SUNY Oswego’s Counseling Services Center is holding events starting today to help students combat stress for International Stress Awareness Week.  

These events range from arts and crafts for both artistic and not-as-artistic students, to nature walks and eco-therapy, according to Kyle Dzintars, senior counselor and outreach coordinator.   

“I’m running an expressive arts technique group” called “Get it Out: Using Art to Feel Better” on Monday, Nov. 1, Dzintars said. “It’s a program and workshop with arts and crafts materials but I’m also walking through some education about how creativity can help us through stress and how it actually works.” This will take place from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in 231 Marano Campus Center.

Tuesday, Nov. 2, will include another drawing drop-in workshop for those who may not be artistically inclined, called “But I Suck At Drawing… Coping Strategies for the ‘Unartistic.’” Dzintars said it is designed as a free expression workshop, and will unfold 3 to 4 p.m. in 107 Lanigan Hall.

On Wednesday, Nov. 3, COPE or Counseling Outreach Peer Educators, will hold their weekly drop-in “Tea Talk” in Penfield Library from 4 to 5 p.m., where students can stop in and talk to those peer educators. 

On Thursday, Nov. 4, “Lessons from Nature” will happen from 12:45 to 2:15 p.m. at Rice Creek Field Station, as it does every week, allowing students to hike, walk through the woods or use materials from the outdoors to create. 

“These are things we have planned so far, I’m sure more will pop up,” Dzintars said. 

Besides the events during International Stress Awareness Week, the Counseling Services Center offers a variety of resources and services. 

“Students can sign up for individual services or group services, depending on their specific goal,” he said. “We also offer drop-in groups; we have one that runs in thre- week intervals and it’s called RIO.” 

Dzintars explained that RIO (Recognition, Insight, Openness) is for mindfulness practices and learning how to use those to bring stress levels down. 

“We have a lot of students that get test anxiety or just generally overwhelmed, so it’s just about teaching them ways to help handle that stress and anxiety of schoolwork and life,” Dzintars said. 

The Counseling Services Center is aware that not all students will go to counseling but they offer “Let’s Talk” which is another drop-in space. Held multiple times per week, “Let’s Talk” allows students to go to Penfield Library or Lakeside Dining Hall to just talk with a counselor about their lives, the services the center offers or when they just need to rant to someone outside of the situation. 

What is stress and how do you handle it?

Stress is defined as the body's response to situations that can be perceived as dangerous or tough. 

“Stress is a way our bodies respond to anything we have to go through,” Dzintars said. “That happens in a lot of different forms, so there are ways that stress can present when doing physical tasks but also when talking about emotional or financial situations.” 

When a person is stressed, that stress can disrupt body functions. 

“In the short term, stress can make us feel anxious, unsettled, body aches, and even foggy,” Dzintars said. “As that becomes long-term stress, when we are constantly living in the stress, the symptoms become more consistent and tougher.” 

Dzintars said that long-term stress can lead to issues with your physical body whether that be heart issues, digestive issues or cardiovascular issues. 

He said it is important to alleviate stress when symptoms are in the short-term, otherwise it will be harder on ourselves.   

Dzintars added that this semester he has seen a lot more students struggling with their classes. 

“I think as a group we have been talking more about how students are struggling with the adjustment process from the year online to in-person classes,” he said. “Students are exhausted just trying to keep up with the changes but also keeping track of what’s important to them.”

There are a lot of ways to manage stress and stress levels. Dzintars said the different ways are unique to the person but can be common. 

“I think the most basic way to reduce stress is to connect with your breathing,” he said. “By connecting with your breathing it allows you to feel more grounded and when we get really stressed, the first thing that goes is your breath.” 

Students can also practice grounding methods like meditation or exercise. 

Dzintars said many people he has spoken to like to relieve stress by practicing self-care methods, like having a spa day or doing face masks. 

Talking to friends and family is another way to cope with stress.

“By going to people we trust, we are able to handle stress by being able to vent, get feedback and sometimes advice,” Dzintars said. “This helps us feel heard and understood.” 

Counseling services are free to students as are the events being held during International Stress Awareness Week. 

Find more information on services, visit the Counseling Services website and check out related events on the SUNY Oswego Events Calendar

-- Written by Cassandra Abel of the Class of 2021