Wellness Day Provides Students with Ways to Manage Stress

From an invigorating cold plunge to soothing sound therapy, there was no shortage of wellness opportunities offered to students during the second annual Wellness Day held Jan. 24.
“This year we added some new activities so there were some 40 workshops scattered throughout campus, so students were able to experience different self-care activities to support their mental health,” said Amy Raskind, Westminster’s mental health program coordinator.
This year, Raskind said she also circulated a survey to keep a finger on the pulse of the community’s mental health and determine how to better support it.
“The fair is a way to give the students practical coping strategies to help them manage the stress they might feel from the day-to-day rigors of being a student at Westminster,” said Raskind.
Students chose to participate in two hour-long morning sessions, which ranged from relaxing activities such as yoga, letter writing and coloring to high-energy exercises like shadow boxing, dancing and dodgeball.
Head of School Elaine White once again invited students to Pratt House where she helped them create ice cream cakes — a popular session. Less appetizing but equally popular was a slime making workshop. Not only was it a nostalgic experience for students who might remember making slime as a child, but the gooey stuff is something they manipulate with their hands to relieve stress.
In Armour Academic Center’s (AAC) Baxter Gallery, students cuddled with baby rabbits and kittens from a visiting petting zoo and in AAC’s Armstrong Atrium students communed with three visiting therapy dogs.
Despite the drizzly weather, students socialized around the fire pits on Keyes Patio or took campus dogs on a walk. Faculty members led baking sessions for students with a sweet tooth who wanted to learn basic cooking skills. Classical music set the mood during a soothing watercolor session during which students painted landscapes. “This is bringing me back into art and it is really relaxing," said Cricket Beard ’25.
This year the school’s planetarium was open for stargazing and the chapel was the site of a unique sound therapy session.
Students began the therapy session by laying down and slowing their breath, allowing the frequency of the sound waves ease them into a state of meditation. Throughout the session, a sound healing practitioner played a variety of instruments including wind chimes, singing bowls and gongs.
The cold plunge brought spirited reviews from students. Studies have shown that this type of cold water experience can trigger neurotransmitters that help regulate emotions and stress, leading to an increase in mood-regulating brain chemicals, like dopamine. Still, it was a challenge for some students.
Head Prefect Robert Yalda ’24, still shivering from the experience, said the dunk was well worth it. “It was really cold, but I did get a natural high from it,” he said.
See more photos on Flickr, here.

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