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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

Graduate student tests yoga as stress reducer for anxiety

A graduate student from California is currently performing a research study including Northern students regarding the use of yoga as a treatment of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) in adults.

People who suffer from generalized anxiety disorder worry so excessively that it interferes with their daily lives, which can include studying, said Thomas Stanger, director of Counseling and Consultation Services at NMU. He added that the disorder can affect studying in more than one way, including problems with memory.

“At its most extreme, sometimes people will get nervous on tests, to the point where it’s hard for them to retrieve the knowledge that they have. It can affect memory significantly if it’s bad enough,” Stanger said.

The student performing the GAD treatment study, Heather Dermyer, is fulfilling her clinical practicum requirements for her doctorate degree in psychology at Saybrook Graduate School in San Francisco. Dermyer said she chose to come to Marquette for her study because she had traveled to the Upper Peninsula as a child and liked the area.

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“Because so many people suffer from anxiety, I thought it would be a worthwhile undertaking to explore the effects of the mind-body Yoga-Stretch Program,” Dermyer said.

The study involves 43 participants, including NMU students, and uses yoga as a form of healing intended to diminish symptoms of stress and anxiety, she added.

Dermyer said the participants, all who suffer from GAD, are separated into two groups: one participating in yoga as a means of treatment and the other one abstaining to test the effect yoga has on GAD.

Stephen Smith, assistant professor of mathematics at NMU, said he believes the first thing a student who feels overly stressed should do is visit the counseling center. That way, if he or she needs accommodations such as longer test times or a separate room for test taking, they will be provided for them if necessary.

Smith said he also tries to get students to relax when it comes to taking tests by letting them know that if they have shown understanding about the material in the class, the test should be no different.

“[They’ve] shown me they understand this stuff. [They] just need to be able to show it on the test,” Smith added.

About one-third of students who visit the counseling center suffer from anxiety-based issues, Stanger said. He added some of these students do suffer from this disorder, but the counselors don’t give diagnoses, Stanger said.

Those with GAD may suffer from headaches, stomachaches or insomnia. Having these symptoms could lead to other issues such as lower self-esteem and can lead to depression, Stanger added.

Amber Crothers, a senior secondary education major, said she thinks the best way to deal with stress and anxiety is to work through the problem instead of avoid it.

“I hit the problem head on. Pretty much, if something comes up, you have to deal with it then, because it only gets worse if you don’t,” Crothers said.

When students come into the counseling center dealing with anxiety, Stanger said he likes to teach them how to view things in a different way, and teach them how to relax and be productive.

“Typically, anxiety/worry is people focusing on things that they can’t do anything about,” Stanger said.

If students become aware of the problem and learn how to reduce their stress, often medication isn’t needed. For a short-term solution, medication can be helpful, Stanger said, but not in the long run.

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