Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)
Center for Community S440
Monday-Friday 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Community Health, Division of Wardenburg Health Center
Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
The Haven: http://colorado.edu/healthcenter/what-we-offer/chair-massage
When you’re balancing academics, extracurricular activities and social life, stress is an inevitable part of the college experience.
Plenty of students feel the pressure, so there are many resources at CU to help cope with stress and determine when it’s taking a toll.
Good stress and bad stress
Stress can be tied to a number of different issues, from physical illness to substance abuse to relationship troubles. The key is differentiating between “good” and “bad” stress.
“‘Good’ stress makes people do stuff when they need to get it done,” said Lee Scriggins, of Community Health at CU’s Wardenburg Health Center. “‘Bad’ stress makes people feel immobilized and unproductive.”
Community Health works to help students recognize stress and its causes, then develop beneficial coping mechanisms. There are many ways to build relaxation into a daily routine, Scriggins said.
“Meet more people, build study skills and exercise,” Scriggins said. “Maintaining vicinity and attachments (to important people and activities) is protective and stress-reducing.”
Students don’t always have to find their own methods to unwind. One resource provided by Community Health is The Haven, a stress-reduction workshop that offers brief chair massage and aromatherapy while teaching relaxation techniques.
Partnering with the Student Outreach and Retention Center for Equity (SORCE), Havens are hosted every other Wednesday during the school year at SORCE’s chili pot events (beginning Sept. 18). Resident Advisors and student groups can also schedule their own Havens through the Wardenburg website.
Community Health isn’t the only department on campus that helps students cope with stress. CU’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) offers an array of options for students seeking stress relief.
“We see students for a wide range of issues,” said Andrea Iglesias, psychologist at CAPS, “from stress to academic concerns to struggles with the transition to college life.”
Here are a couple of ways CAPS can help:
Individual and group options
Students can access all CAPS services on a free, walk-in/call-in basis, including up to six sessions of one-on-one counseling per academic year and group therapy options facilitated by a CAPS counselor. Multiple weekly workshops teach calm-increasing skills and activities like meditation, Tai Chi and improving interpersonal skills.
CAPS counselor Matthew Tomatz facilitates a weekly group called Feel Good Fridays devoted to instilling a sense of calm in stressed-out students so they can enjoy the weekend. To do this, Tomatz leads participants through a mind-body training exercise called Integrative Restoration, or iRest.
“(iRest) is a powerful guided meditation,” Tomatz said. “It’s used to work with people who experience chronic pain, anxiety and depression.”
Feel Good Fridays happen every Friday from 12:10 p.m. to 12:40 p.m. in the Center for Community’s Abrams Lounge. Students looking to relax must get to Feel Good Fridays on time, according to the CAPS website. In order to prevent the session from being disturbed, latecomers aren’t allowed.
20 Minute Stress Break
CAPS services can also come to student groups, residence halls, sororities, classes and other meetings and organizations. The 20 Minute Stress Break is a short program conducted by trained student volunteers that provides tips for stress management and walks participants through a relaxation exercise.
How to help a friend
Some students react differently to stress than others. That’s why the CAPS How to Help a Friend campaign includes stress in its discussion of issues one might encounter among peers and how to react.
“How to Help a Friend is a resource for students approaching someone who might be struggling,” Iglesias said. “It provides tips on what to say and what not to say.”
In addition to tips for addressing specific issues like substance abuse, suicide and body image, How to Help a Friend also gives pointers for broaching potentially uncomfortable subjects. Active listening, effective non-verbal communication and words of advice from CU students provide a starting point for important conversations while reducing the stress one might feel discussing difficult issues.