Creating Wellness during a Pandemic
Senior Sydney Grimes likes to stay active and she’s not letting the pandemic slow her down.
Two nights a week, she practices with Stetson’s Club Ultimate Frisbee team and competes in scrimmages another night. She runs two to four miles on the other days and recently took up intramural disc golf, as well.
“Staying active has been so important for my mental health in these uncertain times,” said Grimes, a World Language major. “It was easy to get in my own head and be consumed with fear and worry. Just getting outside or going for a run allowed me to clear my head, take my mind off of things for a bit, and restore a sense of normalcy.”
As treasurer of the Club Sports Council, she has noticed an uptick in interest among students for Stetson’s 16 club sports. “It is important for students to know that there are still plenty of ways to stay active and get involved,” she said.
Across campus, students can find a wide range of activities to stay engaged and build wellness – from the Stetson Meditation Club, to counseling groups and workshops, and wellness and recreation programs.
Maintaining a wellness routine can be challenging in a constantly changing environment, much less during a pandemic. But Colleen Vanderlip, director of Wellness & Recreation, said focusing on your own personal health and well-being can help you remain grounded and enhance your ability to help others.
“It is so important to focus on how you can stay positive and maybe even thrive during these unsettling times,” Vanderlip said. “As we navigate this new normal, consider how you can use your time mindfully and with purpose. Focus on the things that you can control that make you feel happy and healthy.”
The Wellness and Rec Team offers Virtual Wellness and face-to-face opportunities for the Stetson community. The Hollis Center and its pool are open with a reservation system and extra safety protocols, including for the weight room, cardio room and spin room.
Vanderlip said her team has focused on offering activities during Stetson’s Tier 1 and Tier 2, which outline safeguards to protect the health and safety of the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. For the first six weeks of the semester, the team had only a third of its normal 125-plus student employees and they volunteered to learn new positions, protocols and responsibilities to ensure a safe environment.
“I can share that as of October 15, the Hollis Center had 3,596 total visits and 444 unique users. Given the restrictions and limitations on face-to-face services, we are extremely happy with this engagement,” she said.
Junior Royce Newman says he maintains a regular fitness routine of cardio workouts, calisthenics and/or weightlifting, and yoga. He aims for two or three days of high-intensity exercises, mixed with low- to moderate-physical activity on the other days.
“Staying active during the pandemic has been helpful,” said Newman, a Health Sciences major, program lead for the WELL team and a Resident Assistant in the Living Well Community.
“It gave me structure over the summer when I didn’t have classes and it gives me an outlet for stress and pent-up energy when I can fit it in between classwork and other responsibilities during the semester,” he added. “I think the value of regular physical activity in terms of supporting the immune system should not be overlooked right now, either.”
A wellness routine can be developed and sustained no matter where students are located, whether on campus or far away. Junior Julia Finver is taking classes online this semester, which gave her the freedom to join her sister and two friends on a road trip out West. They started in Colorado, currently are in Wyoming, and plan to visit Utah, Arizona and New Mexico.
“My wellness routine looks a bit different nowadays since I am doing all my classes online while traveling out West,” said Finver, a Public Health major, and Fitness and Nutrition Program Lead for the WELL Team. “Each week I go on about three to four hikes and I am also training for a half marathon, so my fitness is a lot more focused on endurance and cardio now.
“Physical activity is an important part of wellness, but it is not the entire picture,” she added. “Activities which have really helped me through the pandemic have been things such as meditation, mindfulness and yoga, and journaling. These three things have truly bettered my mental wellness and have been staples to feel grounded during such chaotic times.”
Other students find meaningful connections through their spiritual and religious traditions. Lana Kolchinsky, president of Stetson Hillel, said she looks forward to the Jewish student organization’s virtual gatherings, which have been “a great constant, especially this semester.”
“It is nice to know that I can check in with my Hillel folks each week on Shabbat and still share our traditions – even over Zoom calls,” said Kolchinsky, a junior Political Science major and senator in the Student Government Association. “The Jewish faith puts the sanctity of life over everything else, so this means we should all make sure we are wearing masks and staying safe.”
Like other students, she has felt a little isolated this semester because her schoolwork keeps her in her room for much of the day. But she added, “Something that has helped the most has been setting aside meal times to always spend with friends, so I can assure I am getting my social time for the day.”
Senior Stephen May has been a member of the Meditation Club since his sophomore year and relies on the spiritual practice “as a form of self-care,” turning off distracting thoughts and directing his attention inward. He enjoys spending time in nature and also has taken up new hobbies during the pandemic, buying a pair of roller skates and a watercolor paint set that both keep him busy.
“Whenever I feel some sort of negative emotion, I pause, take a moment to feel it and release it. I just let it pass,” said May, a Marketing major and Student Ambassador. “My routine has also allowed me to exercise my gratitude, as well. … When you start every morning with a simple meditation and a sense of gratitude, you start your day off on a good note.”