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Dogs, de-stressing and deep breathing

4-4 Relaxation Fair (Ariana Berkemeier) (1 of 5).jpg
Students pet therapy dog Flocki, a Great Pyrenees from Intermountain Therapy Animals. (Ariana Berkemeier / The Signpost)

The Counseling & Psychological Services Center, with the help from some furry friends, held a Relaxation Fair in the Shepherd Union to help students find healthy ways to live life.

The fair had numerous activities, resources and exercises for students all centered around showing students behaviors that can be utilized in order to relax during stressful moments of their lives.

There were many activities at the fair, including: a bubble blowing station that promoted deep breathing, a Zen booth where students could take a moment to shut out the hustle and bustle of the union, hand sand, coloring pages, essential oils, foam rollers and therapy dogs.

The fair was spread throughout the atrium of the union, giving students plenty of room to visit every booth.

Erika Daines, a retired professor from WSU who taught for 33 years, brought her therapy dog, Flocki, to the Relaxation Fair to help students unwind.

Flocki was popular with students at the event. The 120-pound Great Pyrenees was a gentle giant, often resting her head on students’ legs while enjoying some attention.

Flocki, whose name was derived from a German word for snowflake, is experienced with helping others and has been a therapy dog for eight years. Daines said that therapy dogs can help people in ways that humans simply cannot.

“She brings a smile to peoples’ faces,” Daines said. “When you smile, you feel better about yourself.”

Tamara Robinette, a WSU counselor, was present to answer student questions, hand out information pamphlets and give tips on how to help them deal with stress at home.

Robinette said that students must remember to take care of themselves first, regardless of how busy their schedule becomes. According to Robinette, a break to de-stress doesn’t have to take long—a relaxation exercise can be done in 10–15 minutes.

Robinette also reminded students that they have 12 free counseling sessions a year with the Counseling & Psychological Services Center. Robinette said that the on-campus counseling is a helpful resource that many students don’t know about.

“The more we can get the word out, the better for students,” Robinette said.

Jamie Brass, a psychologist at the Counseling & Psychological Services Center, believes that the Relaxation Fair is a good way to engage and interact with students.

Brass spent her time at the fair managing a bubble-blowing booth. Brass said that blowing bubbles is fun, but it also doubles as a calming, deep breathing exercise.

According to Brass, deep breathing has been proven to help the human body by releasing tension, pain, toxins and stimulating a happier mood.

Brass also said that this exercise can be done at home, with or without the use of bubbles. Those who want to participate can follow three simple steps: breathe in through the nose to the count of six, hold the breath in to the count of six and release the breath by mouth to a count of eight.

“Take time to do something to help you relax,” Brass said. “Just a few minutes of relaxation a day can increase productivity.”

Robinette encourages students to visit the Counseling & Psychological Services website to find resources and tips for various mental health needs.

The next event held by the Counseling & Psychological Services Center will be a Stress Break on April 18 in the Shepherd Union. The Stress Break will include the therapy dogs along with a relaxation table that will have multiple relaxing activities for students to participate in as finals week approaches.

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