With finals approaching, along with managing online classes during COVID-19, student stress levels are high.

Massage chairs in the Stress Relief Center at the Swenson Gym. (Sara Parker / The Signpost)
Massage chairs in the Stress Relief Center at the Swenson Gym. (Sara Parker / The Signpost)

A group of researchers from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and Harvard Medical School recently released results from a survey conducted in late May that showed 55 percent of students said they were more stressed than they were in January, before the virus was a widespread threat.

Other stress factors that ranked as moderate or greater included frustration about not being able to enjoy everyday activities, worry about the possible breakdown of society, concern about personal finances and being bored.

Although Weber State University’s Stress Relief Center is currently not open, there are still ways students can manage stress.

Michael Olpin, director of the Stress Relief Center, has always been interested in individual wellness and high-level well-being. He teaches the course HLTH 1110, which is designed to help students learn why stress happens, how to reduce it and how to prevent it.

He said some of his students’ favorite ways of managing stress include cognitive restructuring, which is perceiving things in ways that do not activate the stress response, meditating, listening to music and spending time in nature.

Nicole Hadley, senior student at the University of Michigan Medical School, shared tips for students in her article “Coping with the COVID-19 Pandemic as a College Student.”

Some of those tips were knowing that it is okay to feel how you are feeling, maintaining a routine, practicing good sleep and hygiene, connecting with others and taking a break.

Feeling lonely is a common occurrence for many college students.

“It is easy to quickly feel lonely and secluded from others during this stay-at-home period,” Hadley said. “Make an effort to stay socially connected by engaging in regular video or phone calls with friends and family.”

In addition to loneliness, Hadley said many college students also face uncertainty regarding the future. That leads them to feel vulnerable or develop mental health concerns. Students need support from friends and loved ones.

Alongside staying in touch with loved ones, Olpin suggests students should attend the Stress Relief Center when it’s — hopefully — set to open again next semester.

“The successful manager of stress is willing to do that which the unsuccessful manager of stress is not willing to do,” Olpin said.

When the center is open, it offers proven methods of relaxation. Olpin said they have massage chairs, a chi machine — an aerobic exercise device — hydro-massages, which is the use of water pressure to apply massage techniques and a soothing lounger.

WSU student Jayk M. left a review for the center after attending for the first time.

“I never knew that Weber State had a place like that on campus,” Jayk M. said. “I tried the light and sound treatment, the inversion table and the massage chair. I did the full body massage and left feeling very relaxed.”

The Stress Relief Center is found in room 124 in the Swenson Complex on the Ogden campus.

More tips on managing stress and leading a healthy life can be found at the Stress Relief Center page on WSU’s website.

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