• Aditi Nayak

Daily Wellness Zoom To Combat Heightened Stress

The week of March 23, Jessica Gifford (Associate Director of Mental Health Promotion at Amherst College) will host open Zoom calls from 12-12:15PM EST where students, staff and faculty can actively practice wellness together, even off campus.


An almost tangible stress clouded campus following the college’s decision to shift to remote learning and move students off campus. Fears of loved ones getting sick, leaving behind networks of support at Amherst, and finding work post graduation just begin the list of concerns raised by this transition.


However, as members of the Amherst community take care of their physical and financial wellbeing, it is imperative that we look after our mental health as well.


With regard to students, a 2019 Report from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association disclosed that “major depression diagnoses are increasing faster in millennials and teens than in any other age groups--63 percent in teens and 47 percent in millennials.” Combined with the health risks posed by coronavirus and seemingly surreal lifestyle changes in response to the virus, it's easy for students—even those with pre-existing conditions—to let mental health fall to the back burner.


Quarantine and social distancing (though necessary to limit the spread of coronavirus) could lead to long-term mental health issues according to a National Institute of Health study led by Dr. Laura Hawryluck. Analyzing the psychological effects of quarantine during the 2003 Toronto SARS outbreak, this study found that long durations of quarantine and/or exposure to someone with a SARS diagnosis could lead to PTSD and depressive symptoms. The results of this study suggest that recent COVID-19 changes--while much needed--could heighten feelings of anxiety.


Dealing with the stress of a global pandemic and the disruptions caused by the virus, it’s important to take time to reflect on your own feelings during this time of uncertainty. Gifford’s daily virtual Wellness sessions during the first week of remote learning aim to create a space to do so. These calls will feature a different wellness practice every day, ranging from breathing, relaxation practices and visualization exercises to journaling and goal setting.


In a remote college experience, it can be easy to feel alone in this time of turmoil; thus, Gifford intends for “the Daily Wellness Zoom to give people the opportunity to come together as a community to practice a brief activity to reduce stress and improve well-being.”


If you are feeling stressed or are looking for community, consider sparing 15 minutes of your day to stop by the Daily Wellness Zoom (https://amherstcollege.zoom.us/j/953823346) for a brief activity to reduce stress and improve wellbeing.

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