Emma Sutton put herself through a grueling 30-minute abdominal workout on the floor of the Benjamin Johnson Arena on Tuesday, Wofford College’s first Wellness Day. And she enjoyed every second of it.
“This is something I used to do every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and I missed it,” says Sutton ’23, an environmental studies and government major from Fort Mill, South Carolina. “It was good to do something normal.”
Giving students a taste of normal was the goal of the day. The isolation and uncertainty brought on by COVID-19 has taken a toll, and the college wanted to give students a needed break. In addition to the ab workout, the day included meditation sessions, yoga, free smoothies and juices, s’mores and grab-and-go snacks and coloring books.
“We are all experiencing a level of anxiety about the unknowns and dealing with COVID fatigue,” says Perry Henson, director of counseling and accessibility services. “These are big factors in feelings of burnout, or lack of motivation and energy. We need designated times of rest for our bodies and minds to recover and recharge in order to regain energy to move forward. We also need things to look forward to in the short term so that we can pace ourselves and make it to the next period of relief. These days can provide those times in the midst of a long semester if we all work together to honor them.”
Carolyn Sparks, associate vice president for enrollment and director of financial aid, says her office knew immediately how it would participate. It provided a table full of goodies for students to grab and take with them.
“Everyone is feeling some type of fatigue right now,” Sparks says. “When the call was made for ideas to help relieve some of that fatigue, my first thought was comfort food. Who doesn’t like Goldfish crackers and fruit snacks?”
Harrison Chase ’22, a biology major from Charlotte, North Carolina, helped build a fire so students could enjoy their s’mores on the blustery day. He wasn’t partaking, though, opting instead to head to the gym for a workout. But he did appreciate the much-needed break.
“It’s hard for everyone going through this,” says Chase. “There’s less interaction and we can’t do the things we used to. Humans are innately social. It’s nice to have a day to take care of yourself. I think it’s great to be aware of the importance of mental health.”
The Wofford Activities Council provided the kits for the s’mores. Megan Reilly ’21, an accounting and math major from Bluffton, South Carolina, and the council’s chairwoman, said she was pleased by the turnout for the day.
“It’s very important to get people out of their dorms, and I’ve definitely seen more people around today,” Reilly says. “I’m a senior and I don’t really like classes online. It’s really hard to stay energized. It’s been rough on everyone, but I hope we’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.”
Additional Wellness Days, with different activities, are scheduled for Feb. 24, March 18 and April 2. Henson says she hopes students will take advantage.
“I am also hopeful that instructors will place emphasis on these days so that students can have a cohesive experience of having days on which they can truly focus on themselves,” Henson says. “Wellness and self-care can look different for each of us, so some may choose to get some extra sleep, catch up on academics, connect with students they don’t often see through a distanced wellness program, or pick up a self-care activity to do alone or safely with others.”