University Park students turn to wellness retreats to reduce stress

July 02, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Stress is something that everyone experiences, and it can impact an individual’s emotional, physical and intellectual state, possibly leading to burnout. To help students alleviate stress, four wellness retreats have been hosted at Penn State’s University Park campus since January, thanks to funding from Penn State LionPulse, an outreach effort of Penn State PRO Wellness.

A national survey by the American College Health Association found that nearly 31% of University Park students indicated that stress has affected their academic performance (e.g., received a lower grade on an exam or course; received an incomplete or dropped out of a course; or experienced disruption in thesis, research or practicum work). Further, more than 86% of students reported feeling overwhelmed by responsibilities.

The survey results demonstrated that students with high levels of stress would likely benefit from stress-management programming. As a result, Erin Raupers, assistant director of Penn State Health Promotion and Wellness, suggested hosting half-day wellness retreats in alignment with Health Promotion and Wellness’ mission to improve academic success by enhancing healthy behaviors and decreasing overall stress and anxiety.

Linda LaSalle, Raupers and Kyle Shoulders — Health Promotion and Wellness employees and campus health champions — are leading this initiative with the University Park wellness committee.

With support from LionPulse, the University Park wellness committee organized and hosted the wellness retreats to help students develop stress-management skills by:

  • Educating students about stress-reduction strategies.
  • Increasing self-efficacy to practice stress-reduction strategies.
  • Decreasing stress levels.

The first wellness retreat was hosted in January, and the retreats were continued on a monthly basis throughout the spring semester. More than 50 individuals in total attended the programs, which included information on meditation, yoga, art, mindfulness and intuitive eating.

Students expressed appreciation for the workshops and the lessons they learned.

“Once they get to the program and dive in, they walk away satisfied with the knowledge to help them cope with stress,” said Raupers.

When surveyed following the retreat, students reported a 100% satisfaction rate, with an overall 10% reduction of perceived stress and a 10% increase in general self-efficacy.

“[The retreat] was relaxing and I learned a lot about myself and what I can do to control my stressors throughout the day,” said one student in a post-retreat survey. “It really helped me to relieve a lot of built-up stress that I had coming into this retreat.”

Interested in future LionPulse events on your campus? To stay on the pulse with wellness events and resources, visit LionPulse is a Penn State PRO Wellness initiative to enhance wellness within the Penn State community, funded through a seed grant that supports the University’s strategic plan.

Last Updated October 05, 2020