UNL workshop results in less stress, more insight

UNL students take part in a stress management workshop on Oct., 16.

A UNL student takes part in a stress management workshop on Oct., 16.

Story and photos by Brianna Foster, NewsNetNebraska

When Reynaldo Lemus walked into the UNL Love Library on Oct. 16 for the stress management workshop, the junior student wasn’t sure what to expect – he just wanted to learn different ways to relax.

He listed his top three stressors as: money, maintaining the required grade point average for his scholarship, and his French class.

With class mid-terms this month and finals in December, stress can be a factor for some students.

According to the PBS website, “stress is your body’s response to anything that disrupts your normal life and routines.”

The PBS website also includes different stress signs, such as irritability, fatigue, muscle aches and rapid heartbeat.

The Stress Management and Relaxation workshop was designed to provide solutions, offering detailed information and stretching techniques.

Campus Rec Wellness Services’ Paul Kwiatkowski and Christopher Phipps led the workshop, in its first partnership with The First-Year Experience and Transition Programs.

“What we’re really trying to do is reach out to the student population here at UNL and making sure that they’re getting the opportunities to succeed,” Kwiatkowski said.

“A lot of what we do at Campus Rec is that exercise base because we have the facilities to do that, but it’s also important to go out into the actual campus and make sure that we’re reaching out and collaborating with other programs.”

Participants in the stress reduction workshop received a stress ball as part of the event.

Participants in the stress reduction workshop received a stress ball as part of the event.

Stretching techniques

Another form of reaching out – stretches, made up part of the workshop. The presenters led the group in neck and arm stretches intended to relieve tension.

Phipps told each person in the group to use their right hand to grab the left side of his/her head and pull it toward the shoulders to release tension in the neck region.

 Next up: arm exercises

This exercise involved opening the arms wide, then reaching upward and bringing both hands together. Phipps said this stretches the shoulder and chest region.

Kwiatkowski compared the exercise to the signature stance in the movie Titanic, with one’s arms reaching behind the body.

During each exercise, the presenters instructed the group to inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth.

Kwiatkowski said stretching should be done as needed, but as often as possible each day.

Lemus said that was his favorite part and he plans to keep it going.

“I like the whole [stretching] five minutes every hour. That sounds like a good idea to start off,” he said.

“It’s pretty simple to do, just remember to get up and do it really quick. You get more flexible out of it which is always a plus.”

The First-Year Experience and Transition Programs office hosts weekly workshops and is located in Love Library.

The First-Year Experience and Transition Programs office hosts weekly workshops and is located in Love Library.

Wellness factors

Stretching is a component of stress management, but also, getting enough sleep – which can be a rarity for some college students.

Kwiatkowski talked about a study that showed similar reaction time results between people experiencing the effects of sleep deprivation and people with certain blood alcohol levels.

“They [researchers] took people and they had them stay awake for 24 hours and with that 24 hours of wakefulness, they measured their reaction time to someone who had a .08 blood alcohol level,” he said.

“Their reaction time and their reactions to different things was the same level.”

In addition to adequate sleep and exercise, proper nutrition was a key element.

Nicole Smith, an academic success coach at the First-Year Experience and Transition Programs, said that stress management as a whole affects overall academic success.

“Too much stress can lead to academic failure. For a student that can’t manage their time well or doesn’t know how to not procrastinate, and waits until the last minute, that can not only be detrimental to their academic life but also to their physical life as well,” she said.

“We always want students to be healthy on their own, but that also affects how they’re gonna perform in the classroom.”

The workshop was free and each person received a stress ball at the end of the event.

The First-Year Experience and Transition Programs office hosts weekly workshops and is located in Love Library.

For more information about upcoming events, contact the office at success@unl.edu.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *