By Andrew Miller
Marc Celentana, director of Counseling and Psychological services, spoke about how self-esteem and the need to be above average brings stress to students.
“Conscious self-care will pay out in dividends over a college career,” Celentana said at the forum, where the College’s resident experts on mental health discussed how students can cope with the various external pressures they face.
He offered information about on-campus counseling services, noting that students often find great relief in peer groups. Celentana also advocated for the daily use of self-compassion, or the treating of oneself with compassion and fortitude of spirit.
Classical studies coordinator Holly Haynes approached the panel’s topic from a different angle. She elaborated on why self-criticism is harmful and how trying too hard has adverse physiological effects.
“It was very ineffectual to be a real perfectionist,” Haynes said, referring to how she had, at a certain point in her life, been a perfectionist.
She argued instead that people ought to focus a large part of their energy every day to respond to that self-criticism in a positive light. Yet, she lamented the futility of hard-fought spirituality.
“We feel that the stronger we drive ourselves, the better we will be,” Haynes said. “My number one takeaway message would be to try less.”
Lisa Kayton, the College’s Episcopal chaplain, also spoke about her belief in “compassion as the underlying core of all religious traditions.” With her years of spiritual counseling in mind, Kayton encouraged the audience to participate in some form of mindfulness meditation every day.
Compassion, according to Kayton, is about the “golden rule,” meaning people should treat each other the way they themselves would like to be treated.
“If you’re in touch with your own feelings, you will be more sensitive to the feelings of others,” Kayton said. “Your initial hesitation, don’t let that hold you up.”
Students in the audience quickly began to take this message to heart.
“I thought it was absolutely great,” senior communication studies major Eddie Bannister-Holmes said of the forum.
Bannister-Holmes relayed a message that seemed to stick in the minds of many crowd members that evening: “How can I reach out and give this message to those who aren’t present?”
The message was clear. Self-compassion is the supreme path to healing and coping with the many stresses that college life will dish out.