SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – Wofford College had their first of several planned “Wellness Days” on Tuesday, which they say is an opportunity for students to take a much-needed break and cope with the disruptions the pandemic has caused.
“We come to Wofford to be together as a community, so being separated is really difficult for all of us,” Director of Counseling and Accessibility Services at Wofford College, Perry Henson, said.
Because of COVID, many usual big events and social gatherings at Wofford College have been cancelled.
“Even introverts need human contact and connection with others, and not having that is really draining and has just led to a lot of burnout,” Henson said.
Wofford students didn’t get a fall break, and spring semester won’t look the same as years past either. It’s all an effort to mitigate the spread of the virus.
“When we have 14 straight weeks of a semester, it’s hard to have those things to look forward to, intermittently, to let us regain our energy and keep going,” Henson said.
And, because they are currently operating on a virtual learning schedule, students are spending more time in their dorms than ever before.
“Being isolated, or being in one environment, certainly contributes to mental health issues,” Henson said.
Perry Henson said they’ve noticed a negative effect on students from not getting the college experience they expected.
“Mental health wise, we are seeing very different manifestations than we typically see during a semester,” she said. “We are all dealing with a level of anxiety and pandemic fatigue.”
The college wanted to do something to help, so they came up with the idea of having “Wellness Days.”
Henson said it’s an opportunity to give students something positive to look forward to: a lighter workday and a variety of socially distant activities.
“Meditation and yoga, grab-and-go coloring and art therapy. Pick up a snack, come get a smoothie,” Henson said. “Lots of safe ways for students to get out of their rooms and interact with others.”
Several students took advantage of these activities on Tuesday.
“It’s just so stressful being a student, having a full-time job, and worrying about a pandemic, while also trying to be a kid and have fun; so, this has been a great way to de-stress and re-group,” Wofford junior Sophie Moss said.
“I think it’s a great idea to have celebrated events for mental health,” student Lane Poteat added. “It really helps encourage the student body to take time to relax and promote mental health wellbeing.”
Henson said she believes the wellness days will benefit the students in more ways than one.
“We want our students to be academically successful and, in order for that to happen, we need to meet their other wellbeing needs, so that, on top of that, they can focus on their academics,” she said.
Wofford plans to have three more wellness days during the spring semester, and–weather permitting–they’re hoping to offer more outdoor activities at each one.
The school plans to switch back to in-person learning next Monday, February 8.