Friday, June 12, 2020
Alexa Glatfelter '20
By Anna Seip and Molly McKim ’23
During J-term, applied health science major Alexa Glatfelter ’20 completed her senior honors project by creating a wellness program called Thrive to show the connection between mind, body and soul health.
“They’re all intertwined,” she said of the three components, “and if one of them is lacking then others will be lacking, too. It’s an attempt to help other people see that integration of mind, body and soul and working on it simultaneously in a group exercise class.”
With the help of a youth ministry minor and some psychology classes she took during the course of her college career, she noticed how the various disciplines overlapped and complemented her major.
“Getting that education has helped me just move forward with the idea that you can use counseling and exercise together,” she said.
The Thrive classes, made of 18-19 participants that included students and faculty, were held Mondays and Wednesdays for 45 minutes each throughout J-term for three weeks.
“We looked at body weight exercises--medicine balls or resistance bands--and then doing some cardio,” she explained. “Then the mindfulness component would be breathing exercises, reflecting on scripture, prayer, journaling, reflecting and imagery.”
Connecting mind-body-spirit outside the class was an equally important component.
“Going throughout their day just realizing that everything you do is an integration of all of those things. Like sitting in class, are you aware of how mind-body-soul are working to understand things?” she asked. “I just wanted to make an impact of making people aware of who they are and kind of just living that out.”
She says her advisor Senior Lecturer of Applied Health Science and Director of Student Wellness Mindy Smith walked her through every step of planning, executing and evaluating Thrive. “She just really encouraged me, telling me that I was able to do it and believing in me. That had the greatest impact.”
What’s next for Glatfelter? She’s hoping to launch Thrive as her own wellness company, traveling to churches and organizations offering the same program she piloted at Messiah. Thrive. Ultimately, she says she’d like to develop the curriculum to a point where she can sell it to churches, organizations, other colleges and businesses to use in their communities.
“I’m humbled as a leader and realize I mess up every day, and realizing that’s part of being a human. Being a leader, you don’t have to be perfect.”
Tips for anxiety during the pandemic
Applied health science major Alexa Glatfelter ’20 offers some tips to help with anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic. She cautions, “Each of these will work differently, depending on who you are and what situation you’re in. Try out some to see how they could be beneficial to you.”
1. Grounding: When feeling anxious, focus your attention to find 5 things you can see, 4 things you can feel, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste. Do this slowly and intentionally. Remind yourself there are a lot of things around you that are okay. You are okay.
2. Breathing: Inhale 8 slow counts. Hold 4 four counts. Exhale 8 slow counts. Repeat 5 or more times, or for 2 or more minutes.
3. Reflection journaling: Write down 5 things you are grateful for, 3 things you are currently feeling and 1 thing you can do this day that will make you feel good.
4. Imagery: Close your eyes. What is around you? Pay close attention to different details. How is your heart—beating slow or fast? How are your thoughts—racing or controlled? How are your muscles—tense or relaxed? Take 3 deep breaths, slowly. Continue, with your eyes closed, to picture your current state. Now, imagine God entering this state, this current situation. What does He do? Where is He—close or far? What is He saying? How does He approach this situation and you within it?
5. Muscle relaxation: Start sitting down in a comfortable position. From the head down, relax your muscles--neck, shoulders, arms, hands, back, abdominals, hips, glutei, legs, feet. Allow your body to melt into the ground, breathing slowly, ending in a lying prone position.
6. Prayer: Talk to God about what you are feeling. Write down every thought you have for five minutes.. Read Psalm 23, Matthew 6:25-34, Isaiah 41:10-13 and Philippians 4:6-7.