Building and maintaining strong relationships and being aware of other people’s feelings. Establishing a sense of connection and belonging to others and your community through positive interpersonal interactions.
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.
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.
By: Pre’Yelle Grinkley, Fine Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences Well-being Leader
The quality of our social connections and relationships, and our ability to interact with and contribute to our communities, are all indicators of our social wellbeing. It is a fundamental part of total well-being and has a great impact on our psychological health. Social well-being can refer to a variety of factors, including:
1. Relationships: The richness and quality of our personal relationships, which include family, friends, and romantic partners.
2. Social support: The availability and level of help we receive from our social network, particularly during stressful or crisis situations.
3. Community involvement: Our level of participation in and contribution to our local community, which includes volunteering, civic activities, and cultural events.
4. Communication: The quality of our interactions with others, including listening skills, conflict resolution, and the ability to effectively express ourselves.
5. Belonging: The sense of being related to and welcomed by our social network and the larger community
Preserving and improving social well-being involves effort and attention, such as actively seeking out social connections and opportunities for community involvement, practicing excellent communication skills, and prioritizing self-care to ensure that we can better connect with others. Social well-being is an important component of overall health and can help people find meaning and fulfillment in their lives.
From my personal experience, having positive and supportive relationships with family and friends can provide a sense of security and belonging and can help us cope with stress and challenges in our lives. Being a student at UMass Lowell, I am separated from my close friends and family, on whom I would normally rely for encouragement, support, and compassion. I must intentionally reach out to my loved ones to let them know that I need them because of our distance and time apart.
For example, when midterm exams arrive, I am overwhelmed with pressure and worry, causing me to lose sight of the broader picture at times. All the tension causes me to panic and lose confidence. In these cases, I require the most support. It’s essential for us as students to maintain our social interactions because, in most situations, students have hectic schedules and can’t physically visit their families as frequently as they’d want, which can lead to feelings of loneliness or isolation. Living in a dorm with strangers or new faces might exacerbate feelings of loneliness since you may not be able to confide in your roommate on such a personal level. Because they don’t know who you are on that level, your roommate or classmates won’t be able to discern when you’re in need of compassion. This is another reason why it is critical to retain close ties while simultaneously making new strong connections to have diverse sources of support. The more love and support students receive, the better we do at our universities.
The negative effects of social isolation and lack of connection are great reasons why it is important to prioritize social well-being and try to maintain and strengthen our relationships and connections with others. Humans are social beings, and we need social connections to thrive. When we isolate ourselves from others, we can experience a range of negative outcomes like feelings of sadness, anxiety, and depression.
Participating in social activities and events, for example, helps maintain social bonds. Even small social interactions, such as a friendly chat with a classmate or a quick catch-up call with a friend, can have a positive impact on our health and well-being. Being involved in our community, whether through volunteer work, club sports, student government, or other forms of
engagement, can help us feel connected and valued, and can contribute to a sense of purpose and meaning. Therefore, the next time you’re feeling isolated or seclusive reach out to a classmate for lunch, initiate a study time with your new connection, or make time for an event on campus to recharge your social battery.
By: Yashvi Patel, Kennedy College of Sciences Well-being Leader
In honor of Valentine’s Day, let’s explore how love promotes emotional and mental well-being. Well-being and love are concepts that go hand in hand. Love is a strong emotion that can enhance one’s well-being by having a positive impact on their physical and mental health. According to studies cited below, having a supportive network of friends and family or being in a loving relationship can lower stress levels, boost happiness, and enhance self-esteem. In addition to improving self-esteem and confidence, experiencing love and support can have a significant impact on a person’s general well-being. The act of showing love and kindness to others can also have a positive impact on a person’s mental and emotional health, leading to increased feelings of happiness and a sense of purpose in life.
Before we get into the impact love has on wellbeing, let’s define what love exactly is. When someone says the word “love,” most people immediately think of romantic love. It involves strong feelings of want and desire for a romantic partner. However, there are so many other forms of love that include, but are not limited to: familial, platonic, self, unrequited, obsessive, altruistic, and spiritual. Love that exists between the members of a family, such as between parents and children, siblings, or other family members, is known as familial love. Platonic love is a non-romantic form of affection shared by friends in which there is a deep emotional connection but no sexual or romantic interest. Self-love is the love one has for oneself, which implies accepting and respecting oneself as well as catering to one’s emotional and physical needs. Unrequited love is a form of love in which one person feels deeply for another person but that feeling is not returned. Obsessive love is a type of affection characterized by an unhealthy fixation or obsession with a person and is frequently associated with possessive or dominating behavior. Altruistic love is characterized by selfless actions of compassion and generosity performed without regard for one’s own benefit or profit. Spiritual love is viewed as a force that unites humans to a higher power or the universe, which is frequently linked to religious or spiritual beliefs.
