By Lexus Yamashiro | Staff Writer

In Fall 2016, I entered KCC under the impression that I would stress out in every class that I would eventually enroll in. Yet, here I am two years later plucking my ʻukulele in Music 121Z to the tune of “House of the Rising Sun” by The Animals, completely forgetting everything my history professor said about her upcoming midterm examination.

The discovery of classes that can work as de-stressers was a miracle. I anticipated when registration week would begin like a kid in a candy store, wondering which class I could enroll in next for fun and to relax. Anyone else would most likely take advantage of a course that briefly helps to escape from the tensions of other assignments, and although this was my primary focus, I searched for these classes for another particular reason: to relieve my anxiety.

Anxiety has had and continues to have an effect on how I perform in school. Oftentimes it leaves me distracted due to overthinking about an upcoming essay that is due or, in worse cases, turns into an anxiety attack that keeps me awake until 3 in the morning.

Thankfully, since beginning college, I have been able to manage my anxiety and stress in an effective manner through the classes I attend.

Looking back at my first semester in Fall 2016, I was faced with the challenge of balancing five classes. I was basically biting my nails out constantly until I had guitar class (MUS 121D) in the afternoons, where I could sit in the corner of the room in Maile 101 and quietly pick the notes to “In My Life” by The Beatles.

Though I often fiddled around with the strings to remember the next note, these moments were filled with bliss since I would fall into these deep trances of what I believed to be a utopian world where stress and anxiety were nonexistent. With each strum and plucking of the strings, I would feel myself breathing normally again with relief.

Unfortunately, during the times when my professor would walk around the room to check on my classmates’ progress, I would feel myself sliding back into reality, remembering all of the factors that were causing me to stress. This was when I knew I needed a change.

I found my new adjustment at the start of the Fall 2018 semester standing in front of mirrors in the chapel dancing hula to the sound of my kumu tapping the ipu (gourd-shaped instrument) on beat. Modern hula (DNCE 213) has managed to keep me on my feet for more than an hour with only one thought in mind when we are given a break: “It is so hot in here.”

Any worries that I might have are immediately forgotten once class begins. The tension and weight that my shoulders carry are lifted from me temporarily with each hula step I attempt to gracefully execute. It is with every pua (flower) I form with my hands and extension of my arms to form Diamond Head that I find myself in the utopian state again.

The role of these courses has made a beneficial impact on my mental and emotional health, providing me with the time I need to find inner peace through the stress I generate from school, work, and my personal life. Although others may frown upon this, believing that I should enroll in classes that only pertain to my degree, I can laugh this off while saying, “They do, and I get to enjoy part of my education through dancing and playing music.”

At the end of each school day, I can return home from my de-stressing classes with a clear mind. Well aware that I have to eventually open my planner to see which assignment I need to work on first, I am happy to come home and set aside my ʻukulele and paʻu (hula) skirt, already anticipating class for the next day.