Wellness Expo encourages students to de-stress

It’s common for students to become so stressed that they neglect their well-being. To prevent this, the College held its Ninth Annual Health and Wellness Expo on Tuesday, March 7, which covered issues from stress and depression to weight gain.

Tables lined Brower Student Center’s first and second floors, where various on- and off-campus organizations relating to personal health and wellness were represented. Ann DeGennaro, director of Health and Wellness, said she organized the event to provide students with “information that can help them to make lifestyle changes.”

As the academic caliber of the students accepted to the College increases, pressure to succeed has done the same. Perfectionism seems to be at an all-time high on college campuses, especially in competitive schools like the College.

“My advice: breathe, just breathe,” DeGennaro said. “Take a step back, take a walk outside and breathe.”

Psychological Counseling Services (PCS) set up “The Labyrinth,” a circular path that led people in a semi-spiral toward the center point. According to Carol Evangelisto, licensed professional counselor for Psychological Counseling Services, labyrinths are not meant to confuse like mazes. They are meant for personal enlightenment.

As people approached the labyrinth, members of PCS asked them to follow certain steps. The first was to discard personal baggage and clear the mind. Then the person set his or her environment to make the experience as comfortable as possible. Thirdly, he or she followed the path of the labyrinth in a series of meditative walks.

According to PCS, these steps allowed people to enter a peaceful, restful state as they approached the center. Illumination, the time for openness, should follow, PCS said. The journey outward comes last, during which the person reflects and tried to apply what he or she has learned in his or her everyday life.

Hue-Sun Ahn, licensed counseling psychologist for PCS, said she hoped students left with new ways to relax.

Ahn even said that she rarely gets enough time for herself and took her own turn walking the labyrinth.

“I was actually walking slowly for a change,” Ahn said.

Sodexho sent dietitians to talk about achieving healthier living through dining choices. To avoid the dreaded “freshman 15,” Sodexho dietitians made a number of recommendations.

“Choose more salad bar-type things and take advantage of the variety, but make sure to follow portion sizes,” Kristin Yudin, Sodexho dietitian, said. “Stick to lean meats and make sure to read the nutrition facts. Avoid empty calories in juices and sodas.”

The dietitians also made other suggestions, like avoiding fast food and late-night eating. They also said to limit drinking and if drinking beer, stick to the light variety.

To keep the College on pace with national trends, DeGennaro plans to compare the College’s statistics concerning student health and wellness to national averages found in the American College Health Association Survey. From there, she hopes to design new programs to keep the College’s students up to date with the rest of the country.

“I really enjoy having the opportunity to help students,” DeGennaro said. “I get such a rush from that, that’s why I’m here.”

Already in the works is a new first-year seminar dealing with wellness. DeGennaro said that the seminar will include stress management and task management, among other health-related concepts.