“Wellness Week is one of the very few opportunities for us to take a step back from our busy lives to take care of ourselves,” wrote Adrienne Zhang ’18 in her article “A Week Well Spent,” published in the February 6 issue of The Phillipian. I have to agree. Wellness Week is an important reminder of the importance of staying healthy – both physically and mentally. Wellness, however, is more than just workshops. The week should be supplemented by the addition of more non-workshop activities such as outdoor recreation or short service trips, which would also benefit our mental and physical health.
As a Junior, my only Wellness Week commitments were a mandatory Freedom from Chemical Dependency workshop, a talk on cultural competency and the All-School Meeting. Though I did learn a lot from my workshops, I found Wellness Week lacking in another aspect: time outside of the classroom.
In a school-wide email, Head of School John Palfrey wrote, “One suggestion for today: do get outside and move your bodies, in the spirit of Wellness Week. Rally now to Paresky [Commons], have a snowball fight, find a friend for a walk, shovel some snow, help your parents or neighbors shovel out if you are a day student.
”I was grateful for Palfrey’s suggestion of a way to promote wellness that deviated from simply “attending more workshops,” as I had heard all week. In reality, many struggle to maintain focus during long lectures, so workshops are really not the most effective manner to promote wellness. For me, these types of activities boost my wellness far more than a workshop could – shoveling and playing with friends is my way of relieving stress.
Wellness Week should also focus on more active forms of wellness. By organizing downtown walks to Starbucks and serving hot chocolate in Paresky, Palfrey invited students to stop thinking about wellness and simply be well. The school should expand our Zumba, salsa and meditation classes and add even more options for improving our wellbeing, like recreational sports games or trips to volunteer the local soup kitchen.
In the end, a greater emphasis on stress-relieving activities during Wellness Week — perhaps impromptu all-school snowball fights or school-sponsored sledding — would truly benefit the Andover community.