STUDENTS AND THEIR STRESS BUSTERS
By Khrysta Imperial Rara
It’s common knowledge today that stress is the leading cause of most killer diseases like cancer, diabetes, hypertension and heart problems. Everyone is prone to stress which can be found everywhere from the home to school and the office. You can even get stressed while on vacation. Stress is a state of mind, which means it all depends on how you handle situations or people. You can either laugh it off or die from it.
There are many ways to deal with stress. Listen to music, do sports or exercise, practice tai chi, watch television or a movie, talk to your best friend or even cook. Some people, however, make the wrong choice and resort to illegal drugs, smoking, excessive eating, or bitching. Stress can bring out the worst in you unless you find the best way to cope with it.
School, in particular, can be a real headache particularly when it’s time for paper submissions and final examinations. Last March, some students talked about their stress busters on the weekly program Kwentuhang Pets Atbp aired in DZUP 1602am every Thursday. Here are their stories.
ANGERICA HAINTO and DONKEY
Anj is an incoming fourth year Journalism major. Her family loves animals so they always have pets like chickens, goldfish, rabbits and dogs. A seven-year old Labrador named Donkey, named after one of the animal characters in the movie “Shrek”, was her closest friend. She also considered him as her “stress-buster”.
When she was in first year high school, she was given the responsibility of taking care of Donkey. He was still a puppy then, so cute and only as big as her hand. “Every time I would be doing assignments, he would cry a lot. So while I was working, I would pick him up, put him on my lap and he would stop crying because he was comfortable there,” she quipped.
“Then I would be able to write my paper well because of the warmth he gave me and the inspiration that he released in me,” she said.
Anj recalls that after a stressful week at the university, she would always look forward to going home because she knew that Donkey would be waiting for her at the gate. They spent a lot of time together hugging, playing, cuddling and she would always pat and stroke him. When he saw that she was tired, he would just sit beside her and put his head on her lap. Or he would stand on his hind legs and put his paws on her face and she would then hug him.
“It was comforting to know that he was there for me, always sympathizing with me. I missed him and he missed me,” she confided.
She says Donkey was always part of the family and included in family activities. Whenever possible, they would take him with them during family trips. Unfortunately, Donkey suddenly died from heat stroke last March, a few days after the school year ended. Anj didn’t even get to see him because she only goes home on weekends.
Anj also made an interesting observation. “Animals are connected to the life force of their human companions,” she quips. She explained that when her father passed away due to cancer, their two dogs – an American bulldog named Muning and a Labrador named Gus - followed him after a few months. “Even the garden died with him,” she said.
EDWARD AND MYUNING
Graduating student Edward Lemuel Castro has a white cat named Myuning to help him relax after a stressful day. Myuning was already a constant visitor at their new house by the time Edward’s family moved in. But unlike other transients who would come and go, Myuning stayed and took her chances with the new residents.
“ She meows when she’s hungry and we give her food. Then she quiets down,” Edward says. “She’s really sweet and that’s why we like her.”
Edward confides that Myuning makes him smile with her antics. “I often come home tired because of the demands of schoolwork and traffic. But when my siblings tell me they found Myuning inside the room or the car and they don’t know how she got there, we laugh about it because we are bewildered by how she pulls it off. Then she just meows loudly to tell us she’s inside,” he recounts.
RENS AND BRUCE
Renson Sioson of the Technological Institute of the Philippines becomes emotional when he recalls the adventures he shared with his former dog, Bruce. Bruce, who was of Rottweiler and pitbull parentage, used to massage Rens to chase the blues away. He was also fiercely loyal and protective of his young human friend.
“Once, Bruce saved me from several dogs that were chasing me. We tried to outrun them. We ran and we ran and we ran. Then one of the dogs caught up with me and bit me. Then Bruce bit the dog and there was a nasty fight. I pitied Bruce. I tried to stop the fight and I felt like I was the one being attacked,” he said. “Bruce did not give up trying to save me until the other dogs left. They got scared of him because he was big.”
Bruce suffered from a broken leg and a nasty bite from that incident. But Rens still can’t get over the fact that his dog was killed by his father’s friend.
“Bruce died when we left him with my father’s friend. We didn’t have a car then so my father told us we would leave Bruce with his drinking buddy. When we got back, I was shocked that Bruce was dead,” he said ruefully. “I learned later that they ate him.”
Rens confesses that he got really depressed after Bruce’s death and his grades suffered in his sophomore year. He sought comfort in exotic pets like snakes and spiders but it just didn’t work out. But he smiles when he talks about Cali, his dog of Pomeranian-Japanese Spitz mix whom he acquired after Bruce. He describes Cali as a very playful dog who helped him get over his depression. With Cali, he learned to relax and enjoy life again. He also credits Cali with helping him study for his exams and therefore passing all his subjects.
DE-STRESS WITH YOUR ANIMALS
Many studies now show that animals and animal-related activities provide a wonderful way to de-stress. Watching birds in the wild can be liberating while watching fish swimming in an aquarium can put you in a meditative state. Stroking or massaging a dog or cat reduces the heart rate for both you and the animal.
Talking to them or laughing at their antics lowers blood pressure. Perhaps it’s because we feel we don’t have to perform the way we do when we are with people. We don’t fear rejection when we’re with animals because they are always ready to give us unconditional love.
Published in ANIMAL SCENE magazine June 2012