Wellness Wednesdays – Serenity Center 

Gimp Making – Feb 1 

Students got to channel their inner childhood by making gimp. They got to pick their favorite colors and relearn all the fun gimp designs. Soft, warm pretzels were served, and students came together to make gimp and enjoy each other’s company.  

Journaling – Feb 8 

Students were able to journal to get connected to their inner selves in this workshop by creating their own journals. It was a very relaxing night for students to distress from early semester worries.  

Knitting – Feb 15 

We invited students to learn an easy intro to knitting design and create their own knit projects. Students came together to learn and help one another with knitting.  

Coloring – Feb 22 

Students joined us for quiet coloring with relaxing music. We had yummy snacks while students got to color in a coloring book, enjoying one another’s company.  

DIY Aromatherapy – March 1 

We hosted a DIY aromatherapy night. Students got to create their own aromatherapy blend with various essential oils. They got to create DIY roll ons to rub onto their wrists between four blends: sleep blend, happiness blend, focus blend, & calm blend. 

Meditation – March 15 

We hosted meditation sessions every 20 minutes for students to drop by and join in. It was a very successful event as students came to distress from the mid semester point and were able to channel their mind and body in a relaxing way. Students also looked over affirmation cards and wrote their own on sticky notes to hang up.  

Therapy Dogs – March 22 

Sookie, a therapy dog, came to visit the Serenity Center for this Wellness Wednesday. Over 50 students came by to relax and enjoy time with the dog. We provided fun bone shaped cookies for students to enjoy.  

Mindful Movement – March 29 

Students were able to practice gentle yoga poses that they can incorporate into their everyday routine.  

Sensory Event – April 5 

This event was created for Disability Inclusion Week. We hosted a sensory friendly night where we made bracelets and enjoyed some tea with soothing music. We had different textured food including popcorn, goldfish, Oreos, chocolate chips marshmallows, and raisins for students to enjoy.   

Mindful Eating – April 19 

Students joined us and our campus dietitian to learn to be more mindful when eating to appreciate the nourishment food provides.  
Gratitude Circle – April 26 

Students wrapped up the year with us in a circle of gratitude to help focus on the positives from this year. It was a great way to finish the semester of strong and allowed students to enjoy one’s company before the stress of finals.  

Mind/Body Fair – 12/13/22 

The Mind/Body Fair was a collaborative event hosted at University Crossing on reading day. We had reiki, nutrition consultants, smoothie bowls, essential oils, and more. The fair engaged students to interact with other peers and work their minds and bodies through various self-care activities. Students got to make their own roll-on essential oils from four blends, make Christmas tree ornaments with elements of nature with the Office of Sustainability, write affirmations on balls for the Serenity Center, and got to play with therapy dogs! Over 60 students attended and one student left the event saying “this improved my mental health.” We can’t wait to host this event again!

Propagation Station – 9/22/22 

This event was a collaboration with Office of Sustainability in the University Crossing Lobby. Students were able to actively improve their health by propagating their own health promoting plants. Students practiced environmental wellness and learned about how they can improve air quality in their rooms with the different plants that the Office of Sustainability hand-picked for this event. We were able to build community by creating over 100 plants out of 5- and the line was out the door!

Summer Activities in New England

By: Haiya Patel, Kennedy College of Sciences Well-being Leader

New England is versatile during its summer months. It may not seem like there is much to do around here, but it is all about what you make out of the opportunities that you have. In fact, New England actually has a lot to offer in its summer months.

New England has some of the most beautiful coastline beaches to visit during the summer. Some of the most well-known beaches around the area are Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard. A few day trips to these beaches with your family or friends can be a fun way to amplify your summer experiences.

Another great experience to add to your summer bucket list around New England is to explore seafood. New England has some of the best seafood. A summer day trip can entail trying out a variety of famous sea foods such as cod, clams, oysters, and lobsters. Visiting some of the seafood restaurants in Boston and exploring the regional specialties can add some summer fun to your dining experiences.

