Counseling and Psychological Services is opening a Wellness Zone on North Campus in Pierpont Commons, giving students a space to decompress from the stress of school work. In the wellness zone, students will be able to enjoy a multitude of activities with the goal of self-care.

This will be the only Wellness Zone open to undergraduates this year, as the original Wellness Zone in the Michigan Union has been closed for the building’s renovation. A Wellness Zone specifically for graduate students opened in Munger residence hall in November.

Christine Asidao, associate director of community engagement and outreach at CAPS, emphasized the importance of the wellness zone being extremely accessible to students.

“I think one of the messages we want to make sure students really hear is that self-care and well-being is really accessible,” Asidao said. “This is a space that they can go over there, swipe their card, get into the space and be able to just choose things that will help them do better.”

Among the principal objectives of the wellness zone is to help students conquer Seasonal Affective Disorder, a type of depression caused by the decrease of sunlight in the wintertime. To conquer SAD, CAPS is installing two light therapy machines so students can get their daily dose of vitamin D.

“Seasonal Affective Disorder is a big thing, we live in the Midwest and don’t get to see a lot of sun so it does affect our mood, and so we will have two light therapy machines available as well,” Asidao said. “That can be a really great boost when you do 30 minutes a day for at least a week; they will start to feel better.”

LSA freshman Natalie McKee, a resident on North Campus, described how the lack of sun during Michigan winters can be difficult to adjust to for students from out of state.  

“It’s not really sunny up here because of the high latitude,” McKee said. “I’m from Colorado, and it’s a lot sunnier there. It was definitely an adjustment for the weeks of cloudy days. It would be nice to have the (vitamin D) lamps when it’s not sunny for such a long period of time.”

Other additions to the wellness zone will include meditation studios and yoga mats.

CAPS Director Todd Sevig explained the inspiration for the new Wellness Zone derives from the success of the opening of the first wellness zone on Central Campus in 2011.

“In 2011 we opened our first Wellness Zone,” Sevig said. “Long story short, it resonated really well with students. Starting the second year, our estimate is about 5,000 students used the wellness zone every year. They (students) wrote comments to us (CAPS) on a whiteboard and it was just really supportive.”

A large reason for the success of the Central Campus wellness zone is the amount of student engagement in the decision-making process during its inception. CAPS hopes to replicate this method to ensure the Pierpont Commons wellness zone fits the needs of students.

“Nothing happens on this campus of substantive value or lasting change without the involvement of everyone working together,” Sevig said. “Students in terms of the ideas, both past and current, and also the administrators, the Pierpont staff, to make the physical space happen.”

Engineering freshman Naomi Kantor expressed excitement for the wellness zone coming to North Campus as a way to wind down during the semester.

“I know for a lot of people you don’t live on North Campus, and as an Engineering student you spend a lot of time on North Campus,” Kantor said. “If you have breaks between classes it would be good to have somewhere to decompress because you don’t have the luxury to go back to your house.”

According to CAPS, the grand opening of the Pierpont Commons wellness zone is set for March 18.


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