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providing ways to nurture well-being

SESP Well-Being Project


This series is designed to help SESP students nurture well-being.

Each Wednesday at 5 p.m. a faculty member will offer a 20-minute online Zoom session featuring research and an evidence-based practice to boost physical, mental, or emotional well-being. They’ll also provide online resources to help students learn more after the session.

These seven sessions are open to all SESP students and will be offered from April 22 through June 3. 

Week 7

Cindy Conlon

A Moment to Pause

Update: June 3, 2020: On top of a worldwide pandemic, we are all navigating difficult emotions ­– ranging from rage and frustration to sadness – in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. For the final installment, we invite you to pause and pay attention to whatever you are feeling. Use this time to lean in, learn, and listen deeply. Rhonda Magee’s talk on the Inner Work on Racial Justice is especially relevant today.

For more info on the Well-Being Project, Contact Cindy Conlon

Week 6

Robin Nusslock

Presented by Robin Nusslock, associate professor of psychology

In “An Introduction to the Emotional Brain” Nusslock will explain how your brain creates emotion, how these emotions relate to your thoughts, and how your thoughts and emotions can help or hurt your ability to respond to stressful experiences. He will also provide of brief overview of new and old techniques for managing stress and balancing the emotional brain.

Nusslock is associate professor of psychology and a Faculty Fellow at the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University, where he directs the Affective & Clinical Neuroscience Laboratory. His lab uses the tools of human neuroscience to study order and disorder in the emotional brain and how “stress gets under the skin” to affect our mental and physical health.

Contact Robin Nusslock

Week 5

Jessica Pryor

Presented by Jessica Pryor, SESP lecturer

Unhealthy perfectionism includes very high standards for personal performance along with a strong negative reaction to failure in personal, educational, and career domains. This kind of perfectionism can be difficult to manage in the best of times, and can become even more challenging in times of heightened stress, such as the current COVID pandemic. In this session we teach you how to assess whether unhealthy perfectionism may be getting the best of you, and practice perfectionism-focused self-compassion, mindfulness, and cognitive behavioral skills to more peacefully live with your perfectionism during COVID.

Jessica Rohlfing Pryor, MS, PhD, is a core faculty member in the Counseling Program at The Family Institute at Northwestern University. Pryor specializes in research and treatment of high-achieving individuals who struggle with perfectionistic thoughts and behaviors such as crippling self-doubt, chronic disappointment in personal performance, self-sabotage, and interpersonal difficulties. She teaches Counseling Theories (HDPS 301) in the School of Education and Social Policy.

Contact Jessica Pryor

Week 4

Alexandra Solomon

Presented by Alexandra Solomon, SESP lecturer

Solomon will discuss how to maintain relationships with loved ones while under quarantine. She is the author of “Loving Bravely: 20 Lessons of Self-Discovery to Help You Get the Love You Want” and “Taking Sexy Back: How to Own Your Sexuality and Create the Relationships You Want.”

Contact Alexandra Solomon

Week 3

Mindy Magrane

Presented by Mindy Magrane, SESP lecturer

Jon Kabat-Zinn, professor at the University of Massachusetts and founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), defines mindfulness as “awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.” Research into mindfulness practices has revealed their efficacy in reducing both psychological and physical symptoms. In this session, we will get present to ourselves and our bodies as we practice “the body scan” – a form of mindfulness meditation.

Contact Mindy Magrane
WEEK 3 resources

WEEK 3 resources

Week 2

cindy conlon

Presented by Cindy Conlon, adjunct lecturer

“Emotional agility” is a term Susan David, a psychologist at Harvard Medical School, uses to describe people who can navigate the challenges of life. Her research suggests that the way we experience our inner world – our everyday thoughts and emotions – is the single most important determinant of our overall well-being. David has conducted research for two decades and developed a model to cultivate emotional agility. In this session we will examine the four steps of this model and then practice using it.

Contact Cindy Conlon
WEEK 2 resources

WEEK 2 resources

Week 1: Breathe To Be Well

cindy conlon

Presented by Cindy Conlon, adjunct lecturer

The way we breathe can affect the whole body and our overall well-being. Shallow breaths, for example, prepare the body to fight or flee, causing stress and a decrease in oxygen levels.

In this session, you will learn to breathe in ways that help calm the central nervous system and boost physical immunity. Please wear loose, comfortable clothes and find a chair that lets you place both feet on the floor and sit upright, without leaning into the back of the chair. Ideally, find a space that allows you to remain undisturbed. Participants will receive links to resources to learn more after each session.

Contact Cindy Conlon
Week 1 Resources

Week 1 Resources

  • TED Talk: Breathe to Heal by Max Strom
  • Book: “Breathe: The Simple, Revolutionary 14-Day Program to Improve your Mental and Physical Health” by Belisa Vranich
  • Article: Proper Breathing Brings Better Health
  • Online: Mindful Breathing from UC Berkeley’s Greater Good in Action project; they synthesize research studies relating to well-being.
  • Northwestern Resources: Breathe, a stress management resource for Northwestern students, offers a a vareity of guided meditation and breathing exercises.

    Also try RefugeVR, a digital “Meditation Temple” co-created by SESP doctoral candidate Kit Martin.


    • Breathe2Relax: This free app was developed by the National Institute for Telehealth and Technology and offers scientifically sound breathing exercises.
    • Universal Breathing: A free app that uses music and animation to guide you through several levels of deep breathing exercises.