Courtney Weaver sits down with Heidi Muller, RHC extraordinaire, to talk about the pandemic trauma stress experience, and what we can do about it! They also chat about all the different ways that students can stay involved this winter. For weekly activities, check out the Refresh series: https://refresh.wvu.edu/

Transcript:

Welcome everyone to Wellbeing Wednesdays. My name is Courtney Weaver. I am your illustrious host. I'm also the director over at Well WVU here at West Virginia University. And with me today is her majesty Heidi Muller. She's a residents coordinator over in Dadisman and Stalnaker Halls on the downtown campus.

So, and Heidi has been a guest before, so we're excited to have her back. So welcome, Heidi, how are you feeling today? Hey, I'm feeling great now that I know that I'm royalty. I mean, queen on top of the Hill here, I'll take it right. I mean, we might as well just admit the truth. From there So before we tied in today to today's topic, which is really about kind of battling Kevin fever while in the pandemic just reminding everyone about what you do here at WVU.

Sure. So I, like you said, am a residence hall coordinator, so I am the manager, but that has been in her halls. I basically just oversee the day-to-day functionings of both halls. I'm the supervisor of all the RAs and it kind of just. There for all the students got quite a few over here. So it's a, it's a good, it's a good community over here.

And yeah, I mean, I guess the question is what don't I do. But I'm, you know, I'm on multiple committees throughout the university and, and, and within our department and I'm a conduct officer and all that fun stuff. And I think my, my main and most important part of my job is making sure that my students are doing okay, including my RAs.

That's basically it. And you probably have a lot of wild stories from working in the res hall for quite a bit. So I know my sister was a residence hall director for her graduate program for three years. And she had some interest in stories as well. So. I sure do. And I have actually promised myself and my, my friends that are outside of residence life, that I will be writing a book when I move on from this position.

And to tell these stories because they just need to be shared some of them, not all of them, but right. And names will be changed to protect. Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. Jane DOE. All that stuff. So of course. All right, well, so let's talk about how we can sort of work to combat Kevin fever during COVID.

So talk to me a little bit about the concerns that your residents and your RAs are expressing to you right now. Sure. So, I mean, as we all know right now, we're kind of stuck in the middle of winter. And not only that we're still stuck in the middle of this massive pandemic that hopefully it's slowly getting more under control as we, as the vaccinations keep coming out.

But it kinda stinks right now because although, you know, we're completely snowed in at this point in time, it's not easy for my students to go and visit their friends. Whether that's. Within our St their same building, or even a different residence hall on the other and another part of the campus.

And so you can kind of see that, like our students and my RAs are kind of experiencing like a lot more stress. There, I think things feel a lot more heavy right now. And probably lonely is, is, is a word that I would Associate with them when some of the conversations I've had. I mean, it's very hard to reach out, into develop the typical communities that we normally have in our residence halls right now, just because of all the COVID policies that we have to have to keep everybody safe.

Yeah. That's for sure. So what are some of the things that you've been recommending to the students? So, of course I've been you know, kind of slamming them with refresh and just telling them to get involved with some of the activities through that, because I think that that was a wonderful, I guess, program is the best way to say that too.

So they come together. I mean, I thought that was a really great and awesome thing that you all did. And so I'm trying to get them to go out and to, to sign up for some of the programs that you guys are doing through refresh. But I know inside of my heart, personally, we're doing more virtual programs.

And like I know my coworkers are doing the same. It is the month of February, so it is black history month. And I'm just giving you a for instance, my coworker, Javier, he is currently running a weekly black history month program. I think it's where they see. How they see us, it's that TV show on Netflix.

Forgive me if that's not the right title, but it's very good. So, well, he shows an episode every week and then we have a long discussion with people from DEI and around campus. And so we're trying to pull students together that way. This semester for my, my buildings personally, we are trying to do more weekly clubs virtually so that they have somewhere to go and they can have.

Plans. And so right now we have a Dungeons and dragons club going on, which I'm trying to learn, but you don't quite understand yet. It's a lie. It's a lie complicated. My brother-in-law plays. He has a weekly game. I like I'm, they're explaining it to me. Excuse me. And I'm trying to like, understand what they're saying and I, and I'm just kind of like nodding.

Yes. I get it. I guess I met him, he out in the forest. Oh. Oh, all right. Often the forest. That sounds like fun, but yeah. So that's been something fun and imaginative for them too, to kind of get some creative I just have some sort of a creative outlet. And then I do have arts and crafts going on where we'll put together baggies and the students can come to the front desks of there.

Designated halls to get and community council, which is something that every, every single residence hall has. I mean, they're putting on programs as well. So we're doing, we're really trying to create opportunities to keep our students busy but in a fun way and also listening to what they need and kind of adjusting our plan from there too.