Another quick day trip around New England can be to enjoy the recreational aspects of Castle Island. Personally, I enjoy the Castle Island beach area because of its versatility. The Castle Island area is perfect for picnicking and having a barbeque with family or friends. Moreover, the location of the park close to Logan Airport is perfect to watch the planes landing and departing out of the airport. The recreational aspect that really attracts me is biking and walking around the park on the paved path and the beach, while enjoying the scenic beach views as well as the Boston skyline. On a warm summer day, the beach section of Castle Island is perfect to swim around the harbor area and cool the body down.

See, New England has a wide variety of recreational activities to enjoy during the summertime! Whether you are a beach fanatic, eager to try some seafood, or want to take a day trip to Castle Island, there is plenty to do to make the most out of your summer here.

How I Found Myself Before I Lost Myself

By: Fahad Alden, Fine Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences Well-being Leader

Have you ever reached a point where you feel like – crap, I just need to change something or get out of here? Or maybe you are not sure which is the right way forward because you have started feeling as if you are constantly losing yourself. Or you are burning to step out of your monotony and have a life-changing experience for a week, two, or more.

Sound familiar? But yeah, you might be thinking, how about work? Doing this may not pay the bills unless you can take paid leave! However, it will do something much greater – it will save your sanity.

Trust me, before you say you can’t afford to spend time due to your hectic schedules, just understand how important it is. Let me give you an example, and brace yourselves – it is one of my life’s most essential and awakening moments. 

Storytime – One evening, I visited the library after work and used the bathroom. I realized my inner feelings were flooding out as I looked into the mirror. Indeed, I didn’t plan to face myself that evening, but it just happened. I noticed how my inner emotions were reflecting towards the outside. Acne started covering my face, the bags under my eyes became more evident, and my T-shirt seemed too tight. You know those moments when you feel horrible (even though that’s not the case, and the mirror just shows you that?  . But when I looked into the mirror, I also kind of felt like that wasn’t me. Like I was inhabiting someone else’s body – super shocking moment. What’s happening to me? Because, like every human being, deep inside, I just wanted to be happy.. Instead, I was slipping away. 

Then it dawned on me, I needed to find my happiness! So, I started recollecting my thoughts about what brought me joy – movies, fashion, travel, and museums. And the common thing that binds them all together was it was all centered in New York.  

And this is how I began my journey. I feel lucky enough because I found a solution to calm my stress and anxiety – I found myself before I was about to lose myself. The quest for oneself is probably one of the only topics less popular than the quest for the truth. Books and movies have all exploited this concept and introduced one of the best ways to find ourselves. Of course, as you’ve gathered from my Captain Obvious hint, it is through travel. This might seem a simple task, except for the concept of self. But believe me, you never know if your assumption of yourself is true until you truly find yourself. As confusing as this sounds, it is the most beautiful and gratifying experience.

So what were my takeaways from the trip? How did I find myself?

  • Learning to trust ME boosts confidence

Travel cuts you from the routine of everyday life. You can plan a trip however you want and just be with yourself – it prepares you for life. Often I get a lot of unsolicited advice from everyone around me, and in that moment, I felt like – excuse me, who the hell asked you? I’m sure that you do, too; super annoying right? And because of this, I often felt pulled by what people said. I needed to start listening to my own voice more, and during one of these memorable trips to New York, I realized how to trust myself. Every decision was on my own terms. It was me who decided where I wanted to eat, where I wanted to go, and who I should talk to. 

One of the instances I will never forget is when I was at a gas station. An older man entered a convenience store, grabbed a sweatshirt, and made a run for it. He was confronted, and eventually, the cashiers beat him up. I watched all this happening near the scarf section; I was wearing a turtleneck and an Iraqi necklace. I was trying to blend in, but I am sure I didn’t. It even escalated to the point when the older man started screaming at  cashiers that he was going to kill them. The entire situation was frightening, but it taught me to listen to trust my instincts more than ever. Surprisingly, such scary, this-is-the-real-stuff-and-not-a-movie experiences change your perspective and boosts your confidence.

  • The Value of Connection

While safety was always my top priority while traveling, it made me realize the world was, after all, not a bad palace to be in. When people realized I was  alone, their perspective toward me changed.. Initially, I felt terrified at conversing with a stranger, but believe it or not, it wasn’t as dangerous as I thought. Forget about all of that negativity you see on the news, movies, and the vibes you get from your frenemies. There are more good people on this planet than you realize!

