MindBody Connection: Fighting stress for student success
By Ben Price
Stress and college seem to go hand in hand. Whether it’s test anxiety, roommate disputes or homesickness, stress can negatively impact academic performance. To help students cope, UMKC launched the MindBody Connection, a division of Student Health and Wellness, in fall 2008.
Just how real of a problem is college stress?
A 2008 survey by the American College Health Association asked students what they think caused unexpectedly low test results. Almost 30 percent of respondents chose stress, making it the most common answer. The combined number of responses for alcohol, drug use and death of a loved one equaled less than half of the amount attributed to stress.
“Stress is a very significant barrier to academic prowess,” said Bill Smith, a health educator for the MindBody Connection. “Our goal is to really keep them in school, to help them make it to graduation day.”
There are a number of tools the MindBody Connection uses to help students cope with stress, with the most popular being the sophisticated Inada massage chair. The Inada comes with eight pre-programmed massage sessions and manual selection modes. Optical sensors automatically detect acupressure points along the user’s back, and each pre-programmed massage quickly creates a massage program automatically tailored to users. In addition, the Inada chair’s leather upholstery optimizes comfort. A more in-depth way the MindBody Connection aids students is through Heart Math, a self-survey that calculates users’ stress levels. Heart Math also claims to help with increasing self-creativity, intelligence, decision making, physical performance and a number of other positive characteristics.
Other fun and unusual ways the MindBody Connection helps students fight stress include Wii Sports, hula hooping, arts and crafts and even belly dancing. Engaging in social and physical activity can be great for health and stress reduction, employees say.
“We can’t eliminate stress, but we can help students cope with their stress and handle it more effectively,” Smith said. Rachel Pierce, who works at Mind Body Connection with Smith, said she enjoys “helping students figure out how to deal with their stress.” The MindBody Connection is temporarily housed in Student Union room 327. It will relocate to the University Center once renovations are complete for the new Student Success Center.