Institute for Holistic Health Studies



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Welcome to STRESSBUSTERS.  We need stressbusters now, more than ever, with all the stress and upheaval in our lives due to the  Covid-19 pandemic. There is much uncertainty (and uncertainty creates anxiety) about what will happen next, how long before we have a vaccine, and will life ever return to “normal” ? The antidote to anxiety about the future is mindfulness, and to be in the present moment.  The present moment truly is all that is certain, and bringing our attention to what is here and now—right now—will help to dissolve that anxiety.

To help draw your attention in and be present in the moment, we have assembled a group of holistic practitioners who have generously shared their expertise and offered own methods and modalities to help you better manage the stress and the stressors in your lives.

Christel Autuori, Jesse Rovero, Marcia Kendall, and Dr.Robyn Housemann offer meditations, Lara Ward offers a restorative yoga practice, Bobbi Soares presents an experience in sound healing, Alison Birks provides information on adaptogenic herbs for stress, Dr. Sheri Marshall offers a video on energy, caffeine and and good lifestyle habits, Dr. Deborah Augenbraun offers Creating Calm Meditations, Christel Autuori has tips for busting stress in seconds, and a group of WCSU students have created a website with other information and techniques to help you relax and de stress.  We have also included a  short video produced by Dr. Jeff Schlicht ,  Director of the Exercise as Medicine program at WCSU,  in conjunction with WCSU Counseling, Health Services, and Campus Recreation.

Look at our offerings and see which draws you in, what appeals to you.  Try one or several of these practices, once, or several times, as you wish.  Be gentle with yourself, be patient.  Taking just a little time each day, to settle yourself, to give yourself the gift of rest and relaxation, can make a positive difference in your life, make the day go more smoothly, and bring you a sense of calm and peace.

If you have questions or want/or need additional information about Stressbusters, or  the Institute for Holistic Health Studies and our programs and offerings, , please do not  hesitate to  contact Christel Autuori, Director of the Institute for Holistic Health Studies,  at




Please join us on our YouTube Channel for more information and valuable video resources!

Table of Contents (please click your choice for quick page navigation)

  1. Start By Catching Your Breath with Christel Autuori  RYT  MA  NBC-HWC
  2. Reiki, Breathwork, Meditation, and Spiritual Guidance with Professor Marcia Kendall
  3. Guided Meditations with Dr. Robyn Housemann
  4. Mudra Meditations with Jesse Rovero
  5. Restorative Yoga with Lara Ward
  6. Sound and Music Practice Bobbi Soares MA CYT
  7. Busting Stress in Seconds with Christel Autuori  RYT  MA  NBC-HWC
  8. WCSU Students Website to help you DE-STRESS
  9. Adaptogens for Stress  Relief  with Allison Birks  MS, RH (AHG), CNS
  10. Are you Choosing Caffeine Wisely? with Sheri T. Marshall, M.D.
  11. Creating Calm Meditations  with Dr. Deborah Augenbraun
  12. Stress Reduction with Jeff Schlicht
  13. Yoga for Stress with Julia Krier
  14. Crystals that are Good for Students by Keithsany Valentin



The breath pattern is an indicator of the emotional state.  Recent studies confirm that when we are happy we breathe deeply and fully.  When we are upset our breath is shallow, rapid, and uneven.   Not only is the emotional state characterized by a specific breathing pattern, but even more remarkable is that the breathing pattern can induce the emotional state!   By breathing fully and completely, the intake of oxygen is improved, resulting in better heart and lung function, healthier skin, and better digestion. You feel calm, relaxed, and at peace.


