For many students, finals produce stress levels that are through the roof. Fortunately, CU-Boulder’s Counseling and Psychological Services, CAPS, offers a variety of programs to help students manage those feelings of anxiety.
Postdoctoral CAPS employee Dina Matic Kriakova explains stress is the response people experience during periods of pressure. Though stress manifests itself differently based on the individual experiencing it, students can learn to identify the symptoms.
CAPS volunteer and peer educator Emmie Matsuno explains that there are four categories of symptoms: physical, cognitive, behavioral, and emotional.
The body’s physical reaction to stress includes responses such as muscle tension, shallow breathing, and sleep loss, while emotional responses include moods swings and scattered thoughts. For these symptoms, Kriakova recommends practicing meditation for basic relaxation.
CAPS offers two meditation programs, Feel Good Fridays and Take a Break Meditate, which vary depending on the level of guidance the mediator is interested in. Students can also enroll in Tai Chi classes, which focus on connecting with the body to relieve stress.
In addition to the activity-based classes, CAPS has a few educational options, including a coping skills development group and Stress Break, a volunteer program in which residence halls, sororities and other student groups host CAPS peer volunteers for a lesson on relaxation.
Matsuno is one of the CAPS peer volunteers who leads the Stress Break program. “Stress can be a good thing and can help motivate us,” says Masuno, “but if the amount of stress is too large then we might want to take steps to cut that back.”
Stress Break discusses steps for stress reduction and leads a guided relaxation. The relaxation session emphasizes breathing as well as using your mind to relax muscles by focusing on various body parts and focusing on each muscle individually.
In addition to the programs CAPS offers, the office is available to students for free walk-in counseling sessions. The office is located in C4C and is open Monday through Friday between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Although finals are a difficult time for all students, the key to managing stress is learning to understand it. For more information about the workshops and groups that CAPS offers, visit https://counseling.colorado.edu/index.php.