‘Stress less’ event spreads happiness across campus

Published by adviser, Author: Nina Bracci - Asst. Campus Life Editor , Date: September 21, 2016

The Wellness Commission hosted a ‘stress less’ event Tuesday during common hour in different areas around campus to provide free activities for students to participate in.

Dr. Martha Kemeny, co-chairwoman of the Wellness Commission and professor in the Parks and Recreation department, planned the different stations for the event and asked others to join and help her with different activities.

Kemeny said that nutrition and activity is important, but stress is also something that affects people’s health and goes unnoticed.

“The idea was to provide opportunities that were free for students, faculty and staff to think about how they could decrease stress in their lives,” Kemeny said.

Kemeny said other people on the commission were all over campus running stations.  She said her intent was to broaden out the event and have stations around campus so that people could think about ways that might help them handle their stress no matter where they were spending common hour.

Stations included yoga in the Aebersold Student Recreation Center (ARC) pool, a ‘Paws and Relax’ animal-assisted therapy session in Patterson Hall, a meditation walk along a trail around campus, a laughter circle in the quad and a setting outside the Storm Harbor Equestrian Center to relax and enjoy nature.

“I wanted a well-rounded offering so we could give people an opportunity to think through things that might suit their fancy,” Kemeny said.

Dr. Deborah Hutchins, a professor in the Parks and Recreation department, brought her therapy dogs in for the event and said it research shows that dogs reduce stress.

“The human-animal bond helps people to relieve stress for the people who like dogs, of course,” Hutchins said.

Hutchins said there have been many other universities that do this kind of event with therapy dogs to help reduce stress for college students because work can add up quickly.

Hutchins brought her Golden Retriever, Bella, and her Irish Setter, Sooki, to interact with the students who attended the event.  She also frequently brings them into her office and takes them to local facilities with students.

“About 50 people showed up just for this event, and I think it gives them something to look forward to instead of just going to another class,” junior exercise science major, Michaela Golden, said.

Golden suggested that dogs should be brought around more often, specifically during midterm and finals week, in order to make the atmosphere less stressful and to meet up with friends.

At a different station, Dr. Colleen Cooke, professor in the Parks and Recreations department, felt that humor reduces her stress which is why she created a laughter circle in the quad.

Cooke brought music therapy students to the event to do a music intervention on all who attended.

Sophomore business major, Brooke Sanfilippo, said she thinks the concept of a ‘stress less’ event around campus is beneficial to students during anxious times.

“I saw people sitting in a circle laughing in the quad and they all looked genuinely happy,” Sanfilippo said.  “I bet they forgot about their responsibilities for a little bit and just had fun.”

Golden said events like these remind students that there’s a whole other world out there other than just books.

Kemeny said she wants students to leave Slippery Rock with some of these activities so they can have them and use them in their lives.

“Everyone needs to find a thing that works for them, and what we’re trying to do with the Wellness Commission is address staff, student and faculty needs all at once,” Kemeny said.





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