It is no secret that the academic pressures of college can take a toll on the mental, emotional and physical health of students. Exams, assignments, applications for jobs and internships, club meetings and jobs all start to pile up, and it feels as though escaping it all and making it out alive is impossible. In the midst of all of these responsibilities and the stress that follows, it is hard to take a deep breath, destress and remind yourself that it will come to an end and it will be okay. If this sounds familiar to you (and it probably does), Wellness Wednesdays in the Intramural Building might just save your sanity.
Erin Raupers, the Assistant Director in Health Promotion and Wellness, says that the goal of Wellness Wednesdays is “to reduce stress and provide students with healthy coping habits to do so.” College students, especially at Penn State, are very focused on their academics and involved on campus. Their vigorous commitment to both school and extracurriculars can make life more stressful than they would like. Attending Wellness Wednesdays will ideally teach students ways to reduce this stress and learn how to handle the high-stress daily lives that they live. Raupers says it’s important for students to understand that, “When it feels like the world is crumbling, it’s not.”
These Wednesday classes are based off of the “Calm” book, written by Michael Acton Smith. Tailored toward college-age adults, the “Calm” book is a compilation of stress-reducing and relaxation activities, inspirational quotes and calming images. The ultimate goal is for every student who attends Wellness Wednesdays to receive their own copy of the “Calm” book. Although it is not yet the case, that’s the hope for the spring 2020 semester.
The idea for Wellness Wednesdays began last summer, and the program piloted in the fall semester of 2018. There are 15 different activities spread out across every Wednesday for the 15 weeks of each semester. Even though there are over 30 different activities to choose from in the “Calm” book, these 15 activities are carefully chosen and planned for each Wellness Wednesday. Some past and future activities that students participate in include using Koru Mindfulness techniques, learning about foods that reduce stress, journaling, coloring, designing a love tree to reflect on gratitude, making a Mind Jar that represents how the craziness of life will eventually settle, designing a Calm Island to evoke some creativity and meditating in the relaxation room.
The Center for Health Promotion and Wellness was previously located in the Student Health Center where they had a de-stress zone, and only recently moved to the IM building in 2017. The word about Wellness Wednesdays and the new Wellness Suite is still getting out to upperclassmen, but recent first-year students living in East have had this resource nearby. Surveys conducted by the University regarding students’ academic performance repeatedly show that stress and anxiety have the greatest negative impact on their academics. Raupers says that these results were the motivation for the creation of the Wellness Wednesdays program.
Wellness Wednesdays are free and open to all students and are run in a very informal, small-group setting for 45 minutes by peer health educators and Healthy Penn State Ambassadors. Whether you attend one or all 15 Wellness Wednesday classes, they are a great resource and opportunity to take a break, learn how to destress and reflect on things that make you happy in the midst of a crazy semester.
Wellness Wednesdays take place every Wednesday from 4 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. in the Wellness Suite located in room 20 in the basement of the IM building. Visit healthypennstate.psu.edu for more information, and follow @healthypsu on Instagram and @HealthPennState on Twitter to stay updated on all things Health Promotion and Wellness and Wellness Wednesdays.
Wellness Wednesday Schedule for the remainder of the Fall 2019 semester:
- October 9th: Learn about foods that reduce stress
- October 16th: Develop your creative skills by journaling and coloring
- October 23rd: Make a mind jar
- October 30th: Design a love tree
- November 6th: Design a calm island
- November 13th: Explore the power of music
- November 20th: Find your favorite happy things
- December 4th: Doodle Thumbprint Gallery
- December 11th: Try mind mapping to learn a new study technique