Nobody knows stress better than students — and at the same time, no one knows better how to help young adults manage stress than other young adults. April is Stress Awareness Month, a time to check in on what we’re doing each day to mitigate stress and manage negative emotions surrounding productivity, burnout, and fear. Without intentional care, stress can be a consuming part of our lives, making proper support from the community critical. This semester, we encourage you to think about how you can support your peers during stressful times, with Active Minds’ Stress Less Week® Guide, and take inspiration from students nationwide who hosted simple stress awareness events on their campuses and in their classrooms.
Twice a year, in the fall and spring, Active Minds hosts Stress Less Week®, a time to spotlight education and resources on stress and anxiety as it pertains to young adults across the country. However, the true highlight of this week is the student’s involvement in Stress Less Week and their Chapter events. This year, Stress Less Week takes place from April 24–28, and we encourage you to plan an event (or a couple!) that brings your community together and inspires those around you to actively manage their stress.
Don’t know where to start? Here are some ideas for simple stress awareness events from your fellow Chapter members:
If you want to host a crafty event:
Over the past three years, Active Minds Baldwin Wallace Chapter has hosted a Paint Pill Bottles event. Active Minds President, Emily Muench, had the idea when her friend approached her about feeling shame around taking psychiatric medication. “If you were sick with any other illness you would take medicine, so mental illnesses should be treated no differently. This event aims to reduce the stigma that surrounds psychiatric medicine by repurposing pill bottles to create art.” This crafty project not only fights stigma but the hands-on, creative nature of the activity can also relieve stress.
Each of the members took empty pill bottles and decorated them in their individualized, unique way. “For this specific event, we had participants paint their journey and experiences with medicine. We later used the pill bottles as an art installation at a campus concert with each strand representing a different student.”
If you want to host a playful event:
Chalking is a notoriously popular event for students. For this activity, chapters take some chalk to a sidewalk or parking lot and write positive affirmations and mental health-related messaging for peers to enjoy as they pass by.
Active Minds’ chapter at Colorado State hosted a chalking event where they shared quotes like “Let’s talk about mental health” and “The world needs exactly who you are.” Spreading support and love outside of your Chapter and to your entire community is a great way to advocate and be there for others.
If you want to host a minimalistic event:
Not all events require ample resources or funds. Active Minds at the American University of Rome had their chapter members write affirmations on paper and hand them out to their peers.
All you need is a pen and paper, but if you are looking for more options, you could get supplies such as colored paper, markers, or stickers – do what feels best for you and your Chapter. Also, sharing affirmations on campus is a great way to spread hope and uplift others. Creating a supportive community is key to supporting stress so consider sharing the results of your event!
If you want to host an event with movement:
Active Minds at St. Bonaventure University (SBU) got their bodies moving and channeled their inner yogi with a yoga class. Yoga, or any movement you enjoy, can be beneficial in decreasing stress. A Chapter member says, “Especially with the stress of work and extracurriculars, it was relaxing and refreshing to have a time set aside for self-care and learn new ways to incorporate some movement in while getting to know a new group of people!”
The Chapter hosted the event in collaboration with another club at their school, further spreading Active Minds’ mission. The Chapter adds, “This event was a collaboration between our SBU Chapter of Active Minds and the SBU Yoga Club — we love collaborating with other groups on campus to organize events and meeting new people because of these collaborations!” Consider what other clubs at your school you could collaborate with to get more students engaged and talking about mental health.
If you want to host an outdoor event:
Getting outside and into nature is healing — just ask the Active Minds Chapter at Binghamton, which hosted a sunset hike and s’mores event. Chapter member Jubie Tan shared, “This was our most impactful event last semester. Not only were we able to enjoy the vibrant autumn foliage, we made lasting friendships by the bonfire over cinnamon s’mores.”
This Chapter also prioritized starting new conversations during their event. Jubie adds, “About 50 people talked to one another without judgment, without forming cliques. Active Minds Binghamton is grateful to serve these students who care deeply about mental health.” Incorporating honest conversations is a positive way to form connections with other young adults and create a sense of community.
We appreciate the chapters who have shared the amazing work being done at their schools nationwide, and love seeing all the events they host throughout the year. We are proud of you for bringing your community together to change the culture around mental health, have honest conversations, and support each other.
We hope to see you and your Chapter involved in Stress Less Week, either by hosting one of the simple stress awareness events we explored above or by coming up with something entirely new! If you are looking for more information on Stress Less Week®, click here!