You Can’t Li(brary), Wellness is Important

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Published September 18, 2019
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The Montclarion
Junior religious studies major Daniela Bykov stops to add some color to the poster. Olivia Kearns | The Montclarion

In the hustle and bustle of college life, it can be challenging to find some time for yourself. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by balancing classes, clubs, homework, social lives, projects and work.

This stressful juggling act is why it’s important to focus on your own wellness in order to prevent the negative outcomes of over-stressing. This is easier said than done, as adopting successful techniques to combat stress can be challenging.

Thankfully, there are resources on campus to lighten stress’ burden. The Harry A. Sprague Library is taking the initiative of running wellness programs in order to help alleviate student stresses, and to educate them about wellness techniques.

The library’s interest in wellness started in 2013, when they first began hosting therapy dogs during finals season in collaboration with the Office of Health Promotion. It was not long thereafter that the library was recognized as a prime location to offer wellness events.

Lori Petrozzello, Sprague Library’s Coordinator of Circulation and Reserves, believes that students often come to the library stressed, so it’s imperative to offer them an outlet.

“It’s helpful to build study breaks into [the students’] study time,” Petrozzello said. “They can take study breaks without leaving the library.”

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On the first floor of the Sprague Library, there is a poster on one of the walls near the printing lab. Students are encouraged to pick up markers and color it in.
Olivia Kearns | The Montclarion

Students can take a study break by using the coloring wall, the puzzle station, the building block station, the stretch station and the many games that the library rents out.

During finals season, the library hosts a “Stress-Free Zone.” This room entails a soothing atmosphere with nature scenes and coloring, as well as occasional yoga sessions.

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The Library often promotes study breaks through guided meditation sessions.
Alexa Spear | The Montclarion

There are also two new events being offered this semester. The library is calling the new events “Tune in Tuesdays”. The first is on alternate Tuesdays from 8 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. since Sept. 10. Students can share what wellness techniques work for them and utilize mindfulness to overcome stress. The remaining Tuesdays will offer meditation classes from 4 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. biweekly.

Even the library’s clubs that are not centered around wellness seem to have a positive impact on students. Patrick McGilloway, the senior library assistant, spearheads the library’s chess club on Wednesdays at 6 p.m. and has maintained a steady following since the club began.

McGilloway explained what he believes has made the club so popular.

“What separates [chess club] from other clubs is it’s a chill environment to sit, chat and play chess” McGilloway said. “It’s as much about the socialization as it is about chess.”

According to MayoClinic, social support can make it easier to deal with stress, and help promote a healthier lifestyle. McGilloway pointed out yet another insightful correlation.

“Chess itself is the high point of critical thinking,” McGilloway said. “It has a high esteem as a great thinking game. You want to see the whole board. Wellness and mindfulness also requires us to widen our gaze.”

It’s amazing to see how cathartic a simple game of chess can become.

It’s hardly a visit to the library without a conversation with the library’s security guard, Mark Perez. Perez is also a professor of justice studies, child advocacy, psychology and new student seminar. His desk stands right before the doors, and he greets everyone who enters the library.

“I look at this place as a good possibility of making people feel comfortable,” Perez said.

Many students come up to the desk to talk with him, and he offers advice to any who will take it. He’s truly a person who cares about each and every student who walks through the doors.

“It’s kind of selfish, to be honest,” Perez said. “I didn’t get mentorship growing up, and I want people to have that.”

It’s often the case that people talk to the kindly security guard in order to vent. Venting is a great way to release stress, when done properly.

ThoughtHub emphasizes how important it is to have an active and empathetic listener when venting in order for venting to be healthy. Perez offers the caring ear to students, so they know they always have someone to turn to.

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On the second floor of the Sprague Library, there is a Relaxation Station 1000 piece puzzle for anyone to work on.
Ben Caplan | The Montclarion

Although the library offers many wonderful programs, it seems that not many students are aware of them. This is a shame, because wellness seems to be an important issue for them.

Senior chemistry major Amy Vander Haar explained how important wellness is her.

“My course work is very demanding. I find myself to be very tired,” Vander Haar said. “If I don’t make sure my wellness overall is on track, I will not do well in my courses. It’s a direct correlation.”

Luckily, Vander Haar is aware of what the library has to offer her.

“I think that this particular library does a good job at combating [stress] with its events,” Vander Haar said. “The staff has done a good job at creating that [relaxing] atmosphere.”

The library has made some wonderful progress in engaging students in the wellness dialogue and offering outlets for their stress. With a semester of new, daunting stresses ahead, it may be worthwhile to give the Sprague Library a chance.

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