UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa .– Earlier in 2021, in response to the pandemic and the lack of spring break, Penn State implemented several formal wellness days to give students, faculty and staff the opportunity to take care of their physical and emotional well-being.
Many wellness efforts continue across Penn State, in administrative and academic units, in colleges and campuses, and even in individual classes.
âThere have always been efforts to improve the well-being of our Penn State community, but the pandemic has shown how important these efforts can be,â said Yvonne Gaudelius, vice president and dean of education undergraduate. âIt’s impressive to see the work in progress and the new efforts that continue to be developed in support of health and wellness. ”
Here’s a look at some of the wellness efforts underway at Penn State.
Penn State Dickinson Law serves a close-knit group of about 260 students, said Julie Cullings, deputy director of student services.
She said law school can be stressful at times, and Dickinson Law tries to provide routine wellness events that students can easily enjoy. As part of the âWellness Wednesdayâ activities, students can take faculty and staff led wellness walks to get to know students better outside the classroom. Some Wednesdays feature âTea Time in the Commonsâ for students to have free tea and snacks between classes. Other events include yoga, a historic Underground Railroad tour by the local historical society, and a pancake dinner scheduled for December 3.
In the Division of Undergraduate Studies, Joan Miller, Educational Advisor and Program Coordinator, explained how the unit engages in the well-being of staff. Their wellness program, titled #HealthyDUS, offers three activities per month in one of the nine dimensions of well-being: physical, creative, cultural, intellectual, financial, professional, social, environmental and emotional. Some events are as simple as a potluck or a Zoom anecdote. For other events, DUS will host a guest from a college to lead a walk, or Health and Wellness Promotion staff to share mindfulness techniques and gratitude practices to reduce stress.
âThis focus on wellness not only helps keep everyone healthy in many ways, but goes a long way in creating a healthy community work environment,â Miller said.
October 15, Penn State Wilkes Barre hosted Mental Health Awareness Day, with several events held at noon. Students had the opportunity to learn about the link between exercise and nutrition and mental health, play games, decorate pumpkins, and undergo stress tests, among other events.
âEveryone should incorporate self-care activities into their daily routine to help improve their stress management and quality of life,â said Melisa Littleton, assistant professor and coordinator of the rehabilitation and social services program at Penn State. Wilkes-Barre. âUnfortunately, many people think that taking care of themselves is selfish and that they may experience feelings of guilt associated with taking time for themselves, but we know that there are so many ‘benefits for psychological well-being. ”
In addition to wellness programs available to staff, faculty, and students outside of class, some instructors incorporate wellness into their programs. Yi-Ting Chang integrates wellness directly into the WMNST 100 course she teaches focusing on methodologies of care. It goes beyond personal care and takes into account all the factors that affect a person’s well-being, right down to societal structures such as racism and forced heterosexuality, Chang said. It also means not ignoring âpainful realitiesâ such as exhaustion, depression and anxiety.
“I think it’s important that my students and I are honest about the type of circumstances we live in today and the uncertainty, exhaustion, exhaustion and structural inequality that is fueling all of this,” said Chang said.
Chang is a PhD candidate in English and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Penn State. She thanked previous mentors for helping her reflect on methodologies of care, especially Tina Chen, Jon Thompson and Allen Stein, all from North Carolina State University, and Mariana Ortega, associate professor of philosophy and studies of women, gender and sexuality at Penn State.
His WMNST 100 course is not traditional; there are no intermediate or final exams. The final project will see students create a feminist care package at the end of the semester that must include something of their own, a grade card to explain a concept or term they learned from the course, a symbolic element, and a letter to the recipient of the care package explaining all the items they contained.
Chang said she also strives to give people the opportunity to express themselves in different ways and using their different senses. Much of university education focuses heavily on reading, which can be detrimental to some students whose best mode of learning is not text analysis. Much of the course, Chang said, focuses on ableism and disability.
Resources for all students
Penn State Student Affairs offers a multitude of services and resources to support the physical and mental health, spiritual well-being, and social bond of students.
Health promotion and well-being offers wellness appointments with peer educators, covering topics such as relationships and sexual health, nutrition and healthy eating, physical activity, sleep and stress. Planning can be done via myUHS. Health & Wellness Promotion also offers wellness events throughout the remainder of the Fall 2021 semester, including Yoga and Meditation, Mindful Monday Break, Wellness Wednesdays and more.
As exercise is an important part of well-being and stress management, Leisure on campus offers fitness classes, gym equipment, intramural sports and other opportunities.
Students seeking spiritual wellness can contact Penn State Center for Spiritual and Ethical Development. Housed in the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center, the center is a safe and inclusive environment and promotes appreciation and respect for religious and spiritual diversity. Find religious and spiritual programming and contact details for local places of worship.
Psychological counseling and services offers Life Hack Kits, which are step-by-step wellness packages designed to help students “navigate and demystify some of the most confusing parts of being human.” CAPS also has a virtual library of self-help resources.
College recovery community provides support to recovering students. This community offers seminars and self-help materials. Collegiate Recovery Community participants can also apply to live in the Residence on Addiction Recovery (ROAR) house.
Students are encouraged to consult the Student Affairs Events Calendar for upcoming events.