Pray and stay calm during times of stress, said a Franciscan University mental health counselor during his presentation on St. Padre Pio and stress management the evening of Sept. 12 in the Gentile Gallery.
The talk, given by Matthew Burriss, director of the university’s Wellness Center, was built around the theme of St. Padre Pio, the patron saint of stress relief who famously exhorted believers to “pray, hope and don’t worry.” In his presentation, Burriss used prayer, interactive examples and a short video clip to make the experience light and fun.
Burriss provided multiple practical tips for not only overcoming stress but also recognizing it, accepting it and decreasing its influence over our lives. Two things that are responsible for making people feel anxious: “They overestimate how bad something is or how bad it will be,” he said, “and they underestimate their ability to handle it.”
The solution to this predicament, he said, is to put everything into two categories: the things that we can change and those that we cannot. In order to do this, it is necessary to find the wisdom to know the difference between the two.
Connecting this idea with the Catholic faith, Burriss spoke of a form of Catholic spirituality called the sacrament of the present moment.
“God is with us in the moment,” he said. “We can’t change the past, and we don’t know what the future is going to bring. All we have is the now. … Anxiety is so focused on the future that sometimes I think we need to take a step back and go, okay, what is happening in the moment?”
Following the talk, students were given the opportunity to make stress balls, color pictures, pop bubbles and do other stress-alleviating activities.
Freshman Annie Hansen said, “This talk equipped me with the knowledge of how to efficiently handle my stress. We can see things as being a lot more complicated in our minds, when in reality, they are very doable.”