Body Standards, Stress and Operation Beautiful

By Samantha Armstrong

Feelings of stress and anxiety are a part of the college experience for most students. Mental health officials say some levels of stress can be beneficial, as the right kind of stress can encourage change and growth.

However, when stress and anxiety exist for an extended period of time, they can become a burden or a health risk.

According to the 2015 National College Health Assessment, 30% of students reported that stress had negatively affected their academic performance within the past year and over 85% had felt overwhelmed by everything they had to do at some point within the past year.

Alexis McAndrew, clinical mental health and addiction counseling master’s student, said the responsibilities that stress her out usually revolve solely around school. For instance, deadlines, papers, transitioning into a professional role and remaining professional in school and academic life add unneeded stress.

McAndrew recommends practicing self-care as a way to combat stress, a concept Clinical Mental Health and Addiction Counseling students are taught in the program.

“You are physically required to set aside time to focus on yourself,” McAndrew said.

Self-care can involve anything that specific person enjoys — reading a book, exercising, eating healthy, hanging out with friends or seeing your family, to name a few.

The idea is you cannot pour from an empty cup, so caring for oneself is a necessary step before that person is able help or care for others, McAndrew said.

Just this past weekend, McAndrew went to a camp for high school students. One of the activities the students did was to write an insecurity he or she had about his or her body and stick it to a wall. The fellow students would then go around and write a positive expression to counteract the negative thought written on the wall.

She said the activity showed the students how a lot of the times, others see what we perceive as our weaknesses as our strengths.

The writing activity is similar to the post-it note project Youngstown State University students have been practicing in the Andrews Student Recreation and Wellness Center’s locker rooms.

Mia Battaglia, sophomore biology major who frequents the rec center, said that she recently noticed a few kindly worded post-it notes on the mirrors in the women’s locker room.

“The post-it notes said things like ‘You are beautiful just as you are,’” Battaglia said. “It’s nice seeing women build each other up.”

The post-it note movement, known as Operation Beautiful, helps promote body positivity.

The goal of the movement is to end negative self-talk or “Fat Talk” by leaving anonymous positive notes in public places for people to find.

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