Low lighting, cushioned armchairs and blue palm-sized stress balls were all Heidi Ison and Lisa Costas needed as they hosted their Relaxation and Stress Reduction Techniques workshop, the first in a series.
The hour-long session was held in the Counseling Center, located in the Student Services building (SVC), room 2124.
Ison, a licensed clinical social worker, and Costas, a licensed psychologist, led five students through informational slides about the causes and effects of stress and taught them a deep diaphragmatic breathing exercise to help reduce future stress. The workshop ended with seven minutes of meditation, complete with lights out, deep breathing and repeated mantras such as “soft” to calm the students.
The purpose of the workshop is to “reverse your reaction to stress,” said Ison. “It is for personal growth and wellness.”
“We are giving you tools, and every week adds a new tool. Every week you add to the repertoire,” said Costas.
Stress is one of the major factors affecting the health, well being and academic performance of college students. The Spring 2010 National College Health Assessment reports that 41.1 percent of college students experience more than average stress.
“When I talk to students, they state effective time management as their biggest issue, which leads to stress and the need for these relaxation techniques,” said Christine Haywood, a marketing specialist at Wellness USF.
According to the American Psychological Association’s 2010 “Stress in America” report, failure to manage stress can lead to sickness, sleeping troubles, substance abuse, mood swings, lack of motivation and social withdrawal.
Ison projected her ideas for upcoming classes. “We will be moving into sort of, like I said, more behavioral suggestions for changes you can make in your life.”
The workshops are held every Tuesday from noon to 1 p.m. in SVC 2124. In the future, they will include aromatherapy, music and various visualizations. By May, Ison and Costas hope to end the final class with a full 20 minutes of guided relaxation.