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  • Mikayla Alexander

UMSL's Student Events for Mental and Physical Health

By: Mikayla Alexander

As the semester winds down, you may feel inclined to take a step back from campus activities. Between work, social life and academics, these end-of-semester deadlines might force you to neglect much-needed “me time”. But, extracurriculars do not have to feel like work or bring you more stress. To combat burnout, here are some upcoming events that may help decrease stress and improve your mental and physical health. 

Photo by Higher Grounds

The Health, Counseling & Disability Access Services (HCDAS) office at UMSL is a great place to start when looking for support in mental health. They organize meetings that reflect their priority in supporting student health, such as group therapy events. One of our Health Services clinicians, Abigail Gazvoda, is the point of contact for these group therapy events as screening is required first before attending. If you are interested in the following groups, you can call or email Gazvoda or visit the Counseling Services office.

 The Open Art Therapy Studio group is a no-brainer when it comes to mental health. There are a variety of ways one can physically express themselves, and creating art by hand is a very therapeutic one. You can socialize with others if you choose or focus on your creation. They also offer art directives for those who may feel stuck in the creative process. This event is hosted within the HCDAS office, which is located at 131 Millennium Student Center (MSC), to the left of the Nosh.

Photo by Pexels

When asked about the importance of group therapy for students, Gazvoda states, “Group therapy can be a powerful tool for promoting growth and change. It helps with building community and connection, increases self-awareness, promotes social skill development, provides diverse perspectives and weekly meetings are free.” 

The HCDAS office also organized a support group meeting titled It Didn’t Start with You: Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families. This group meeting is hosted every Tuesday from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 131 MSC (HCDAS office).  

This event is focused on realistic tools to apply to your struggles. Their goal, as stated, is “to focus on understanding specific behavior and attitude patterns we may have developed growing up in a dysfunctional environment.” Many can agree that no person or parent is perfect, but if you feel like your upbringing has only hindered your journey into adulthood, then this group meeting can help to navigate these feelings.  

If you are interested in other group therapy events hosted by HCDAS, you can check this website for more information, as well as contact Gazvoda or the HCDAS office at 314-516-5671.  

The next event that could be beneficial for student well-being is the UMSL Community Garden Volunteer Work Session organized by UMSL Sustainability.  Over the years, there has been an increasing number of studies and articles on the physical and mental effects of exposure to nature. An article posted by the National Institute of Health covers numerous studies that show how “green therapy” can be beneficial for everyone, not just people with mental health struggles or those recovering from surgical operations.  

The article addresses some physical effects of gardening as, “[it] restores dexterity and strength, and the aerobic exercise that is involved can easily use the same number of calories as might be expended in a gym. Digging, raking and mowing are particularly calorie intense....” 

Some of the mental effects enhance self-esteem and, “The social interaction provided by communal and therapeutic garden projects for those with learning disabilities and poor mental health can counteract social isolation.” 

UMSL Garden Flyer by UMSL Sustainability

Participating in the garden work session could be a method for non-extensive exercise and for uplifting your mood. This session occurs every Wednesday and Friday (until April 26) from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. You can participate at the UMSL Community Garden, located behind the South Campus parking garage next to Oak Hall. You can register for the event through Triton Connect.

The last event is Candlelight Yin Yoga. This event is hosted by the UMSL Campus Recreation and Wellness Center. Yoga is a physical activity known for flexibility, stress and anxiety reduction, as well as pain relief. The instructor Jennifer Ice, a highly experienced yogi, offers a calm, warm-lit environment for mindful meditation to take place. There are endless benefits from yoga but limited spots for this event.  

Don’t miss your chance to participate in this peaceful experience. The last dates for Candlelit Yin Yoga are Monday, April 15 and Monday, May 20 from 6 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. 

As this semester ends many of us may feel relieved, a little frantic or stressed. There are only five weeks left, but UMSL still offers plenty of opportunities during this time to get involved. It is important to prioritize your mental and physical well-being during this anxious time. Make sure to stop by one of many UMSL events to take the academic weight off your shoulders and take in time for yourself.  


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