Begin by observing your breath.  Are you filling your lungs completely?  Is your chest rising when you inhale, or is your abdomen rising on the inhalation?  Is the breath long and gentle, or is it short and ragged?  Now take a deep breath.  Feel your belly rise as you inhale into the lower lobes of the lungs and then feel the side of your body, the ribs, expand outward as you fill the middle section.  Fill the upper part of your lungs, up to your collarbones as your inhale completely.  When you exhale, simply reverse the process.  You can finish the exhalation with a gentle abdominal contraction.  Take a few breaths this way, paying attention to how and where your lungs are filling.  Place one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen to help you concentrate on your breathing.  Focus completely on your breathing.  As the breath becomes long and gentle, you activate the relaxation response, which is the opposite of the stress response (“fight or flight”) .The heart rate and the blood pressure fall, and the respiration rate slows. The immune response is enhanced and creates a sense of well-being.  You are calm and serene.

Christel Autuori   MA  RYT   NBC-HWC         Certified  Integrative Health & Wellness Coach                                                                              Integrative Health Consultant and Educator


Reiki, Breathwork, Meditation, and Spiritual Guidance with Professor Marcia Kendall

Reiki provides a means for balancing the energy in the body. When energy is blocked and cannot flow freely, the result can be discomfort, pain or a feeling that things “just are not right”. Reiki is often done in person but is equally effective from a distance or offered virtually.

Breathwork and meditation are long standing modalities to promote relaxation and rest. Slowing the breath and meditating can help tone the vagus nerve, essential in arresting and reversing the stress response in us. Professor Kendall has a wealth of experience as a reiki master and healer utilizing many modalities and techniques.

Professor Kendall offers these sessions to the WCSU community and alumni virtually on Tuesdays from 12-3 pm. To schedule an appointment, contact her at

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Guided Meditations with Dr. Robyn Housemann

Dr. Housemann, co chair of the Health Promotion and Exercise Science Department and coordinator of the holistic and integrative health option in the bachelor of science in health promotion studies at WCSU, is a reiki master and teacher and holistic practitioner with decades of experience in the healing arts.

Dr. Housemann offers virtual guided meditations on Thursday evenings at 7:30 pm. For information and to reserve a space, contact her at

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Mudra Meditations with Jesse Rovero

Jesse Rovero has been leading these seated meditations with the IHHS for the past six years. . No prior experience with meditation is necessary. In this meditation class, learn simple ways to use your thoughts and words to create a successful meditation practice . The mudras are simple finger and hand positions that enhance the meditative state and simply by placing your fingers and hands in different positions, you can create different effects in your body. The purpose of this meditation is to create a state of mindfulness/thoughtless awareness. Benefits and gifts of meditation include inner clarity, improved focus, stress reduction, inner peace, relaxation, and improved physical health.

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Restorative Yoga with Lara Ward

The 13 minute Restorative Wall practice.

Lara Azzarito Ward breathes yoga! Please click the video link above.

She began her path of the physical and energetic healing arts in August 1979 and never stopped learning and sharing. With almost 40 years of advanced trainings in yoga, martial arts, kinesiology and massage, she blends these disciplines to help students live healthy and balanced lives.

As the Founder and Director of Lotus Gardens Yoga School, Lara has certified over 500 people to be yoga teachers of children, adults and older adults as well as advanced level and specialist Yoga Teacher certifications.

Lara holds dual bachelors in English Literature and Business Administration from Western CT State University. She is also a licensed Massage Therapist with certifications in Hydrotherapy and Reflexology.

Lara A. Ward, E-RYT 500, CT & NY LMT

Founder & Director

Lotus Gardens, LLC

203 837 0122

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Sound and Music Practice Bobbi Soares MA CYT

Barbara (Bobbi) Soares, MA, CYT, is an integrative sound & music practitioner, vocal yoga teacher and Reiki master. She is certified in multiple energy and sound healing practices since 2004.

She offers Hummingbird Sound Yoga and sound healing immersions for Zoom groups, small on-site tailgate events as well as private sessions.

Using earth, dance and symphonic gongs, singing bowls, tuning forks and ‘Humming for Health’ meditations, her goal is to help individuals experience becoming “one with sound” to promote a deep relaxation response that balances and grounds our biofield energy and encourages healing.

Recent multi-media projects include Angel of Hope, Reflections of an Earth Gong and a interactive performance piece entitled ’Space is the Place’ which explores the concept of ‘space around space’ and deep listening in the time of Covid 19.

