University promotes self-care through Illini Wellness Week

Students+gather+around+to+pet+a+therapy+dog+on+the+upper+level+of+the+Undergraduate+Library+on+October+9th.

Patrick Li

Students gather around to pet a therapy dog on the upper level of the Undergraduate Library on October 9th.

By Andrea Flores

The University’s Office of Student Affairs is hosting a series of events this week to promote wellness programs and initiate dialogue among students and departments about different aspects of wellness. These aspects include physical, emotional, spiritual and financial well-being.

Brendan Harris, senior in LAS, is a member of the Stress Management Peers, and the organization is a part of the Illini Wellness Week to provide awareness of stress and time management.

“(Illini Wellness Week) is basically to provide awareness to students about how to manage stress and how to be productive and manage their time to ultimately succeed, and to be aware of the different peer education groups on campus and the different resources on campus,” Harris said.

Malcolm Smith, senior in Business, and Fred H. Turner, fellow with the Office of Student Affairs, said that the events are modeled after the Campus Wellbeing Services’s seven dimensions of wellness: physical, emotional, intellectual, vocational, spiritual, environmental and social.

The week kicked off with “Mindful Monday,” which consisted of a free breakfast at Alma Mater and a therapy dog visit at the UGL.  Each day has a theme: “Task Tuesday,” “Wellness Wednesday” and “Thoughtful Thursday.”

Meredith Delong, freshman in Social Work, said that wellness, for her, means taking time to recharge and being able to have down time and take care of yourself.

“This is a really important thing because you have to learn how to say no, and take care of yourself,” Delong said. “Priority is you, not in a selfish way, but just in a way that protects yourself.”

For Katie Rapp, junior in LAS and Education, wellness means taking care of yourself mentally and physically, being hygienic, staying active and maintaining a good state of mind.

Delong participated in the “Paws-itivity” dog therapy on Monday. The event is helpful because it gives people a form of contact comfort, she said.

“I think everybody misses their dogs because a lot of the time you have your animal to talk to, and here you don’t have that, which is unfortunate,” Delong said. “You’re able to talk to them and look at them and hug them, and it’s just a very good way of comforting.”

Rapp also said “Paws-itivity” is helping her cope with missing her dog at home.

“All my friends know me as the biggest dog person ever,” Rapp said. “Just having a dog here and seeing its cute little fuzzy face, and letting me pet it is so nice, and it just brightens up your day.”

Other events during Illini Wellness Week will feature a wheelchair basketball game, a health and wellness expo, a free yoga session, wall climbing, ice skating, free massages and a farmer’s market.

“(Wellness means to) be healthy, for one, to have a proper diet and feel good physically,” Harris said. “And also mentally and psychologically as well.”

Smith believes that wellness is an important aspect of college life.

“As students, we tend to think we’re invincible, when that’s not the case,” Smith said.

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