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Anxiety, depression, and tired old stories and feelings of inadequacy can rob us of our vitality, making us feel like wallflowers and spectators rather than participants in any number of social interactions. But did you know that improvisation can help you discover personal strengths and move beyond what you perceive to be your limitations? Fact: embracing just a few improv foundations is a surefire way to manage your anxiety, rejuvenate your self-worth, and improve and sustain your mental health.

Offered in conjunction with Brain Awareness Week, this course provides a supportive, task-focused environment in which we’ll explore the physiology of anxiety—our reliance on fight-or-flight as a response—and the tools that can help us regulate social anxiety, realign cognitive distortions, and ease inertia and helplessness. In essence, tools to help rewire our immediate responses in order to better manage dread and its demons.

Using a series of enjoyable, carefully calibrated exercises, you’ll learn to recreate and control circumstances that feel overwhelming, after which you’ll feel the liberation that comes from letting go, the power that accompanies living in the moment, and the humor that emerges when we embrace our vulnerabilities and self-consciousness.

Discussions will focus on ways to apply this positive, lighthearted approach to your life beyond the classroom, and the research that supports the value of stepping into anxiety with curiosity and confidence, allowing us to both honor our impulses and reframe them.

(Another fact: It is possible to confront your fears and have fun at the same time! Come learn about the significant link between in-the-moment thinking and improved mental health!)

Jim Robinson, PhD, University of Southern California, teaches psychology at St. Catherine University and the University of St. Thomas. He is a sought-after improv teacher and performer, a ten-year veteran of the Brave New Workshop, and a founder of Table Salt Productions for which he writes, directs, and produces. When not on stage, Robinson is a communications specialist whose clients include Cargill, General Mills, Bush Foundation, and the University of Minnesota.

A project of the Dana Foundation, Brain Awareness Week (March 11−17) is the global campaign to increase public awareness of the progress and benefits of brain research. In 2018, BAW partners hosted 895 events in 42 countries and 44 states.

Cancellations are subject to a 10 percent processing fee if received five or fewer working days before the program start. Refunds are not granted if you cancel on or after the first day of the program. Notice may be emailed to ccapsinfo@umn.edu.

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