Students can find a safe space at Be Calm

Saida Hassan, Opinions Editor

San Diego Mesa College’s student services has started hosting weekly meetings for students every Tuesday, from 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m. with Linda Gibbins-Croft LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker), called “Be Calm.” These mental health positive meetings are intended to help students resolve any festering anxiety they might be feeling by sharing it with the group and learn techniques to resolve stress. It’s held in SS-210, with posters hung around the room featuring sayings like “You are enough!” to get students in a calm frame of mind.

Croft started by asking students to relay some physical symptoms they might be feeling when going through an anxiety episode or panicking; things like feeling jittery, loss of breath, experiencing a tight stomach, etc. This led into covering how the body copes with stressful situations that cause such panic attacks, which is managed through fight, flight, or freeze.

As the entire point of “Be Calm” is to teach students how to alleviate panic and anxiety as much as they can by themselves, Croft asked five students attending one meeting about their spiritual beliefs. This is because considering your spiritual beliefs and drawing comfort from them should help alleviate the anxiety. For instance, if a student were a devout Hindu, they should maybe think about the Hindu god Shiva (or another God) to calm them down; doing so should “ground them.” For atheists and agnostics who do not consider spirituality a part of their life, the therapist recommended thinking about nature scenes and trying “tap into their collective consciousness … a connection to the rest of humanity.” This technique could be helpful to anyone experiencing anxiety or too much stress, regardless of faith.

The dialogue in the meeting shifted to deconstructing anxiety and panic attacks themselves, to which the acronym TBA was designated. TBA stands for Thoughts, Beliefs, and Actions, which are the three triggers of panic attacks. Often, Croft explained, all that is needed is a reality check: Scared that you might not graduate because of an assignment? Think about the possibility of that actually happening. It is not realistic that one assignment could do that. What Croft was demonstrating was that the triggers of a panic attack are over exaggerated, to the detriment of whoever is experiencing the attack. All you need to do, Croft says, is think about the actual possibility of the TBA being realized.

From reality-checking TBA arises a need to soothe those physical ailments being felt. Croft discussed some approaches to self-soothe: holding yourself in a stress-hold (holding the forehead and back of neck) should work, or distracting yourself with some pleasant physical stimuli, like the smell of flowers. If that doesn’t work, the “5” should, which is intermittently inhaling and exhaling in increments of 5 seconds to calm yourself down.

The meeting I would say, is overall extremely helpful to students struggling with anxiety and panic attacks or disorder. Croft is a therapist employed with the San Diego Community College District, is available to help students, if need be. Any student seeking to find a safe space for any of their mental health struggles will not disappointed with the positive environment Be Calm fosters.