It’s the end of the week, and today’s forecast promises to be dreary (high of 41 degrees, 100% chance of rain). The weekend forecast isn’t stellar either. Knowing that we have cases of the flu going around, and with cold rainy weather, it’s a good time to remind/encourage your students to practice good self care and good hygiene. We all want our students to be healthy.
Speaking of health, our friends at the University Counseling Center (UCC) are doing a couple of great things, both programmatically and social media wise, to promote our students’ wellbeing. There is a new group being formed at the UCC on mindfulness and awareness, described as follows:
“The Counseling Center staff would like to alert you to an opportunity for your students to engage in a four-week group on mindfulness and awareness. Did you know that mindfulness has been shown to decrease worry as well as increase relaxation and overall well-being, and improve academic performance and sleep quality? If you know any students who could benefit from a group like this, please ask them to contact the Counseling Center.” Students can call the UCC at 339-758-5273. You can also see the mindfulness group flyer online.
As someone who tends to be a ‘worrying mom’ myself, I can attest to the fact that mindfulness can make a huge difference in how you learn to handle your worries and move from a place of anxiety and stress to a place of calm. If I could have known about mindfulness training when I was 18 or 20, I think I could have shed a lot of the [self-induced] stress I was placing on myself about grades and performance and living up to people’s expectations. It certainly is a hugely helpful tool in managing adult stresses and pressures (at least for me).
I share that only in the spirit of saying that mindfulness is not something that you have to be clinically depressed or diagnosed with anxiety to benefit from – it’s for anyone who wants to try it. This may or may not be something your Deacs might enjoy, but I encourage you to make them aware of it and let them know it is an option they can choose to pursue.
The UCC also is rolling out 75 days of daily tips for emotional success. You can follow these on their Facebook page or on their Twitter. If you aren’t already following the UCC’s social media accounts, think about doing so – and for the next 75 days you can see the tips for emotional wellbeing they are sharing. Those might be fun things to pass along to your Deacs – or even to try and practice in your own life!
A final word about health and wellbeing. Today is Friday, and we always encourage parents and families to connect with their students today and talk, as it has been shown to have a positive effect on reducing dangerous behavior (such as drinking to excess); see the info about the studies.
Tonight there is an extra reason to want to talk to your students: it is pledge night or kiss night, as it is sometimes called. Historically on pledge night, there are celebrations for the fraternities and sororities and their new pledges and many students (Greek and non-Greek alike) attend those functions. Some will drink (some to excess, some years dangerously so). It seems like first-year students can be at particular risk.
Depending on your family’s style and values, you might want to have a conversation about alcohol and how to reduce dangerous drinking behavior, or abstaining completely, or anywhere on the spectrum. (With some of my own family members when they were in college, I have reminded them of things like ‘you can hold a drink and choose to nurse it, not drink it at all, accidentally-on-purpose spill it’ etc.)
There are resources online that might help you consider ways to talk about alcohol with your student should you choose to do so:
WFU Alcohol Position Statement (there are tips at the end about reducing risks)
Alcohol information from WFU CHOICES (this has some good information about drink sizes, BAC, etc.) They also have a tips for parents page.
A final word about pledge night/kiss night. Knowing that there is flu on campus, students ought to be especially judicious about things like sharing cups, kissing others, covering coughs or sneezes, etc. There have been past pledge nights/kiss nights where Student Health saw increases in a certain illness (such as strep throat) a few days after the event. So everyone, be smart, be safe, and make good choices.
– by Betsy Chapman