The minutes are ticking until your next class begins, and you know that the last test of the semester is waiting for you just beyond the classroom door.
While you’re trying to cram as much information into your distracted brain as possible, in the back of your mind you’re worrying about the oil change your car desperately needs, the cell phone bill you’ve been putting off for too long, and the cash that you don’t have to buy presents for Christmas.
If you deal with stress similarly to sports fan Aaron Biddle, a junior education and history major, this is about the time that you dial up your mother.
“When I’m stressed, I talk to my mother most,” said Biddle. “Or I stop studying to watch a movie or play football. I just take some time off to breathe.”
When stress is closing in on you and your sanity, your mother’s open ears are not the only pair willing to listen. Free, confidential, and professional help is available on campus, as close as your next class, at the Health, Counseling and Prevention Services offices located in the University Center.
Lisa Barresi, one of four counselors at NKU, acknowledges that many people who come to her office already have someone to talk to, but that some find it helpful to have sources outside of the situation to talk with.
“We most often see students for depression and relationship issues, and stress can be a component of depression,” she said. “Depression and anxiety is common, especially with college students, who may be dealing with roommate issues, parental issues, problems with their significant other or friends.”
“We do give stress management presentations in classes, and we usually speak to University 101 classes,” she added. “The center offers group help, as well.”
One focus of the counseling services is the prevention of stress. While it is not always possible to prevent the pressure felt by tests, papers, empty wallets and relationship trials, there are ways to strengthen your tolerance to such blood pressure predators.
“Be realistic with oneself advises NKU counselor Robert Wells. “Too often students overextend themselves, resulting in a build up of stress.”
Wells, who is beginning his third year counseling at NKU, has a list of ways to prevent the effects of stress, including: regular exercise, sufficient amounts of sleep, a balanced diet, learning to express your feelings, learning to feel good about yourself and trying not to make too many changes at once, among others.
Kristin Koester, a junior literature major, chooses to release her stress through yoga exercises.
“I feel the most stress during the start of school, mostly in the first couple of weeks, when you’re not sure how professors are with tests and papers,” she said. “I also get stressed at test time, or finals.”
Koester is not the only one who releases her stress through her pores with physical exercise.
Kristina Loyd frequents the gym to release her stress.
“I can tell when I’m getting stressed because I just feel overwhelmed, like there is not enough time in the day, and I get a claustrophobic type of feeling,” said the senior sociology major.
While Loyd said she has never been to the counseling services at NKU, she knows what she would look for in her advisor.
“They would have to be a good listener, not to necessarily give advice, but to be understanding and not form judgments,” she said. “Whether they are male or female wouldn’t matter.”
If senior political science major Nick Brauer were looking for a counselor to talk to, he said he would prefer to talk with a woman. “They [counselors] would have to be mellow – they couldn’t be in my face, that would make me nervous,” said Brauer. “I would feel more comfortable with a woman. They’re better listeners.”
On the other hand, for commuter student Justin Hackett, a dedicated listener might be hard to find when he’s relieving stress. Although he claims not to be affected by stress, the senior psychology and political science major distresses by drumming out his frustrations, a hobby he has had for the past 11 years.
Whether playing the drums, practicing yoga or hitting the gym, there are several variations of exercise that have been recognized as popular methods of easing the effects of stress.
Speaking of exercise, NKU’s Campus Recreation Wellness Office offers a variety of fun, free workout programs, including yoga, kickboxing and step aerobics as healthy, interactive ways of releasing stress.
The Wellness Center’s website, access.nku.edu/wellness, describes holistic wellness as six dimensions: physical, social, emotional, occupational, intellectual, and spiritual, all of which represent the interrelatedness of the mind, body and spirit. By making healthy choices in each dimension and making healthy decisions a way of life, wellness will be enhanced.
Susan Roth is associate director of Campus Recreation, and although she sees many students for traditional reasons, such as desires to be fit and lose weight, she also understands the correlation between stress and physical fitness.
“All [six dimensions] need to be in balance. When they are out of balance, that is when people feel the most stress,” said Roth.
Fitness programs offered by the Wellness Center are being added all the time. For information on starting a fitness program or to obtain a schedule of events, call the Wellness Department at (859) 572-5197.
“Quite a few students come back and report to me or send me a note in the mail after hearing a presentation I give to a class, and they tell me I will never know what that did for them. That is the most rewarding thing,” Roth said.