USF Wellness will attempt to relieve the stress that comes with the end of the semester by helping students save their sanity and grades.
Stacey Pearson-Wharton, assistant vice president for Wellness in Student Affairs, said USF Wellness hopes to help students manage stress through coordinating programs and workshops to teach relaxation and study methods. Wellness will offer stress-relieving activities for the remainder of the semester, including one that includes petting puppies and a miniature horse.
“Anxiety and stress are something we’ve come to expect at finals time,” Pearson-Wharton said. “Because of that, we are trying to take a more proactive approach… we know that completing the semester is inherently stressful. It’s the nature of it. Our goal is for student to be well so they can do well.”
Today, on the Library Lawn, volunteers for USF Wellness will create a “Stress Free Zone.” In addition to giving out free healthy snacks and stress balls, Pearson-Wharton said there will be trained animal therapists who will have puppies and a miniature horse for students to pet to “reduce their stress.”
“Interaction with an animal can really lower people’s anxiety and all the things that signal anxiety, like breathing, your heart rate, or just the notion of having fun takes you from being overwhelmed… to a place where a student could be able to perform at peak performance,” she said.
“Pet-a-Pup,” as the pet therapy is called, is the newest addition to USF Wellness’ array of student success features, and is provided by Therapy Pet Connection. The pet therapy session will take place today between 11 a.m. and 1p.m., and again next Thursday at the same time at the lawn near the USF Bookstore.
Wellness will also teach the “Pomodoro method,” Pearson-Wharton said. The method suggests students to study in 25-minute intervals with five-minute breaks. Pearson-Wharton said this method will help students study more effectively than cramming for hours at a time.
“It’s hard to keep your stamina when you (study for hours at a time), and you often get to a point of diminishing return,” she said. “We want students to stretch and breathe.”
Study rooms set up in the Marshall Student Center for students to study together with the Pomodoro method, she said.
In the Counseling Center, students can also attend relaxation and stress reduction workshops every Tuesday at noon and a meditation workshop on Wednesday at noon.
The Counseling Center and USF Wellness further advise students to remain physically active in between studying.
“Being active releases the same neurotransmitters in the brain that help with depression and anxiety,” she said. “Running and being more active gets your head clearer, makes you less tired, as well as reduces stress. If we could get you to take care of yourself better, to be well, then you are going to perform better.”
— Reporting by Alex Rosenthal