Wellness Club strives to alleviate stress, practice mindfulness
February 21, 2018
From weekend Soul Cycling sessions to eating energy-boosting food to aid in daily productivity, Wellness Club provides a relaxed setting for students to practice mindfulness and discuss habits that can affect their mental health. Juniors Sydney Davidson, Caitlin Ellithorpe and Caroline Waller started the club this year.
“Feeling like you have the time to stop all the craziness and sit down and breathe is important,” Waller said.
Wellness Club strives to shed light on the issues many teens face by speaking about ways to improve their habits. The meetings serve as a small yet open community for students to express themselves and ask questions regarding mental health.
“Talking about mental health is important now rather than later because you become more comfortable sharing how you’re feeling and being there for others,” Waller said.
The leaders also take a strong interest in new ways to relieve stress on a daily basis and want to help their peers in doing so. They sometimes meet for 10 minutes during lunch and work on breathing techniques for relaxation.
“I get really stressed out, so I thought it would be a good idea to bring awareness to ways to destress,” Davidson said.
Wellness Club also holds the occasional healthy potlucks during the short lunch meetings to discuss healthy eating habits. One discussion in particular advised students to eat energy-filled food in order to increase productivity.
According to the leaders, it can be intimidating to talk to adults, and the club can be an alternative for students to freely share personal experiences and ask difficult questions. The leaders of Wellness Club hope to seem approachable for not only members, but all students.
“My goal is to reach out to people on a more intimate basis and have them feel safe around us,” Waller said.
Dr. Ann Friedman discusses mindfulness with students
Wellness Club brought in Dr. Ann Friedman to host mindfulness sessions with students and faculty during lunch from Feb. 7-9.
In 2006, Friedman’s house flooded, her mother began having brain seizures and her husband was transitioning between jobs, so she began the practice of mindfulness.
Friedman’s course covered stress and anger management techniques, which she believes will be helpful to everyone in confronting pain and challenging emotions.
“I wish I had known this at a younger age,” Friedman said. “It would’ve saved me years of anxiety and suffering because I learned to let go and be a more relaxed person.”
Friedman engaged participants by not only speaking about ways to de-stress, but conducting practices over the three days. Students learned breathing techniques and trained their senses to be more aware of their surroundings.
Many students who attended the sessions found the information to be valuable to their school lives.
“It’s important to practice this because at St. John’s we’re all super stressed out,” senior Katharine Duffy said. “Seniors have a lot of decisions to make soon, and freshmen are trying to get oriented at a new school.”
Director of Clinical Services Tesa Stark, who has been practicing mindfulness for the past three years, thinks it can help students with their stress management.
“If students can let things go and not stress out as much, they would realize that more than likely, it’s all going to be okay,” Stark said.
Friedman hopes that the sessions she conducted will help students and faculty members practice mindfulness and control their stress levels not only at St. John’s, but in their daily lives as well.
“I learned mindfulness, and it changed my life,” Friedman said.