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The Stress Relief Center lounge has magazines to read or a miniature zen garden to play with while waiting for a massage chair. The Center is located in room 124 in Weber State University’s Swenson Gym. (Abby Van Ess / The Signpost)

As classes, exams, finances, relationships and the somewhat foreboding post-college plans send students’ lives into tailspins, stress management becomes an invaluable asset in the college survival kit.

Tyler Yeaman, a Weber State University psychology student, said he faces stressful challenges as he juggles school and a job at the testing center on campus.

“I think the biggest challenge is to try to manage your time,” Yeaman said.

With the end of the semester rapidly approaching, major assignments and cumulative tests are on the horizon.

Jamie Brass, who works at the Counseling and Psychological Services Center on campus, and Michael Olpin, director of the WSU Stress Relief Center, both know the severe physical and emotional tolls that stress can take on students, and each offered important skills to help students reduce stress.

Brass said stress is cumulative, and although each stressor ought to be addressed individually, people tend to treat them as a whole.

“They treat them like a pile of things,” Brass said. “That makes finals week particularly difficult.”

Olpin said stress is a result of a response that human ancestors had to help them escape from dangerous situations.

Today, people do not face physically dangerous situations as frequently. The stress response is only supposed to last about 30 seconds, but exams and assignments can last longer and create an imbalance.

“That imbalance turns into problems,” Olpin said. “Whatever that is — headache, backache, muscle pain, difficulty sleeping, can’t study, can’t think straight — all of these problems that we have, that we call symptoms of stress, are just because the on button for stress doesn’t get turned off.”

Olpin said in order to reduce and prevent stress, people should turn to activities designed to reduce stress.

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A chi machine lies on the floor of the Stress Relief Center for Weber State University students to use to reduce their stress. (Abby Van Ess / The Signpost)

“The best ways that I know, the best ways that are out there, include things like exercise, meditation, yoga, guided relaxation, breathing exercises or guided imagery,” Olpin said.

Brass offered other techniques that could also be effective for those feeling stressed.

Brass said that breathing exercises, coloring and going on walks to get a change of focus can all be helpful. Brass also said it is important to remember that stress, and the situation causing it, is temporary.

“At some point, finals week will be over,” Brass said. “Just reassure yourself that you can get through this, and give yourself reassurances that things will be okay.”

Students can consider using university resources to help with their stress management. Olpin recommends that students turn to the Stress Relief Center for refuge.

The Stress Relief Center is located in room 124 of the Swenson Gym. The center offers massage chairs, inversion tables and other resources to help students destress.

Brass suggested the counseling center as a resource, too. Student fees pay for 12 sessions per academic year at the counseling center. In addition to these 12 sessions, there are also group therapy sessions available.

“If you’re having difficulty managing stress overall, our counseling center has great staff, and we can figure out more of a customized plan for you,” Brass said.

Hours of operation and more information about the stress center and the counseling center can be found on their respective websites.

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