Coffee with a Splash of Stress

By Magdalena Knapp, Editor

Personally, I believe that one of the most beautiful words the Greeks have given us is “agape.” Agape stands for a kind of love that seeks nothing in return. You love someone or something, simply because you love it. It think it is beautiful. Something like agape is hard to find, but last week at McKendree University students could find it at the Agape Latte.

The Agape Latte is a very popular event at McKendree University. The idea is for students to come together, enjoy a cup of coffee or other beverage of their choice and a sweet piece of cheesecake. The speaker this semester was a highly valued member of McKendree University, Mr. Scott Neill, teacher for health and wellness. I was lucky enough to have him as a teacher, so I knew that this Agape Latte presentation was going to be something special, but little did I know how much his presentation was going to touch me. Mr. Neill talked about a topic that concerns every human being on this earth: Stress.

Stress is such a short word, but it has long term influences on our lives. We all experience stress on a regular basis and some sort of stress is healthy to keep you motivated and striving for things in life – but what if this stress becomes too big of a burden and we fall in a deep whole, drowning deeper and deeper every day? This is what Mr. Neill talked about: How do you handle your stress?

To begin his talk, Mr. Neill handed a few students dumb bells and gave them the instructions to “manage the weight.” Students lifted it in the air and stayed like this. In the meantime, Mr. Neill shared personal stories with us from times when he experienced high levels of stress. After telling us about family members who died, the pressure of not finding a job with his major, and not seeming to fit in anywhere, I realized that these are all stresses that every one of us will experience at some point during our lives. The key to successfully master these situations is the way we react to them. Mr. Neill said that in stressful situations we need role models. These can be family members, teachers or oneself.

You can be a role model for someone else, and once we realize that we can make changes to how we react in stressful situations, because we know somebody is looking up to us. Mr. Neill explained that we are more likely to make changes to our attitudes if we do it for someone else. “Sometimes people pop into your life and change you, make you better. You can be this person for someone!” Mr. Neill explains; I cannot but agree.

Meanwhile, students were still holding the weight up in the air. Mr. Neill walks over to them and asks them: “Why don’t you put it down? I simply asked you to manage it, I never said to hold it up. Or why don’t you share it with others?” Imagine this weight is stress. We are so used to managing our own stress and holding it in front of us like a sign, that it impedes us to see further. “We have to become social with stress, and share it with other people; people actually want to help,” says Mr. Neill. We share everything on social networks, so why don’t we start sharing our stress with people in real life to make it weigh less on our shoulders?

Stress is something that everyone experiences on a regular basis, and trust me, it’s not over after college. We experience different kinds of stress in different periods of our lives. Stress has different forms and shapes, but the way to react to it is the same: Share it with others and react to it as you would like your role model to react. Mr. Neill said one last thing that I want to share: “If you’re stressed, don’t let it control you – try to manage it and be a role model.”

So relax, and take a sip of your agape coffee!

Mr. Neill and his students after the Agape Latte

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