Bursting the Stress Bubble on Campus

By Mary Rodack
Jambar Contributor

Pop-up play stations appeared several days before finals week on Youngstown State University’s campus to relieve stress among students and staff.

These stations included activities such as chalk drawing, coloring, large Yahtzee, Jenga and many other games. Stations were located at various places on campus to attract different groups of students and faculty.

Joy Polkabla Byers, director of campus recreation, said the idea came from hearing students and staff talk about their own stress levels during the semester.

The stations were made possible thanks to multiple organizations. Student Activities, the Student Government Association, the Employee Wellness Program and Campus Recreation came together to create a stress reliever for people on campus.

Joe Conroy, the coordinator for intramural programs, said it is nice to have a place to get away from the stress of classes and work.

“Any type of stress relief is welcomed for students and staff,” Conroy said.

On April 18, Conroy said many students stopped by and participated in the activities, but faculty members did not stop to play in the stations.

Byers said playing games was shown to relieve stress, stimulate the mind and boost creativity and energy levels. She emphasized that students need to make sure their downtime is actual rest time for when they get busy again.

Byers received her undergraduate degree in recreation administration after working in the rec at Kent State University during her time in college.

“I love how it brought people together and made people feel,” Byers said.

The pop-up play station has multiple purposes for students on campus. Byers said she hopes it teaches students to be aware of how they react to stress and how to deal with it.

Byers said playing childhood games could possibly teach students positive behavior patterns so they can deal with stress.

Of course, the student population is not the only group that deals with stress.

According to the study, “Higher Stress: A Survey of Stress and Well-being Among Staff in Higher Education,” conducted by the University and College Union, almost three-fourths of the surveyed population agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, “I find my job stressful.”

It also concluded that “more than one-third said they often or always experienced levels of stress they found unacceptable.”

While students are often the subject of stress and anxiety discussions on college campuses, studies say that staff also have high levels of stress.

The International Journal of Stress Management published the study “Occupational Stress in University Staff,” which concluded that of those who responded to the survey, psychological stress levels were high.

As elevated anxiety levels take hold of staff and students during finals week, Byers said to schedule positive recreational time for yourself amidst all of the other responsibilities.