(Orange, CA)—On Wednesday, May 27, Santiago Canyon College (SCC) will take a break from furiously studying for finals and finishing spring semester coursework to visit with therapy dogs. The canine “stress busters,” supplied by Paws4Healing and Pet Partners, will be available for one-on-one “therapy sessions” from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Strenger Plaza on the Santiago Canyon College campus, located at 8045 E. Chapman Ave., Orange, CA, 92869.
In 2011, Dr. Melissa Campitelli-Smith, SCC psychologist, developed the Paws for Stress Relief program to provide therapy relief during finals week. Students are offered the opportunity to enjoy interaction with trained and certified therapy animals including dogs, rabbits, and guinea pigs. Paws for Stress Relief is made possible through the support of SCC’s Associated Student Government and Active Minds.
“Scientific evidence and research supports that animal therapy decreases stress hormones, improves mood, and bolsters well-being,” said Campitelli-Smith. “May is Mental Health Month and we want to teach students to take good care of their mental health and effectively manage their stress levels to achieve academic success.”
Colleges and universities across the country are recognizing the benefits of therapy animals. At Harvard Medical School, Cooper, a 4-year-old Shih-Tzu helps students, faculty, and staff alike. And at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, alumni and staff share their friendly dogs with students during their Dog Day Afternoons held during finals week.
“SCC’s Paws for Stress Relief provides an activity that takes students away from finals and all the end-of-semester work that’s been piling up,” said Kevin Pham, president, SCC Associated Student Government. “It gives you something positive to focus on and who doesn’t want to play with puppies and dogs?”
In addition to spending some time with a cuddly therapy animal, Campitelli-Smith recommends the following stress management tips:
Physical activities help your body and mind. Go to the gym, go jogging, take a walk, do some yoga, or play Frisbee. Just get moving!
- Eat a balanced diet.
Don’t skip meals. Try to eat from all four food groups and minimize intake of caffeine or soda. (Caffeine can trigger anxiety or panic attacks.)
- Limit alcohol and stay away from illegal drugs.
Alcohol and drugs aggravate anxiety, negatively impact mood and create increased stressors.
- Do your best instead of trying to be perfect.
Be proud of however close to perfect you get; perfection is not possible.
- Take a time out.
Take a deep breath and count to 10. Stepping back from the problem lets you clear your mind. Meditate. Get a massage. Listen to music. Play with pets. Make time to laugh—laughter is a great stress releaser.
- Get involved.
Being active in the community creates a support network and gives you a break from your everyday stress.
- Put things in perspective.
Think about your situation. Is it really as bad as you think or are you blowing it out of proportion?
- Talk to someone.
Don’t let things bottle up to the verge of explosion. Connect with a trusted friend or a counselor if you are feeling blue.
- Find out what triggers your anxiety.
Write in a journal when you are feeling anxious or stressed and look for patterns.
For more information about Paws for Stress Relief, contact Dr. Melissa Campitelli-Smith at (714) 628-4773. To view a video of last year’s event, follow this link.
About Santiago Canyon College
Santiago Canyon College (SCC) serves about 14,000 students each semester. The college prepares students for transfer to four-year institutions and careers, and provides courses for personal and professional development, as well as customized training for business and industry. The college is recognized for its adult education program which keeps the working adult—and senior—in mind by offering flexible schedules, and community locations. Serving the residents of Anaheim Hills, Orange, Tustin, and Villa Park, SCC is one of two comprehensive colleges under the auspices of the Rancho Santiago Community College District. Visit http://www.sccollege.edu to learn more.
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