Reflection on My “Wellness in Bloom” Comic Guide

By: Doa Jamal, Francis College of Engineering Well-being Leaders

This semester, I chose to do my honors project for the Honors College. At first, I was having trouble deciding on what to do. Last fall, I took the Graphic Novels in Science and Medicine course as an Honors College elective. I enjoyed the class as it was the first class that allowed me to draw, which I don’t usually do during the academic year. The only times I draw are usually during the Summer or sometimes during school vacations as a way to relax. I would say this was the class I enjoyed the most during my entire four undergraduate years. The final project was to make a mini graphic novella where the booklet told a short story. The goal was to create something meaningful to us. Almost immediately, I knew I wanted to do something related to well-being because being a well-being leader has made such a meaningful impact on me. I also know that I am not adept at drawing humans, so I chose to make my characters flowers. The flowers also go along with the idea of growth and well-being blooming. 

Working on the project to create a small booklet teaching about the eight dimensions of wellness through comics was an incredibly rewarding experience. It provided me with the opportunity to combine my passion for both art and wellness education in a creative and engaging way.

The eight dimensions of wellness encompass various aspects of a person’s life, promoting holistic well-being. These dimensions include physical, emotional, social, intellectual, occupational, environmental, spiritual, and financial wellness. Each dimension addresses different facets of life, from maintaining physical health to fostering meaningful relationships, pursuing personal growth, finding purpose in work, connecting with nature, nurturing spirituality, and managing finances responsibly. Prioritizing these dimensions is crucial as they collectively contribute to a balanced and fulfilling life. Neglecting any dimension can lead to imbalances, affecting overall health and happiness. By striving to enhance each dimension, individuals can cultivate resilience, improve their quality of life, and experience a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction.

One of the most fulfilling parts of this project was the creative freedom I had in designing the comics. Being able to draw everything by hand allowed me to infuse each illustration with personality and convey complex concepts in a visually appealing manner. I found that the process of sketching, refining, and digitally editing the illustrations in Photoshop was both enjoyable and therapeutic. It allowed me to immerse myself in the project and truly bring the content to life. Although spending continuous hours in front of a screen to thoroughly Photoshop the images did almost drive me insane. Now I better understand art students. 

However, creating a booklet solely through comics presented its own set of challenges. I had to strike a balance between conveying information effectively and ensuring that the comics remained engaging and easy to understand. This required careful planning and attention to detail in both the artwork and the accompanying text. I found myself constantly revising and refining each comic to ensure that it effectively communicated the key principles of the eight dimensions of wellness.

One of the most valuable lessons I learned from this project was the importance of collaboration and feedback. Throughout the process, I sought input from my mentor to ensure that the content resonated with the target audience and effectively conveyed the intended message. Incorporating feedback allowed me to refine the comics further and improve the overall quality of the booklet.

Moreover, working on this project reinforced the importance of wellness and self-care in my own life. As I delved deeper into the eight dimensions of wellness, I found myself reflecting on my own habits and practices related to physical, emotional, and mental well-being. This project served as a reminder to prioritize self-care and make conscious efforts to maintain a balanced and healthy lifestyle.

In conclusion, working on the project to create a booklet teaching about the eight dimensions of wellness through comics was a fulfilling and enriching experience. It allowed me to combine my passion for art and wellness education while learning valuable lessons about creativity, collaboration, and self-care. I am grateful for the opportunity to have worked on this project and am excited to see how it will positively impact others on their journey towards improved well-being.

Transformation: From Newcomer to Campus Leader

By: Medi Woldemichael, Manning School of Business Well-being Leader

When I arrived on campus as an international student, I felt utterly lost. Everything was new and confusing, from the campus layout to the academic system. I remember thinking, “How will I ever find my place here?”

As I prepare to graduate this May, I look back at that version of myself with a gentle smile, proud of the transformation I have undergone. From a state of bewilderment, I have evolved into one of the most involved students on campus, a journey that not only built my confidence, but also expanded my social network extensively.

At first, I kept to myself, overwhelmed by the new environment. But I realized that to make the most of my college years, I needed to get involved. So, I started small. I joined clubs like IBA and Finance Society that are related to my major, attended campus events, and gradually began to feel more at home.

Getting involved changed everything. I met people from diverse backgrounds, learned about different cultures, and started building a network that went beyond just making friends—it was about creating connections that would last a lifetime.

