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Cougar Health Services February 2019

Reasons to Practice Mindfulness

English transcription below.

Reasons to Practice Mindfulness

What if we cared for our mind 20 minutes everyday?

How Stress Affects Mental Health

  • Stress can lead to intense headaches due to tension.
  • Regular stress can weaken your immune system making you vulnerable to illness.
  • Experiencing stress regularly can be emotionally taxing and can lead to depression.
  • Stress hormones which increase blood flow can cause your heart to pound.

(Reference #1)

What is Mindfulness

“A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment while calmly acknowledging and accepting their thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations.”

(Reference #3)

“Don’t believe everything you think. Thoughts are just that – thoughts.” –Allan Lokos

(Reference #2)

Ways to Practice Mindfulness

  • Take a mindful shower. Notice the sensations on your body and around you. Picture your stress washing away.
  • Take a mindful walk. Be present and aware of the sights and sounds around you.
  • Focus on your breathing. Think of your thoughts as passing clouds . . . let them go and return your focus.
  • Running low on time or wanting guidance? You can try checking out meditation apps or guided meditation videos online.

Some Benefits of Practicing Mindfulness

  • Reduces anxiety – mindfulness can reduce anxiety by 38% by improving the part of the brain that controls worrying.
  • Improves concentration – mindfulness can improve your ability to focus and ignore distractions.
  • Minimizes fatigue – regularly practicing mindfulness can improve sleep quality and minimize insomnia and fatigue.
  • Increases resilience – practicing mindfulness everyday for 25 minutes can increase resilience to psychological stress.

(Reference #4)

Start with 5 minutes and work your way up to 20 minutes. Remember, practicing every day is more important than how long you practice.


  1. “Stress Effects,” The American Institute of Stress, accessed November 26, 2018,
  2. “76 Most Powerful Mindfulness Quotes: Your Daily Dose of Inspiration,” Positive Psychology Program, last modified June 18, 2017,
  3. “Mindfulness,” Auburn University College of Education, last modified May 11, 2018,
  4. Karen Young, “13 Different Ways to Practice Mindfulness – And the Difference it Can Make,” last modified December 17, 2016,

Cougar Health Services’ Abby Howard recognized as Staff Woman of Distinction

Abby Howard

Abby Howard, medical clinic physician assistant for Cougar Health Services, will be honored at this year’s Women’s Recognition Celebration as the 2019 Staff Woman of Distinction.

Howard is recognized for her work, dedication, and commitment to creating an inclusive WSU community, particularly through serving students who identify as transgender, an estimated 1-3 percent of students. By providing gender-affirming healthcare, Howard assists students in addressing their mental and physical health needs. However, Howard does more than provide medical services and referrals. She works to build strong relationships with each of her patients.

“Early on in our planning, Abby shared with a patient that she was going to be one of the clinicians here on campus to provide transgender healthcare and the patient hugged her,” said Renée Coleman-Mitchell, executive director for Cougar Health Services. “I think that characterizes the compassion and understanding that Abby possesses.”

Originally from Pennsylvania, Howard has a B.S. in Exercise Science from the University of Delaware and a Master’s in Physician Assistant Studies from the University of Pittsburgh. She arrived at WSU in 2016.

During her time at Cougar Health Services, she has developed transgender health training for other providers and staff members so that they can be more responsive to student needs. As Matthew Jefferies, director of the Gender Identity/Expression and Sexual Orientation Resource Center (GIESORC) notes, “Abby has helped dozens of student become who they were meant to be.”

“I feel very honored to receive this award,” said Howard. “In reflecting on it, I am most thankful for my patients who have always been my best teachers.”

Howard will be recognized at this year’s Women’s Recognition Celebration on Monday, March 4 at 6 p.m. in the CUB M.G. Carey Senior Ballroom. To RSVP for this event, visit

Get Stress Management Tips on Your Phone

student texting on phone

Feeling stressed, need help coping, or just want tips for managing your stress? We can help!

Join our text messaging program and we will:

  • Check in with you every week to see how you’re doing
  • Send you weekly tips for lowering stress
  • Share information about health-related events and resources around campus
  • On average, you would receive no more than 2 or 3 text messages per week
  • Messages & data rates may apply.

To sign up, text “@STRESS” to 844-486-0046. You can join at any point in the semester!


  • To cancel the messages, you can reply with STOP.
  • To get more information, you can reply with HELP.

Content within the text messaging program adheres to the WSU Privacy Policy.

You can also check out our stress management workshops and other programs.

Community is invited to join WSU’s Culture of Respect

On February 27th, WSU Pullman is inviting the community to participate in the kickoff event for the Culture of Respect, a campus-wide initiative. The Culture of Respect is a two-year commitment where a team of faculty, staff, students, and community partners from across Pullman will evaluate and enhance our efforts to prevent sex- and gender-based violence on our campus.

Everyone is welcome to come and get involved. Opportunities for you to participate and learn more include:

  • Join our campus team (5 hours per month commitment)
  • Request a Culture of Respect Overview for your department or RSO
  • Attend the kickoff event on February 27th at 11:30am in Lighty 405
  • Share this information with colleagues and friends

Since 2011, WSU has grown tremendously in the prevention of sex- and gender-based violence and the Culture of Respect will continue to build on this strong foundation. At this first meeting, we will be forming the campus team and providing more information about what the initiative involves.

Over the course of the spring term, the CORE Evaluation will be completed to assess our current work and working groups will be established to address the areas our campus can continue to grow in.

The areas we will focus on include:

  • Survivor support
  • Clear policies on misconduct, investigations, adjudications, and sanctions
  • Multitiered education for the entire campus
  • Public disclosure of statistics
  • Schoolwide mobilization with student groups and leaders
  • Ongoing self-assessment

We will be sharing our goals and progress throughout this process, which began in January 2019 when WSU Pullman joined the third cohort of NASPA’s Culture of Respect Collective. The third cohort includes WSU and 37 other higher education institutions in the United States and internationally.

The next meeting will be held March 22nd at 1pm in Lighty 405. If you are interested in getting involved, please contact Tara Johnson, Health Promotion Specialist, at

Get involved in student health

Get involved in student health
Get involved in student health

Want to advocate for student health concerns, influence decisions around health services and initiatives, and gain valuable working knowledge of management and leadership? Then join our Student Health Advisory Committee (SHAC)!

SHAC works to improve Health & Wellness Services and Counseling and Psychological Services by acting as an advisory group to the executive director and serving as a liaison among students, student government, and administrators.

SHAC will review programs and services, recommend new programs, and advise on financial matters. Students on SHAC also work closely with our staff to provide insightful feedback on services and initiates related to mental, physical, and emotional health.

By joining SHAC you’ll:

  • Have opportunities to network with professionals in the health industry
  • Bolster your resume with real experience in health care
  • Gain essential communication and leadership skills

We’re looking for exceptional student leaders to get involved in SHAC. If you’re interested, contact