provides hope, help, support, and education to improve the lives of people who have mood disorders.” This group is not professionally run and is instead all about peers who help each other. When the meeting started, individuals brought up the topic of stress. In response, Pammer said she likes to remind herself that “stress is temporary.” As everyone heads into the end of the semester and finals, take a step back and remind yourself and others that all of the stress you are facing is only temporary. 

The DBSA used plarn making as a “doing one thing at a time” mindfulness exercise. Pammer encouraged everyone to start paying attention to their senses and only focus on what they were doing. She also talked participants through questions to ask themselves, such as, what muscles are you using in your hands as you make or crochet the plarn, and what do you hear? Everyone stopped talking and listened to the rustling of the plastic bags and paid attention to the motions they were making with their hands. It was a tremendously helpful destressing exercise. 

At one point during the meeting, everyone went around in a circle to talk about their coping mechanisms. Participants talked about exercising, spending time outdoors, looking forward to exciting events in the future, journaling, and spending time with pets. Dr. Harvey, a faculty member helping run the CSC, talked about how much she enjoys the “fuzz therapy” she gets from her pets. 

Brennah Staunton led everyone in one last exercise to close the meeting. Every participant took a turn saying what they would take away. Some said they would take away the reminder of working toward better time management. One participant said that she would take the time to be more “Aware of [her] surroundings,” and Pammer said that an important reminder to take away was to “Remain flexible at all times with your emotions.” 

The fifty-minute meeting flew by, and participants were sad to leave so soon. Andrea Pammer said that “The combination of a DBSA meeting and plarn making was a unique experience. Combining a simple activity that serves an altruistic purpose while discussing positive ways to work with difficult mood states created a particularly open atmosphere. We hope to repeat this often.”  

If you would like to attend a DBSA meeting, the group meets from 12:00 to 12:50 PM every other Thursday in Turley Center 316. To learn more about the DBSA, please visit their website and feel free to email Andrea Pammer with any questions! When the semester gets stressful, don’t forget to take the time to take care of yourself and your mental well-being.