Wellness Expo: Wellness Resources @ Penn & Beyond

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At Weingarten, we emphasize Academic Wellness beyond academic achievement. Situating your academic achievement goals across the spectrum of Academic Wellness provides more coherence and balance as you transition to post-secondary education, professional career and beyond. Academic / Wellness is the glue, a core bonding element, that holds it all together in your pre-, during and post-Penn life transitions.

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The Division of Campus Recreation and Penn Athletics regularly partners with the broader Penn Community to present a Wellness Expo at least once during the Fall and Spring academic semesters. The Wellness Expo, which is typically located at the Atrium of the Pottruck Fitness Center, provides study tips before finals, stress relief and coping strategies and activities, and other helpful resources for school-life balance, including healthy snacks!

Naturally, the Weingarten Learning Resources Center was represented to provide you with all of your academic wellness support resources! Here’s one of our Learning Instructors, Min Derry:

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Other Penn and Penn Community Resources in attendance were:

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And of course, Penn Athletics had a well-supported and cheered, win-a-t-shirt, Push-Ups competition:

Most importantly (he-he!), there were tons of swags, snacks and even a make your own granola buffet with tons of different types of nuts and grains for your enjoyment!

Be sure to take advantage of all of these resources as you wind down your Reading Days and wrap up your final projects and exams for the semester! Also, be on a lookout for the next Wellness Expo in the Fall 2019!

Staff Writer: Min Derry, Learning Instructor & Research Fellow

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Foregrounding Identity in Academia & Scholarship

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Right about now, we find ourselves knees-deep (maybe waists-deep!) in final projects. It is that time of the year in the Spring semester, Folks! At Weingarten, we empathize with the criticality and rigorousness of your final projects: term papers, capstone projects, portfolios, program thesis papers, and the list goes on! We also know our students, yes, YOU! You have been diligently examining your syllabus requirements, going through the assignment/project rubric with a fine-tooth comb, consulting with the Professor and/or the TA, integrating your course citations and materials, aggregating your own research references, and perhaps even disaggregating, coding and analyzing your collected data!

As you sit down in front of your computer to write your introduction, thesis or opening paragraph, BREATHE! Close your eyes, inhale deep, exhale loud, and CENTER YOURSELF… Yes, that’s it! We want to locate the YOU back in the research project!

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Due to the increasing professionalization of the Academy and the scientification of research, even social science research, it is easy to loose sight of our own IDENTITIES in being enveloped by the research process. But remember, YOUR PERSPECTIVES are UNIQUE and VALUABLE! You are part of a diverse University Community, which is bonded by all that makes us different, inasmuch as there is synergy in our factors in common. Your IDENTITY fundamentally influences your approach, methods and interpretations – whether or not you acknowledge it explicitly in your work.

YOUR IDENTITY OCCUPIES A CRITICAL SPACE IN YOUR CONCEPTUALIZATIONS

Here are a few tips in bringing back, centering and honoring the YOU in your research process:

What Inspired You?

Identify and track the source of  your inspiration. Was it a person, object or moment in time that served as catalyst for your inspiration? Was it a personal, academic or professional experience? Is there a story, a narrative behind your inspiration? Don’t lose sight of this inspiration as it will not only serve as fuel to sustain your academic work, but it will also serve as an interpretive lens in helping contextualize your conclusions and implications based on the source or triggering axis of your inspiration.

Look Back: What is your Legacy?

Reflecting on and examining your legacy will help you flesh out the theoretical framework to your project. Your legacy may involve histories, stories, narratives, memories and experiences that shaped who you are today. They often inform the ideologies, orientations and interpretive lenses, which can be teased out of your theoretical framework. Other times, they serve as counter-narratives, arguments or positions relative to your own or society’s dominant stances.

