FYI: Grow Kindness

Grow Kindness

The Office of Student Life, in collaboration with the College of Food, Agriculture, and Environmental Sciences, OSU Extension and the Chief Wellness Officer will be growing kindness across campus on October 17 (rain date October 18).

With generous donations from Scotts Miracle-Gro and Altman Plants, students, faculty and staff will have the opportunity to plant two succulents; one to keep for themselves and one to give away in kindness to someone else. The projects will help promote kindness and mental health support.

Plants will be available for assembly from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m at the following locations:

  • Lawn in front of Traditions at Scott
  • University Square (15th and High)
  • Wexner Medical Center (Herrick Transit Hub)

Learn more:

Improving Mental Health and Connection Through Volunteering

If you are looking for an activity to improve your mental health, connect with others who have similar interests and make a difference your community, look no further than volunteering!

Studies show that regularly volunteering has a positive impact on our mental and physical health and strengthens our social connections.

Not only does volunteering counteract the effects of stress, anger, anxiety and depression but it also makes you overall happier and can increase your self-confidence. It is in our nature as human beings to want to give to others. Sharing our talents and passions in our community through volunteering helps to give us all the feels and fulfills that natural instinct to want to help others. The more we give, ultimately, the better we feel.

Another positive effect to highlight is that volunteering helps to build both your personal and professional network. Shared experiences help to create and strengthen social connections and by participating in a volunteer activity you are connecting with others who also share a common interest. This is a great way to make friends and to create networks. If you are looking to break into a specific industry or have a particular passion you want to explore, volunteering is an opportunity to try out new experiences. You never know who you are going to meet and what it could potentially lead to!

As you can see, there are so many benefits to volunteering, but it can be challenging to find the time, the right organization and position. As a busy college student, you already have so many responsibilities, it can be hard to know where to start. Luckily, Ohio State has a team of dedicated staff and students that organize numerous opportunities to volunteer in the Central Ohio community, across the country, and even internationally.

Check out the Student Life Leadership and Community Engagement team’s website for information on volunteer opportunities.

So what are you passionate about? Find your cause, find your team, and get to work!

-Jordan Helcbergier, Wellness Coordinator


3 health benefits of volunteering – Mayo Clinic Health System

Volunteering and its Surprising Benefits –

Cut Back on Holiday Gifting Stress – 5 Es of Sustainable Gift Giving

The holiday season is officially upon us with Thanksgiving quickly passing and Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa just around the corner!

This time of year can bring so much joy, from seeing friends and family to getting a break from school work it is a much needed relaxation vacation in the middle of the academic year. Unfortunately, this time of year also brings about stress and waste.

From wrapping paper, shopping bags and cards to food waste and unnecessary gifts – a lot gets thrown away this time of year. Research shows that on average Americans throw away 25%-43% more trash during the holiday season (from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day) than any other time of year. This combined with the stress of needing to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list, can counteract all the good vibes we just mentioned above.

To practice some financial and environmental wellness this season, practice the 5 Es of sustainable gift giving:

  • Embrace Local Shopping
    • While purchasing gifts online is convenient, shipping costs contribute to waste this time of year. The longer the trip, the more of an impact. Contribute to your community and shop the old-fashioned way – in a store preferably a locally owned one. And don’t forget your reusable shopping bags!
  • E-Gift Cards
    • Gift card giving gets a bad rep but why not give someone the gift of buying something they really want for themselves. Keep in mind, plastic gift cards contribute to a significant amount of waste in this country. If you choose to go to gift card route, opt for a paper or digital gift card to cut back on waste.
  • Experiences
    • We all have that person on our shopping list who has EVERYTHING. Instead of buying an item just because, choose to gift them an experience instead. There are so many fun and unique experiences to take part in but also thinking practically works too. Options – cooking classes, museum tickets, concerts, spa treatments, summer pool passes, the list goes on!
  • Eco-Friendly Wrapping Paper
    • Wrapping paper is a large contributor to the waste generated over the holidays. Skip the wrap and instead opt to package gifts in reusable bags, cloth wrapping ‘paper,’ tote bags, or mason jars. If you plan your gift right, you can even make the wrap part of the experience! Example – wrapping a book in a scarf.

