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Battling Stress and The Pressures of College Life

By Staff Reporter, Kayla Garner

Over the next few weeks, graduate students in the Hardin-Simmons University counseling program are hosting several de-stressing events called Under Pressure. These events are on Wednesday’s from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. and will focus on different ways to relieve and manage your stress levels.

These events include art-therapy, yoga therapy, music therapy, storytelling, a session on mindfulness, canine therapy, sand tray therapy and joy boxes. There will not be an event over the week of Thanksgiving. Each of these events will have different locations, so check posters around campus for specific meeting locations.

Sterling Phernetton, Heather McEntyre, Peace Ojo and Lynsi Maurer are all graduate students in the counseling program that were challenged by Sherry Rosenblad, their faculty advisor, to create a support group to offer students on campus. After brainstorming many different ideas about what college students need and struggle with, the group realized that most college students struggle with stress and exhaustion. “Stress is heavy. If you don’t manage it, it can lead to mental and physical problems,” McEntyre said.

After the graduate students decided they wanted to address stress, they planned many different activities that would help students release their stress. McEntyre shared the group’s main goal for Under Pressure. “It’s to help students recognize symptoms of stress and equip students with the tools to handle the stress and move forward,” McEntyre said.

As it turns out, there are many different ways students can release stress. For instance, in art therapy, a person is able to transform their stress into something they can see, so they can better understand their own emotions. “Vizualiz[ing] stress going from your toes, throughout your body, reaching your hands and fingers and then [instinctively ] painting what you imagine during this,” Phernetton said.

Another form of stress relief is yoga therapy. During yoga, students can use their body’s movements to relieve their stress. Students are able to do this through something called mindfulness. “Mindfulness is allowing yourself to be present in the moment, focusing on what you are doing, and trying to get away from distractions,” Phernetton said.

Music therapy requires mindfulness for paying attention to the music and how it makes you feel. Listening to music can help you better understand your emotions or change your emotions to something more positive. Playing music can help you express and release your emotions.

Storytelling is another form of therapy that can be used to relieve stress. The therapy of storytelling includes the ability to rewrite our narrative and to tell a story from both our perspective and another person’s perspective. “[Story-telling] allows our brain to have a workout with creativity and allows us to share better with others. Storytelling also allows us to create a new empowering narrative. ... We are [often] stressed because of outside factors which cause stress internally. So, learning how to use internal motivators [like storytelling] to combat those feelings of stress is important,” P Phernetton said.

Canine therapy is another stress relief activity involving mindfulness. “The act of petting is stress-relieving. [Simply] thinking about fur, while petting a dog and choosing to focus only on the dog, distracts from stress,” Phernetton said.

Sand tray therapy is a mix of story-telling therapy and canine therapy. During sand tray therapy, students will be focusing on the texture of the sand while also building a narrative out of the sand with miniatures provided by the group leaders.

The final type of therapy that will be demonstrated in Under Pressure is called joy boxes. This therapy involves filling a box with things that make you happy or remind you of the joys of life. This event is there to remind students of the good in life when everything around them is tearing them down.


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