Written by
Videography by Rebecca Devereaux

A global pandemic. Social unrest. A presidential election year. Across the nation and college campuses, 2020 has upped stress and anxiety to exhausting levels. 

That’s why counselors representing the Walla Walla Tri-Colleges came together to provide self-care tips and resources for students, faculty and staff across the three communities.

The “Walla Walla Impact Series: Self-Care Tips and Tools” virtual session on Nov. 2, 2020 featured counselors Rae Chresfield, Ph.D., of Whitman College, Caley Moyer of Walla Walla Community College (WWCC) and Michelle Naden, Ph.D., and Carrie White of Walla Walla University (WWU).

What can we do to feel better?

Over the course of an hour, the five counselors shared and explored what self-care looked like in their personal lives. They reflected on connectedness, self-awareness and the importance of making authentic connections.

Moyer, of WWCC, began the discussion by encouraging people to create a soothing home inside themselves. “The one thing that I’ve learned that we can control, is the relationship with ourselves. And if what it feels like inside is a kind and safe, and validating and loving place to be—we can typically handle what happens out there.”

The group also discussed digital overload and screen fatigue.

Chresfield, associate dean of health and wellness at Whitman, shared that unplugging from her phone and going on long walks have been a way she can feel more grounded. Whitman Associate Dean of Health and Wellness Rae Chresfield

Naden, of WWU, has noticed her own emotional exhaustion from trying to stay present in a world that is virtual, and has asked herself: “How do I sustain this energy to keep trying to connect?” She found that taking a deep breath in and out between Zoom meetings has helped her feel like she can “show up” and avoid going into autopilot.

These collective conversations can be so valuable when it comes to student well-being, said Chresfield. “It shows that all of the colleges have spaces for students to engage with therapy and counseling. It shows that it’s a normal part of going to college—to have an option to improve mental health.”

This fall, the Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion of the Tri-Colleges, in partnership with the Whitman President’s Advisory Board, sponsored three “Walla Walla Impact Series” sessions. These virtual events featured Whitman alumni, staff and community members, covering topics such as exercising the right to vote, wellness and relationships, and self-care practices.