For example, one such instance is when I was waiting for a bus for more than 30 minutes. I was a bit sleep deprived and hungry. But I met a woman around my age and just checked with her if I was at the right place. Then the Brazilian woman next to me started chatting with me. As more time passed, we all started discussing. The younger one was named Palak, and the Brazilian woman was Priscilla. As more time passed, I called customer service and was told that the bus driver won’t come in as he was unwell. Then eventually, I rechanged my ticket. I also helped Priscilia as she was struggling to make phone calls due to language barrier issues. 

We got smoothies from Mcdonalds  nearby and waited for some more time. Then we all connected and laughed with one another. Our conversation continued all on the bus and for the next four hours on the bus.

 Imagine laughing with complete strangers and having the best time! It was a light and beautiful moment. It taught me there is always an element of beauty when we connect. Often we get so fixated on our lives that we never attempt moving out of our comfort zones (yes, I’m talking about those toxic people that keep flying in and out of your life) and making new friends. This was a super random conversation with random people, and I will definitely treasure it forever. 

I have noticed this is one of the issues in smaller towns too. Everyone would want to hang out with people they already know and avoid branching out. So when I traveled alone to a big city, I connected confidently with strangers and people around me. Getting out of your comfort zone means you are probably about to try something new, something exciting, or about to be challenged in a way that will develop and strengthen you.

  • Embracing Solitude 

I think for a lot of us our careers require us to be around other people all day. I think sometimes on trips we get bogged down by talking to everyone around us- we lose sight of our surroundings.  For me, I strayed away from even taking a great deal of pictures and just fully soaked everything in. I think the best memory comes to my mind is when I was in central park  where I began dancing like there was no care in the world.  I started channeling my Inner Charlie Puth “how long has this been going” music video. I was walking on benches and rocks all throughout the park. I was fully in the moment.

I would say embrace growth, dive deep into uncertainty, and even see fear as a positive thing.  

We are often guilty of masking our emotions and burying our heads in the sand. So sometimes, there are things we don’t want to admit to ourselves  or situations we are too scared to work through. In this case, traveling gave me time to get to know every corner of myself. You get to look beyond yourself – one second, you live in pure happiness; the next, you are frustrated, just to be incredibly happier after that again. When I traveled, I admitted things that I had been covering up and denying for a long time. I also noticed a change in my look; I started feeling  bold, and more confident than ever!

Trust me, the moment you face everything you are and everything you feel, you gain the ability to become the best version of yourself.

I hope my experience will be an eye-opener for you and that you will come out exploring yourself before it gets too late. For more inspiration, follow me on Spotify @fahaddurdenalden, and look out for the season!

The 8 Dimensions of Wellness

Final Capstone Project by Casey Tiernan

Before working for the office for Student Life and Well-being, if you had asked me about the 8 dimensions of wellness, I would look at you puzzled. Now, I can easily describe each one in detail with ways you can maintain that specific dimension in your daily life. I had the opportunity to work and create my capstone with the office. The office of Student Life and Wellbeing identified emotional health, environmental health, physical health, social health, spiritual health, financial health, occupational health, and intellectual health as the 8 dimensions of wellness. Each one is important in order to address and maintain the needs of students at UMass Lowell. As a public health major, the 8 dimensions of wellness are very important to me. I want to use my degree for health education and health promotion so this opportunity to work for the Office of Student Life and Wellbeing was perfect for me.

As an intern, I was given creative freedom to design a project that the office would use for the future that could be given out to students. I created a brochure with general knowledge about the 8 dimensions of wellness as well as one way they can maintain each one on campus. I used the office colors and logos to tie everything together. I also created a flyer for each of the 8 dimensions with the definition that the office uses for each (on their website), additional campus resources and websites, and other ways they can maintain their wellbeing such as apps. Once I had designed everything, I pilot tested my project with students who signed up via the Instagram page. I sent out a survey looking for constructive feedback to then adjust anything that needed to be adjusted. I got great feedback from students which made me feel like I made a difference and expanded their knowledge on the different dimensions. The office passed along my project to the STARS team to also use with students. Knowing that my work will be used, and students will get to see it for years to come, makes me extremely happy. I am so grateful to have been able to intern for the office and get to use my creativity and public health skills.