Before I knew it, I was not just participating; I was leading. I took on roles that challenged me, and pushed me to learn and grow:

  • Student Government Association, Senator at Large: I represented a diverse student body, articulating their needs and concerns in decision-making forums.
  • Student Alumni Ambassador: I acted as a bridge between current students and alumni, organizing networking events and fostering connections.
  • Finance Society, Secretary: I managed administrative tasks and communication between club members, fostering a structured environment for learning more about my major: finance.
  • International Business Association, Chief Financial Officer: I oversaw budgeting and financial planning for the association, ensuring resources were appropriately allocated for events and activities. I also participated in several key conferences, which allowed me to engage with industry professionals and gain insights into global business trends. This experience was instrumental in broadening my understanding of my second major international business 
  • Orientation Leader: I guided new students during their transition to college life, providing support and information about campus resources. I also built my leadership and communication skills through this position.
  • Well-being Leader: I promoted health and well-being initiatives on campus, creating awareness and organizing wellness programs. Additionally, I wrote original blog posts each month on topics of well-being. This blog will be my last as I am graduating in May. I hope you have enjoyed these posts and found them helpful in improving your daily life and overall well-being.

With each new responsibility, my confidence surged. I was no longer just showing up to college; I was showing out.

Now, as I stand on the brink of graduation, I realize that college is indeed what you make of it. Your experiences, choices, and interactions shape your college life.

For those just starting their college journey or those feeling lost, here are a few tips:

  • Get Involved: Join clubs or societies that align with your interests. It’s a fantastic way to meet like-minded individuals and find your tribe. Check out UMass Lowell’s Engage website to discover organizations on campus.
  • Be Curious: Attend workshops, seminars, and guest lectures. Education does not need to be confined to the classroom.
  • Volunteer: Give your time to causes you care about. It’s rewarding and a great way to build connections. View UMass Lowell’s list of Community Connections.
  • Speak Up: Don’t be afraid to ask questions, share your ideas, or seek help. Your voice matters.
  • Explore: College is the perfect time to try new things. Embrace the unknown with an open heart and mind.

Now, as I reflect on my college years, I see how each step I took to get involved helped shape me into a more confident and connected individual. I didn’t just attend college; I made it a memorable and transformative experience. For anyone feeling uncertain about how to navigate college life, remember that it’s all about taking those first small steps to engage with the world around you.

Navigating Coffee Consumption in College

By: Medi Woldemichael, Manning School of Business Well-being Leader

In college, coffee often becomes a staple in our daily routine, serving as an important source of energy and focus. However, the relationship we have with coffee can significantly impact our overall well-being. It’s important to find a good balance in drinking coffee, this way, you can enjoy its deliciousness and benefits without drinking too much and facing problems.

The advantages of moderate coffee consumption are clear: improved concentration, alertness, a potential mood boost, and protection against Type 2 diabetes. However, excessive intake can lead to negative effects like sleep disruption, increased anxiety, and dependence. With such knowledge, I have compiled some helpful suggestions to minimize these negative effects:

Strategies for Balanced Coffee Consumption

  1. Timing

Consuming coffee late in the day can interfere with sleep. Limit coffee intake to the morning and early afternoon to avoid sleep disturbances.

  1. Quantity

Keep track of how much coffee you’re consuming. A standard cup is about 8 ounces, which can quickly add up in larger servings.

  1. Be Mindful of Additives

Adding too much sugar and cream can reduce the health benefits of coffee. Choose to add just a little to keep your coffee healthy.

  1. Listen to Your Body

Individual reactions to caffeine vary. Pay attention to how your body responds and adjust your intake accordingly.

  1. Seek Alternative Energy Sources

Don’t rely solely on coffee for energy. A balanced diet, regular exercise, and adequate sleep are essential for maintaining energy levels.

Coffee can be a beneficial part of your college experience if consumed wisely. Understanding how to balance your coffee intake can help you enjoy its benefits while avoiding the drawbacks. By implementing these strategies, you can maintain a healthy relationship with coffee throughout your college years.

Additionally, there’s a perk for taking care of your well-being: students who meet with a Well-being Leader can receive a Starbucks voucher. It’s a great incentive to engage in a conversation about your health and well-being, plus you can enjoy a coffee on us!

Standing Tall: My Journey Against Peer Pressure

By: Angel Molekunnel, Manning School of Business Well-being Leader 

As I stepped onto UMass Lowell’s campus for the first time, a whirlwind of excitement and anticipation surrounded me. The prospect of newfound freedom and endless possibilities seemed exhilarating, but little did I know that along with this newfound independence would come relentless pressure.

The first few weeks passed in a blur, between orientation events and late-night dorm room gatherings. It wasn’t long before I found myself surrounded by peers who seemed to effortlessly navigate the social scene, their confidence fueled by the allure of alcohol and drugs.

