Teaching students how to destress – an interview with Randal Tonks
Feeling relaxed is all we want sometimes – but it is not always easy. It is midterm season, group projects are due, and finals are approaching sooner than later. Randal Tonks, psychology teacher at Camosun, met me to chat about stress. He explained how students can take a stress inventory and learn how to de stress – even in busy times.
Randal Tonks’ interest in stress stems from his work with international youth and immigrants. He looked at ways they are adjusting to live in Canada and saw that for many people undergoing cultural adjustment there are periods of time that are very stressful. Randal has worked at Camosun for 18 years and began to look at the way that stress occurs when students adjust to living away from home. Over the years he developed a questionnaire on stress that he now uses to help students navigate their stress levels.
Randal Tonks teaches his students how to take stress inventory. This can be very helpful for students as it enables them to reflect on their stress levels and find patterns in their behavior. Students will learn what their biggest stressors are and find destressing activities that help them relax and recharge.
Typically, he looks at stress in several different ways: Randal Tonks teaches students to look at physical symptoms of stress such as headaches, having troubles eating, difficulties to sleep, and no energy. They then also look at psychological wellbeing, meaning how stress affects them psychologically. Are they feeling anxious or depressed? Students also learn to consider social relations and look at certain situations where they feel uncomfortable or stressed.
The questionnaire is partly looking at symptoms to support people in certain parts of their life. Additionally, it looks at positive adjustments to stress, such as talking to people getting exercise, and eating well. Students in Randal’s class do the stress inventory and then complete a reflection on their own answers, so they can look at what kind of symptoms they might be having and whether they are doing things to combat that stress or not.
There is a wide range of destressing activities that one can do. Randal Tonks strongly suggests meditation and yoga as relaxing and calming activities. He also offers Camosun students and teachers free Tai Chi classes every Thursday from three to four pm in the afternoon. Regularly participating in a Tai Chi class has many benefits such as:
- better mood, lower levels of depression, stress, and anxiety
- greater aerobic capacity and muscle strength
- more energy
- enhanced flexibility, balance, and agility
- lower blood pressure and improved heart health
- reduced inflammation
Join a free Tai Chi class at Lansdowne to destress. If you are interested in the stress inventory questionnaire and/or learning more about stress literacy, please contact me.