Outdoor Activities to do this Summer

By: Yashvi Patel, Kennedy College of Sciences Well-being Leader

Below I talk about a few of many outdoor activities you can do this summer!

Hiking: It is a great form of exercise that confers many physical, mental, and social benefits. It strengthens bones and muscles, while also enhancing cardiovascular health, increasing strength and flexibility, and aiding in weight loss. Additionally, it has been demonstrated to have advantageous benefits on mental health. Spending time in nature can bring us back into the present moment and evoke a sense of calm and peace in our hectic lives. It offers social benefits as well. It can be an opportunity to connect with others or be an activity done in solitude. For me, I am always in my head and overthinking everything. Being in a serene, quiet environment and being able to focus on my surroundings helps quiet my mind and reduce my stress levels. My personal favorite is Mount Monadnock, a 3,165-foot mountain located in New Hampshire, having the highest peak in Southern New Hampshire. There are multiple trails that reach the breathtaking summit, but the White Dot Trail is the shortest with a 3.8 miles round trip and should take approximately 3-4 hours to complete. This is also recommended for beginners, being the easiest to climb and the least steep/rocky. I remember going on this trail with my entire family including my grandparents, and it wasn’t too strenuous for them. 

Kayaking/Canoeing: You can kayak nearby lakes and rivers. I like kayaking because I’m able to get exercise in, while also enjoying the scenery. Kayaking, like hiking, is good for your physical and emotional well-being. Additionally, it is a low impact activity, easy on the joints and bones, making it ideal sports for seniors or individuals with limited flexibility, individuals with arthritis or soft-tissue injuries, or those avoiding chances of mechanical injury. It can be done at varying levels of intensity, making it accessible to people of all ages and fitness abilities. My favorite canoe and kayak location is the Charles River in Boston. It is a nine-mile stretch of a river with no current, ideal for beginner kayakers. Downstream you will encounter colleges like Harvard, MIT, and BU, the Esplanade, and Boston skyline. The views are breathtaking!

Picnicking: Picnics are a great way to enjoy the outdoors and spend time with family friends. My friends and I recently went to Castle Island and marked our spot on a hill overlooking the river. We decorated cupcakes, played  uno, had a photoshoot with flowers, took some aesthetic polaroid pictures, had chips and drinks, and blasted some music. We went the weekend after school ended, so it was a great way to relax and unwind from the craziness of finals week. It is a relatively low-cost activity that requires minimal equipment and can be done almost anywhere and at any time. You can have a picnic in a park, at the beach, or even in your own backyard. You can play games, read a book, or just enjoy the scenery.

Beach Yoga Beach yoga is a fun and adventurous experience. I found that it helps you connect with nature and find a sense of peace and calm. It is a sensory stimulating activity, being able to hear the waves, feel the sand, and smell the fresh ocean air. Yoga is a great form of exercise that can improve flexibility, strength, balance, and cardiovascular health. Yoga on the beach adds an extra layer of  difficulty, as the sand bears an unstable surface, so you end up engaging more muscles, which helps improve balance. When I was studying abroad in San Sebastian, Spain, we had a yoga instructor offer a beach yoga class in the early morning. In that moment, I felt like nothing before- as if I were one with the world. The vibes were just surreal. I would recommend booking a beach yoga class or just doing whatever bit of yoga you know by the beach- the experience is priceless and totally worth it.




Viral TikTok dessert combinations you might want to try this summer

By: Yashvi Patel, Kennedy College of Sciences Well-being Leader

Below are two fun TikTok recipes that you can try if you have a sweet tooth, like me, and like trying food combinations that may seem like they don’t go together. Trust me, these are both surprisingly so good and addicting!

The fruit rollup ice-cream hack:

For this recipe, you need a fruit rollup, a plate, mango/fruity sorbet or vanilla ice-cream, and a spoon. You will unwrap a fruit rollup. The first two steps are to lay it flat on a plate and scoop ice-cream or sorbet onto the center of the fruit rollup, seen in the image below. Then, you should wrap the fruit roll up around it like a burrito to create a crunchy sandwich. I say crunchy because the ice-cream/sorbet should freeze instantly (within seconds!) and there is a satisfying crunch factor as you bite into it. This has become my guilty pleasure and I go through boxes of fruit roll ups just to be able to indulge in this snack. I have experimented with both vanilla and chocolate ice-cream, but personally I would say that it tastes better with fruity ice-cream or even better a sorbet because the coating is sour/fruity. The flavors will just blend more smoothly if you get a fruity flavor. Fair warning: SUPER addictive and EXTREMELY sweet, so try not to be me and eat this every night. I’ve been trying to limit myself to one a week. Rating: 9.5/10 (probably the best invention ever)

