Health and Wellness: More than Just Not Being Sick
By Rebecca Gygax
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) “is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person.” This disease is known to spread by contact with an infected person’s respiratory droplets if in close proximity or through contaminated surfaces.
Because of this, businesses, churches, schools and more are all closed, states are on lockdown, people are quarantining and so much more. To state it plainly: Everything is different.
What does this mean for the Marymount community?
Although the consequences are still unfolding due to the unpredictability of COVID-19 and the need for constant adjustments of specific policies, one thing has been set: everyone is home. Marymount University has made the transition to remote, online learning and well… It is quite an adjustment.
Laura Finkelstien, Assistant Vice President of Student Health and Well-Being, previously the Director of the Counseling Center said, “I’m hearing mixed things from students… Some students are feeling pretty overwhelmed by it, it’s a lot of time just sitting by the computer and it’s a totally different format so figuring out the logistics of it can be stressful. I do think in some ways not going into the classroom and having access to everything on your computer is easier for some students. Then we also have students that it’s stressful just getting the materials for it, so students might not have great internet connection or an up to date computer and that can create issues.”
A current student at Marymount, Amanda Stegman, said, “The switch to online learning has been a struggle. When I left for spring break I never thought I wouldn’t be coming back to school. I feel like I have even more work now than I did when I was at school.”
Another Marymount student, Jason Perkins, said, “The only real setback with the switch to online learning is that I am now more open to distraction and it is hard to find the motivation to sit down and work on homework and study.”
Nobody is going to have the exact same experience as anyone else in this transitional and challenging time. But one thing is universal, this is a time of change and adjustment.
Laura Finkelstein said, “Moving back home has such a range of different consequences, for some it’s really difficult being back with their families and having different family issues come back or different issues that they experienced in highschool are triggered a little bit more because they are in that space again.”
She also said, “Some students have some social anxiety and this is actually relieving for them, to not be sort of in the mix with other students. That’s not necessarily always a positive thing because sometimes we have to challenge ourselves to keep going out socially so that we are working on that.”
Whether it has been trying and difficult to go home and start online learning, or if it has been a breath of fresh air, the importance of maintaining health and wellness is crucial right now.
Laura Finkelstein addressed this topic and said, “Whenever we have a significant change in our lives, and this is a big one for everyone, it’s especially important to attend to that [our health]. Even if it’s a positive change in some parts, and this is obviously largely a stressful change, I think students really need it more than ever.”
Health and wellness is a multidimensional concept. There are many types of health: mental, emotional, physical, spiritual, etc., and they are all very important in the balance of a person’s wellbeing.
Maintaining a balanced, healthy life is important for college students, not only for the personal and physical benefits but in order to reach their full potential academically.
Dr. Theresa Siggins, Health and Human Performance Professor, spoke on whether or not health and wellness had a direct correlation to academic success.
She said, “I definitely think that it does but i think it also depends on how you define academic success, so I think people that are struggling may be able to get an A in the class still but are they able to further pursue their interests and be motivated and feel like you are able to go beyond just the content that is being delivered in a class.”
Amanda Stegman and Jason Perkins also agreed; they both stated that through their personal experiences in college the standing of their health has played a role in their ability to maintain their school work.
Laura Finkelstein said, “I think that’s why it’s so important for college campuses to have counselors as a resource because if students aren’t feeling good, if they are feeling depressed, or really anxious, [etc.] it’s really hard to do anything else, including homework.”
Now wait… students are not the only part of the Marymount community that are adjusting to online learning. What about professors?
As much as maintaining wellness is important for students and their ability to be successful, it is just as important for professors.
Dr. Siggins said, “I believe that wellness is connected to everybody, so we [professors] are not going to be as efficient and as able to meet everybody’s needs if we are not meeting our own needs through our own wellness. I do think that it can affect them and how they teach and how they are receptive to students if they are struggling with something on their own with something as well.”
She continued to say, “If you are used to teaching face-to-face it can be a challenge to keep that same interaction with your students when you are online. It can be a little frustrating from a professor’s standpoint if you are not able to connect with your students in a meaningful way.”
Health and wellness plays a necessary role in the ability of the students and professors at Marymount University to adapt to this new style of learning and teaching, so that everyone can follow through this semester successfully. And hopefully even create or rediscover new healthy habits that will sustain positive wellness for a lifetime.
So, how is the Marymount community doing in their efforts to stay healthy during this time?
Laura Finkelstein said, “I think that the students have really been impressive at this time and are prioritizing their health even though it is hard sometimes.”
She mentioned that the counselors were worried about how students would follow through with their meetings when they had to be online, but that they are pleased to say that a majority of students have continued their attendance.
Dr. Siggins mentioned that the circumstances for every individual is different and thus makes their ability to prioritize their health different. She said that while some students have said they are eating better at home than they were at school, others have admitted to stress eating since there is more food readily available at all times.
Think about it for yourself. Have you been making strides to better your health and wellness or have the difficulties of the time made it feel impossible to do so?
Either way here are some strategies to maintain health and wellness while being at home:
- Create a schedule. Plan times daily that are specifically for homework, class, exercise, relaxing, eating, whatever it is that needs to get done that day. Or make a weekly schedule and plan out things to do throughout the week, or certain days of the week. However specific or general, sticking to a schedule will allow for enough time to get school work done while also leaving room to prioritize other activities.
- Exercise. Whether it is going out on a walk or following along with a youtube video in the living room, being more active everyday will increase productivity and lead to lifelong habits for better health.
- Eat well. Dr. Siggins said, “When you are being taxed, not only worried about getting a virus and you want your immune system to be healthy if you were to contract something, but at the same time emotionally I think that we are really taxed right now… Food when we are eating healthy, it can really help with our emotions.”
- Social Distance Socialize. If you are quarantined with family or roommates spend some quality time with them. Facetime, Skype or Zoom friends and family that you cannot physically go see. It serves as a reminder that we are not alone and is a healthy way to maintain social wellness.
- Make time to relax. Finding something enjoyable to do will ease the stress of the times that we are in. Whether it is a new movie or tv series, a good book or puzzle, trying a new recipe; find something that can help you unwind that piques your interest.
- Know that Marymount is here to help! Even though we are not on campus anymore, all of the resources and offices are still fully functioning. We are all in this together as a school community and the faculty and staff are available and willing to help with anything.
Everything has changed; that much is true. But the ability to adapt and conquer new situations is one that everyone can learn. Health and wellness, in all aspects, is extremely important in order to be able to not only get through this time, but to succeed in it.