Intersession class offers tips on managing stress

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Whether students like it or not, stress is an everyday part of life, and on a college campus there are plenty of factors that can increase it. With finals around the corner, students may find themselves searching for ways to manage and control the stress brought on by the end-of-semester work load.

“It’s finals and papers and projects and so many things due, it’s intense,” said Davelyn Hill, junior in art, about the stress of finishing up schoolwork before the winter break.

One way two K-State professors have worked to help students overcome these daily stresses is through a class on managing stress.

Fred Newton, psychologist in counseling services and faculty of the College of Education, and Arthur Rathbun, counselor and biofeedback specialist, have collaborated to teach Stress Management for 18 years and are offering the course again from Dec. 27 – Jan. 12 as an intersession class.

Newton said the class will be a combination of team teaching and lab sessions.

“It’s basically a class on wellness,” he said. “We look at very specific things. What causes stressors in your life? How do you lead a healthy lifestyle?

“Stress is ubiquitous; everyone has it. If you didn’t have stress, you wouldn’t get up in the morning. It activates the system, but over-the-top is negative.”

Newton said while a small amount of stress is normal, when it is excessive it can start to interfere with one’s life and can cause physiological problems. The intersession class works to understand the science behind the stress and the different options students have to reduce it. While there are basic stress relievers, it often various from person to person.

“There are a lot of facets, so in a way we’re looking at a snapshot of every person’s life,” he said.

Newton said the physiological symptoms brought on by stress can include headaches, stomach disorders, grinding of the teeth and can eventually lead to anxiety.

The symptoms of anxiety can lead to more serious problems including dizziness, twitching or trembling, rapid breathing and rapid or irregular heart rate. Newton said extreme stress can even lead to cardiovascular issues.

“If you keep extending that … if you have demand on yourself, it can affect your cardiovascular system, cause heart attacks and so forth,” he said. “If stress is not exactly a cause it can be an exasperator.”

While the class offers insight into the scientific explanation of stressors, Newton said they also have guest speakers who speak about many different ways to deal with an increase in stress.

“They talk about the different ways you might relax, some will demonstrate how dance, music, massage can be relaxation and even how different cultures deal with stress,” he said.

And for students on campus, the list only grows.

“I try to be prepared, and also just take breaks; maybe go to different locations and get a change in routine. That helps me,” said Kristin Gurley, freshman in architectural engineering.

Gurley said she would definitely be interested in a class that could help with stress management.

Hill said her stress relievers have changed since she began majoring in art.

“My usual way of dealing with it is doing art, and creative things, but because I’m an art major, it’s not really stress relieving anymore,” she said. “Now I journal, sometimes I pray, sometimes I read; swimming, I like to swim. Sleeping’s really good too.”

Hill said she would not be interested in the intersession class, and said it would be too much time to simply learn a bit of stress management.

While student opinions vary on the necessity of a stress management class, Newton said they work to make the class interactive and personal for those who decide to enroll.

“It’s a fun class. We engage them quite a bit and it’s about themselves. It’s very relevant and that helps,” he said.

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