THE WORTHWHILE WORK OF WELL-BEING
by Frank Shushok Jr.
Frank Shushok Jr.
HAS IT BEEN DIFFICULT TO FIND anyone in your circles who feels like they are thriving these days? The pandemic just passed its one-year anniversary and life has been filled with many hardships.
For students, the gap between their expectations and the reality of their college experiences has been heartbreaking. The national data on college students are revealing: 91 percent say they’ve experienced heightened stress and anxiety; 81 percent say they’ve felt disappointment or sadness; 80 percent say loneliness and isolation have been problems, and 48 percent say they’ve had serious financial setbacks. Yet it’s been reinforced for me time and again that our students have uncanny determination and resilient spirits.
ALL SET: Frank Shushok talks with participants at Virginia Tech’s first wheelchair tennis clinic, which was held on Feb. 22, 2020, through a partnership between Rec Sports and the men’s tennis team. (Christina Franusich)
Still, it’s tough out there, and empathy and care have tremendous shelf-life in our current landscape. In short, our gentle nudges can help keep each other on track. While Virginia Tech has invested heavily in deepening and expanding our mental health support services (as highlighted by our No. 1
ranking by The Princeton Review), we are also doubling down on our efforts to embrace a related but much broader concept of well-being. With education and intention, all of us have tremendous influence over our well-being, and when we do this well, we take good care of ourselves and others around us.
BE BOLDER: Rec Sports’ new Venture Out Center, which officially opened Jan. 28, offers students the opportunity to develop their climbing skills via an indoor bouldering wall.
What is well-being? It’s the presence of positive emotion, a sense of satisfaction with life, a feeling of purpose, and an affirmative holistic evaluation of one’s life. We endeavor to see well-being emphasized in every aspect of the Virginia Tech experience. To guide our interventions, we’ve adopted a broad understanding of well-being as outlined and thoroughly researched by our partners at the Gallup Organization. These include:
• Career well-being (liking what you do every day).
• Social well-being (having strong relationships and love in your life).
• Financial well-being (effectively managing your economic life).
• Physical well-being (having good health and enough energy to get things done).
• Community well-being (a sense of engagement where you live).
The important point is that all of us can build a plan around the five essential elements of well-being and make meaningful progress toward building a foundation for a life of well-being. According to Gallup, 66 percent of people are doing well in one of these areas nationally, but just 7 percent are thriving in all five. The primary obstacle for well-being is ourselves, and that includes you and me. Let’s join together in committing to building our own well-being and chart a course toward holistic health in 2021. Our world and our students are absolutely worth our best efforts.
Frank Shushok Jr. is the vice president for student affairs.
In lieu of spring break, Virginia Tech scheduled five separate well-being days in the spring semester: Feb. 5, Feb. 25, March 17, April 6, and April 26.
As a part of these days off, Student Engagement and Campus Life, Hokie Wellness, and Rec Sports partnered to ensure the availability of wellness opportunities for students. Based on the dimensions of well-being, each day includes options and tools to help students feel rested in the areas of mental, spiritual, emotional, social, sensory, creative, and physical well-being.
But well-being isn’t just for students. Whether it’s taking part in a wellness activity, exploring the outdoor offerings in your community, reading a book, or simply relaxing at home, all Hokies are strongly encouraged to set aside some time to relax and recharge.