Explore Your Intersectionality

You are a phenomenally complex individual whose legacy, orientations and identity are deeply and richly rooted. The work of understanding the intersections of our identities, the matrix of their categorical representations (e.g. gender, sexuality, race, class, religion, citizenship status, etc.), how our identities are socially constructed, fluid and negotiated, and ultimately, what socio-political and economic power they afford or limit in different contexts can be labor intensive, but will prove invaluable to your research process. It will help reveal blind spots and assumptions in the research design, analysis and/or interpretations of findings. Identifying, wrestling with coherences, dissonances and/or boundaries of the scope of our research project is our duty as researchers.

Localizing and interrogating your own IDENTITY within Research is a critical means to Embracing and Valuing the authentic YOU and WORLD around YOU!

By Staff Writer: Min Derry, Learning Instructor and Research Fellow

Scheduling Self-Care: Reflections from Penn’s Teach-In 2018

Link to video: https://vimeo.com/255294916

Here at Weingarten we like to emphasize making time for students’ self-care. When we are taking care of ourselves, not only are we happier and healthier, but we also perform better academically and professionally.

One aspect of self-care that we often don’t focus on is challenging and stimulating our mind. This can be done through reading new books, learning a new skill, or attending a museum or art exhibit. This month, Penn’s Teach-In, demonstrated one way to think about stimulating your mind, learning new things, and making time for self-care .

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Penn’s Teach-In occurred on campus from March 18th – March 22nd. The theme for this year’s event was The Production, Dissemination, and Use of Knowledge. There were 32 events over 5 days in 16 different venues across campus. All events were free and open to the public. Different faculty from across Penn came together to discuss different topics including discussions around sexual harassment, purposes of a Penn education, teaching race, vaccine denial, the future of technology, thinking about evolution, and a Bioethics film festival. Check out their schedule of events here:

http://www.upenn.edu/teachin/index.html#schedule

These are just some of the captivating and stimulating events that were addressed by our Penn Professors. Moral of the story?

Take this time to learn something new that is perhaps out of your comfort zone.

While we know everyone is busy with academic, professional, social, and extra-curricular commitments, don’t forget to take advantage of the many wonderful programs (that are often free) happening on Penn’s campus. These programs can be an enriching addition to your undergraduate or graduate experience here at Penn.

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Photo from the International Collegiate Science Journal

By: Kelcey Grogan, Weingarten Learning Fellow and Learning Instructor

Spring Clean Your Academic Life

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Image from UPenn Facilities website

While it might not feel like spring outside yet, it is definitely around the corner. Spring break is over, and this semester is already halfway complete. Before we become busy with spring social commitments, with enjoying the nice weather (it’s coming, I promise!), and with beginning to study for finals, this point in the semester can be a great time to do some academic spring cleaning.

Sound new to you? Often, we often only think of spring cleaning as a chore we complete with our dorms, houses, or apartments, but actually this can be a great point in the semester for taking time to reorganize your academic life. Spending a few hours clearing out old papers and organizing important files can help you feel recharged and ready to take on the rest of the semester.

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Image from NewBridge Recovery

So turn on some music, open up the curtains to let some sunlight in, and get ready to get organized. Here are some suggestions for how to spring clean your academic life:

  • Take some time to go through your folders (or the paper crumpled at the bottom of your backpack).
    • Recycle the papers you don’t need anymore.
    • If papers will be useful or helpful later in the semester or in future classes, place them in a labeled folder.
  • Organize the files on your computer.
    • Make sure you have created file folders for each of your courses this semester. Sort your files accordingly. Make sure to add any downloaded files that will be useful.
    • Delete the computer files you no longer need.
    • If you are reading a lot of PDFs, make sure you are keeping them organized for easy reference when you are writing future essays. Tools like OneNote, Notability, or Zotero can be great for helping to keep PDFs organized.
  • Sort out your Inbox!
    • This task can be dreaded, but now can be a good time to take charge of your email if it’s gotten out of hand.
    • Delete unread or unneeded messages.
    • Place important emails in their applicable folders
    • Take yourself email chains that you don’t need or send them directly all an advertisement folder so they aren’t clogging up your main inbox.
  • Take stock of your books and textbooks.
    • If you’re like me and you have too many books, make sure you’ve made any returns to the library.
    • See if you can sell back any books on Amazon or another site.
    • Donate books you no longer need to on-campus donation sites or a local library.
  • Review your planner and/or schedule.
    • Make sure your spring commitments are updated.