Love can promote emotional and mental wellbeing in several ways:
1. Reduces anxiety and stress: Being in a loving relationship or having close ties to family and friends can provide one a sense of stability and comfort that helps lower anxiety and tension.
2.Improves mood: Dopamine and other feel-good hormones are released by love and affection, which can improve mood and make people feel happier.
3.Increases resiliency: Having a network of loved ones to lean on through troubled times might help to boost resiliency and coping mechanisms.
4. Enhances self-esteem: Feeling loved and appreciated can promote greater feelings of self-worth and self-esteem, which can improve general emotional well-being.
5. Encourages a sense of purpose: Love and relationships with others can give people a sense of direction and significance in their lives, which is important for mental health.
6. Increases empathy and compassion: Having a romantic relationship or feeling love in other ways can contribute to growing one’s capacity for empathy and compassion, which can be beneficial to one’s mental health.
7. Enhances physical health: Love and relationships with others have been shown to lower blood pressure, lower the chances of anxiety and depression, and enhance longevity, all of which can be beneficial for mental health.
In general, love can significantly improve emotional and mental health by bringing a sense of safety, joy, and meaning to life.
By: Doa Jamal, Francis College of Engineering Well-being Leader
Volunteering is something that many of us do because we feel required to do it, occasionally it may even be mandatory. Some high schools require all their students to get a certain number of service hours and for those in the National Honors Society, community service hours are mandatory as well. Additionally, students are aware that community service hours are looked at and evaluated for college and graduate school applications. So, while many people volunteer with the mindset of “it’s something I’m doing because I have to”, and “I’d probably not be here if I had a choice”, it is important to consider the many benefits of volunteering.
One common reason that people volunteer is to give back to the community. Participating in community service connects you to others. It connects you to your community, to your neighbors, you meet new people, make new friends, and broaden your social network. One of my closest college friends is someone I met during a volunteering day hosted by the UML Muslim Students Association. Volunteering at the Cor Unum Meal Center in Lawrence, MA connected me to many of the homeless population in the Greater Lawrence area, who are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. In January, I went on a humanitarian/community service trip to Kenya through a non-profit organization (Helping Hands for Relief and Development) and had a great time with a group of ten girls. The trip connected me to residents of Nairobi and Malindi and how they live in poverty, with many women and children living in a household without a man. We visited the Mukuru slum in Nairobi where more than 400,000 people live in one-room houses with no electricity, no running water, no light, and the ground covered in sewage and trash. Nairobi also has the Kibera slum, which has a population of more than 2.5 million living in the worst conditions. In the villages of Malindi, there has been a drought for more than 3 years and people are struggling to survive. We passed out food packages and water to more than 300 families. International service trips like this are crucial so that we don’t forget about the situations that other people are going through.
Volunteering is healthy for the mind and body. Volunteering is a feel-good activity that gives you the warm fuzzies. Doing community service counteracts the effects of stress, anger, anxiety, and depression. Volunteering regularly with the same people can provide you with a support system. Scientists have discovered that being helpful to others brings people significant pleasure and results in happy hormones being delivered to the brain. Volunteering gives you a sense of accomplishment and so can boost your self-confidence. Doing service can also give you a purpose which helps when battling depression. Finally, volunteering helps you stay physically fit. Most volunteering opportunities involve movement and physical labor. This can be anything from sorting through donated clothes for an organization like Nu-Day Syria which sends donations to countries in need, serving tables at a meal center like Cor Unum, to lifting heavy bags of food to hand out to villagers in Kenya. Research has found that the mortality rate is lower for those who volunteer.
Although volunteering is important, it should not feel like a chore. You do not have to volunteer regularly if you can not, and you don’t have to volunteer for many hours a week if you can not. The most benefits will be reaped if you do it as something you enjoy.
To find a place to volunteer, reach out to organizations you are aware of, places in your community, or ask your friends if they volunteer somewhere and join them!
If you’re looking for an opportunity to volunteer on campus, you may want to try out Alternative Spring Break. For more information, you can email my supervisor, Hannah_Monbleau@uml.edu
By: Fahad Alden, Fine Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences Well-being Leader
In our busy lives, friendships frequently take the back burner to our many other commitments and priorities.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the best indicator for long-term happiness is not money or marriage, it is deep friendships. Having healthy friendships increases your sense of belonging, allows you to navigate challenges, and encourages healthy lifestyles. We all have friends we may say hello to when we run into them or grab lunch here and there, but how do we deepen those friendships? The recipe for deepening a friendship is built on three foundations, positivity, consistency, and vulnerability.