Yeah. We've, we've been finding that with my department. We haven't had a super amount of success with virtual programs. Apparently. No one wants to log on and talk to us about safer alcohol use on a Tuesday night at seven o'clock. But we actually, we collaborated with housing last night and we did an event called sex in the dark.

We actually had quite a few people show up about 18. So we were really thinking about that. And then, yeah, the refresh box, it's still going strong. And so. They're still doing some great activities, like the Dish with Lish and like crafting with the Crafty Lumberjacks. And so to get up to date on all of those activities, you just go to refresh.wvu.edu, and I'll make sure to put that in the description as well.

But we, we, we like to do those kits where you give them the things to assemble and then they can either do it on screen with. With a bunch of other people or by themselves. Cause also it's important to take a break from the screen too. Yeah. And that's what we've been doing too. So that's good that you guys are as well.

And I want to talk to you about that sex in the dark program. Cause that sounds interesting. That's the towers folks. It was a good, it's a good time. It was, they had folks from DEI, from Walden review, from the Karoo center, from planned Parenthood from a lot of different places. Yeah. Oh wow. That's really cool.

Okay. I'm going to have to probably steal that idea. Yeah. And so something that might not realize is that every residence hall on campus actually has a liaison within the cruise center. And so that the RHDs and RAs like kind of have a direct point of contact. And so yours is actually another friend of the podcast.

Claire VAR, Betty will be on actually in a couple of weeks to talk more about healthy sexuality. When she told you about something that was specific to the pandemic, right. Yeah. So I actually invited her to a staff meeting of ours. Goodness, last week, I think it was where she talked to my RAs and the summit, RAs about a pandemic trauma stress experience which is.

It to be what I kind of kind of associated with. It was kind of like PTSD in a sense, but more pandemic focused. And so she talked to my RA is about, you know, the importance of naming your needs and like telling people what, what you need at this point in time, because of how difficult it has been you know, in isolation or, or.

You know, just being apart from your family and friends at this time. Cause it's not as easy as it used to be to go and visit them. And so she actually gave us a, it gave the RAs some pretty good tips. Number one was resting. It's very important to make sure that we're getting enough rest. It might seem that we're at home a lot and we are just lounging around by.

Like just laying around and actually getting some decent rest are two completely different things, I think. And then she said it's important to feel your feelings. So if you are just really upset or sad or something, let yourself cry, let yourself be angry. Let yourself express these emotions that you typically.

Might not in, I guess, quote unquote normal times because I mean, we are going through a lie and it's okay for people to cry. I cry all the time. So I probably cry in there for everybody, but I it's important to do that sometimes. And yeah, that crying is so some sign of weakness and it's not, it's a healthy emotion.

Some people like I tend to cry when I get really angry

and you know, if you feel sometimes there's a great. Bit from a comedian named Dane cook, who is actually not such a great guy overall, but the bit was really good. When he talked about how sometimes it all just builds up and you just feel this need to let loose these feelings and you would like sometimes wait around all day, cause maybe you're at work and can't let it out.

And then you start to let it out like in the car and you just feel like you repeat, I did my best. Said all these sorts of things, but it's like so relevant now. And so if you feel that sort of sense of, I have to have a release and you maybe are not comfortable doing it without any sort of outside stimuli, like put on a sad movie that you know is going to make you feel something and that'll get ya, that'll give you that outlet and it will. I, you know, it's funny. I, even before COVID I taught my RAs that like, or tried to teach my art is that it is okay to cry sometimes because they have a very stressful job. And I told them, I'm very open about the fact that sometimes, like, if I'm dealing with a lot of, a lot of students in need all at once, or, you know, just normal stress of our day-to-day jobs, sometimes I shut my door, excuse me.

And I give myself 10 minutes. I allow myself to cry it out. I suck it up. And then I put my big girl pants back on and I just go on with my day and that's what it is. And you know, sometimes you just have to have that release and I think it's important for us to just. Keep beating that into people.

Like it's okay to cry. It's okay to be angry. You're going through it right now and you're not alone either. So yeah. And your stress hormone cortisol is actually released through tears. So keep them of that. So cried out, cried out. Listen, I will, we can have weekly cry sessions together if we need to just put on beaches in the background or, Oh my God.

I can I have not seen that movie in years. That that is the perfect movie for this. Oh my gosh. Coming through and co-sponsored by well, WVU beaches. We're going to do that. I'm actually gonna do that. That's perfect. Man but she also, she had a lot of other really cool things to talk about. T she talked to them about being curious and finding delights or.

For me, that just was kind of like maybe looking for a new hobby. I mean, I don't know about you Courtney, but I have like really gotten into some different hobbies during this pandemic. Mine are more crafty because I really love to paint, but I haven't been, I haven't been motivated to paint for a while actually, probably since our last podcast.