Her influences include John Cage, Sun Ra and Pauline Oliveros

She has studied Vocal Yoga with Heather Lyle, and Sound Healing with Silvia Nakkach, John Bealieau, Don Conreaux and Eileen McKusick.

Listen to Angel of Hope, Reflections of an Earth Gong:



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Busting Stress in Seconds with Christel Autuori  RYT  MA  NBC-HWC

Get moving

Exercise help release the endorphins (“feel good Hormones’) which promotes a sense of well being.  Try Yoga stretches, jumping and skipping, or playing tag
Go outside 

Walking or playing outsides provide a dose of Vitamin D—even if it is cloudy.  Many ancient sages took a walk outside to help find a solution to a problem
Pet a dog or cat

Petting an animal can help you slow down, be present, and“stay in the moment”. Research has shown that stroking your pet can reduce blood pressure and heart rate.
Take a breather

Take a few deep breaths, focusing on the sensations of the air entering and exiting your body.  Listen to the sound it makes, feel the temperature of the air as it comes in your nose
Rub your ears

According to Ayurveda, India’s 5000 year old “Science Of Life”, there are marma points (similar to acupuncture points) on the
Outside of the ear.  Rubbing the outside of the ear stimulates these points and reduces tension
Or your head

There are acupressure point at the back of the head in the occipital area (those knobby bones at the base of your skull) that will help to relieve mental, emotional, and physical tension, when rubbed and stimulated by your fingers
Or your chest 

Acupressure point “Sea of Tranquility” is at the center of your breastbone.  Gently resting your fingers on your breastbone while breathing deeply will help to relieve anxiety and balance the emotions
Drink tea  

Black, green, red, and white tea contain antioxidants such as polyphenols and flavonoids, and can lower cortisol (“Stress hormones”) levels
Laugh    Watch a funny movie, tell jokes with friends, get silly and have fun!!!

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A group of WCSU students have created a website to help you relax and de stress.  Please visit

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Adaptogens for Stress  Relief with Allison Birks  MS, RH (AHG), CNS

Herbal remedies excel at supporting the body’s ability to to manage stress and can enhance resilience during uncertain time. Herbs can be used to calm the nervous system, promote sleep, and foster a more positive outlook on life. Herbal adaptogens are a class of herbs that enable the body to adapt to many  of life’s physical, emotional and mental stressors. These are generally non-toxic herbs which act as tonics or regulators of the body’s neuro-endocrine function. Adaptogens are non-specific, are usually taken for long periods of time, and can enhance mental and physical performance. Many adaptogenic herbs are also supported by scientific research.

Good herbalists treat people, not disease.  As a practicing herbalist of 25+ years, I often recommend one or two adaptogenic herbs for each of my clients. Which herbs I choose is determined by several factors, including the client’s energetic constitution. Some adaptogenic herbs are more strongly stimulating and are far more appropriate for individuals who are depleted or lacking energy and vitality, such American and Chinese ginsengs. These nourishing adaptogens are best for those who are recovering from illness or who have gone through trauma. Ginsengs are usually also far more appropriate for older individuals.

Some adaptogenic herbs are cooling and can benefit those who have a fiery constitution, such as Eleuthero and Rhodiola.  Eleuthero is an adaptogen that is especially suitable for younger people. Rhodiola rosea is an herbal adaptogen that helps those who need to enhance memory, focus and mental clarity.  Rhodiola has scientific studies which support it’s effectiveness for ameliorating some of the symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and can be useful in these individuals. Rhodiola is considered a dry, astringent herb. For this reason, it would not be useful in individuals who display symptoms of dryness, from an energetic perspective. An herb such as Ashwagandha is especially helpful for women as they go through menopausal changes, is relaxing as well as stress-relieving. Ashwagandha is also mildly stimulating to the thyroid.