*If you are at a party with lots of wrapping paper and bags, be sure to gather what can be recycled and save gift bags for next year!

  • Evaluate Gift List
    • An easy way to save is by skipping individual gifts and convince your group to host a ‘White Elephant’ or ‘Secret Santa’ instead. This gives everyone the opportunity to by 1 gift instead of 7 (or more), saving everyone a little extra cash and cutting back on unnecessary gift giving. If your group is not open to the gifting games, create a list of who you are shopping for and how much you plan on spending. Create budget off of this list to keep your spending under control.

Don’t let the financial and environmental stressors of gifting ruin your holiday season. Remembering this time of year is about so much more than gifts. It is spending time with those we love and being grateful for what and who we do have in our lives.



Prevent Waste During the Holidays | SCDHEC

Holiday Waste Prevention: How Much a Typical Person Generates – Brightly

A Guide to Sustainable Gift-Giving – Life with Less (


-Jordan Helcbergier (she/her), Wellness Coordinator

Environmental Wellness: 5 Types of Study Spots to Explore on Campus

As a graduate or professional student, you may not need to be on campus every day of the week, so finding a study spot to maximize your time is crucial.  

Do you find that there are certain environments that fit best with your working, learning, or studying styles? Check out these locations on campus to find a space that will be best suited to your personal study habits:

University Libraries

The Columbus campus is home to ten university library locations. Visit for locations, hours, and more detailed information about the unique resources at each library. 

Spotlight: Thompson Library 

Thompson Library is the largest library on the Columbus campus. In addition to 11 floors of books and study spaces like the Grand Reading Room, Thompson Library offers group study rooms, computers, printing and copying services, the OCIO Buckeye Bar, and Berry Café! There is also a wellness room, lactation room, three gender inclusive restrooms, and lockers available for use in Thompson Library. 

Spotlight: 18th Avenue Library

 One unique feature of 18th Avenue Library is its flexible and accommodating hours which allow you to study around your schedule at your convenience. The 18th Avenue Library is open 24 hours a day during the week and closes at midnight on Saturdays and Sundays. Other features of the 18th Avenue Library include the Research Commons, Terra Byte Café, wellness room, computers, printing and copying services, group study rooms, and a designated quiet space on the 4th floor. 

Ohio Union

The Ohio Union is another great study spot on campus. The Union offers a variety of spaces and resources including fireplace lounges, three floors, and a basement all with seating available. There are also multiple dining options to meet your needs. You can find the Union Market, Sloopy’s Diner, Espress-OH Café, and Woody’s Tavern all located in the Ohio Union. 

Check out the Ohio Union building map to view all the available rooms and spaces.

Outdoor Spaces

When the weather is nice and you want to study outside, there are a variety of scenic spots to explore. 

Spotlight: The Oval and South Oval 

You can always find a spot on the Oval or the South Oval to sit and study or simply enjoy the atmosphere. 




Spotlight: Mirror Lake 

Enjoy the view of Mirror Lake while you study by finding a spot on a bench or some greenspace nearby. In the Winter, be sure to check out Light Up the Lake! 

Spotlight: Browning Amphitheater 

The Browning Amphitheater is a performance space that features rows of seats where you can sit and read, study, or work. The area surrounding Browning Amphitheater also offers great views to take in as you work. 



Spotlight: Numbers Garden (aka The Garden of Constants) 

The Numbers Garden is located on the Dreese Laboratories lawn with plenty of options for seating nearby. Grab a spot on the concrete ledges lining the lawn, surrounding benches, or nearby tables outside of Oxley’s Café. 



Academic Buildings

Many of the academic buildings on campus have spaces such as lounges, lobbies, or rooms available for reservation where you can study. The Office of Distance Education and eLearning has compiled a list of Informal Study Spaces in several buildings across campus. Visit the Informal Study Spaces webpage for photos and descriptions of what each space has to offer.

