There is no such thing as being stress-free during finals week, but dogs can definitely alleviate that pressure.
Every year, the Associated Student Body organizes a Dogs in the Quad event where students get to spend time with dogs to help de-stress. Workers from the Peninsula Humane Society come to Carlmont with dogs for students to interact with. Due to the circumstances this year, with the ongoing pandemic, the event had to move to Zoom. The dogs performed tricks while students got to ask questions and learn about the dogs.
“My ASB commission, Human Relations, has been organizing Dogs in the Quad with the Peninsula Humane Society for many years to help students destress before finals. Since everything is online this year, we had to change Dogs in the Quad to a Zoom activity,” said Carolyn Wang, a senior ASB member.
According to a 2018 study funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada, introducing university students to therapy dogs significantly reduces stress and increases energy levels. The stress of finals, compounded with the social isolation of distanced learning, has made this service more useful than ever.
One of the scientific reasons these visits work has to do with the release of the hormone oxytocin. According to Psychology Today, it is an important chemical associated with social bonding; it appears to reinforce connections between people. Higher levels of oxytocin are also associated with decreased pain, depression, and stress.
“Oxytocin: it’s the ‘anti-stress’ chemical that gets released in our brain from touch specifically, but even just eye contact makes us more relaxed. Humans can get it from each other and from dogs,” said ASB adviser Jim Kelly
Students attending the event were grateful for the break from studying all week.
“The Zoom call really helped to de-stress because instead of worrying about studying for finals, I got to meet and look at dogs. This was helpful because I am usually stressed during school, especially during finals, so it was nice to take some time off to attend the Zoom. I think the dogs in the quad zoom call was a great way to help students even though it wasn’t in person,” sophomore Madeline Chu said.
Thanks to the Peninsula Humane Society and the wonderful dogs that played with the students, this year’s finals week will hopefully be a bit less stressful.