Students learn to lower stress and LiveSMART

by Katy Rushlau / Beacon Staff • October 4, 2012

Multitudes of Emerson students can be seen as blurs rushing down Boylston Street in a frenzy from classes to clubs to social commitments without so much as a breath. Emerson’s health education initiative, LiveSMART, is aiming to bring clarity to campus and give stressed out students the tools to lead more balanced lives. 

According to coordinators Jason Meier and Christopher Chernicki, LiveSMART — which  stands for living strongly, mindfully, actively, responsibly, and thoughtfully — is an ongoing program that features events throughout the year.

Meier, the director of student activities, said LiveSMART 2012 is a week-long series under Emerson’s LiveSMART program designed to kick off the fall semester and embrace all types of health and wellness, including mental health, stress reduction, nutrition, physical activity, and financial wellness. 

“We absolutely understand that being a college student can be really difficult, and we wanted to give students opportunities to practice healthier living,” said Meier. “This is just something, another leadership ability, that you can put in your tool chest to make your time at Emerson a little better.”

Chernicki, the college’s coordinator of wellness education, said in an email that LiveSMART is a collaboration between the Dean of Students Office, Center for Health and Wellness, Student Life Office, Office of Housing and Residence Life, Off-Campus Student Services, and Emerson Athletics.

According to Meier, the series began Sept. 24 with information sessions. The first event, Paint Your Stress Away, was on Sept. 26 and taught participants how to calm their nerves through art therapy. 

Other events, Meier said, included Literally Food for Thought, which offered free, nutritious munchies like veggie-burger sliders. The Emerson Leadership Academy, an affiliated event, was also well-attended by 30 students, all there to hear speakers and engage in seminars, said Meier. 

Money Matters and Sexapalooza, which attracted over 100 students, also made up the agenda. The series culminated with the final event, Jazz Brunch, on Sunday. 

Cameron Ross, a junior visual and media arts major, said he thought LiveSMART 2012 introduced students to health and wellness options on campus. 

“I think this [program] did a good job of reminding students that these resources are available, which is good for everyone, whether they are new students or about to graduate,” said Ross. “I know I still get stressed sometimes and fall into unhealthy habits, and this is my third year of college.”

Ross also said he finds it difficult to manage health and tension at school.

“We are too focused on school and outside activities that we don’t take the time for ourselves,” said Ross. “Unfortunately, by not taking the time to manage stress, we become more stressed and unhealthy.” 

Chernicki  explained that the goal is not necessarily to make students healthy, but to educate them in the many ways that allow them to take control of their wellness. 

“We provide students with targeted passive and active education with the hopes that students will become ‘educated consumers’ in the game of life,” said Chernicki. “We hope that students take an active role in maintaining their own personal health and well-being.”

Sophomore performing arts major Mara Santos said she thinks it is easy for students to get caught up in busy schedules and endless opportunities. 

“Unfortunately, the stereotype of the overbooked Emerson student is very accurate,” said Santos. “It can be very hard to manage stress depending on how involved you are [on campus], and there are so many great opportunities to follow your passion, it is hard to not say ‘yes’ to everything thrown your way.” 

Meier said that he believes many students are aware of the need for wellness and balance and to cope with a busy schedule, students need to take time for themselves.

“Breathe, step back, be conscious of their surroundings and relax, even if it’s just for five minutes a day,” said Meier. “I think we forget a lot of the time because we are just running so fast from place to place, from activity to activity, that we don’t take that moment to appreciate where we are and what we’re doing.”