Faculty-led Group Helps Students Deal With Stress

January 18, 2017

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With the stress of balancing classes, clinical rotations and studying for both, students can get overwhelmed by it all and overlook taking time to take care of themselves. In an accelerated program, that stress can build up pretty quickly.
That’s why Dr. JoAnn Conroy, a clinical assistant professor, started Stich n’ Sitch a few years ago — to help students practice self-care and ease some of the stress of progressing through the Accelerated BSN Program by meeting each week. The name comes from when students would ask Dr. Conroy to teach them to knit as a hobby to reduce stress.
“The idea of a mindfulness group really appealed to me as I knew I was starting a very stressful program,” said Georgiann Heinly, a student in Cohort 10, who graduated in December.
“The initial intent of this group was to provide a quiet and peaceful respite from the demands of the program, and a place to slow down and be mindful,” Dr. Conroy said. “I find that slow stitching helps me slow down and focus. I also notice that it helps me listen more closely and retain more, and there is research that backs that up.”
Research into the benefits of mindfulness-based stress reduction and self-care support the goals of Stitch n’ Sitch. A study on Korean nursing students found that mindfulness activities were effective “in reducing measures of depression, anxiety and stress.” With students who balance class, studying, clinical rotations and all the demands of day-to-day life, a group dedicated to decompressing and reducing stress can be a big help.
“I know it sounds dramatic to say a group like Stitch n' Stitch helped me graduate nursing school, but it was more about the support and how the group allowed me to take a step back and refocus every week,” Heinly said. “It got me through the program.”
The group is unique in that it gives students from different cohorts a place to share their experiences in the program. Dr. Conroy said it was common for students in older cohorts to offer advice and recommendations to students in newer cohorts.
“One of the best things about the group is the multi-cohort involvement. I was able to get advice from other cohorts on classes I was currently taking or about the future in the program,” Heinly said. “I was then eager to meet new cohort members and be a mentor to them as others were to me.”
As a new cohort begins their time here, must remember to practice self-care. Stitch n’ Sitch will continue, less a few Cohort 10 students who graduated in December, with the goal of helping students in the new cohort navigate the accelerated program through mindfulness-based activities and maybe some snacks along the way.
“The one rule we have is that you have to bring something to do,” Dr. Conroy said. “And oftentimes someone will bring a home-baked treat to share with the group.”