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Keeping Huskies mentally and emotionally healthy

January 29, 2020

The new semester is well under way and Huskies are adjusting to a new routine, new classes and a new set of challenges. NIU has a variety of resources in place to help Huskies practice useful coping strategies to maintain a strong state of emotional wellness.

“There is a significant amount of research that physical activity positively impacts mental health and stress reduction,” said Chris Dawe, director of NIU Recreation and Wellness. “Because of that, we have a large variety of programs and activities to help get people moving in a way that they enjoy.”

In addition, Recreation and Wellness staff members offer a number of wellness presentations tailored to meet the needs of student organizations along with workshops and activities designed for fun and stress relief. Students are encouraged to try something new, take part in a favorite activity or consider reaching out to Recreation and Wellness personal trainers or nutrition coaches for support.

“We encourage everyone to be purposeful in finding what works for them,” Dawe said. “Take part in some of these activities, get moving, sleep well and eat well; keep all of these dimensions of wellness as balanced as possible in order to be resilient to the effects of stress.”

Another stress reliever comes in the form of two adorable Siberian Huskies and trainer, Lisa Boland.

“Mission Monday is a when both Mission and MiniMish walk around campus brightening the start of the week for everyone,” said Boland, who has been working with Mission since 2013. “It’s wonderful to see how the campus responds.”

Boland said students and staff can tweet the pups (@NIUMission) on Sundays and those suggestions determine their agenda on Mondays.

“It makes for a very Huskie pride-filled Monday,” Boland said. “The students wait for the dogs at each stop and are so thrilled to spend time with them.”

And while college is an exciting time, some students may feel overwhelmed. NIU has a team in place to help with that.

“The Counseling and Consultations Services staff supports student academic success by helping them navigate difficult and challenging life situations, including times when stress can start to feel more significant,” said Dr. Jennifer Kestner, a staff psychologist at NIU’s Counseling and Consultation Services. “Our team helps students identify the sources of their stress, learn effective coping skills, and manage their academic responsibilities and emotional well-being.”

Kestner suggests stress management tips like having a consistent sleep routine, taking breaks to do the things you enjoy and connecting with others who provide support and validation.

“A holistic approach to taking care of yourself is the best defense against stress and feeling overwhelmed,” Kestner said.

Go to Counseling and Consultation Services or Recreation and Wellness for a full list of resources.