A well-needed rest is on its way: Wilkes Wellness Day

After a condensed and hectic fall semester, the university announced that students would receive two Wellness Days off during the spring semester with the return to campus.

The first of the Wellness Days is on March 2, while the second will be on April 28. As per university instruction, classes will not be held on either day, and offices will be closed. 

As posted in Wilkes Today, the Wellness Days were introduced this semester so that students can enjoy some downtime. The hope is that students spend the day doing something relaxing and enjoyable.

“Ideally, it would be great if students could relax on that day,” said Dr. Edward Schicatano, associate professor of psychology and the neuroscience program coordinator. 

“But since most students will probably be catching up on their classes or working in some way, I would just suggest spending at least a couple hours with their minds completely off of school. Whether you spend this time in nature or exercising or enjoying a movie, force yourself to take this break. We all need a ‘pause’ or a healthy diversion away from our stressors. Basically, this is what meditation does. It’s a vehicle for allowing the mind to pause.”

Schicatano expressed that having the two days off will certainly help students, but another day or two off in the middle of the semester would be beneficial as well.

With a lack of spring break this semester, the extra days students do have will feel even more crucial.

“Without a traditional spring break, our students will be facing a near-continuous semester of study, and we know that can be challenging,” said President Dr. Greg Cant. “That is why we introduced Wilkes Wellness Days, in which classes will not be held and offices will be closed. Our hope is that our students take this time to do something restful and enjoyable, while abiding by the protocols that will continue to keep us safe.”

While it is clear that the day is expected to be used for a break from work and to focus on relaxation, some students already have plans to use the day to catch up on work.

“I’ll probably use it to catch up on homework,” William Farnelli, junior English major, said. “It’s a bit strange that they have it on a Tuesday instead of a Monday or Friday, but it works, and it’s nice to have a break when things are as stressful as they are now.” 

For Ashlynn Allison, a junior mechanical engineering major, who recently suffered an injury, Tuesday’s Wellness Day will serve as more than just a mental health day.

“My first round of physical therapy is scheduled for Tuesday, so for me, it’s a physical wellness day as well as a mental wellness day,” said Allison. “I’ll probably end up catching up on schoolwork, so it won’t be a total break, but I like that it’s a scheduled catch-up day. I feel the wellness days are helpful as long as the professors abide by the spirit of them.” 

Senior biology and neuroscience major Jason DeBoard plans to take a step back from school work and has a long, relaxing day planned.

“My plan for this upcoming Wellness Day is to take time to re-center myself and reorganize my life. I won’t be sleeping in, which may be different from most people,” said DeBoard. 

“Throughout the day, I will try to limit my electronic usage as much as possible and try to reconnect with the present moment. I will grab a good breakfast and talk with some old friends from back home. In the afternoon and evening, I plan to go to hot yoga to get some good physical activity in and mediate at the same time. In the later evening, I will refocus and plan out my next few weeks as they apply to school and get a good barring on what I need to do.”

In addition to offices and classes being closed, the library will be closed as well. The lower level will remain accessible with the swipe of student IDs. Students should use the after-hours access door near West South Street to enter the building.

Cant had his own recommendations for students, with hopes that they can use the day to get away from work, even if it is tempting to use the Wellness Day as a catch-up day.

“During this time of Zooms and online meet-ups, I would personally recommend taking the day to disconnect from technology, if you can,” said Cant. “The outdoors have natural therapeutic qualities for me and my family. Frances Slocum is a wonderful option just about 15 minutes away that offers a variety of hiking trails in a serene environment.”

With the first Wellness Day around the corner, perhaps it will provide results for the campus that days like these are useful not just now, but also after the pandemic. The feedback from these Wellness Days may normalize days off being for a mental and physical health break instead of being used to catch up on work.

“Many of my friends are using them as study days, but I feel as though the intention of these days is not only to catch up on school work but to refocus and reorient yourself to the present moment, so you can destress and attack the next weeks with a better headspace,” said DeBoard. “Wellness Days, in the presence of many virtual classes, I think are an essential part of staying in a good headspace for many students.”