Love Yo’ Self: Students take time to practice self care during NEDA week

Love Yo’ Self: Students take time to practice self care during NEDA week

Love Yo’ Self: Students take time to practice self care during NEDA week
March 04
14:52 2019

Eating disorders are most likely to develop when individuals are between 18 to 21 years of age, according to a National Eating Disorder Association collegiate survey project.

Many young adults begin college around the age range of 18 to 21, and eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia and binge eating are often triggered by factors like a severe change in routine or added responsibilities. 

The UNT Health and Wellness Center, Counseling and Human Development Center and Pohl Recreation Center hosted a campus-wide Love Yo’ Self week to help students struggling with body image and mental health issues during National Eating Disorder Association Week, which is meant to allocate time for important conversations about the causes of and solutions for eating disorders.

The concept of Love Yo’ Self week began four years ago as a project by the Body Image and Eating Awareness Team, a group of nutritionists and therapists that assist students struggling with eating disorders on campus. The change from the name “Eating Disorder Awareness Week” to “Love Yo’ Self Week” came after year three.

“We came up with the name [Love Yo’ Self] because any mention of eating disorders is stigmatized,” said Steffanie Grossman, Eating Disorders and Body Image Services Specialist at UNT. “Make it something catchy to get them in the door, then provide them support on more serious things that might be happening.”

The organization of outreach programs like Love Yo’ Self are not all fun and games though. Resources from therapy to nutrition advice can help manage anorexia nervosa, which has become the most fatal mental illness in the United States, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

The main focus of this year’s events was for students to “[know] they’re not alone” because “so much shame comes from eating disorders,” Grossman said. 

Love Yo’ Self week kicked off on Saturday, Feb. 23 with a walk for eating disorder awareness around the Denton Downtown Square. The rest of the week was scattered with events where self-care and healthy eating habits were discussed, along with a few free group exercise classes in the Rec Center for students to move their bodies in a healthy way.

One class, scheduled to start along with the sunrise, offered students a chance to start their days off on the right foot – or their left, depending on the flow. Math senior and Pohl Recreation Center yoga instructor Erin Raign prepared her practice especially with Love Yo’ Self week in mind.

“In yoga, you typically set an intention at the beginning of class,” Raign said. “Today, I asked them to think of something that they love about themselves.”

The practice of yoga may help with symptoms of anxiety and depression, which can be contributing or related factors to eating disorders, according to a paper published by the Harvard Medical School.

“Yoga focuses a lot on mindfulness and being aware of your body, which is important if you’re trying to respect your body,” Raign said. “Yoga isn’t about changing, it’s about accepting where you’re at and then meeting yourself there.”

If students were not interested in physical activities, several interactive activities were also available, such as a visit with a therapy dog, a discussion table and a small lesson on personal care and potting plants, called “Self-Care and Succulents.”

Public relations senior and event facilitator Drya Servatyuk, after giving a short lecture on self-care, began passing out supplies to students.

“Every time, there are a lot of students who come,” Servatyuk said. “They love planting succulents and learning about self-care.”

Around 20 students were able to secure a spot in the succulent class, chatting among themselves in the classroom as they scooped moist dirt from red bowls to secure their new plant into their pots.

“Taking care of yourself is really important, especially as a college student,” Servatyuk said. “[Students] take care of everybody but themselves. [They take care of] their exams and their classes, but they forget to take care of themselves.”

International studies junior Miracle Bui stayed behind after most students had left the succulent event. She learned about the event from a friend, she said.

“Today I learned how to take care of a succulent and take care of myself,” Bui said.

Although human beings are a little more complicated to take care of than a succulent, they both need water and nutritious food, which is a good place to start when administering self-care.

The National Eating Disorder Association helpline can be reached at (800) 931-2237.

Featured Image:Math senior and UNT Rec Yoga teacher Erin Raign practices her favorite pose, mermaid, after teaching a class for Love Yo’ Self week Image by: Ryan Halie. 

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Ryan Halie

Ryan Halie

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