Students de-stress before finals

Kellie Wambold

Students will have a chance to take a break from preparing for finals during De-Stress Fest on Friday hosted by the Student Health Center and United Students in Residence Hall. Juliana Kahrs, the health promotion coordinator for the Student Health Center, said she hopes De-Stress Fest will give students the chance to close the books for a few hours before finals. “I think having healthy ways to de-stress and learning how to manage your stress and finding different avenues to relax will give students a chance to feel refreshed,” Kahrs said. There will be several activities available for students at De-Stress Fest, including a zen garden and stress ball making, therapy dogs and inflatable jousting. “[Jousting is] a good de-stress activity for people who want to let some aggression out,” Kahrs said. There will also be various raffle prizes throughout the night, capping it off with a Smart TV. James Garvey, the assistant residence hall director of South Scott Hall, said De-Stress Fest was specifically placed this week to help students cope with finals. “The last couple weeks of school for the majority of students is not easy, especially if students are stressed about upcoming exams, papers or presentations,” Garvey said. “The goal of our program is to help students relax and de-stress prior to finals.” Kahrs said she wants to help students battle their stress because there has been a recent unhealthy trend in the National College Health Assessment, which is given nationally every two years. “Stress and anxiety and other mental health issues are definitely becoming more prevalent in the college student population,” Kahrs said. “The No. 1 and 2 issues that students report as having a negative impact on their academic achievement are stress and anxiety.” Kahrs said she has seen this stress in a couple different areas in college students’ lives, such as working to pay for school while taking classes. Junior Gabrielle Hass said the competitive nature sets up many expectations for students, adding to their stress. “We’re all expected to be in the top of our class when only a couple people can,” Hass said. “We all have to work during school in order to continue it, and we all have to compete with high numbers of other college-educated people for the same number of jobs.” Kahrs said the best way to combat stress is to get seven to eight hours of sleep a night, as it boosts memory and cognitive functions. “If we’re not healthy, everything else in life is stressful, so sleep is a big issue,” Kahrs said. “If you lose one hour of sleep a night, your cognitive abilities really decline the next day.” Kahrs said one of the fastest ways to relieve stress is one many students forget. “When you find yourself stressed and overwhelmed, just taking five deep breaths can really help,” Kahrs said. Other ways to manage daily stress, Kahrs said, is to stay on top of all the little things that need to get done. “When we get stressed we start thinking ahead and start thinking, ‘Oh, I have to do this and this and this,’ and that becomes overwhelming and can cause you to mentally shut down,” Kahrs said. “Life is less stressful when you don’t have to worry about little things.”