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Image from Waterford Technologies

What else do you do to recharge and reorganize during the spring? Let us know!

Remember, instructors at Weingarten are here to help with any of your academic needs! Call 215 – 573 – 9235 to make an appointment. Or, stop by Monday thru Friday from 12pm to 3pm and Tuesday and Wednesday nights from 4pm  to 7pm for walk-in appointments.

By: Kelcey Grogan, Weingarten Learning Instructor and Learning Fellow

Tech-Tuesday – Meditation and Mindfulness Apps

Shining a spotlight on different technology services and applications that may be helpful for students, faculty, and staff here in the Penn Community!

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It appears that mindfulness has become the hot new buzzword on campuses and on various blog sites across the country. This is with good reason! Practicing mindfulness has been shown to improve general health, reduce stress, improve immunity, and boost recovery. For college students, practicing mindfulness has been shown to reduce overall stress, reduce depressive symptoms, enhance focus, and improve overall grades (Ackerman, 2017).

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While many of us may want to incorporate mindfulness practices into our daily lives, it can be difficult to make time in our schedule to read a book on mindfulness or to attend a meditation class. Luckily, there are a few apps that make it simpler to incorporate mindfulness into our daily routines! This blog will highlight two different applications that have helped me incorporate meditation and mindfulness into my weekly routine.

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  1. Headspace (www.headspace.com)

The first is app is called Headspace (www.headspace.com), and it has become quite popular. Headspace is great because it takes you through the meditation process if you are unfamiliar or new to the practice. The app has a beginner 10-day meditation guide that can be a great place to start! Each day leads you through a 10-minute meditation practice. It even incorporates tracking into the app to motivate you to stick with keeping mindfulness as a part of your daily routine.  The app is initially free to download, and then will take you through its app to purchase different meditation exercises.

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   2.  Stop, Breathe, & Think (www.stopbreathethink.com)

Stop, Breathe, & Think (www.stopbreathethink.com) is another great app to help you practice meditation and mindfulness (Full disclosure – this is the app I love and use most often). The app has short guided meditations, starting at just two minutes, that help you make time to breathe and check in with yourself throughout your hectic day. The app helps you learn how to meditate. You can then choose from a variety of sessions depending on what you need each day. The sessions include titles such as: Breathe, Gain Resilience, Connect with Your Body, Be Kind, Sleep, and Chill. (I highly recommend the Falling Asleep meditation in the Sleep session. It really helps me unwind at the end of the day, and has even helped me conquer some of my insomnia). While some parts of the app are free, other sessions require you to pay; however, 10% of the revenue go towards the nonprofit Tools for Peace, which helps at-risk youth experience the benefits of mindfulness and meditation. Knowing this, you can feel good about taking care of yourself while knowing you are helping to pay the gift of mindfulness forward!

These are just two of the many apps out there to help us practice self-care. What apps do you use? Do you have any you recommend?

This blog was based on information from the following sites:

https://www.stopbreathethink.com

https://www.headspace.com

http://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/top-meditation-iphone-android-apps#1

https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/benefits-of-mindfulness/

By Staff Writer: Kelcey Grogan, WLRC Learning Instructor

Positive Psychology – Volunteer!

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Taking time to volunteer

can help improve your mental health & wellbeing!

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Positive Psychology strategies and techniques have shown to:

  • Reduce stress
  • Increase happiness
  • Correlate with increased college achievement 

It is important to approach volunteering in college differently than how we approached community service in high school or simply for the purpose of strengthening our resumes or applications:

  • It is about taking time out of our busy lives to offer our time, skills, or experience to help an organization on Penn’s campus or within the broader Philadelphia community.

