Opinion: Wellness is a journey students should enjoy

Anke Neustadt

Looking after our mental and physical well-being is essential, but as students, it’s hard to balance our hobbies, a sleep schedule and class workload.

Although ASU has prioritized mental health and wellness for its students, students still struggle to balance wellness in their daily lives. While ASU works to provide resources for students, the choice to create good wellness practices is ultimately up to the students themselves. 

According to a 2019 survey of over 2,000 ASU students, nearly 50% of students had “felt so depressed it was difficult to function” in the last 12 months, and around 15% “seriously considered attempting suicide.”

ASU’s wellness website shares a lot of resources of what ASU is doing for the students, from podcasts to guides to passing the semester. But what students fail to remember is that it’s OK to take time of your day to disconnect, whether that means working out, watching a TV show, or preparing a healthy snack.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, wellness is defined as “the quality or state of being in good health especially as an actively sought goal.” Unfortunately, many of us focus too much on this definition, especially regarding actively pursuing a goal — we want to achieve wellness without remembering what it’s all about.

Wellness isn’t going to the gym and eating the healthiest diet every single day. Instead, wellness means taking the time to get to know ourselves and creating our path to health and healing. It’s important to remember that there’s no one-size-fits-all definition of wellness. Instead, we tailor wellness to accommodate our tastes and hobbies.

Wellness has experienced a media boom and seems to be at the center of news outlets, but some have complained that our obsession with wellness has led us to develop toxic lifestyles. Focusing so much on wellness that we set unrealistic goals and expectations for ourselves and feel extremely disheartened when we don’t achieve them.

This is fueled by social media as we keep seeing pictures of the perfect bodies and the perfect life. Wellness is more than a multi-million industry and should be focused solely on enjoying the journey and path we are on, instead of beating ourselves up to find an unachievable ideal image.

We can do this by taking a 30-minute walk every day. There are many benefits to walking. It improves health, lowers blood pressure, helps with our cardiac health, and for those of us that have been stuck in a funk the past two weeks, it can help with mood swings and depression.

Jonie Pretto, a senior studying criminology and criminal justice who also teaches yoga at the Sun Devil Fitness Complex on the Downtown Phoenix campus, was inspired by yoga’s teachings and tries to incorporate mantras and healthy tips for her students. “I have this job as a group fitness instructor. But I also like to think of it mentally and incorporate stress management skills and tips on taking care of yourself,” she said.

As students, it’s difficult for us to focus on our well-being when we continuously believe that we come second to our workload. I’m sometimes guilty of this as I struggle to find time to engage with my hobbies when I’m constantly stressed about the next deadline or next test.

Students have to remember to take care of themselves, hang out with friends, and enjoy hobbies. The SDFC is a great way to release some tension and energy, and it comes with the added benefit of being free for ASU students.

ASU has many resources that can help students achieve wellness; some include ASU Counseling Services, where students can make an appointment through campus health services. The wellness department at the SDFC also helps students find resources on mindful eating, nutrition, sleeping, stress, and any group fitness classes students might be interested in taking.

We mustn’t be too hard on ourselves when it comes to wellness.

“In the end, we are all human, we’re all gonna have our ups and downs, we’re all gonna have good and bad days,” Pretto said.

We should enjoy our journey, enjoy making that snack, going out on that walk and working out. Wellness is about achieving a healthy and balanced lifestyle.

Reach the columnist at [email protected] and follow @fgalanma on Twitter. 

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Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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