Tulsi or Holy Basil is an adaptogenic herb that can be used to make a delicious tasting tea. Tulsi is uplifting, relaxing, anti-inflammatory, and settling to the stomach. It is suitable for most individuals.  Another favorite adaptogen of mine is Reishi, also known as “Spirit Mushroom.”  Reishi  not only helps the body to withstand the stresses of  life, but it is calming to the nervous system, is anti-inflammatory and can aid those who suffer from allergies and asthma as well. Reishi is a whole body tonic, but is especially effective at building a strong immune system.

Clearly, there are numerous adaptogenic herbs to choose from when it comes to stress relief. Which one is right for you depends on many factors: your age, health concerns, energetic constitution, use of medications, etc. It is best to contact an experienced herbalist, a pharmacist or a healthcare practitioner that has been trained in the use of herbs, to help guide you to the adaptogenic herb(s) that are most suitable for your body.

Alison Birks, MS, RH (AHG), CNS

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Are you Choosing Caffeine Wisely? (video)

Sheri T. Marshall, M.D.

I am the functional medicine doctor for transforming stress to zest for life.

I earned my degree in nutrition from Cornell University, completed a dietetic internship, and received my medical degree from New Jersey Medical School. As a Family Practice physician, wife and mother, I ran my body into the ground while pursuing a career and taking care of my family. Years of stress took their toll on my health in the form of fatigue, muscle aches, and headaches. When a healthy diet, exercise, and medication did not provide relief, I found functional medicine, which focuses on treating the “root cause of the problem”. I am now passionate about addressing stress and sharing the “secret sauce” to health. I have been the guest speaker at Tidewater community college and the Eastern Virginia Medical School. On my website I share my story and lifestyle choices that helped me transform my stress to zest for life.

Come check it out! My goal is that what I share will help you too.

With Love, Dr. Sheri

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Creating  Calm  Meditations  with Dr. Deborah Augenbraun

Discover how easy it is to create calm for yourself using these three simple meditations: Be Grounded; Just Breathe; and Find Calm (click on the link below) 

Go to

Deborah Augenbraun, Psy.D., M.A.

Dr. Augenbraun is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Brookfield, CT. She earned a master’s degree in Developmental Psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University. Dr. Augenbraun previously worked as a counselor at WCSU Counseling Services (2015-2021). She has over 20 years’ experience working with adolescents, college students, and adults. She uses a collaborative and a holistic approach when working with others to help them achieve their personal goals and lead more satisfying lives. She has a special interest in treating anxiety, trauma, and stress related problems and employs evidence-based coping strategies in her work. She maintains her own mindfulness and meditation practice and enjoys sharing these practices with others. She can frequently be found taking walks in nature, spending time with her family and wonderful dog.

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Stress Reduction Video with Jeff Schicht

In conjunction with Health Services, Counseling Services, and Recreation Dr. Jeff
Schlicht, Director of the Exercise as Medicine program at WCSU, has created a this stress reduction video. The link is below.


ARE YOU FEELING STRESSED, ANXIOUS, UNWELL?: Check out this 1 minute 27 second video on what to do at WCSU if you feel this way. We’re here to help, so make sure you reach out.

Here is the link:

And another great video from Exercise is Medicine!


Jeff Schlicht, Ph.D., Professor

Department of Health Promotion and Exercise Sciences (HPX)

Building the Mind-Body Connection

Western Connecticut State University

University of Sydney AffiliateFaculty of Health Sciences

ACSM Exercise is Medicine® Older Adult Committee Member

Web:    l Twitter: @WCSUHPX

((203) 837.8687   l Fax (203) 837.8638

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Yoga for Stress with Julia Krier

Julia Krier, a graduating HPX Student from Western Connecticut State University. Julia has a passion for the Holistic Health world and is pursuing her Yoga Teaching Certification and Health Coaching certification to complement her degree in Community Health. Click the photo below to watch the video.

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Crystals that are Good for Students by Keithsany Valentin

Keithsany is a WCSU student majoring in psychology, and  has a strong interest holistic and integrative health.  Click the photo below to watch the video.


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