UHS to offer 'pet therapy,' other stress-reduction services
May 4, 2009
As University of Wisconsin-Madison students hit the libraries to prepare for final exams, research papers and presentations, the University Health Services (UHS) "counseling canines" are headed back to Library Mall for the annual Pet Therapy study break.
Staff from UHS Counseling and Consultation Services will bring an assortment of their own friendly dogs to Library Mall from 3:30-5 p.m. on Wednesday, May 6 (rain date is Friday, May 8). Students are welcome to pet and play with the dogs — an activity proven to have stress-reducing benefits.
Counseling staff will also be available to chat informally about end-of-semester stress and offer advice on ways to lighten the load.
"Taking brief study breaks — even five minutes per hour — can reduce stress and help you recall information," says Rob Sepich, student relations manager at UHS.
In addition to brief breaks, Sepich advises to work some sleep into your schedule. Research confirms that among other things, sleep improves recall of recently learned material.
"Some of the most successful students I know have made sleep their top priority," says Sepich. "So forget the all-nighter, and you'll probably reap the benefits of sleep on your exams."
Sepich says other basic stress-reduction tips include:
- Set attainable goals, striving for excellence rather than perfection. This will place less stress on you and may help you excel.
- Go easy on caffeine because you are producing enough adrenaline right now.
- Aim to achieve success instead of avoid failure, and you will more likely reach your goals.
- Find something to laugh at, no matter how fleeting. Since final exams are already serious enough, take a break when you can to lighten your mood.
- According to physician Andrew Weil, even a few minutes a day of diaphragmatic breathing is the single best health practice you can use for stress reduction.
- Visit the UHS Web site and click on "Take a Break from Stress" to listen to or download brief relaxation exercises.
- Try telling yourself that you have enough time, despite how you may feel. Instead of wasting time dwelling on how little is left, just focus your energy on the tasks.
- Ask for assistance. Turning to friends, faculty or UHS for help in coping is a sign of wisdom and strength.
To schedule a free, one-on-one session with a counselor, students should call the main UHS number at 608-265-5600 to schedule an appointment. Call the same number or make an online appointment through "MyUHS" for 50 minutes of massage therapy for $40.