Students Come Together to Enjoy Nature on Campus, Easing Pandemic Anxieties

Photo+by+DVC+wellness+and+academic+counselor+Christie+Harrington-Tsai.

Photo by DVC wellness and academic counselor Christie Harrington-Tsai.

Serena Smith, Staff

Students and staff at Diablo Valley College have been participating in Outdoor Wellness Walks on campus this semester, which many say has helped to combat the anxieties they have experienced during COVID-19 and distanced learning.

“I wanted to give students an opportunity to come together in a relaxed environment, get to explore campus, and get to meet other students here,” said Christie Harrington-Tsai, a DVC wellness and academic counselor who began organizing the walks earlier this year.

She said many students who had never taken in-person college classes and had been isolated during the pandemic felt nervous coming on campus for the first time.

Photo by DVC wellness and academic counselor Christie Harrington-Tsai.

People experienced different degrees of social anxiety and weren’t used to socializing face-to-face, she added. For some, the walks helped ease them back onto campus in a safe and relaxed way.

“Many students come to campus specifically for this group,” Harrington-Tsai said. “They like it because it gets them out of the house and it helps them meet other people.”

A typical Outdoor Wellness Walk ends with a relaxing activity such as guided meditation, journaling or drawing. Different activities are offered based on students’ particular interests, and can range from breathing exercises to other mindful techniques that help ease stress.

“I find the entire walk to be beneficial, however the social interactions and meditation exercises toward the end are most beneficial to me,” said Kevin Mackay, who is studying English and Administration of Justice at DVC.

“I suffer from extreme anxiety and find them to be calming and helpful,” he said.

The final walk of the semester will happen on Wednesday, May 18, at 3:30 p.m. Students can register on DVC’s Outdoor Wellness Walks website to sign up for a session.

The walks were originally intended for the Spring 2022 semester alone. But due to growing student interest, the walks are now expected to continue in the fall with the goal to keep helping students adjust to life on campus and meet new friends.

“It makes me really happy that students are enjoying the walks,” said Harrington-Tsai.

“Going outside, being out in nature,and socializing are simple yet powerful ways that we can lower our stress each week.”