At first, I brushed off the subtle hints and invitations, eager to find my place without compromising my values. But as the days turned into weeks, the pressure to partake in the party culture became increasingly difficult to ignore. It seemed like everywhere I turned, there was another invitation, another opportunity to join in and let loose.

I watched as friends and acquaintances succumbed to the temptation, their inhibitions melting away with each sip of alcohol or puff of smoke. Part of me longed to join them, to shed my reservations and immerse myself in the euphoria of the moment. But deep down, I knew that giving in would betray the principles I held dear to.

As the pressure mounted, I found myself grappling with doubt and uncertainty. Was I missing out on the quintessential college experience by abstaining from alcohol and drugs? Would I ever truly belong if I didn’t conform to the expectations of those around me?

But then, in a moment of clarity, I realized that my worth wasn’t defined by the choices I made or the substances I consumed. My strength lay in my ability to stand firm in the face of adversity, to chart my own course despite the prevailing currents of peer pressure.

I chose to stay away from peer pressure for several reasons:

Personal Values: I have strong personal values that prioritize health, safety, and integrity.

Academic Goals: Maintaining focus on my academic goals is paramount, and avoiding substance-use helps me stay on track.

Long-Term Well-Being: I recognize the long-term consequences of alcohol and drug abuse and prioritize my physical and mental well-being.

Self-Respect: By staying true to myself and my principles, I cultivate a sense of self-respect and self-confidence.

Positive Relationships: Surrounding myself with friends who respect my choices fosters genuine and positive relationships.

Legal Concerns: I am aware of the legal ramifications of underage drinking and drug possession and choose to avoid legal trouble.

Role Model: I aspire to be a role model for others and demonstrate that it’s possible to have a fulfilling college experience without succumbing to peer pressure.

With such considerations in mind, I began to assertively decline invitations to parties and gatherings where alcohol and drugs were the focal point. I surrounded myself with friends who respect my decisions and support my journey, finding solace in their unwavering encouragement.

As time went on, I discovered that there were countless ways to find joy and fulfillment in college beyond the confines of substance use. From hiking adventures to late-night study sessions, I embraced each opportunity to connect with others and create meaningful memories.

Looking back on my college experience, I am filled with pride knowing that I stayed true to myself in the face of adversity. While the allure of peer pressure may have been strong, it was no match for the strength of my convictions and the support of those who stood by my side.

Today, as I reflect on the journey that brought me to where I am, I am grateful for the lessons learned and the person I have become. Standing tall against peer pressure was no easy feat, but it was undoubtedly one of the most rewarding decisions I have ever made.

About to graduate? Tackle the job search.

By: Alejandra Malaga Walters, Francis College of Engineering Well-being Leader

People in this generation have shown that they do not want a small life or a small job. They want to work in a place where they can experience a sense of purpose. To land a job like that, to be noticed among the many, some special spark in you must burn brightly. Every single person out there has the capability of obtaining such a spark. But for that, there’s a critical ingredient that it needs to grow: space. 

Space is the pathway to discovering a job you’re passionate about. Too often, job seekers get caught up in the anxiety of the hunt and forget to nurture their spark. They forget to take a minute to think, or to breathe, reflect, and recover from the stress of finding meaningful work. Without space, job searching becomes overwhelming and this may drive someone to choose a role they don’t really want or burn out before even entering the interview process. 

If you’re currently searching for a job and feeling stressed, the following strategies may help you take the space you need to make smarter decisions about your future:

  1. Bring your best self.

Rather than focusing on specific outcomes, you should visualize yourself bringing your best self to high-stake situations, such as job interviews or the first day of work. This practice can alleviate stress and restore a sense of calm and clarity. 

  1. Address worries appropriately.

To safeguard your well-being, try to separate emotions from worries. While it’s important to acknowledge and experience emotions fully, worries should be contained and addressed at specific times each day in a healthy way, such as journaling. This prevents rumination and maintains focus. 

  1. Give yourself a minute to think.

Instead of impulsively accepting any job offer out of financial pressure, you should take time to consider whether a role aligns with your long-term goals and values. Is it something you really want? Try to visualize yourself in the position. This involves quiet reflection and sitting with decisions before acting. 

Transitioning from school into the workplace isn’t easy. Be thoughtful, don’t panic, and back up your big dreams with action.  And remember, your first job does not define your entire future! Dream jobs often become more accessible once you have some experience, and as you progress in your career, the nature of your dream job might change. Relieve some of the pressure surrounding graduation knowing that you don’t have to be doing the perfect thing right away. 

