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De-stressing throughout dead week

Counseling Center organizes activities to help decrease stress

By Chin Yi Oh | Echo

The Counseling Center organized multiple activities throughout dead week to help students reduce and manage stress and anxiety levels. The purpose of these week-long activities was to provide a space where students can engage in fun, grounding and emotionally regulating activities.

For this week, the staff the Counseling Center brainstormed events that were grounding, mindfully relaxing and anxiety-reducing for the student body. The goal was to provide events that settled students’ nervous systems, as well as to help increase the window of tolerance for things that are stressful and fear-inducing.

“Yoga and (massages) are incredibly beneficial in regulating our nervous systems, which is helpful because when we experience a threat (finals week could be experienced as a threat), we are likely to kick into fight-or-flight,” Director of the Counseling Center Caroline Poland said. “Our ability to think clearly and to regulate reduces when we get into fight-or-flight, so we wanted to have activities (daily) that would help soothe and calm the nervous system.”

The Counseling Center’s hope was to provide events to allow students to refuel, care for and teach themselves new grounding skills. The Counseling Center hopes students use these transferable skills throughout their lives.

Junior Clementine Muteteri plays with a destressing toy the Counseling Center provided. (Photograph by Halie Owens)

Junior Clementine Muteteri plays with a destressing toy the Counseling Center provided. (Photograph by Halie Owens)

On Monday, “De-stress with Christmas fun” was held in the Haines Atrium, while table massages were offered on Tuesday for one dollar a minute. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) was held on Wednesday, and on Thursday a session where students could discover creative ways to eat healthy without leaving their dorm was held. A stressless study spot was featured in the Howell Galleria throughout the week. Students were invited to come to an atmosphere with food, drinks and fun, relaxing items like Play-Doh and exercise balls were provided.

“We also remember how dead week and finals week felt to us, and want to provide some relief to the stressors that exist,” Poland said.

According to Poland, to manage stress, students should engage in calming their nervous system. If students choose not to take the time to regulate themselves, they will go into fight-or-flight, or go into a freeze response. To avoid this, students can try to regularly engage in activities that will settle their nervous system and recharge and refuel them. These activities could be yoga, deep breathing, grounding or mindfulness activities, exercise, reading or time with friends.

The Counseling Center’s hope is that as these events become more of a regular occurrence on campus. The goal is to have more students utilize these resources and encourage others in their lives to join them to recognize and manage their stress and anxiety.

“The table massage was really nice,” senior Chester Chan said. “I hadn’t done something like that before. My back hurts particularly when I’m getting stressed, so it was very timely. I imagine the Counseling Center took some of the cost, so I’m really thankful for that!”

Freshman Rachel Weikart said the exercise balls help her because she is someone who normally bounces her legs, and she can bounce on the balls instead.

If students are not able to attend large events, Poland advises students to take deep breaths and situate themselves as they sit in class or walk from one place to another. The more proactive students are, the less stress builds up in their systems.

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