Midterm Madness

Stress Relief for Students

Stacy Sammul

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Stress management is important for every college student. College students feel stress from all angles, financial stress, time management stress, stress to get good grades, stress of extracurricular activities, stress from lack of social life. Stress is all around us and at times unavoidable so managing it is all that we can do. Stress management can be simple and often college campuses offer several services that can help combat student stress.

Last week’s Midterm Madness event was focused specifically on stress relief. Tuesday Oct 10-12 students could retreat to the cafeteria from 11-1 and participate in various activities aimed at reducing stress. Activities included chair massage, aromatherapy, Reiki, spa services, yoga, prayer circle, and art therapy. The event was sponsored by the Kindness Rocks Project and featured kindness rock painting to receive entry into the event. The Kindness Rocks Project is a pay it forward movement that spreads love and inspiration by painting rocks and leaving them for people to find. The project was started by a woman on the east coast that was looking for inspiration for herself, her story can be seen at https://youtu.be/TK8iHsDXGvQ. Several students painted their inspiration onto rocks that have been placed on the brick wall outside of building H for viewing and placing. The premise of the Kindness Rocks Project is to pay it forward, if you take a rock for inspiration then place one for somebody else to take so students can take and place rocks from the wall as needed. Rocks varied from flashy and creative to simple and straight to the point, but they all shared one common thing, inspiration and happiness.

According to the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), a 10-15-minute massage can lower blood pressure and reduce the effects of stress. Tuesday October 10 featured chair massages from Damon Thomas, Your Core Being 107 W Main St and Chiro-Works 1019 W. Galena Avenue, and Stephanie Garner, Fitness Lifestyles 642 W Stephenson St in Freeport. Students could receive 10-15-minute chair massages for free to help unwind. Cindy Tessendorf from the YMCA and Your Core Being offered short yoga sessions for students and offered a free session with her at the YMCA. Yoga combines breathing techniques with specific poses designed to stretch and relieve tension in your body. Several studies have found yoga to be very useful in reducing stress and enhancing the mood of participants.

Wednesday Oct 11, the Highland Cosmetology School offered their services to students. Students lined up in chairs to receive free hand massages and paraffin wax. Most students had never heard of a paraffin wax and were pleasantly surprised by how relaxing it was. Paraffin wax is a warm wax that sits on your hands and moisturizes them, the warmth is soothing and relaxing. Also offered were free facials, which is my favorite way to relax on campus. For a brief time, you can relax with your eyes closed while having your face massaged with fragrant lotions. One student was reluctant to get a facial and walked out of the event with a huge smile on his face. He tried to describe how relaxing it was to be able to let go and enjoy himself for 10 minutes. Suzanne Miller, Coordinator of Career Services at Highland, was also giving short Reiki sessions. Reiki is often described as laying of hands or energy work. The Reiki master manipulates the qi (chi), an energy that is held within all living things, within the body to produce healing results. Recipients tend to describe a feeling of warmth in the areas treated and a sense of relaxation post treatment. Highland Counseling services was also on hand this day to provide counseling for anybody that needed to talk about their stress and get knowledge of some coping mechanisms.

Suzanne Miller was back again Thursday giving demonstrations on aromatherapy. Aromatherapy is most commonly associated with incense and patchouli, but the scents from essential oils can provide incredible benefits. Oils like Bergamot, Ylang Ylang, Lavender, and Vetiver can provide calming effects that can counter stress and anxiety. Blending certain scents can provide multiple benefits. A blend of cinnamon, clove, and bergamot provides focus, energy, and relaxation which is perfect for studying for those big tests. Not only do the oils have healing properties, but if you put the oil blend on a cotton ball while studying and bring it the day of your test, it provides excellent memory recall based on sensory stimulation. The stars of the event were the Therapy Dogs International (TDI) that were provided by Jan Carlson owner of Carlson’s Canine Camp. Jan brought 8 volunteers and their furry friends to provide comfort for students that need it. Multiple breeds showed up giving a wide selection for students to choose from. Breeds ranged from a beautiful retired greyhound to a peppy border collie to a little wet-eyed shih-tzu. Therapy dogs are used in many institutions for comfort and stress relief, other college campuses have partnered with TDI to create a program for students to hang out with dogs to relieve stress around stressful times like midterms and finals.

When stress hits us like a ton of bricks there are things within our reach to help us relieve some of that stress. Counseling services are available by appointment and walk-ins during specific hours. They also provide a Coping Through College therapy group for students on Wednesdays from noon to 1:00 in room M-122. Full time students get a free membership to the YMCA and can sign up for yoga classes with Cindy Tessendorf or. Spa services are also available right on campus and at a discounted price for students. Highland’s Cosmetology School is located in building T and offer a full menu of spa services including pedicures, manicures, facials, and hair services. Students receive 30% off services, making facials $4, a pedicure $20, and paraffin wax with a hand massage is $6. There are also some great apps for stress relief that provide fun and easy ways to manage stress. Happify is an app that has games and fun tasks that help focus on positivity and provide coping skills for stress, anxiety, and depression. Headspace teaches mindful meditation using cute cartoons and easy to follow instructions, it is great for both beginners and pros. Both apps are free and available on Google Play and the Apple Store.

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Midterm Madness