Centenary University Wellness Days Replace Spring Break During Spring Semester
New initiative is designed to minimize the spread of COVID-19, while providing opportunities for students to de-stress in the midst of the pandemic.
HACKETTSTOWN, NJ, April 15, 2021—Centenary University this semester has opted to trade its traditional spring break week with a series of Wellness Days to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, while reducing pandemic-related stress. The first event, held in late March, featured a wide range of workshops designed to promote relaxation, health enhancement, career advancement, and community service for students and employees. The next Wellness Day is today.
“While spring break was canceled this year, we recognize that our students and employees have been under a lot of stress as a result of the ongoing pandemic,” said Kerry Mullins, vice president for student life and dean of students. “Centenary’s Wellness Days provide everyone with the time and space to maintain their physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. They have the option of attending as many events as they’d like, or none at all. It’s a way of acknowledging the fact that everyone has different needs.”
A 2020 Active Minds study revealed that 80% of college students nationally say COVID-19 has impacted their mental health, with one in five reporting that their mental health has significantly worsened since the start of the pandemic. Specifically, college students have cited increases in depression, anxiety, substance use, and suicidal thoughts. The main stressors: Virtual learning, social isolation, and loss of income. Coping with the many individual and collective losses—of loved ones, academic and career opportunities, and connections—has taken a cumulative toll, as well.
Mikolaya Nynka, director of the Centenary University Counseling Center, said the planned Wellness Days provide the University community with an opportunity to pause and take a break: “At the Counseling Center, we see many students who expect themselves to perform at their pre-pandemic standards. The reality is that the world is greatly changed, and just as we have compassion for others, it is important to be compassionate toward ourselves and recognize the context in which we are trying to accomplish our goals. Centenary’s Wellness Days give students and employees the time to be kind to themselves and do something positive for their wellness. People can participate in one of the programs or use the time to sleep, take a walk, or socialize—all great ways to take care of yourself.”
A variety of on-campus divisions contributed to the wide range of events offered during Centenary’s first Wellness Day. Counseling Services offered a Self-Care/MindSpa, while Campus Ministry presented Meditation, Career Development provided a Career Health seminar, FAFSA offered a Financial Aid workshop, and Academic Success held a session on Time Management and Stress Reduction. In addition, Sodexo—the University’s food service provider— offered sessions on Nutrition and Healthy Dorm Cooking. Physical activities included Fitness by the Athletics Department, Personal Training & Weight Room Tips by trainers from St. Luke’s University Health Network, Student Yoga and Office Yoga by Student Activities and Intramurals, and an Employee Check-in by Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield. In the evening, students had the option of taking part in a dance class or participating in virtual service projects.
“The breadth of programs—from mental and physical health to academic and financial wellness—gives us all information and tools to use as we move forward,” Nynka said.
ABOUT CENTENARY UNIVERSITY
Founded in 1867 by the Newark Conference of the United Methodist Church, Centenary University’s academic program integrates a solid liberal arts foundation with a strong career orientation. This mix provides an educational experience that prepares students to succeed in the increasingly global and interdependent world. The University’s main campus is located in Hackettstown, N.J., with its equestrian facility in Washington Township. The Centenary University School of Professional Studies offers degree programs in Parsippany, as well as online and at corporate sites throughout New Jersey.