FVTC class focuses on stress reduction
By Angie Landsverk
Deb Skyrms decided she wanted to be proactive in her work rather than reactive.
Last year, the licensed professional counselor started Day to Day Mindfulness.
“Instead of waiting for clients to see – because they are nervous, anxious, depressed – I want to help people, prevent them from being clinically depressed, anxious,” she said.
Skyrms offers classes in stress reduction in a variety of settings, including in schools and small businesses.
This month, she begins teaching a class called “Living Mindfully,” at Fox Valley Technical College Waupaca Regional Center.
The nine-week, one-credit class is being held from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 11, through Tuesday, Dec. 6. The cost is $147.85.
People may register for it online at www.fvtc.edu/waupaca or by calling 715-942-1700.
“The class will totally be secular focused,” Skyrms said.
It will explore the benefits of living mindfully.
Topics will include meditation, regulation of emotions, developing insight, awareness of unwanted habits and changing negative thoughts and behaviors.
The idea to offer the class is the result of a friend encouraging Skyrms to talk to Paul Shrode, who is the director of the regional center.
That was last fall, and by the end of the year, Skyrms put together the information for the class.
While it is a one-credit course, anyone may take it. People do not have to be students.
Skyrms will bring pyschology into the class and said the class is not therapy.
“I am teaching stress reduction,” she said.
Skyrms worked in the mental health field a total of about 14 years, including as a middle and high school counselor and in clinic settings, before deciding to start her business.
She was working for ThedaCare when she began seeing information about mindful meditation.
Mindful meditation is research based, she said.
For the past three years, it has been part of her regular routine.
She meditates every day with her husband.
They exercise, have breakfast and then meditate for 25 to 30 minutes.
“Research shows you need to attach it to a schedule,” Skyrms said. “When I was a counselor in Wrightstown, I would get home, turn the car off and sit quietly for five minutes. I started looking forward to it. I didn’t recognize then that it was meditation. That really was very telling to me.”
She said meditation is about focusing on the breath. It is done while sitting upright.
“Mindful meditation is being in the present moment, not judging thoughts. It’s a formal way of being mindful,” Skyrms said.
Research shows that 47 percent of the time, people are not focused on the present moment, she said.
Instead, they are thinking about past regrets or worrying about the future.
“And we are so much happier when we are in the present moment. Mindfulness is the opposite of being on autopilot,” she said.
She said this does not mean people should not plan or think about the future. They should not worry about it.
Skyrms said people do not need to buy equipment to meditate. They may do it anywhere, and there are no side effects.
“Meditation is like exercise for the brain,” she said. “For people who think they can’t do nothing, they are exercising the brain. You cannot fail at meditation. Every time you pull your mind back to the breath, you’re meditating.”
Lowering stress helps the entire physical body, she said.
She is mindful of what she does on a daily basis and sees the work she does as her purpose.
“To me, it’s why we’re here – to help one another,” Skyrms said.