Between exams, homework and jobs stress has become something that college students are all too familiar with.

On Friday afternoon, the Counseling and Psychological Services Center at Weber State University hosted a relaxation fair in the Shepherd Union to help college students learn new ways to alleviate their various stresses.

Psychologist and counseling center training director Jamie Brass said one of the top three concerns of students who visit the counseling center is stress. In an effort to teach students about some good ways to relieve stress the Counseling and Psychological Services Center has partnered with organizations on campus as well as in the community with the goal of showing students options that are available to them.

The goal of the relaxation fair is to inform students about the good resources available to them to help them manage their stress, as well as to remind students of some stress relievers they might not have thought about in years. Some of the activities included at the fair were coloring a picture or playing in the sand. Brass said these are things most people haven’t thought about doing since they were kids, but when they take the time to sit down and color a picture they remember how relaxed it made them as a kid and realize the potential it has to relax them now.

In a demonstration using a penny and a paperclip on a string senior Colby Pomeroy explained how powerful the mind is. By asking participants to hold a paper clip on a string over a penny and then to make the paper clip do things like spin in a circle or swing back and forth or even to hold still all without moving their hand Pomeroy showed that a person’s thoughts can control their unconscious behavior.

We think in progressions said Pomeroy, and most of the time these progressions are not logical. An example of this type of illogical thinking could be if a student were stressed about an exam and then thought about failing the exam so much that they come to believe that if they fail that one exam they will have to end up dropping out of school. While that is an extreme example, it is this type of thought process that Pomeroy said students need to break.

“Students need to take time every day for self-care, by doing things like going on a walk or playing in the sand,” Pomeroy said. “Take care of yourself, it’s the easiest thing to overlook when there is so much else to do.”

There are a number of free on campus options available for students which will help them take the time for self-care. The Counseling & Psychological Services Center, for example, offers students 12 sessions of individual counseling, 12 sessions of family or relationship counseling and unlimited group counseling sessions which are paid for by student fees.

The Stress Relief Center is another service offered to students on campus. Located on the second floor of the Swenson Gym, the Stress Relief Center helps students cope with their stress through things like using essential oils, inversion tables, a chi machine, small head, neck and foot massages and massage chairs.

A lot of these resources available to students are often underutilized because students don’t even know about them said WSU senior Blake Tolman. Tolman hopes the fair will help to bring recognition of these resources to students.

Weber State junior Ashton Patterson said she already knew about the services offered in the Stress Relief Center, and enjoys the relaxation tools and equipment available to him.

“I go there when I’m stressed or injured and they help,” said Patterson. “I really like the massage chairs and the music.”

There are a lot of opportunities out there for students who are feeling stressed to find relief, said Relaxation Fair volunteer Mark Homer. Intermountain Therapy Animals is an example of one of these opportunities that is located in the community.

Intermountain Therapy Animals is a nonprofit organization which brings dogs to places like schools or hospitals or nursing homes in an effort to bring people joy. The organization has been participating in events at the WSU campus for over five years and Debbie McAllister, a volunteer of the organization, said they enjoy seeing how happy people get when the see their animals.

“People are always smiling when they pet a dog,” said McAllister, “and petting an animal has been shown to lower blood pressure.”

Resources like Intermountain Therapy Animals and the Stress Relief Center are easily accessible to students if they know where to look and will take the time to use them.

“I want to encourage students to participate after today,” Homer said. “To utilize these (stress relief) options throughout the semester and throughout the whole year.”

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