Jen Marr, the author of the book Showing Up and founder of Inspiring Comfort, came to Rexburg on Nov. 11 to talk about the importance of connection.
“It’s so important for students to understand that not only do you need self-care and professional care, but you need to care for each other,” Marr said.
The event took place at The Avenues Wedding and Event Center in Rexburg at 7 p.m. Marr also gave a presentation in Idaho Falls at The Brickyard Event Center at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 10.
Several organizations contributed to putting on the events including VOICE Advocacy and The Center for Hope Peer Recovery Center.
Andra Smith Hansen, one of the event organizers, welcomed the guests at the Rexburg event. She invited students to share stories about the difficulties they’ve gone through.
The stories ranged from adjusting to college life, to being gay in a religious community, to dealing with mental health challenges. After several stories were shared, Hansen turned the time over to Marr.
Marr started with a story. Her city experienced a tragic shooting at an elementary school. Despite support from all over the country, many of the people affected by the tragedy felt alone and unseen. Marr saw this gap and began searching for a solution.
She showed the audience statistics about college students. She said 67% of students deal with anxiety, depression and burnout. Seventy-five percent feel lonely, isolated and disconnected on campus. Eighty-five percent are filled with worries that come with being in college and 85% rate themselves as empathic.
Marr pointed out that most people care for others but don’t feel seen when they struggle.
She said that we all have trauma. When the only care someone gets comes from mental health professionals and self-care, loneliness follows. The way to fill this gap is through supportive care.
Supportive care comes from friends, family, co-workers, peers, mentors and leaders who show up for each other.
This message resonated with Marissa Harrison, a senior studying communication. Harrison said her main takeaway was that the way to fight burnout is to foster social connections.
“It’s something that can definitely just change the way you see the world,” Harrison said.
Marr turned the conversation to talk about the effect that technological advancements have had on people. She said that phones are sometimes used as an excuse to avoid people and they can cause a person to not be aware of the people around them.
Marr talked about the difference between emotional intelligence and social intelligence. She said that someone who feels compassion, empathy and sympathy for a person needing care needs to overcome emotions of awkwardness, doubt and fear that can get in the way of giving that person comfort.
Marr invited Kelly Shannon, the sales and marketing manager for Inspiring Comfort, to demonstrate four mindsets that can get in the way of caring for someone.
First, “the doubter” is afraid they’ll make things worse so they decide to wait to help someone.
Second, “the deflector” feels it isn’t their place or the right time to get involved and concludes that they have their own problems.
Third, “the fixer” is dismissive and says they know just what the person needs to do but doesn’t help them feel seen.
Fourth, “the avoided” doesn’t address the problem and finds an excuse to get out of the situation.
Marr told the audience the story of Kevin Hines, a suicide attempt survivor. Marr shared that Hines had said that if one person would have reached out, he wouldn’t have attempted suicide.
Marr shared another story about a remote research study she did with students. She met with the students over Zoom and hardly any of them had their cameras on. Marr decided that even if she couldn’t see their faces, she was going to make sure they felt seen.
Marr did this by encouraging interaction, appreciating their responses and thanking them.
Marr ended the presentation by sharing another story. Someone Marr had known for three months invited her to her wedding. Marr didn’t think her friend was serious and wasn’t planning on going. But Marr’s husband told her, “Half of life is showing up.” Marr went and her friend was happy to see her there.
After the presentation, the audience had a question-and-answer discussion with Marr.