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De-Stress Fest at ASU's West campus to help students relax before finals

person meditating in field

November 28, 2017

It’s that time of year when college students everywhere prepare to head home for the holidays, where they can catch up with friends and family and breathe a sigh of relief that they made it through another semester.

Before they can do that, though, they must make it through one last academic obstacle: finals week. And no one knows better than the students themselves just how stressful that can be.

“Before finals last year, I was so stressed out that I got myself sick and missed the exam completely,” ASU pre-med biology senior Tarana Darwaiz said.

de-stress fest flyer

This year, Darwaiz and others are taking steps to make sure that doesn’t happen to other students. This Friday, Dec. 1, the American Medical Student Association (AMSA), for which Darwaiz serves as president, the Barrett Upper Division Students (BUDS) group and Live Well @ ASU are hosting “De-Stress Fest” at ASU’s West campus from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the Verde Dining Pavilion multipurpose room.

The event is free and open to all ASU students looking to de-stress before finals. There will be snacks, massage chairs and guided meditation, and student leaders will be on hand to demonstrate how to make an aromatherapy body scrub and microwavable neck wraps from socks and rice; the leftover scraps of socks will be used to craft snowmen figurines that will be donated to Ryan House, a children’s hospice in Phoenix.

AMSA vice president, BUDS president and biomedical sciences senior Julia Lorence began brainstorming the event with AMSA treasurer and health sciences junior Amy Petersburg after returning from a Mayo conference in September.

“After coming back from Transform, I really wanted to bring back that spirit to the campus where we encourage each other and take time to rejuvenate,” Lorence said.

As pre-health majors, she and Petersburg know firsthand how stressful school — especially finals week — can be. They wanted to create an event where not just pre-health majors but all students could come together and take a moment to relax.

“Sometimes it’s hard to remember to step back because you get so caught up in schoolwork and family life that you get tunnel vision,” Petersburg said. “But taking that moment to kind of step back is really important.”

The duo reached out to Live Well @ ASU, which promotes wellness programming for students year-round, to be a part of the event as well. Brianna Mouton, a psychology senior and wellness supervisor with Live Well @ ASU, said she was excited to help out however she could because of how important stress management is to a student’s overall sense of wellness.

Student organizers of the De-Stress Fest

(From left) ASU biomedical sciences senior Julia Lorence, health sciences junior Amy Petersburg, Assistant Director of Academic Services for New College Advising Sue Lafond, pre-med biology senior Tarana Darwaiz and psychology senior Brianna Mouton are helping organize the De-Stress Fest, where student leaders will demonstrate how to make microwavable neck wraps from socks and rice; the leftover scraps of socks will be used to craft snowmen figurines that will be donated to children's hospice Ryan House.

“I think students think that in order to be successful, they have to be doing everything and never taking breaks,” Mouton said. There’s something she and her fellow student wellness supervisors refer to as the “pain game,” where students take pride in one-upping one another’s stress levels.

“Students will be like, ‘I only got two hours of sleep,’ and then someone else will say, ‘Oh yeah, well I only got one!’ It’s like this competition of who’s the most restless,” she said. “And it’s not healthy because people are overworking themselves and not taking care of themselves, and that also affects their academic success and their emotional well-being.”

Assistant Director of Academic Services for New College Advising Sue Lafond has been an adviser for AMSA students for about eight years. This is the first time she has seen students come together in this way to be mindful of not just their own well-being, but each other’s.

“What’s really exciting for somebody in my position to see is when you have a group of students that all have this similar goal … come together in a way that is so supportive and so encouraging,” Lafond said. “It’s really inspiring. And I think it will be inspiring for the next group of students that are following them, the underclassmen who are now starting to become engaged and seeing what’s possible.”

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