Sunday, January 24, 2021

Therapy dogs aid students with anxiety

Life comes with a lot of stress and anxiety, especially in college. You have three tests in one day, a class presentation that has anxiety written all over it and you head is ready to explode just thinking about all of things you have to do for the week.

But then, there she is in the middle of the business building – a beautiful, majestic golden retriever named Betty locking eyes with you as you turn the corner. Strangely enough, all of your stress and anxieties that has been built up disappears and a weight is lifted off your shoulders.

Colleges have been incorporating the presence of therapy dogs to help reduce the stress and anxiety of students. SUNY Plattsburgh therapy dogs can be seen and played with during midterm and finals week in the Angell College Center. Even if you can’t take a little break to hang out with the dogs, just seeing them as you’re walking to a final can help put a little smile on your face.

There’s a theory that dogs can help lower blood pressure, decrease stress and elevate mood, according to the New York Times. People have been exploring the new and exciting ways dogs are being used to help people improve their lives, especially those who suffer from depression and anxiety. Dogs help break the cycle of unrealistic negative thoughts that some people live through by providing comforting companionship and a sense of purpose for their owners, according to the Daily Treat, an online blog featured on the dog walker website rover.com.

Director of the Kogod Center for Business Communications, Bonnie Auslander, created a pet project that involved “audience dogs” to help students with speech anxiety. Students would practice their oral presentations on an audience that consists of dogs.

Talking in front of an audience, whether it is in front of five people or 40, can cause anxiety for somebody. Practicing in front of dogs may not have the same effect as with people, but, it can help get you to take a step back from all of your worries and become more comfortable and relaxed before the real presentation.

Everybody deals with stress and anxiety in their own ways. When there are no dogs to hug or talk to, there are opportunities and people who can help you when you need support.

Colleges know that students have a lot on their plates and that some students need more help dealing with stress than others. SUNY Plattsburgh, like many other colleges, provides professionals who are licensed to help students with anxiety and any other disorders they can’t handle by themselves.

Pushing for therapy dogs into schools can be beneficial for students’ health and well-being. While cute puppy faces can be seen as a distraction for many, having them around during the most stressful weeks like midterms and finals, it’s something students look forward to brighten their day.

Email Emily Kim at cp@cardinalpointsonline.com

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