Take advantage of the resources available to you through UMass Lowell:

  • The Career Center: meet with an advisor for assistance with resume building, job searching (including at career fairs), filling out applications, and developing interviewing skills
  • Well-being leaders: schedule a meeting with a well-being leader to connect you with on-campus resources and help you discover opportunities in your chosen field 
  • Handshake: join this online platform to connect with UML alumni and recruiting employers

Finally, remember, there’s something you can learn from every job, and every experience you have will benefit you as a professional. So, know that you’ve got this. You’re armed with your degree, and you should be proud of all you’ve accomplished so far. Now, breathe in, and get ready to take your next big step. 


Finding a Job is Stressful. Here’s How to Get Through it. ( 

About to Graduate? Don’t Freak Out About Your Career, Follow These Steps Instead (  

How to Tackle Test Anxiety

By: Sai Igiede, Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences Well-being Leader

Hey guys, it’s your local well-being leader, Sai, and today I want to talk about anxiety, specifically when it comes to exams. 

As a health science major, I know what it feels like to have exams and quizzes every week to the point where it becomes overwhelming with how much material you have to retain for each class. I am going to do my best to help you ease that pre and post-test anxiety by providing you with much-needed advice. 

Pre-Test Anxiety

Do your best to study with a healthy mindset. Studying is hard and everyone must learn to study in their own way. Studying with a positive attitude can have many benefits for both your mental and physical wellbeing. A prime example of this is when I first started studying chemistry, I let other people’s perceptions of the class alter my performance. “The class is insanely hard” or “You’re not going to pass” were things I heard from people often. I then started to internalize what they were saying and began to have a more negative outlook on chemistry, which truly reflected in my work. I began to dread the idea of the class and it wasn’t until I stopped listening to people’s opinions on the class and started to be more open-minded that my test scores began to improve. 

Mid-Test Anxiety 

Often what follows pre-test anxiety is mid-test anxiety. Not everyone experiences this, but those who do understand how difficult it is to break out of it, especially if you feel underprepared for an exam. Here are the steps that often help me get out of this funk:

  1. Go Slower than you need to. What some people do, myself included, is go slower during tests. This not only helps you focus on yourself and not the people around you but also helps you prevent small errors in your work. 
  2. Double-check answers BUT don’t overcheck them. This often adds to the pre-existing anxiety you may be experiencing.
  3. Give yourself positive encouragement throughout the exam. I just started doing this and it has helped me a bunch. I am someone who often has a lot of self-doubt during tests, so being able to push myself but also recognizing what I am doing is hard helps me center myself 

Post-Test Anxiety 

This type of anxiety often happens when you turn in your exam. As previously stated, this doesn’t happen to everyone but if it does, it is not a good feeling. The constant correcting of your answers in your head or the anxiety of waiting for your exam score to be returned is hard to overcome. Here are some things I do to not fall into this trap:

  1. Treat yourself after your exam to relieve anxiety.
  2. Debrief with the professor either before or after the score is released to see if your mistakes could have been prevented (if any were made).
  3. Tell yourself positive affirmations that will help ease your anxiety.
  4. Distract yourself with something that brings you joy, whether that playing video games or taking walks
  5. If the stress is starting to worsen, talk to someone who can give you positive feedback and can give you advice (a prime example is our Well-Being Leaders!). 

Test anxiety is hard for everyone, whether you go through all three of these stages or only one. All of these suggestions may not work for you and that is fine! We all work and operate differently, so what may work for one person may not work for someone else. As long as you are trying your best to be a better version of your current self, that is all that matters, and I applaud you for that! 

Until next time, 


Overcoming the “People-Pleasing” Mindset

By: Fajr Zahid, Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences Well-being Leader 

Do you find yourself constantly trying to please those around you and maybe even neglecting your own thoughts and feelings in order to do so? Or do you struggle to confront someone when you feel they have wronged or hurt you, in fear that you may come off as being rude or overbearing? While I’m sure many of us have found ourselves in scenarios where we felt the need to sacrifice our voices or opinions, or where we did not feel comfortable saying “no” to someone, constantly engaging in this type of behavior can be quite harmful to your emotional, or sometimes even physical, well-being. 

It is part of human nature to want to feel accepted and liked by others, and to act in ways that you believe those around you will be pleased by. However, it is not healthy to sacrifice your wants or needs in order to achieve this acceptance. By going against yourself and suppressing your true emotions, you may be protecting someone else’s feelings, but at the same time, you are neglecting your own. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be perceived as a kind, generous, or easy-going person, but you should not do so at the cost of your well-being and self worth. For instance, if someone mistreats or disrespects you, know that it is okay to stand up for yourself and to communicate your genuine thoughts and feelings. After all, if a person is worthy of being a part of your life, they should be understanding towards your feelings, not dismiss you for expressing them. Or let’s say you are asked to be part of a situation that you are uncomfortable with – it is completely okay to say no. You may fear that you will be judged, looked at differently, or even disliked, but none of these things are as important as protecting yourself and looking after your needs. 

