Priority given to self-care

On Tuesday, therapy dogs were brought in to help reduce stress. (Photo by: Ryan Hueglin)

On Tuesday, therapy dogs were brought in to help reduce stress. (Photo by: Ryan Hueglin)

Graduate students at Wilfrid Laurier University this week are getting free massages, yoga classes and visits from therapy dogs as part of the Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) Wellness Week. The week runs from Nov. 18-22 and is meant to promote health and wellness among Laurier’s graduate students.

The event ran for the first time last fall and has since become semi-annual, being run once per term.

Kayleigh Abbott, student affairs director of the GSA’s Wellness Team, explained that this term they are taking a more holistic approach to well-being by offering a variety of events that address many aspects of health and wellness.

Such events include registered massage therapy, reflexology, meditation, candy and therapy dogs.

“We’re just trying to approach the well-being of graduate students in different ways,” Abbott continued. “Because some things work for different people when it comes to relieving stress.”

On top of adding more variety to the events this term, they have also lengthened the schedule to accommodate more student schedules and programs.

They also have a prize portion to the week. Students are presented with a bingo card to get signed off at each event they attend. Prizes include five free hot yoga passes to Moksha Yoga, a yoga mat and other free yoga class passes.

“We have a couple of partners in the community that helped donate toward our Wellness Week, which is really nice,” Abbott said.

Moksha Yoga was one such partnership. As well, the registered massage therapists (RMTs) offered their services at a reduced rate.

The Kitchener and Brantford campuses are also being engaged, with goody bags to the faculty of social work students in Kitchener and free massages to the 23 graduate students in Brantford.

“We recognise that not all students take a break,” added Domenica De Pasquale, academic and research director of the Wellness Team. “So part of our programming is that we will go and stop by some of the student spaces and drop off little candy treats with inspirational quotes on them.”

Generally, the week runs around the third week of November and March.

“The GSA just feels that this period of time is really stressful for students,” said De Pasquale. “We want them to take a short break. And say, you know, it’s okay to take a break.”

Suvi Ylanko and Leanne Metsa are two masters of music therapy students who attended massage therapy together on Tuesday.

“I think it’s a great initiative,” said Metsa. “We’re studying music therapy, so we learn about self-care. So it’s kind of nice that there is something provided to grad students.”

Ylanko commented on the purpose of the week, saying, “The whole self-care thing is very important, especially for students. I feel like a lot of students do self-care, but to a degree.”

She explained how many students probably think effective self-care is watching Netflix. But she believes they are missing out on other levels. She liked that the GSA was taking a more holistic approach with the week to address this.

“I’m hoping we can give them a couple of options to get their stress levels back down to ‘normal,’ so that it makes their experience a little bit better here at Laurier,” noted Abbott.

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