22, No. 16, March 20, 2003
by Bill Wiegand
a wellness promotion specialist and stress management
coordinator at McKinley Health Center.
jobs and projects. Conflicts with family, friends or sweethearts. When
the going gets tough, some frazzled scholars tame their tension with
the free head-and-neck massages provided by Community Health 240 students
and their instructor Jennifer Carson. Carson, wellness promotion specialist
and stress management coordinator at McKinley Health Center, is certified
by the American Association of Lifestyle Counselors. Carson joined the
university’s staff in 1996 and holds a bachelor’s degree
in marketing and a master’s degree in corporate health promotion
from the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville.
Tell me about what you do.
I am one of eight health educators in our department. I see students
one-on-one about stress-related complaints like headaches and muscle
tension. I generally try to focus on education and may see them once
or several times depending on what our plan is and what we want to accomplish.
Outreach is also a large part of what I do, and I provide programs and
activities on campus related to awareness weeks or months, such as Stress
Awareness Month, which is in April.
The marketing side of my job is helping other health educators develop
the promotional materials for programs they’re doing. I also help
maintain the Wellness Promotion Web site and serve on the McKinley marketing
team. I am co-chair of the Alcohol Education Team.
In the Community Health 240 course, I teach students about stress management
and how to facilitate a workshop titled ‘Relaxation of the Mind
and Body.’ Students in the class give that workshop at greek houses,
residence halls and other locations. We also do customized workshops
for groups who want to focus on a particular aspect, such as time management.
At the end of each semester right before finals we put together about
400 stress-relief packs that contain tips on time management, nutrition
and fitness, and a variety of goodies to give students the boost they
How many students do you have coming in for
the free massages?
It’s a steady flow when you’re doing them. We did almost
100 hours of massages last semester. Each hour, you can probably do
10 to 12 people. The students are trained by a massage therapist from
When should a person seek help with handling
When it starts to impact our day-to-day activities and how we interact
with others or if it causes mood changes or causes some physical problems,
such as headaches, muscle tension, teeth grinding, changes in appetite
or digestive problems, then we
probably want to take a closer look at that and see a physician.
What strategies do you use to manage your stress?
I have gotten better at dealing with my own stress over the years. For
myself, it’s identifying the ways I respond to stress and acknowledging
that I need to take care of my own needs. If I don’t, I’m
not going to be as productive in the roles that are important to me:
a wife, a mother and a professional. It’s realizing self-care
things such as taking time out for a bubble bath or to read a magazine
are just as important as the other things on my to-do list. I also use
self-talk to reason through situations where I feel I might be getting
a little worked up over something that may not be that important or
is out of my control.
What do you find most gratifying about what
Helping people and hoping that we’ve facilitated some type of
change that’s going to have an effect on their overall health
What leisure interests do you have?
I am the mother of a 9-month-old daughter, Zoe. I am loving that and
enjoy spending time with her. Prior to that, I liked to play pool. I
like to try new recipes, do weightlifting and aerobic exercise. I started
scrapbooking about three years ago. I’ve done several scrapbooks,
including ones of friends’ children, family and our two yellow
labs, Bailey and Shasta, who were our ‘practice’ kids before
we had a child.
On the job: Jennifer Carson
Sharita Forrest, Assistant Editor
(217) 244-1072; firstname.lastname@example.org