How NASPA 2017 Kept Things Fresh & Made a Difference

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The 99th annual NASPA conference, which took place from March 11-15, launched some exciting new events, stepped up their game on existing initiatives, and played their part to bring about positive change and innovation. Conference-goers had the chance to participate in initiatives aimed at supporting, educating, and advocating for individuals within the surrounding community, the student affairs profession, and higher education in its entirety. Oh, and they learned some awesome stress-management techniques along the way. Here is a breakdown of just a few ways NASPA 2017 kept things fresh and made a difference: A common link was discovered between chair yoga and dogs. Through learning office-appropriate yoga poses and stretching techniques, attendees developed alternative ways to manage physical, mental and emotional well-being in the face of workplace stress. They also had the chance to join and witness first-hand the similar impact of animal-human interactions. In other words, some lucky participants get to pet dogs in front of envious onlookers. In all seriousness, positive outcomes such as stress reduction and improved mental health are just a couple of many associated with animal therapy. So, it’s no surprise that college campuses have recently been touting similar initiatives, particularly during exam periods. Attendees were able to lend their hands and lend their voices. While it’s great to immerse oneself as a tourist in a conference’s host city, taking the time to give back to the community through the San Antonio Foodbank, provided NASPA attendees with insight into today’s most prevalent social issues and an opportunity to do something positive and meaningful. On a similar note, you may have seen the #NASPActs hashtag floating around the web, which is aimed at supporting and celebrating diversity in higher education. Solidarity through movements such as this is particularly important in the wake of legislation that creates barriers to inclusion among post-secondary students in Texas and beyond. Inclusion isn’t just one of NASPA 2017’s key topics, intended to guide discussion and learning. It is an action- a movement- that they are undoubtedly upholding and inviting you to partake in, even after the conference has ended. Participants learned how to listen to their bodies and help students do the same. Student Affairs Professionals typically attend NASPA conferences with the intention of better serving the needs of their students. Biofeedback therapy- the monitoring and control of bodily processes such as blood pressure, heart rate, and muscle tension- is gaining traction as an effective approach to emotional regulation and stress management. The opportunity to learn these techniques during one of NASPA’s new wellness sessions provided participants with yet another set of tools to help students overcome challenges to success and thrive in their post-secondary careers. As those who attended NASPA 2017 incorporate all that they learned throughout the conference into their personal and professional lives, it is no wonder that many of them have already started counting down until next year’s event. Philadelphia, anyone?

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