Connecticut College Magazine · Fall 2009


Physicist Mohamed Diagne ´97 follows in the footsteps of retiring Professor Arlan Mantz. Photo by Ron Cowie

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Ask a Camel
Jennifer Schelter ´88, founder of Yoga Unites.

What steps can I take to reduce my stress level?

Jennifer Schelter ´88, a yoga and meditation instructor and life coach, has the answer.

By Joanna Gillia ´07

In just 15 years Jennifer Schelter ´88 has worked at a graphic design studio, as a fine artist, water-colorist and house painter, and as a professional actress; and she took a trek of self-discovery across Asia, making stops in Nepal, Bali, Sulawasi and Thailand. Today all of these experiences figure prominently in her work as a yoga and meditation instructor and life coach at her own studio, Yoga Schelter, in Philadelphia and as founder of Yoga Unites, a nonprofit that brings yoga to those who do not have access.

Because of her profession and her diverse experiences, Schelter understands a thing or two about how stress works. Drawing on her various insights Schelter offered this list of five stress-reducing strategies that could help you get through the most nail-biting moments in your daily life, while improving your overall physical and mental wellness.

1. Communicate: Some people cut communication when they are stressed. Communication with your loved ones or a trusted professional can help ease the anxiety and depression caused by stress, while also framing your situation in a more positive light.

2. Keep a journal and try stream-of-consciousness writing: I am an advocate of putting down on paper whatever comes to your mind at the time. It´s a great way to purge your negative emotions and get to the root of what´s causing your stress.

3. Remind yourself to live one day at a time: I know this sounds like it´s straight out of a 12-step program, but it´s true. I try to remind myself to not get ahead of myself, and live for today.

4. Become ´present to the cost,´ and take time for yourself: This involves realizing what the long-term costs of stress are and then taking an honest look at how you live your life. Studies have shown that stress can reduce your life span. So next time you are stressed, ask yourself, ´What do I want to be doing when I am 60, 90, 104?´ and, ´Is my lifestyle now conducive to achieving these goals?´ I also encourage students to examine what their mind-body and spirit really need and to create a daily/weekly retreat around those needs.

5. Find a yoga teacher: Try practicing any one of the numerous styles of yoga, meditation and mindfulness with a teacher who makes you laugh as well as challenges you to grow.

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