Ah, Spring. The time of year when the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and the impending doom of finals is right around the corner. Luckily, for the students of the St. Mary’s University School of Law, the Student Bar Association (SBA) and the Health and Wellness Association (HAWA) joined forces to bring students a week of activities to alleviate their stress and anxiety – feelings law students know all too well.
A diary of Wellness Week 2017
Monday: Scattered helium balloons and a chalk drawn schedule on the concrete of our campus courtyard set the tone for the week. To kick off the week, we hosted a lunch panel of attorneys from the Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program (TLAP). TLAP provides confidential help for lawyers, law students, and judges who may be facing substance abuse or mental health issues. We thought we would lighten the mood of the discussion topic by providing free Chick-fil-a lunch for the students. Although not the healthiest option, we can all agree that Chick-fil-a reaches everyone on a spiritual level of chicken goodness.
Tuesday: Books, books, and more books. Whether you are carrying a heavy backpack or bending your neck to read, the caseload is not a friend to your body. Stress, book weight, and constantly leaning over a desk are a recipe for a sore neck and back. Masseuses joined us on campus to give free chair massages to the students. Students were pampered with short massages and relaxing lotions.
After chair massages, we encouraged students to join the SBA and HAWA in the courtyard for frozen paletas (Mexican ice pops). The paletas offered students both a way to cool off from the Texas heat and gave them an opportunity to relax, socialize, and get some fresh air.
“It was nice to have a refreshing snack in between classes and gave us a way to socialize. Made it feel less like school for a couple of minutes.” – Christopher Alonso, 3L
Wednesday: We planned for breakfast, Priests, and puppies with our dean! We started the morning with a hearty breakfast bar filled with breakfast tacos (San Antonio style), potato hash, sausage links, mountains of fresh fruit, and a granola and yogurt station. Students were also offered coffee and juices.
Since we are a Catholic school – a university priest blessed the breakfast, the priest was then available to chat or pray with students if they chose.
Unfortunately, our most sought after activity, puppies with the dean was rained out. The week would not have been true to law school if we did not have to face a little bit of adversity. As President it is always challenging to make sure everyone is happy and plans are followed through. Cancelling activities is disappointing and usually I take it personally and feel as though I have not performed to expectations. However, a big step in mental well-being is understanding that sometimes things are out of your control and you just have to let them go. Of course, this advice shouldn’t apply to something as wonderful puppies so we will re-schedule the event for a later date. J
Thursday: We ended the week with an inflatable obstacle course that was setup on the lawn of our campus. We rented the inflatable course from a local vendor and it proved to be an affordable hit. We were blessed with beautiful weather so students were able to run around for a bit and enjoy the sunshine. In addition to the course we scattered footballs, Frisbees, and wiffle balls on the lawn for people to enjoy.
“The inflatable obstacle course really made my week and made me feel healthy and youthful again in the midst of a demanding semester.” – David Brewster, 2L
“Wellness Week” was an inaugural event for us this year. We have had small health and wellness activities in the past but have never attempted a week fully dedicated to the mind, body, and soul. Health and wellness does not have a one size fits all solution. We tailored our Wellness Week to our students needs and brought in special things that captured the spirit of our city, San Antonio, as well as the Catholic values of our school.
As law students we often neglect our bodies and minds. It is important to take time out of the day for ourselves in order to stay healthy and sane, especially during finals. Additionally, it is important for law schools to provide tools and activities to students so they may achieve these wellness goals. The Student Bar Association and Health and Wellness Association at St. Mary’s hopes to encourage students and other schools to take healthy steps in the right direction.
And as one law student once said about what happens when you exercise …