Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Stress less, even if for a few hours.

"Do you have white hair?"

"Are you a man?"

These were some of the questions two students asked each other at the Health Promotion and Services' biannual Stress Less Day event on Monday at USF's McLaren Complex. Though these questions could make any young female uncomfortable (maybe even stressed), the query solicited more giggles than tears. You see, the girls were playing Guess Who?, one of a slew of games that were provided for students at the stress free event.

At another table, three students were deep in concentration as they took turns tapping their way out of a 54 wooden block pile-up. With legs shaking, junior Stephanie Chan said, "This event is effective, though some of the games are a little stressful, like this one. But it's pretty relaxing." Her friends tell her it's her turn and she contemplates out loud what move to employ next - a crucial decision because, by this time, the Jenga tower rests on one block. Squeals of delight can be heard as her woodpecker-like taps turn out to be a success.

Other games at the event included: Connect Four, Twister, Checkers and Dominoes. The eight tables in the conference room also had scissors and construction paper, crayons and coloring pages, as well as muticolored Play-Doh. But the best part of the event (aside from the free massages by a licensed masseuse) was the free food. Students stacked their plates with vegetarian sandwich wraps, vegetables (carrots, peppers, broccoli, celery...), fruits (grapes, watermelon, strawberries...), cheese, cookies, crackers, bread, yogurt, and an assortment of muffins. Tea, coffee, and juices were provided for beverages.

Laughter and the buzz of conversation filled the room accompanied by smooth mid-tempo music as students ate and played games. Senior Mai Vang, who works for Health Promotion and Services, helped with planning the event. She said the goal of Stress Less Day was for students to reduce stress before finals and build a community with each other. Vang explains that it is a proven fact that family life is not the major cause of bad grades. "The number one reason students do poorly in school is because of stress. Stress affects students' grades the most," she said.

Sophomore Paola Vu, who was eating with friends, was ecstatic about the event. "This is so great! I haven't seen something this amazing in this building in so long," she said, "it's well timed, with people stressing out about finals." Valarie Duran, a senior, said, "I think this event is important because a lot of people have many things on their mind. It's a good time to forget about the things you have to do."

As I sat there observing my surroundings, what seemed like a daunting task of writing about an event turned into something uplifting. For a couple of hours, I, along with others, forgot about deadlines and papers. I laughed with the three friends when their wooden tower finally collapsed. I caught up with a classmate I hadn't seen since last semester. And I happily chowed down on some free grub. For a moment, I was a kid again, with no worries or stress, contented with my Play-Doh.

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