Psychology student builds on ‘self-care’ curriculum to start new student group
Going back to school as an adult can be a lonely journey, even if you are taking classes on campus. A nontraditional university like Brandman doesn’t have the kind of student groups found at other universities. There are no sports teams, no yearbook staffs, no performing arts groups.
It’s not that there isn’t a potential for campus life and student bonding. Just ask Brandman psychology student Angela Wright.
She was juggling graduate level classes at the Palm Desert campus, a large family (children in college, high school, middle school, grade school and preschool) and volunteering. It didn’t leave much time for anything else, or at least so she thought. Then she took adjunct faculty member and licensed psychotherapist Gail Bardin’s class, “Community Mental Health.”
“Gail Bardin taught me that self-care is so, so important. That helping others can sometimes take from who we are and that we cannot forget the importance of why we are here and who we are,” said Wright.
The idea grew out of a class assignment. Bardin wanted her students to choose a tragedy (Wright chose Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans) and then examine how that might affect therapists called in to work with victims. “She wanted to know how we would care for ourselves.”
“Self-care is a vital aspect of keeping a healthy balance in one’s life. Our busy lives, that often involve time-management challenges and other stressors, can certainly take a toll,” said Bardin. “Physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual, and workplace self-care are all quite beneficial. Engaging in self-care activities on a regular basis not only helps maintain a healthy lifestyle but also ensures that we continue to acknowledge the need for both release and replenishment.”
That idea of self-care stayed with Wright after the class was over – so much so that she started to look for ways to take better care of herself. She looked around at some of her current and former classmates and realized they had similar goals: lose some weight, work out regularly, eat healthier meals. She wondered if there was a way they could support each other even as they were focusing on self-care.
She thought about creating a Facebook page but not everyone she knew used social media. She talked it over her friend Yvette Gastelum and wondered about a name for the group. “Bold and beautiful,” replied Gastelum. They decided a group text message was the way to go.
Wright added names to the Bold and Beautiful list and sent out a message explaining her ideas about self-care and adding, “I hope everyone had a great weekend. I know not everyone knows each other. Take some time to share and send a picture. Don’t feel judged if you want to leave the group.”
That was in August. The group of about 10 women continues to text regularly, switching recently to WhatsApp. They sometimes exchange hundreds of messages a day, sharing ideas about healthy meals, talking about their workouts and even offering tips on dealing the APA format needed for writing papers in Brandman psychology classes.
The group also meets in person. Not all of them are Brandman students and as Wright put it, they’re all at different stages of life. That just makes the group more empowering.
“It’s so amazing to have those people in my life now. As a mom, you just don’t have friends like that. I felt alone before this group,” said Wright. “I didn’t know it was going to be this rewarding.”
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