Campus groups collaborate to promote Stress Free Finals Week

The two-word phrase that college students often dread more than any other is Finals Week. Just reading the words is enough to make visions of sleepless nights, endless cups of coffee, and impossible tests come to mind for any college student. The Gustavus Peer Assistants are teaming up with the librarians, Psi Chi, SAVE, Pound Pals, and Gustavus Student Nurses Association (GSNA) to sponsor a Stress Free Finals Week to relieve some of the infamous stress that finals bring.

Although the week is sponsored by a variety of organizations, it is ultimately sponsored by Gustavus through a Coca-Cola Educational Partnership Grant. The grant gives funds to campus-wide initiatives or advocacy groups that focus on enhancing sustainability and community health and well-being.

Senior Peer Assistant Rebecca Stewart explained why the groups involved are so excited about starting up this event.

“This is important for Gustavus students, because it is the first time so many organizations on campus are coming together to provide stress relieving activities during finals. There are events like this on other campuses around the country, but this is the first time it is being done here at Gustavus. There is also a huge amount of diversity throughout the week. While people may not be interested in every single event, there should be something for everyone,” Stewart said.

Visiting Assistant Library Professor Mary Anderson echoed Stewart’s excitement about the collaboration of different organizations.

“It has been wonderful to work in partnership with so many student organizations. They have been creative and dedicated partners in this endeavor and we are grateful for all their work,” Anderson said.

A permanent campus addition that contributes to a stress-free environment is the Relaxation Room in the library, also sponsored by the Coca-Cola Educational Partnership Grant. Anderson explained that although other schools often have stress free zones available to students, they are often located in Health Services instead of in the library.

Stewart also mentioned the Relaxation Room as an important resource for students.

”Another thing we are excited about through this grant is the addition of the Relaxation Room in the Library which includes a massage chair, Zafu cushion for meditation, and a tabletop fountain along with string lights. This room is available to students during library hours, and they can sign up for slots on a sheet outside of the room. They are also free to walk in if it is not currently in use,” Stewart said.

Most of the other events for Stress Free Finals Week will also be located in the library to increase accesibility to studying students.

“The library tends to be a place of stress during finals time, so the overall goal of the Stress-Free finals event was to make a place where students can also relax and have some fun. We wanted a combination of relaxing/meditative, fun, and more physical actives to address the issue of stress in different ways,” Anderson said.

Stewart explained that throughout the week there will be a large offering of activities to distress in different ways.

“Everyone, as a college student, knows that finals are a crazy stressful time, so we looked at what we could do to resolve some of that. We have been working hard to organize activities that students will enjoy and there is something for everyone. It is important to take study breaks, especially when studying, and potentially cramming, for finals, so get up and grab a friend, take a mental break and play some ping pong or nourish your mind by experiencing Glowga for the first time. There will be healthy snacks available in the library during Stress Free Finals Week such as fruit trays, popcorn and granola bars,” Stewart said.

Junior Peer Assistant Kelli Remboldt explained that the week is designed to encourage healthy study habits, as well as healthy choices in students’ last week on campus.

“Finals are a very stressful time. I think it is very important for people to take breaks. Also, the Peer Assistants have a goal of making things go on into the evening to hopefully encourage healthy choices on those last few days,” Remboldt said.

Remboldt also reiterated the truly ‘relaxed’ nature of the events featured throughout the week.

“The events are very laid back, you can just show up, you can bring homework, there will be free food at most of them, plus, it’s a bonding time for you and your friends, kind of like a last hoorah,” Remboldt said.

Student Mike Sterling enjoying the Relaxation Room’s new massage chair. McKayla Murphy
Student Mike Sterling enjoying the Relaxation Room’s new massage chair. McKayla Murphy

The Stress Free Finals Events will take place May 21-23. It will begin with a kickoff event (6-8pm) of a visit from therapy dogs from the Mankato chapter of Therapy Dogs International. At 7pm they will do a demonstration. The plan is for this event to be out in front of the library, but in case of bad weather it will be on the first floor of the library. (The first floor will be the location of most of our events – a “stress-free zone” of sorts.) The therapy dogs will return on Friday from 10am to 2pm. About 20 members the chapter have volunteers to bring their dogs for the two days.

At about 8:30 on the 21st, after the therapy dogs, the PA’s will be sponsoring Glow-ga on the football field. Participants will receive glow bracelets and necklaces and do yoga led by an instructor. Music will be playing as well. Again, in case of rain this event will be on the first floor of the library.

On May 22 and 23, from 9:30 am to 12:00pm two massage therapists from CrossRoads Advanced Clinical Massage in Mankato will be in the AV two preview rooms on the first floor of the library offering five-minute massages. You can signup at through a Signup Genius form available at this link: Slots that are not filled beforehand will be available for walkins.

Also on May 22, SAVE will sponsor mini golf on the first floor of the library from 2-5pm. Participants will be eligible for random prize drawings and all – participants and specters are welcome to partake in healthy snacks. From 6-8pm GSNA is hosting the Savants of Questions, the same team from Patrick’s, for a Trivia Night. This too will include prizes as well as fresh made popcorn.

In addition to the events already mentioned from Friday, May 23, SAVE will be hosting ping pong and bean bag toss fun on the first floor of the library from 2-6pm. Again, there will be prizes and healthy snacks.

During the entire three days, AV Room 2 will be available at all times for “stress-buster” activities such as playing games, doing jigsaw puzzles, coloring, and popping bubble wrap.

MSU is one institution, among many, that has a similar facility – they call it a relaxation station – but theirs (and the other institutions’) is part of health services rather than located in the library.

Tenative Schedule:
Wednesday, May 21st
6-8pm Therapy Dogs sponsored by Pound Pals on the lawn in front of the library (1st floor of library incase of inclement weather)
8:30pm GLOWGA (yoga with glowsticks) sponsored by the Peer Assistants on the Football Field with instructor Renee Hoppe ‘14. Students will be provided with glowsticks to wear during the event!

Thursday, May 22nd
9:30-12pm 5 Minute Massages in both AV rooms of the 1st floor of the library (sign up required — Lynn Burg
2-5pm Miniature Golf sponsored by SAVE (1st floor of the library)
6-8pm Trivia sponsored by GSNA (1st floor of the Library)

Friday, May 23rd
9:30-12pm 5 Minute Massages in both AV rooms of the 1st floor of the library (sign up required — Lynn Burg
10am-2pm Therapy Dogs sponsored by Pound Pals on the lawn in front of the library (1st floor of library incase of inclement weather)
12-4pm Bean bags game, Ping Pong and healthy snacks sponsored by SAVE (1st floor of library)

12pm-10pm Stress Buster Activites (movies, coloring, games, etc) (AV2 on 1st floor of library)

Always Available
Relaxation/Meditation Room (Room 204 in Library) includes Massage Chair, Zafu cushion for meditation, and a tabletop fountain