As the spring semester kicks into high gear, Florida Polytechnic University students are mindful of the need to maintain their physical and mental health while they pursue their rigorous coursework.
“It’s super important,” said mechanical engineering senior EJ Shynski as he lounged on a hammock in Oak Grove during the first week of the semester. “In a couple of weeks, I’ll be really busy with coursework, so I’m taking this time while I can and making the best of it.”
The Student Development Center provides hammocks for student use in the shady Oak Grove, as well as many other efforts intended to improve overall student wellness.
“You have to have that balance, mentally and physically,” said Tonya Chestnut, director of student development. “It’s extremely important to find a release.”
Chestnut said the fitness center, swimming pool, intramural sports, exercise classes, and other events at the Student Development Center offer good opportunities for students to focus on their physical health. A wide variety of social and physical events throughout the semester is meant to encourage students to unwind and pay attention to their overall wellbeing. These include intramural kick ball, water aerobics, intramural sand volleyball, e-sports gaming days, and food-and-fun events.
“Sitting in front of a computer screen or phone or iPad, you don’t allow the mind to relax,” Chestnut said. “If you come in and challenge yourself by doing something physical, you’ll sleep better and feel better.”
Students who are starting 2020 with a resolution to hit the gym can request an orientation to the equipment when they arrive or simply scan a QR code on any piece of equipment for directions. Chestnut said workout buddies also are available to make the experience more enjoyable – students should ask at the check-in desk and a staff member or volunteer will join in the workout. A professional trainer will soon be available as a resource to students as well.
In addition to the University’s social and physical resources, students also should be aware of the mental health and social assistance available on campus, said Kristin Stokes, associate director of campus wellness management.
“CARE Services (the University’s health and wellness program) basically is a way for students to come forward who may need help with mental health, finding a local medical provider, personal emergencies or other needs,” Stokes said. “CARE is about making it easy for the student and helping them navigate their situation.”
Stokes said recognizing the need for counseling or other mental health services can be stressful, particularly for those unfamiliar with the process.
“You can see they are relieved when they reach out. This is an easy process and we want to make sure it’s done quickly,” she said. “If a student says they need to see somebody today, they’re going to see somebody today.”
Stokes and Chestnut agreed that prioritizing personal wellbeing is just as important as academic success.
“Even if you just have 20 minutes, come soak up some sun by the pool,” Chestnut said. “Doing something for 20 minutes a couple of times a week will do wonders for your mind, body, spirit and grades.”
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