Wellbeing Wednesday—and All Week Long
Overwhelmed. If that’s you this semester, you are hardly alone. Through the Campus Life and Wellbeing Collaborative, UMass Amherst offers strategies and resources to help students cope with learning in a pandemic and support for staying healthy and connecting with others in socially distanced times.
“Zoom fatigue is real. Many students feel overwhelmed with navigating new ways of learning and with their academic workload,” says Elizabeth Cracco, assistant vice chancellor of Campus Life and Wellbeing. “Some students face difficulties with their basic needs—financial insecurity, food, safety. No matter your situation, resilience and mindfulness are critical skills for everyone.”
Reports Cracco, “The concept that we need to engage in some sort of wellbeing practice is more accepted today than ever. But it’s also harder to do now than ever.”
Building meaningful, supportive relationships is critical to wellbeing. UMass Amherst supports several ways for students to connect. First-year and transfer students can bond through My CRU—groups of 10 who meet online regularly to strengthen their ties to one another and to UMass. “Students don’t have the traditional experience of hanging out on their lofted beds and talking deep into the night,” Cracco says. “For many, their CRU group is the one place where they get to talk.”
Students from all class years can sign on to ProjectConnect, a peer facilitated group that takes participants through a sequence of questions designed to build empathy, connection, and friendship.
Strategies for dealing with life amid COVID-19 abound in the UMass Wellbeing Wednesday newsletter emailed weekly to all students. Here, readers can find activities, readings, resources, and interviews with UMass community members.
Steve Gross ’90, Chief Playmaker at the Life is Good Kids Foundation, shared his belief in the healing power of play in the September 23 edition. Even in these tough times, he urged, “Experience joy. Play is the spirit, the energy, the vibration you bring to everything that you do.”
Nursing student Maddi Terry ’21, president of the UMass Outing Club, advocated for mindfulness in the September 9 edition of the newsletter. Find a “sit spot,” she advised—"a place that brings you peace, comfort, familiarity.” Your sit spot can be inside next to a window or outside. Take 30 minutes, once a day or once a week, and just sit, without your phone. “Your whole point is sitting,” Terry says. “Let everything reset.”
In the October 21 edition of Wellbeing Wednesday, Shelley Perdomo, assistant vice chancellor for Advocacy, Inclusion and Support, wrote a powerful message titled, “Reflections on SelfCare, Radical Self-love and Being.” Perdomo wrote: “Real selfcare is hard because it is about allowing yourself to feel and stand in your truth no matter how painful it might be. It’s about surviving and thriving in a system that often lacks empathy and compassion. Only through authenticity can you engage in radical self-love, healing, and a form of self-care that is meaningful, transformative, and liberatory.”
As the leaves fall and the air chills, Cracco urges students to put on some warm boots and connect with nature. “And pull out the board games and set up a time to play with your friends,” she says. “It sounds hokey, but we have to be very intentional about setting up a plan for getting through this.”
For many more coping ideas, see the Wellbeing Wednesday newsletters.