Wannabe sour candy hack:

I’m a fanatic of sour candy, but I always feel guilty after I eat it. With the next recipe, I feel like I’m putting something good into my body, but also having the illusion that I’m eating sour candy. Jell-O coated grapes are one of the best alternatives to my sour candy cravings. When this craving occurs, you can indulge in this delicious treat that is slightly healthier. This recipe requires only two simple ingredients: a box of sugar free Jell-O and 2 cups of green grapes. (You can also kick this recipe up a notch by trying a different variety of grapes). For this recipe, you will pick and wash a serving of green grapes and let them sit for a couple mins. Making sure they are still wet, transfer them into a large Ziploc bag. Pour the dry Jell-O into the bag and give it a good shake to coat the grapes. Remove them from the bag and place them onto a plate or into a bowl and pop them into the freezer. Let them freeze for half an hour and enjoy! Like the fruit roll up ice-cream, this treat is VERY addicting and should be consumed in moderation. RATING: 8.5/10.



Build a habit this summer

By: Yashvi Patel, Kennedy College of Sciences Well-being Leader

Summer is a great time to develop healthy habits or change poor habits. Recently, I learned about the five stages of the transtheoretical model of behavior change that I can accredit for getting me to engage in exercising consistently.

The five stages in the transtheoretical model of behavior change are: precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance. This model should work for any type of health behavior- inactivity being one of them.

Before I started exercising consistently, I was at the first stage of this model, characterized by a lack of intention to change and unaware that not engaging in exercise was a problem behavior. I moved into the contemplation stage where I acknowledged that my inactivity was a problem and I wanted to stop.

To get the second stage, contemplation, I developed self-efficacy where I would contemplate the changes I wanted to see (desirable appearance, better mental and physical health) and knew that if I took control of this whole process and believe, I would carry through. For me to get past the contemplation stage, I incorporated processes that would increase my low self-efficacy. I learned that people’s cognitions about their health habits are important in producing behavior change. I wanted to feel like I was in control of the process and any associated consequences, and I reconstructed my cognition. I modified my internal monologues to promote physical activity. To be able to accomplish this, I charted down my negative self-thoughts such as the constant belief that “I cannot do it.” and crossed out the “not.” These positive self-talks slowly turned into affirmations that I would recite during and before my workouts. It was important for me to contemplate the desirable changes before I put my intervention plan into effect. I learned that there are positive mental, physical, and physiological outcomes for this behavioral change. Exercise is known to reduce anxiety, stress, and depression, enhance cognitive function, and improve academic performance. It also increases metabolism, improves sleep, and reduces the risk factors for chronic illnesses like heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity.

The next stage was preparation where I intended to make small modifications to my behavior. I bought running shoes, weights, and gym equipment, and saved workout YouTube videos that allowed me to develop an exercise regime. Furthermore, I learned that 2.5-5 hours of moderate-intensity activity is recommended per week. Moderate-intensity activities are suggested to increase heart rate that includes brisk walking, mowing the lawn, and housework/domestic chores such as mopping and vacuuming. I prepared myself for more vigorous physical activity by engaging in household chores, taking up more chores than usual, and going out for a walk once a day. These were slight modifications in my daily life that allowed me to get to the more intensive activities.

Next was the action stage where I intently modified my behavior and adopted this new habit. In this stage, I developed a workout routine, and established contingency contracting (I had friends and family hold me accountable through rewards or punishments. For example, if I went to a fancy dinner but skipped a workout, I would stay in for the weekend). I also took advantage of the fact that some of my family and friends are into fitness. Having a gym buddy made it more likely for me to adhere to my intervention plan. Whenever I could, I would go for a jog with my dad and grandpa. Cardio is known to strengthen the heart and lungs and reduce fatigue. My friend goes to the UML Campus Rec Center at 7 am every morning. I started by joining her every other day before my morning classes that started at 9 am.  She typically works on different areas of her body every day, which worked in my favor as I got an all-encompassing workout regime. I would write down four or five exercises that I liked the most so that I could create my own workout based on my likes and target areas. I also knew pre/post-workout stretches that I learned from doing track in high school and I knew the importance of stretching in preventing injury and maintaining a wide range of motions, so I incorporated those as well.

