‘Who you gonna call?’ Stressbusters

Students alleviate stress during stress management and prevention events


With finals just around the corner, overwhelmed students are finding peaceful ways to unwind through stress relieving workshops on campus.

Every week, UB’s Wellness Education Services hold “Stressbusters” an event that provides students with a five-minute back rub and stress reduction techniques. Wellness Education Services holds 26 stress relief events throughout the course of the semester that takes place across UB’s North and South Campuses.

The Stressbusters are a team of student volunteers trained to alleviate stress by using various physical and conversational techniques.

Volunteers go through a four-hour training session every semester, where they learn massages and self-wellness techniques. They also meet with Sharlynn Daun-Barnett, coordinator of the Stress Management Program, once a month to maintain proper techniques and discuss stress in their own lives.

“If students need further support, we give them information about relaxation techniques, aromatherapy, meditation, as well as good eating and sleep habits,” Daun-Barnett said. “The goal is to show them how to physically, psychologically and emotionally manage their stress.”

Daun-Barnett has been working with UB’s Wellness Education Services for 10 years. She explained how holistic coping methods are the most important tool for a person’s overall well-being.

“Stress is always the number one thing that affects academic achievement,” Daun-Barnett said. “People tend to think that no matter where you are in the ebbs and flows of stress, you can’t get rid of it. Or in some cases, they believe taking one yoga class and studying right will fix it. This is why we employ comprehensive techniques for stress reduction.”

In addition to back rubs, UB’s Wellness Education Services schedule dog therapy rooms, meditation lounges and crafts. During the events, students are provided with pamphlets containing other stress relief practices.

Daun-Barnett knows a five-minute back rub is not going to completely fix students’ stresses. She encourages Stressbusters to spark conversation during the back rub, so they can assist them with further resources if needed.

“One student who came to get a massage was extremely distraught because his girlfriend broke up with him the day before,” Daun-Barnett said. “I realized he needed more than just a few methods to help balance his emotions, so I referred him to UB’s Counseling Services, where he would be able to talk to a counselor about his issues.”

Patrick Ordonez, a senior biomedical science major, talked about the pressure his major puts on him. Ordonez said his busy schedule made it difficult to find time to cope with his stress.

“On some days, I wouldn’t even have time to eat or sleep, which are my basic human needs,” Ordonez said. “It would become an unhealthy cycle. At times, I just accepted stress as a part of my life and never looked for ways to cope, which made me feel even more stressed and burned out.”

During a Stressbuster event, Ordonez took a student self-assessment to rate and reflect his current self-care strategies.

“The results of my self-assessment were embarrassing,” Ordonez said. “It really brought to light how rarely I engaged in activities that help manage or reduce my stress. Internally and externally, I had zero balance in maintaining my overall health and wellbeing.”

Ordonez realized keeping his stresses bottled up could have had a large impact on his grades. He asked a Stressbuster for healthy methods to alleviate built up anxiety and stress.

“[My Stressbuster] immediately gave me a pamphlet which provided five simple mindful practices for daily life,” Ordonez said. “Start with a purpose, enjoy every mouthful, get your brain out of the fast lane, activate your mind and muscles and drive yourself calm, not crazy, in that order.”

Included in the pamphlet were suggestions for healthy snacks, breathing techniques and mental health guidelines to help reach academic success.

Allison McMahon, a senior business administration major, appreciates the time and effort the staff puts into the stress management workshops.

“During my massage, the Stressbuster told me she was concerned about the large knots in my back,” McMahon said. “She spent 10 extra minutes massaging my hands, arms, shoulders and pressure points.”

After the massage, McMahon received a sheet of paper with different chair yoga exercises. Chair yoga is meant to stretch and lengthen the spine and is especially helpful for people who spend a long time studying or writing a paper.

McMahon believes everyone should keep in mind the different students face that are not just academic.

“Sometimes, there are deeper, more personal issues that can cause stress in all aspects of someone’s life,” McMahon said. “People who are a minority, have disabilities, experience death in the family, live with a clinical disorder can all have increased levels of stress. It’s important for students to be mindful of that, and know that UB provides us with resources like Stressbusters to enhance individual health and foster positive lifelong behaviors.”

Senochi Kang is a staff writer and can be reached at features@ubspectrum.com