Kerstin Plehwe Dives into Coping with Stress and Mental Illness at Festival of Excellence

Southern Utah University hosted Kerstin Plehwe as this year’s Festival of Excellence keynote speaker.

Plehwe, born in Germany, began her first company at 19 and her first foundation at 35. She is also the first German to be awarded the Pollie Award and the first female president of the German Direct Marketing Association.

Instead of focusing on her highs during her presentation, Plehwe chose to focus on her lows — specifically her experience with mental illness and stress and how she grew to overcome them.

“Stress is not always a bad thing,” she said. “The bad thing is when our body doesn’t level down anymore.”

According to Plehwe, 13% of the global population suffers from some form of mental illness and it is often stress that leads to these numbers.

“Nobody taught us how to protect our soul and our heart,” she said, referencing the constant stress many have undertaken as a burden.

While many recommend fad diets and pills, Plewhe offered a much simpler, cheaper way to overcome these challenges.

“Our health and wellbeing depend on our daily wellbeing,” she stated before sharing her six protective habits for wellbeing.

These six steps are smart nutrition, physical activity, social engagement, regular relaxation, light exposure and more doing rather than thinking.

She also included seven steps to destress: identify your stressor, know your vitamin and nutrients level, prioritize mindfulness and digital detoxes, find the courage to say no and be yourself, rethink your rituals, be good to your body and your soul and complete regular monitoring.

She wrapped up her presentation with the powerful call to action: “Your health and your wellbeing need you.”

For those wanting to learn more, Plehwe recommended some of her favorite resources. Throughout her lecture, especially when talking about the six steps, she referenced Dr. Stephen S. Ilardi’s book “The Depression Cure: The 6-Step Program to Beat Depression without Drugs.” She also recommended reading books on brain food.

Lynn Vartan, the director of percussion at SUU who acted as host for Plehwe, hinted at the possibility of Plehwe making her way to campus next fall in order to continue educating students on mental health, stress and SUU’s Counseling and Psychological Services’ Pyramid of Power.

For more information on Plehwe, visit her website.

Article by: Audrey Gee