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Students unwind at Stress Awareness Fair

For the stressed student, various resources for stress management and relief were all in one place yesterday.

Weber State University’s Counseling and Psychological Services hosted the fifth annual Stress Awareness Fair from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Shepherd Union Atrium. A group of six WSU students were heavily involved in organizing the event for their senior capstone project in health promotions. Susanna Lindeman, Ashley Ottley, Julie Madsen, Alexis Bathemess, Katie Kerr and Lori Greene were in charge of finding out what booths would be helpful to students.

“We surveyed 200 students at Weber State to see what causes them stress and analyze all of that data,” said Lindeman, who was in charge of securing vendors and assessing data, “and then we also had them write down what they would like to see as far as stress relief goes, and then we chose all of our vendors with all of that information. Probably the biggest one was school that stresses them — I think probably 50 percent of the students were stressed out by school.”

Lindeman and her group chose vendors based on what students said was stressful or comforting to them. Each booth provided pamphlets and information on the vendor’s services, as well as refreshments, free items and giveaways.

Because so many students reported being stressed with schoolwork, Academic Support Centers and Programs manned a booth with information for tutoring on campus. The Community Involvement Center promoted volunteering opportunities, including its upcoming Cardboard Campout on March 23, touting the motto that giving service lowers stress.

Since 48 percent of students reported that money management was a stressor for them, Wells Fargo hosted a booth with tips for financial freedom. Students could also go into the Lair to try out equipment from the Stress Management Lab located in the Swenson-Stromberg Complex, including an inversion table, chi machine, diffuser, and back and foot massagers.

The most attended booths seemed to be Eagle Gate College and Intermountain Therapy Animals. Students could line up for five-minute back-and-shoulder massages from EGC massage therapy majors, or sit on stability balls while talking to personal training majors. The booth also held drawings for students to win free hour-long massages.

Students also flocked around the dogs and cats at the Intermountain Therapy Animals table. Fritz, a Bernese Mountain Dog and Great Pyrenees mix, clamored to lick passersby and lean against their legs. His handler, Natalie Virell, said therapy dogs, chosen for their obedience, friendly dispositions and strong trust bonds with their handlers, can actually offer a variety of therapeutic services.

“Our goal is pets helping people, basically,” she said. “There’s a lot of different ways animal-assisted therapy can be used. It can be used for emotional needs, like in counseling centers; it can be used with kids and elderly; it can be used with wounded warriors from overseas after they get back from war; it can be used in physical therapy; it can be used in assisted living — I mean, there’s a million ways.”

Students from Ogden High School attended the fair as part of a leadership conference for AVID and the Future Educators of America. Amber Fast, a sophomore from the high school, said her favorite booth was the therapy animals.

“I like the dogs,” she said, “. . . ‘cause dogs are just friendly, and no matter if you’re sad or anything, they’re always there for you.”

The fair also included booths from Employee Wellness, Student Wellness, the Outdoor Program and Campus Recreation, local business Grateful Pose, Basics Sports Medicine, the Health Center, Counseling and Psychological Services, and KWCR. The radio station took a break from its usual upbeat music to play Celtic and classical music used in stress relief.

“The purpose (of the fair) is to show people all of the different ways that they can relieve stress,” Lindeman said, “because I think we all have stress . . . and if you don’t deal with it in an appropriate way, it can take over.”

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