So I've taken up like different things. Like I've tried embroidery I've tried crocheting, which did not turn out well for me, I have tried cooking, which my friends will laugh because I cannot cook, try to make them soup. And I ended up bringing a frozen pizza over with me just in case. And thank God I did because I saved them.

But it's just like, it's trying new things and exploring, and just maybe doing something outside of your comfort zone while you can, because this is, I mean, we're probably not going to get this time back to do that in the future, so right. I was very close to purchasing a banjo recently and learning I've always wanted to learn how to play the banjo.

And I was like, what a chance to live in West Virginia and learn how to play like blue grass on a banjo. It's like a perfect time. I feel like that might annoy my neighbors. So I might have to like purchase a home first and then like start and I would take banjo lessons. Cause I couldn't learn by myself.

I wouldn't be fair point. That's a fair point. You'd have to learn dueling banjos or whatever that song is. Is that the, from deliverance? Yeah, do like the lorries that I want to learn to play. So please do, please do I actually had to talk myself out of buying a guitar, but which is really funny.

My mom is a, is a huge guitar. She's a wonder she writes her own music and she's just a wonderful player and just a, a marvelous human being in and of itself. But she has like five different guitars at home and I, every time I come home, I'm like, Oh, I want to learn But, you know, I had to take a step back and realize that spending like $300 on a guitar is probably not the smart move right now.

And I'm actually currently studying for my social work license exam. And so that was more prominent when it comes to spending my money, then you're getting TA a guitar. Right. So I had to put priorities. Together for myself one day that exam will be done and that you can maybe learn how to play guitar.

That's exactly it. And I will have some nice, pretty letters behind my name that I didn't have before. So she also said that it's important to seek physical sensation and movement. And so like just getting outside and walking is safe, you know, as long as you're not around a bunch of people right now, it's kind of stinky outside because of all the scenario, but like, yeah.

I don't know I'm I live at my parents live in Michigan. So walking in the snow is really nothing for me. I'm just putting on a good pair of boots and go bundle up, but getting outside or even just walking your residence halls is a good idea so that you can still get some exercise. And then loving you, your unique powers.

So just recognizing those talents that you already possess and maybe even learning how to expand them, I think is very good. And just knowing that you have these powers that are getting you through this pandemic, I think is really important to kind of give yourself credit for, right. Like I think sometimes we beat ourselves up because we're having a hard time through it, but you're surviving and thriving and I think that's to be committed to And then finally her, and I think this is the biggest thing is just to make sure that you ask for help and to help others if they need it as well.

I would preach that even if it wasn't quarantine or COVID times. Yeah. Well, what's actually really awesome is that the career center is actually doing a group for quarantined students currently that all meets virtually. So if you are one of those folks who is in quarantine and there are some like support resources that are.

Specifically for you. And they're even doing like special quarantine student activities through the refresh program as well. Yeah. And they've been really great. So I want to thank you guys for doing that for our quarantine students and my friends over at the career center, you guys are always awesome.

And I appreciate everything that they do as well. Right. It's amazing. And so there are resources out there to help students and hopefully some activities that they can. You know, become curious about and learn and you know, I'm, I'm in the boat with you, Heidi. I'm not a great cook, but I find that during this time I've been cooking more like I'm gonna make homemade pizza tonight and it's going to be, I have a bread machine and I tell you, I love it so much.

It's, that's awesome. My best friend's Jeremiah and Kesha, Kibler, shout out to them. They bought me an air fryer for my birthday this year. So, and I have been using it nonstop. Right. I haven't, I haven't, I haven't done as much with it as I should have. I mostly made like tater tots and I probably shouldn't.

Oh girl, you should really like expand that. I have tried it like French toast sticks and they're healthy of course, because you know, diet and diabetes help French toast sticks. Don't really match it that but like dyno nuggets. I dunno, you can do pizza rolls in there, if that's your thing and all this other stuff, I've also, I'm a huge, like I hate leftovers, but if you warm them up in your air fryer and it tastes just like it did the night before.

So that's that? That's a good note. Yeah, I just, yeah. And it's easier than baking them in the oven too. There's a little crispier and they get all set out, like all sides are crispy, not just the side, that's keeping the heat. So because it in a healthier way too. So I'm not frightened oil, which is. Perfect.

So follow Heidi and Courtney for more cooking slash like cooking for the non-cooker. Sounds like a great spinoff show. We should do that. Yes, let's do it. All right. Well, thank you Heidi so much for joining us today. Really appreciate you. And we'll undoubtedly, bring you back to talk about something else.

Awesome. Yeah, you're a thank you for letting me come back on. Again, and not banning me from doing another episode. I appreciate that. And to all of our listeners out there. Thank you all so much. We appreciate you as well and keep your heads up. Then there's a light at the end of this tunnel, and we're here in the meantime, if you need some help.

So thanks again, and we will catch you all next time on Wellbeing Wednesdays.