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.

Thriving in Senior Year: My Wellness Journey

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

Senior year ushers in a whirlwind of emotions – anticipation for the future and the uncertainty of what lies ahead. In this transformative period, I have found solace in embracing change. Mindfulness has become my steadfast companion, grounding me in the present amidst the chaos of transition. With the wisdom of friends and mentors, I navigated senior year’s uncharted waters by fostering resilience and embracing the unknown with optimism.

As the demands of senior year escalate, striking a balance between academics and personal well-being becomes paramount. Through trial and error, I have uncovered the delicate art of balance. Setting achievable goals and boundaries has been instrumental in safeguarding my mental and emotional well-being. By crafting a schedule that honors both my academic commitments and my need for self-care, I mitigated the risk of burnout. I recognized that prioritizing my well-being is crucial for sustainable success.

Life’s journey is rife with challenges, yet our response to adversity defines us. In the crucible of senior year, I have honed the art of resilience. Armed with self-reflection and self-compassion, I have confronted obstacles with unwavering resolve, viewing setbacks as opportunities for growth. Supported by my community’s unwavering encouragement, I navigated senior year’s peaks and valleys with grace and grit.

Being a student from UMass Lowell has taught me invaluable life lessons that have prepared me not only for academic success, but also for life beyond college:

  • Resilience: I have learned to find strength and growth in adversity.
  • Self-discovery: Exploring passions and values has deepened my understanding of myself.
  • Time management: Balancing academics and personal life has honed my organizational skills.
  • Adaptability: Flexibility and open-mindedness have helped me navigate change.
  • Community: Meaningful connections have provided support and belonging.

As graduation looms, I am reminded of the profound importance of nurturing connections. In the final chapter of my college journey, I cherish the bonds forged with friends, family, and mentors. These relationships form the bedrock of my support system, offering solace in times of uncertainty and jubilation in moments of triumph. Together, we weave a tapestry of shared experiences and cherished memories, anchoring me in the present as I prepare to embark on a new chapter.

Standing on the cusp of graduation next semester fills me with profound gratitude and pride. Each milestone and lesson has sculpted me into the person I am today. True success, I have learned, transcends accolades; it is measured by the relationships nurtured and lives touched. With my heart brimming with gratitude and a spirit ablaze with anticipation, I embrace the future, knowing that the lessons learned and memories cherished will accompany me on the journey ahead.

The Value of Reflection

By: Julia Yeadon, College of Fine Arts Humanities and Social Sciences Well-being Leader

As I write my final blog post in my beloved position as a Well-being Leader, I have begun to think of all of the opportunities and experiences that have led me to this point. In just one month, I will complete my chapter as a student and Well-being Leader at UMass Lowell. Thinking of leaving this school and this position brings me great sadness, however, I have chosen to shift my focus toward what I am fortunate enough to bring with me into my next chapter. 

I have seen so much growth in myself throughout this past year, and I owe most of this to my position as a Well-being Leader. Through this position, my passion for helping others has grown immensely. I am in awe of the small effort it takes to make a big difference in those around us. In just a 30-minute meeting during my office hours, I held the power to positively change someone’s life. The first student I ever met with in my office hours came back to tell me how much of a difference my suggestions had made in her life. I was filled with such happiness and contentment. From then, I knew that wherever life leads me, I want to continue to make this kind of an impact. 

I have always been the kind of person that has the next five years of my life meticulously planned out. This year, I learned to live in the moment and allow life’s opportunities to lead me onto my next journey. I started this school year beginning my bachelor’s-to-master’s program in Applied Behavior Analysis. However, I end this school year preparing to attend Bridgewater State University to earn my M.Ed. in School Counseling – a career that perfectly aligns with the values of being a Well-being Leader. 

To my fellow seniors, I encourage you to reflect. Reflect on the hardships you have endured during your time in college, and how you have strived to overcome such challenges. Reflect on what you have learned, both inside and outside of the classroom. Reflect on the people you have met, who have contributed to your personal and academic growth over the past four years. Finally, reflect on your own growth. Take pride in the diligence and effort you have committed during your time at UMass Lowell that has led you to the person you are today.

Many of you may think – what now? Whether you are continuing your education, starting a new job, or taking some time off before engaging in your next journey, take a moment to celebrate this accomplishment. As of 2022, only 37.7% of individuals ages 25 and older hold a bachelor’s degree or higher. Be proud that you are moments away from being part of this small percentage.

I am grateful beyond words for the impact the Well-being Leader program has had on my life. To my fellow Well-being Leaders, thank you for being the perfect role models by demonstrating the power we hold to make a difference in the lives of others. To Hannah, thank you for being the most inspiring mentor and encouraging me to follow my dreams. Finally, to the students I have met throughout this year during my office hours, I wish you the best of luck in all of your future endeavors and hope that my efforts to help you have led to a ripple effect. Imagine how beautiful this world could be if we all act on this same passion of helping others.

References:

https://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2023/educational-attainment-data.html

Types of Breaks to Help With Studying

By: Mia Andrade, Kennedy College of Sciences Well-being Leader

As the semester is approaching an end, it is important to keep up with assignments and all that comes your way. Breaks are essential in keeping you refreshed and maintaining that momentum to finish your semester off strong. When deciding to take a break from studying, it can help to start by asking yourself, “What do I want out of my break?” Does it help you relax? Does it excite or challenge you? Effective breaks are important and will leave you feeling revitalized and motivated to study. 

There are four different types of breaks that may help when you need to take your mind off studying: 

  1. Get creative. 

Creative activities come with many potential benefits. They can help you improve your memory, exercise your right brain, give your prefrontal cortex a break, and help your brain produce dopamine. Some suggestions may be:

  • Setting a new goal
  • Learning something new
  • Allowing yourself to daydream
  1. Move. 

All types of movement are a great way to take a break. Moving around and completing a small task helps build productivity and motivation to continue studying. Moving around also improves alertness and attention span. Sometimes changing the setting you are in during a study session can help avoid boredom and produce calming effects. Some activities you can try are:

  • Changing your environment
  • Completing a small chore
  • Going for a walk
  1. Nourish your body and mind. 

Taking care of your body and mind is essential to foster a productive study session. Its many benefits include stress relief, increased productivity, and increased attentivity. This is my favorite type of break to take! As a pre-med student, most of my time is devoted to studying and completing assignments. I find the nourishment of my body and mind crucial to helping me excel in my academics. Naps have to be my favorite. Some ways I would suggest accomplishing this type of rest may be:

  • Meditating
  • Taking a power nap
  • Listening to music
  • Having a snack
  1. Socialize. By socializing with other people, you create a positive emotional state for yourself. You feel socially connected to others and can take your mind off studying for some time before getting back into the game. Some ways you can utilize your break to socialize may be:
  • Calling a friend or family member to catch up
  • Going to the dining hall to meet up with friends

Overall, taking breaks in between studying is important in maintaining your well-being. As students, we need to prioritize breaks between studying and classes to allow our bodies and brains to reset and avoid burnout. Taking care of yourself is top priority!

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!

References:

  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/napping/art-20048319 
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/work-hour-training-for-nurses/longhours/mod7/03.html#:~:text=Sleep%20inertia%20is%20a%20temporary,reasoning%2C%20remembering%2C%20and%20learning
  3. https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/ss/slideshow-health-benefits-of-napping