Workshops enlighten students on the art of stress busting

College students experience many different forms of stress, and Lauderdale Health and Counseling Services now offers a new way to help deal with the pressure: "Stressbusters" workshops.

Dana Minton, coordinator of health promotion and faculty adviser for Geneseo Healthguards, ran a workshop last Friday titled: "Yes, I'm Stressed - I'm a College Student!" Minton said that the Stressbusters workshop series began because, "There were students who were stressed but didn't need formal counseling, so this was a way to provide something in between."

The workshop began with the coloring of mandalas, concentric patterns of geometric shapes. In some religions, mandalas represent the universe and their creation is a meditative practice.

Minton then led a discussion that was based on the attendees' individual sources of stress and included a talk about the nature of stress itself. According to Minton, stress affects every person differently. She said that sometimes, "If you talk to other people and realize how stressed out everybody else is, it helps."

Minton said that stress is a natural part of life. She said one definition of stress refers to "the wear and tear our bodies experience" or the "response to demands" placed on oneself. Minton also noted that stress can be helpful: "When you have a paper due, a little stress can sometimes help you to get it done," she said. Problems, however, are prone to arise when students experience too much stress. Minton said she believes that the key to dealing well with stress is balance. During the workshop she advised students to "find what works for you" and told them not to "take everything so seriously that you don't enjoy your four years here."

Next, Minton introduced deep breathing exercises to the group. The lights were turned off and the calming melody of Enya's "Only Time" filled the room. Minton instructed students to close their eyes and inhale through the nose, slowly filling their lungs with air and exhaling through the mouth. "We breathe shallowly in everyday life," said Minton, "so taking time to breathe deeply can help one relax." The students practiced holding and releasing their tensed muscles in intervals of a few seconds. According to Minton, "It's hard to know what it really feels like to relax all your muscles, but this exercise helps."

Junior Nick Turecamo said he came to the workshop to "find ways to de-stress." As an upperclassman, Turecamo is familiar with the pace of each semester: The workload quickly increases after the first few weeks of school. "Eventually I'll start to get stressed out," he said. "I want to find some ways to deal with it now." Turecamo said he enjoyed the breathing exercises and felt "much less tense" after the workshop.

Each Stressbusters workshop teaches students a different way to relieve stress, and future sessions will encompass yoga lessons, meditation, self-hypnosis, and deep breathing techniques. They are held Fridays from 3 - 4 p.m. in the Interfaith Center on Franklin Street.