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The Blue & Gray Press | August 19, 2019

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UMW needs to do more to promote self-care among students

Some students noted that the photo previously attached to this article resembled a deceased UMW student and Psi Ulipson member. In consideration of their feelings, it has been removed by the editors.



Staff Writer

As college students, we are among the most highly stressed individuals. As people who dedicate the majority of our time to school, our university needs to do more to educate and promote self-care.

The idea of engaging in intentional acts to care for our bodies and minds is vastly overlooked and underappreciated, especially within academia. With so much stress weighing down students, there needs to be a push at the university level to recognize the importance of self-care.

According to the 2015 National College Health Assessment, over 85 percent of students say they have felt overwhelmed with stress in the previous year. With an undergraduate population of over 4,000 students, that statistic would translate to over 3,400 persons in the UMW community feeling swamped by workload.

While the University and the Office of Student Activities and Engagement provide a week of relaxation and fun during finals, self-care is not merely about de-stressing.

Self-care goes beyond winding down or temporarily forgetting about problems. Self-care looks different for everyone because everyone is different. It can be as simple as taking an extra five minutes in the shower because it has been a long day, or sleeping in on the weekends to give your body time to rest. Taking time just for yourself, to play games on your phone and have a 10 minute break, eating healthy and drinking plenty of water, are ways we can care for ourselves.

While many of these strategies are up to the individual to adopt, given that the university is made up of thousands of individuals, it is a topic that deserves to be talked about.

The university needs to do more to promote the idea that we are people first, and students second. According to UMW’s Fast Facts webpage,over 50 percent of the student body lives on campus which means many students live, eat, study and sleep on campus within university housing. Students live and work as UMW students and there needs to be a holistic approach to caring for students.

Academic services are offered, there is a Department of Financial Aid and the Talley Center for Counseling Services, among many other resources. But there are currently no events or advocacy for self-care, to promote putting ourselves first.

A big change from high school to college is the increased amount of free, unstructured time. Without curfews or parents to dictate schedules, we are primarily left to our own devices. In addition to being students, many of us have full or part time jobs, are members of clubs or sports teams, have a social life and family to juggle.

Remembering to intentionally take time for ourselves at the end of the day is often neglected because of our busy schedules. Our university as an institution, however, does not seem to place a premium on the topic. Rather, student run clubs and organizations may occasionally hold events for students to let a load off, but again, letting loose is different than taking time to care  for yourself on the daily.

Being adults comes with additional responsibilities that we as individuals need to attend to, but as we take classes and live within an institution of learning, the University should offer events or at the very least information regarding the promotion of self-care within the student body. A healthy student population should be what college campuses strive for.