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In terms of Positive Psychology, volunteering has been shown to improve people’s emotional wellbeing. 

Here are 3 suggestions for how to get involved here at Penn:
  1. Find volunteer opportunities! Here is a link to the Netter Center on Penn’s campus which works to establish partnerships with the broader Philadelphia community: https://www.nettercenter.upenn.edu/

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  1. Check out ABCS courses at Penn. “ABCS students and faculty work with West Philadelphia public schools, communities of faith, and community organizations to help solve critical campus and community problems in a variety of areas such as the environment, health, arts, and education.” https://www.nettercenter.upenn.edu/what-we-do/courses
  2. Check out Penn’s Civic House: https://www.vpul.upenn.edu/civichouse/

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Have you found other ways to meaningfully engage with different organizations here on campus or within the Philadelphia community? Let us know!

By Staff Writer: Kelcey Grogan, Learning Instructor

 

Positive Psychology – Keep a Gratitude Journal

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Positive Psychology is a new, exciting, and constantly developing field!

Positive psychology is the “science of positive subjective experience, positive individual traits, and positive institutions’ promises to improve quality of life and prevent the pathologies that arise when life is barren and meaningless” (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2014, p. 5).

Positive psychology has been shown to increase happiness and reduce stress

(Goodmon et al., 2016; McDermott et al., 2017).

At PENN, we have the Penn Positive Psychology Centre, which is doing incredible work in the field:

  • We are just beginning to understand how implementing positive psychology techniques can reduce stress, increase happiness, and improve achievement in college students.
  • While more research still needs to be done, early studies have shown that implementing positive psychology techniques have improved students’ mental well-being.

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Keep a Gratitude Journal!
  • Gratitude journals are a way to keep track of the positive and good things in your life that you have to be grateful for.
  • In the hurried nature of our daily lives, it can be easy to lose track of all the things, big and small that we can appreciate and be thankful for.
  • A gratitude journal helps you slow down and reflect on the good things in your life.
  • Taking time to notice the positive things each day helps you keep a more positive outlook.

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How to keep a gratitude journal?
  1. There is no right or wrong way to keep a gratitude journal. Do what works best for you.
  2. You can just use a plain notebook, or keep the list right in your diary or journal if you already use one. There are gratitude journals that you can buy that often come with prompts or different quotes to make you think, but buying one isn’t necessary.
  3. While you can keep write your entries in a way that is meaningful for you, it is recommended that people take time each night to write down 1-5 things you are grateful for each day.
  4. It is a helpful way to keep track of what went well that day, even on days that are stressful and feel like nothing went the way it was supposed to.
  5. Furthermore, writing in your gratitude journal can be a relaxing way to help people prepare for bed and can even make sleeping easier.

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No matter how you use your gratitude journal, take some time to appreciate the people, places, and things in your life!

By Staff Writer: Kelcey Grogan, Learning Instructor

References:

Goodmon, L. B., Middleditch, A. M., Childs, B., & Pietrasiuk, S. E. (2016). Positive psychology course and its relationship to well-being, depression, and stress. Teaching of Psychology, 43(3), 232–237. https://doi.org/10.1177/0098628316649482

McDermott, R. C., Cheng, H.-L., Wong, J., Booth, N., Jones, Z., & Sevig, T. (2017). Hope for help-seeking: a positive psychology perspective of psychological help-seeking intentions. The Counseling Psychologist, 45(2), 237–265. https://doi.org/10.1177/0011000017693398

Seligman, M. E. P., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2014). Positive psychology: An introduction. in M. Csikszentmihalyi (Ed.), Flow and the foundations of positive psychology: the collected works of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pp. 279–298). Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-017-9088-8_18

Seligman, M. E., Steen, T. A., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2005). Positive psychology progress: Empirical validation of interventions. American Psychologist, 60, 410-421. doi:10.1037/0003066X.60.5.410