Last week the University of Wisconsin hosted its first Mental Health & Wellbeing Summit. During Friday’s session, faculty member at the Center for Healthy Minds John Dunne, led an explorative virtual workshop on stress and mindfulness.

When we’re too caught up in a useless train of thoughts, that is not really helping us to deal with whatever challenges we’re facing,” Dunne said. “We can actually think ourselves into stress.”

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According to Dunne, when people respond to constant hypothetical challenges, they often suffer from chronic stress. He used the lockdown at the early stage of the COVID-19 pandemic as an example illustrating how people focus on future challenges. 

Mindfulness meditation can help mediate this stressful thinking as it allows us to let go of negative thoughts by.

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Grounded in Buddhism and combined with practices from other contemplative traditions, mindfulness meditation has secularized and become a modern practice across the globe. It is used in many clinics to deal with depression and anxiety.

Dunne said there are resources available on campus for students who wish to engage in mindfulness practices.

The Center for Healthy Minds has developed a smartphone app called the Healthy Minds Program App, which includes several mindfulness practices. It is free and available on the Google Play Store and the App Store.

UW Health also provides Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction classes.

Dunne will also be running a summer class called the Art and Science of Human Flourishing, which is a combination of concepts and mindfulness skills for a deeper understanding of the human mind and mindfulness.

The two-day summit featured a series of workshops as wells as guided meditation and yoga practices. During the summit, UW encouraged students to set up a mental health plan and integrate it into their daily routine.