Student creates unusual anti-stress campaign

Everyone knows how it feels to be under stress. Talking with students of Prague College, you realize that they all have to deal with stress on a daily basis. This led a Prague College student to create a rather unusual anti-stress campaign including all sorts of objects to help people relieve their stress.

Illustrative photo: Filip JandourekIllustrative photo: Filip Jandourek Stress is something that we all have to deal with at some point in our lives. Children, teenagers, adults. We all know what stress is. Even if the reasons that make us stressed might not be the same for everyone, the feeling of stress is the same and can become quite overwhelming. Students of Prague College talk about the reasons why they get stressed out:

Francis: First and foremost there's school.

Nino: Assignments, because in this part of the semester it’s like a lot of stress and a lot of deadlines.

Nassim: All the paper-work… being an adult is very hard.

Miroslav: I get stressed due to the school load, work load, lack of money…

Roya: I get stressed when things don’t go my way.

Nino: My family sometimes because, you know, everybody is stressed out and you get into small fights and get angry. You just want to throw a chair at someone, or hit something, or break a plate.

Francis: Shopping, and keeping track of everything… Keeping track of the money especially, that can be very stressful.

Oleksandra Horobiienko, a graphic design student at Prague College, decided to tackle the problem and help her schoolmates deal with their stress.

“I am really stressed and fellow students are really stressed, so I figured that an anti- stress campaign is something that might work. I felt that an anti-stress campaign that I could involve students in and make my friends use and do things with would be a good idea.”

Oleksandra chose objects that people could use as stress relievers. To make sure that a maximum of people would participate, she also had to advertise the campaign using posters and videos.

“Basically the campaign consist of a set of posters that says ‘stress it out’, but the word ‘stress’ is crossed out. And instead of stress you can substitute : pop (popping a balloon), bubbles (sound of popping bubbles), shout (shouting into a pillow), break (drop box/broken glass). For instance, you have a box that is filled with glass and you smash it because the sound of breaking glass is satisfying. It’s in a box for safety reasons so that the shards don’t scatter. Then there is a pillow that you can shout into. And there is the thingy with bubbles. You just blow bubbles. There are also balloons that you can pop, because that’s satisfying too.”

Illustrative photo: Štěpánka BudkováIllustrative photo: Štěpánka Budková So what is stress, actually? And what are the effects of stress in the long-term? Craig McNulty is a doctor of clinical psychology and director of the City Clinical Practice here in Prague.

“Stress is, kind of an emotional state, when somebody believes that their abilities to cope with demands are exceeded by the demands themselves. In the long term, with chronic stress situations, the physiologic changes can bring about quite severe inflammatory problems, like for example, ulcers.”

Even if too much stress is unhealthy in the long term, sometimes short term stress can be seen as a motivation rather than a problem. Craig McNulty again:

“It’s not stress itself that is positive, it’s all about the release of hormones and cortisones. In the short term they’re really useful. People tend to utilize resources they have much more efficiently and much more effectively.”

Miroslav, a Prague College student confirms this.

“A stressful situation can help me to concentrate better because since I rationalise the stress it stays in the back of my mind. It helps me concentrate on the work and do it more efficiently.”

So what can we do to make sure that we don’t get stressed too much? Craig McNulty says being in good physical shape is a start:

“Generally speaking, we know that physical health is important. So looking after your body, getting good exercise, having a good diet. These things tend to control the physical symptoms of stress. It is also important to avoid stressful situations. I mean, lots of people can anticipate a stressful situation simply by thinking ahead. Some kind of situations they shouldn’t be getting into because they are not able to cope or they don’t have the resources to cope. And then take steps to actually control that.”

What about breaking glass? Screaming into a pillow? Is Oleksandra’s campaign really effective? Craig McNulty says that whatever works is fine.

“I think people enjoy doing that kind of thing. I am all for it. I mean, you know, personally I have other ways of relaxing. And it’s about relaxing and perhaps doing things that takes your mind off of things that are actually stressing you. So I’m all for it. If it works, why not try it?”

Illustrative photo: stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.netIllustrative photo: stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net And if all this fails there are a lot of other things you can try. Some people are relaxed by the sound of their cat purring on their lap. Others may seek escape in an interesting book. Some might want to go out and meet up with their friends in the park. And some might seek comfort by eating a big piece of chocolate cake… By the way, did you know that ‘stressed’ spelled backwards is ‘desserts’? But, more to the point : did Oleksandra’s anti-stress campaign help her to deal with her stress?

“Actually I was quite stressed out producing it! But when I dropped the box with the breaking glass because I had to record the teaser it was really satisfying!”