The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

    Chill out

    Renee Rosenow

    For sophomore Allison Fendrick, stress “is what keeps me from being relaxed and all the things that keep me from being healthy.”

    P.J. Kennedy, director of Student Counseling Services said the only organisms that do not experience stress are dead organisms.

    “A small amount of stress is a good thing,” he said. “When we have a stress overload then we develop problems.”

    Sophomore Emily Runge said she has been worrying about finals for some time, but said in the next three days it is going to get much worse.

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    “When I get stressed out I get overdramatic,” she said. “It feels like the world is ending.”

    Kennedy said this could be due to the human “fight or flight” response. He explained that when a person is exposed to a stressor, their body instantly reacts with an increased heart rate, energy boost and even adrenaline production. If the person is exposed to the stressor for too long they will eventually reach exhaustion.

    Fendrick said she deals with stress often.

    “There are so many facets of where stress comes from,” she said. “Sometimes it’s hard to know what’s stressing you out.”

    Kennedy said he sees students dealing with stress all over campus. Often they are dealing with finals, relationship problems and roommate issues all at the same time, he said.

    “A small amount of stress pulls the best out of it but when people are under a lot of stress it will interfere with their thinking,” Fendrick said.

    Body effects

    Kennedy said correlation studies show high stress can cause health problems.

    “There’s a significant relationship between stress and cancer, cardiovascular problems, chronic back problems, fatigue, insomnia and migraine headaches,” he said. “Anxiety can lead to anger and burnout, which after time turns into depression.”

    Methods to de-stress

    Junior Jacie Schantz is a member of The Student Wellness Advocacy Team, an organization on campus aimed at educating students on healthy lifestyle choices. One key topic the group addresses is stress management and relaxation.

    Schantz offers advice for students dealing with stress.

    “Exercise, set goals, don’t procrastinate, manage your time, get at least 20 minutes of alone time a day, don’t sweat the small stuff, use humor and positive thinking and just take time to relax,” Schantz said. “These are some ways to manage stress.”

    To help with stress personally, Schantz said she takes study breaks.

    “I make sure while I’m studying to get something to eat or I’ll take an hour off to watch a TV show,” Schantz said.

    Kennedy said there are four major ways to deal with stress: relaxing, exercising, appraising the stressor and managing time.

    “There’s meditation and relaxation or simply focusing on something else, like music,” Kennedy said. This can be done while taking a short study break, he added.

    Exercise is a also a way to burn off the excitement of a stressful situation, Kennedy said.

    Fendrick uses this method most often by going to the climbing wall in McPhee, and in a way she is using physical activity and relaxation techniques at the same time.

    “It’s a place I can go to really get into what I’m doing,” she said. “It’s a release because you can only concentrate on the rocks, otherwise you’ll fall.”

    The rock wall is free for students for the rest of the semester but will begin charging next semester.

    Appraising the stressor, or addressing the issue mentally is another important way of managing stress, said Kennedy. He mentioned many times a student will do poorly on a test because they approach it negatively.

    “If we change the way we appraise then we feel differently and we deal better with our stress,” he said.

    Finally, Kennedy mentioned time management.

    “Being able to set limits and say ‘no’ is a helpful stress reduction method,” Kennedy said. “Sometimes a student doesn’t get poor grades because they’re not smart or because they didn’t study, it’s because they’re so confident and they always say yes.”

    Kennedy also mentioned that it’s important to set up a strong social support network.

    “We need to rely on each other,” he said.

    Runge said she is a strong believer in this method.

    “I would suggest people talk to someone,” she said. “They’ll help you realize it’s not that bad.”


    Finals are only one week away and if all students are anything like Fendrick, they’ll be cramming beforehand.

    “I just work through it, get it done, get it over with,” she said.

    Runge said she hopes to have a smooth transition out of this

    “I know I have a lot of projects but I’m taking one thing at a time,” she said. “Just take a step back and think about it, that’s basically the only thing you can do.”

    So if the stress on campus is becoming palpable perhaps it’s time to relax, exercise, reevaluate the situation, or cut a few responsibilities.

    “Too much stress is a problem,” Kennedy said, “but at the same time we want life to make enough demands of us to pull out our best and to cause us to stretch and grow.”

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