Jan Term class focuses on managing life’s inevitable stress

McDaniel students Brenden Clinton, Hannah Martin, Maddy Simmons, Alexander Panagakos with professor Paul Mazeroff follow Qigong instructor Mary Pinkard
January 23, 2018

Stress may be an unavoidable part of any college experience, but students in Psychology professor Paul Mazeroff’s “Coping with Stress” Jan Term class learn about its psychological and physiological aspects along with techniques to help them reduce its impact on their lives.

Lectures, discussions and video are punctuated with visitors who demonstrate techniques such as acupuncture, yoga, aromatherapy and more. Qigong instructor Mary Pinkard introduced them to the ancient Chinese healing art set to music, an addition that gives a nod to her college music education major.

Every student is challenged to keep a stress management log as they choose a technique they haven’t yet tried and devote one hour per day to relieve their stress. Mazeroff’s students, who represent the gamut of majors and class years, seem to have one thing in common — they feel stress and some anxiety.

At least they came to the Jan Term with some level of stress. But that was before they learned about ways to minimize its effects through deep muscle relaxation, exercise, time management, meditation, self-hypnosis, assertiveness training, lighting, music and even humor, fountains and nutrition.

For most, the class is personal.

“I’m in my senior year and it is very stressful,” says Akira Westbrooks, a Political Science major from Parkville, Md. “I’ve used oils before but it was cool to learn about aromatherapy and which oils reduced stress.”

In fact, several of Westbrooks’ classmates were interested in aromatherapy. Junior Emily Jeffers is a Social Work major who took the course to help her with the counseling she’ll be doing in her practice.

“It’s also shown me new ways to cope with my own stress and anxiety,” says Jeffers of Taneytown, Md., who has used peppermint oil to help with her migraines. “Today in class I made a citrus oil using orange, grapefruit, lemon oils as anti-anxiety and stress relievers. The instructor calls the citrus blend her ‘happy mixture.’”

Robert Arroyo also thought knowing various techniques for stress reduction might help in the career he plans in Human Resources. Midway through the class, the junior Communication major from Chesapeake Beach, Md., is already adopting some of the practices to help with his own stress.

A Psychology major from Rockville, Md., Savaughna Monteith knows she’ll need to be well versed in stress management techniques in her career, but Mazeroff’s class has taught her real ways to cope with her own anxiety issues.

“Something as simple as lighting a candle can help,” Monteith says. “I’ve been working out for an hour every day and it is really helping. So is the journaling I’m doing.”

And that’s really what Mazeroff wants his students to take away from the three-week session.

“All of the literature I am reading suggest that being stressed out is a big problem for college students — they are stressed in high school, stressed about getting into college, stressed in college,” he says. “This course is my attempt to expose them to a variety of stress management techniques they can use to cope.”

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McDaniel students Brenden Clinton, Hannah Martin, Maddy Simmons, Alexander Panagakos with professor Paul Mazeroff follow Qigong instructor Mary Pinkard's lead in the ancient Chinese healing art.