The first foundation is positivity, or being a cheerleader for your friends. Everyday encouragement, such as complementing them on winning their recent tennis game or getting an A on a physics exam. Cheering them on and helping uplift them, for part of the beauty of reaching a milestone is the beauty of sharing it with others. As well, sometimes people have amazing qualities in that they’re nurturing or have great fashion or are kind, but they need that other person to echo that to them. At times, this can be tricky as we may naturally feel envious, but it is important to show how much you care for your friend.
The second foundation is vulnerability, which can be a complicated one to dissect since people often shy away from being too vulnerable [removed or not enough]. However, unless you know someone well, you must be wary with whom you share information; take the time to fully know and understand someone before making a choice to open up. I suggest that once you have been friends with someone for a while and they are shown to be mature, loyal, and kind, it is best to open up to them. You also do not want to sway to another extreme by holding everything in- many of us can be guilty of doing this, including me.
People often assume that I have it together because I am in leadership positions or because I tend to have an upbeat personality. While this skill is great at work or school, it can be hard to have in terms of friendship. When I held back on sharing my insecurities or if I was going through a rough patch, it made people feel like they could not confide in me. People began to share more with me and supported me until I started sharing. Vulnerability is the most significant sign that a person is strong, despite the assumption otherwise.
The third foundation is consistency in seeing or being in touch with friends. This can be hard for students who are juggling sports, school, and jobs, but it is helpful to see that spending time with friends is a form of investing in yourself. When we neglect time spent with our friends, we may see ourselves being irritable, venting our stress to anyone [removed with fear], or burning out at school or work. But, I think about this summer and my great friendship with James. We were both very busy with work, volunteering, sports, and other things, and usually didn’t get home until 7:00, or even later. We had to get creative to find time to hang out; we would go to the gym together, garden, or take nighttime walks. Even on days when we were exhausted and stressed, hanging out with each other even for 30 minutes could turn it around. It’s important to remember that no matter how busy you are, you can always make time for friendships. If you have time to watch Netflix, scroll through Instagram, or go for a run, you have time to call that friend for 10 minutes or grab lunch with them. It’s always worth it.
By: Ashley Asuncion, Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences Well-being Leader
Every year on campus, there are a tremendous amount of events hosted at different times, which are open to all students, faculty, and staff to attend; some are even open to even the public. I’m here to tell you the inside scoop of how the annual South Campus Fall Fest 2022 was an afternoon to remember. On September 29, from 12pm to 3pm, South Campus hosted their annual Fall Fest where food, lawn games, giveaways, live entertainment, and school clubs were there to provide a good time!
The Office of Student Life and Well-being did not hold back to bring out the “Well” in well-being, if you know what I mean. Well-being leader Casey Tiernan and I had a table in front of Durgin Hall welcoming students, giving away positive appreciation cards, postcards with information of our office and events being hosted and last but not least, a weighted blanket that was a part of a giveaway. To participate in this giveaway, students were asked to follow @zuckerberg.wbl and @umlwellbeing. By the end of the fest, our mason jar was full of tickets. Luckily, we had our last visitor fellow student, Felix J. pick out the winner of the giveaway. To see how it all went down feel free to visit our Instagram page, @zuckerberg.wbl
It was a great turnout for the Fall Fest, as an opportunity for students to really engage with each other, making long lasting memories and indulging in the nice weather and appreciating the experience of being a UML college student. It was truly a pleasure to be able to meet so many students and do something fun like enjoying a fest.
As a student and a well-being leader, I recommend all who have the time to step back from all the hard work of being a college student and indulge in the joy of being educated. It is always important to allow yourself to have a break once and while. There are plenty of studies that can support the fact that breaks are healthy. According to The Wellbeing Thesis, “The Importance of Taking Breaks” (n.d.): “A relaxing break can help to facilitate recovery, by returning your mental and physical functional systems to their baseline…. Social breaks, such as chatting with your peers, have also been found to be beneficial. …. Taking breaks has been shown to be important in recovering from stress , which can, in turn, improve your performance”
So, whether you decide to take a break for a few seconds, minutes, hours or days it will never do you harm! I mean it says it in science- when it comes to the facts best to weigh out the options. But always remember to maintain your health above all, because the work will always be there but your wellbeing is crucial to your quality of life. Therefore, do what you must but don’t forget to cut yourself some slack and take a break. We hope to see you at next year’s fall fest!