The last stage is centered around maintenance. It stresses the importance of continuity in healthy habits and the prevention of relapse. I developed a set of coping mechanisms for other risk factors that could potentially bring me back into inactivity. Personally, when I have too many exams and homework, I don’t have the motivation to engage in physical activity and use that time to study instead. I helped myself gain time management skills so I could have time for my workout routine. I needed to block off one-two hours every morning for physical activity and would not budge around that. I reminded myself of the importance of being consistent in working out every day or every other day because it’s hard to get back into it once you take a little break. I would also constantly remind myself of the long-term goals of working out (abs, muscles, endurance, and strength) because results are not instant but rather take months or even years to achieve. It brings me back to the idea of self-efficacy and being in control of the entire process from start to finish. For me to declare it as a healthy habit, I needed to be consistent for at least 6 months. Once I make it past six months, I still need to maintain this habit, so I don’t go back to square one. Currently, I have been working out for 5 months and I am already seeing changes and notice I have so much more energy throughout the day!

I hope this model can help you develop your own healthy habits this summer!

Benefits of physical activity. Benefits of Physical Activity | Health Promotion | Michigan State University. (n.d.). Retrieved November 28, 2022, from https://healthpromotion.msu.edu/fitness/benefitsofphysicalactivity.html 

Examples of moderate and vigorous physical activity. Obesity Prevention Source. (2017, May 8). Retrieved November 28, 2022, from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/obesity-prevention-source/moderate-and-vigorous-physical-activity/ 


Watermelon as a Summer Staple

By: Haiya Patel, Kennedy College of Sciences Well-being Leader

What is the first memory that comes to mind when someone says the word watermelon? Did you ever have watermelon by the beach or poolside as a child? When someone says watermelon, I usually imagine a warm sunny day on the beach. I have a very distinct memory of enjoying watermelon on the beach with my family. Because of that, watermelon is a nostalgic fruit for me.

Watermelon is one of the fruits that correlates closely to the warm weather of summer as it brings a vibrant color accompanied by fresh flavors, in addition to immaculate hydration. However, eating watermelon alone can be boring, so pairing it in dishes can allow for a variation in the summer. One of my personal favorites is watermelon and feta salad. The fresh flavor of watermelon cubes can be paired perfectly with the salty crumbled feta cheese, some finely chopped mint leaves, and a drizzle of lemon. The watermelon and feta salad can be consumed as a snack or appetizer as it is light in volume, but also is dense with fresh flavors from the mint and watermelon, with hints of sourness and saltiness from lemon and feta cheese. The watermelon cubes and feta crumbles can also be enjoyed by simply drizzling some balsamic glaze, or some honey on the skewers.

Another variation of watermelon that really tops the summer recipes is watermelon as a dessert. My personal favorite is watermelon sorbet. Scooping the watermelon sorbet out of a cone shaped container often brings back nostalgic emotions from my childhood. For me, enjoying watermelon sorbet is a fun summer treat that makes me feel like a child all over again. The recipe for the watermelon sorbet is simple, but versatile, as it can be customized based on preferences. I enjoy sweet and sour combinations for my sorbet, so I use watermelon, sugar, lemon juice, and strawberries. The volume of each ingredient can be curated based on your taste preferences. Then, you blend it all together and freeze it for a few hours. Honey or other sugar substitutes can also be used as a healthier alternative for sugar.

For times that I am in rush, my favorite way to utilize watermelon is to make a watermelon drink. Personally, I enjoy the combination of lemonade and watermelon together, so I often lean towards watermelon lemonade. The recipe for the watermelon lemonade calls for watermelon and lemon juice blended with few mint leaves and about a spoon full of sugar or any other sugar substitutes.

Regardless of how you consume it, watermelon is packed with hydration, versatile, and its flavor often brings back nostalgic memories. I hope these recipes help you enjoy more watermelon this summer!