Although it is easier for some than others to overcome the “people-pleasing” mindset, I believe that this is something that everyone is capable of improving on. It might take some time and mental strength, but it is worth it to be able to protect yourself from unwanted situations or interactions. Here are some things I’ve come to realize over the years that have personally allowed me to overcome the need to always please others: 

  1. Recognizing and establishing your boundaries is important, and it allows you to understand what kind of behavior you will and will not tolerate.
  1. There is a difference between being “rude” or “overbearing” and simply expressing your feelings towards a negative situation or experience. 
  1. You should consider your own wants and needs the same way you consider the wants and needs of others.
  2. The fear of being judged or disliked should not hold you back from standing up for yourself.
  1. You cannot always please everyone – some may approve of you and some may not, but these opinions do not matter as long as you are not putting yourself or anyone else in harm’s way.
  1. It is okay to say no to something that makes you uncomfortable, no matter the person, place, or situation. 

Remember, you can be a kind and likable person without tolerating disrespect or allowing others to cross your boundaries. You should never be afraid of standing up for yourself or voicing your thoughts and opinions because they matter just as much as anyone else’s. If you find yourself often engaging in people-pleasing habits, I hope you found this blog post to be helpful and that you are able to apply some of these friendly tips to your own life!

Naps: Beneficial or Detrimental? (Answer: It Depends)

By: Doa Jamal, Francis College of Engineering Well-being Leader

It is often joked that college students fall asleep and can take a nap anywhere. In warmer weather you’ll find students lounging on the grass or in  hammocks. Commuters rest in their cars. Have you ever just put your head down in the library and accidentally drifted asleep? And let’s not get started about those who fall asleep in class. Most of the time, these naps are well deserved. 

But what about when there’s an assignment due soon and we procrastinate by taking a nap? What about when we say we’re going to take a short nap but end up sleeping for two hours? Do you recall the feeling when you wake up from a nap and actually feel worse than when you fell asleep? You may feel groggy and disoriented. There’s actually a word for that. 

Sleep inertia refers to a transient state of confusion and a decrease in both cognitive and emotional functioning following the act of waking up from sleep. Individuals may experience delayed reaction times, impaired short-term memory, and a reduced pace in cognitive processes such as thinking, reasoning, remembering, and learning. Typically, sleep inertia only lasts for between 30 to 60 minutes, although its duration may extend for a longer period in instances of sleep deprivation, a condition commonly observed in numerous college students. Research shows that sleep inertia can even last for two hours. So, if you take a nap in the late evening or at night, you may remain groggy and choose to go back to sleep for the rest of the night instead of working on your assignment (I’m sure most of us are guilty of this). Remember when you said you’d go to sleep and wake up earlier in the morning to finish the work, but that didn’t happen because you couldn’t get up in the morning? Two words: Sleep inertia. Just do the assignment the day before and your future self will thank you. 

Additionally, as we all know, naps can interfere with sleep at night. Typically, it is the longer naps that interfere with the nighttime sleep quality. Napping after 3 p.m. is more likely to interfere with nighttime sleep. If you already experience insomnia or poor sleep quality at night, then napping can actually worsen these problems. 

So how do you take a proper nap? And I’ve mentioned the cons, but what are the benefits? A productive nap is a short nap. It is suggested to aim for 10 to 20 minutes. As mentioned before, it is better to take a nap in the early afternoon before 3:00 p.m. To achieve a high-quality sleep, it is essential to nap in a quiet, dimly lit environment with a moderate room temperature and minimal distractions. And be sure to give yourself time to wake up before doing activities that require a swift, cohesive or important response, such as completing a quiz. 

Benefits of napping (if done properly) include:

  • Relaxation and reducing stress
  • Diminished tiredness
  • Heightened vigilance
  • Enhanced mood
  • Improved overall performance, including faster reaction time and enhanced memory
  • Can be good for the heart (by reducing stress). A study revealed that individuals who took a nap lasting 45 to 60 minutes exhibited reduced blood pressure levels following exposure to mental stress
  • Taking short naps combined with moderate exercise can actually improve nighttime sleep

So next time you’re thinking about taking a nap, I hope you consider why you’re taking a nap, when you’re taking it, and how long you’re taking it for. Really ponder that nap and make an appropriate decision. Be sure to set an alarm to wake you on time. If you’re napping in a public place, especially in the library, make sure your alarm volume is low. 

Happy napping, Riverhawks!