Dining Locations

If you are looking for a more casual or social environment, there are a variety of dining halls, cafés, and marketplaces on campus where you can grab a snack, meal, coffee, or tea and spend some time working between commitments. Dining Services has 30 locations across campus that offer dining options ranging from fast casual and grab-and-go style to table service and all-you-care-to-eat. 

-Lucy Hennon, Graduate Student Assistant 

Socially Distant but Close to Nature 

Make like a tree and leaf into the great outdoors! Where are these supposed “Great Outdoors” in the concrete jungle of Columbus? I’m glad you asked savvy reader! The Olentangy Trail runs along the Olentangy River and is perfect for walking, running, and biking. Behind Lawrence Tower is Tuttle Park, where you can find a cricket field, hockey rink, and of course the Olentangy Trail. Here are some other less commonly known green spaces on campus: 

 Labyrinth Garden, Learning Gardens and Chadwick Arboretum  

The Labyrinth Garden features a labyrinth pathway that allows you to take a contemplative walk as you follow the ever-winding path that typically takes 20 minutes to complete. The labyrinth can provide a centering experience as well as an excellent place to meditate. The Learning Gardens is an outdoor lab for both teaching and research, so as a result, there is a diverse collection of plants to enjoy and learn from, and with such a diverse group of gardens, different and unique plants are grown in each one. The Chadwick Arboretum Walking Tour App allows you to browse what the arboretum has to offer in real time by accessing the link on your smartphone or computer. See the Resources section below for more information!  

Biological Sciences Greenhouse  

If you’d rather stay on campus, or pop into a greenhouse in between classes, then the Biological Sciences Greenhouse is the perfect place. The BioSci Greenhouse is located on top of 12th Avenue Garage and accessed through Aronoff Lab. It’s open 8:30am – 4:30pm and serves as a research and teaching greenhouse space.  The Labyrinth Garden, Chadwick Arboretum and Learning Gardens, and Biological Sciences Greenhouse are some great green spaces that are close to campus that you can either walk or bus to. It’s more important now than ever to go outside and get some fresh air because the majority of classes are online. 

Outdoor Adventure Center (OAC)  

Another great way to go outside and remain active is to visit the Outdoor Adventure Center (OAC)! Top rope and bouldering are available by reservation. Whether you’re going on a short walk, or on your way to the OAC, as little as five minutes in nature can improve your mood, and being outside can improve your focus, allowing you to work more efficiently.   

So, get out there, wear your mask, socially distance, and explore all the great nature, parks, gardens, trails, and so much more that’s right around the corner at Ohio State! 


-Simon Ren, Stress Wellness Ambassador 

10 Benefits of Houseplants

For thousands of years, humans have brought plants indoors. But why is this? The following are 10 reasons houseplants can improve your well-being 

  1. Houseplants improve cognitive performance: Given that plants increase the amount of oxygen in your home and remove toxins, they improve concentration, memory, reaction time, and creativity. Experimental studies show that cognitive performance is better in offices with plants, and simply looking at green plants makes us more creative. 
  2. Houseplants reduce the effects of stress : A research study demonstrated that geraniums helped individuals recover faster and more completely from high stress situations. If there is a particular room where you often find yourself getting stressed, consider putting a plant in that room. 
  3. Houseplants boost your mood: Researchers have pinpointed a microbe called M. vaccae, nicknamed “outdoorphins,” which is found in soil and works as a natural antidepressant. It boosts your mood by releasing cytokines, which lead your brain to produce more serotonin. So, just being around soil boosts your mood! 
  4. Houseplants provide a sense of connectedness : It’s human nature to crave connection with others. Plants remind us that we are sharing this earth with more than other humans, and that we are all connected. Everything on this planet plays a role, and having a plant in your home can serve as a reminder of this connection with all other life forms. When we breathe, we take in oxygen and release carbon dioxide. Plants do the opposite, taking in carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen, making us the perfect team. 
  5. Houseplants reduce anxiety : Plants help us feel calm. Looking at a living plant brings a relaxing sensation that is not experienced when looking at a computer or phone. In fact, studies have shown that patients in hospital rooms with plants report that they feel less anxious compared to patients in rooms without plants. 
  6. Houseplants purify the air of toxins : In today’s world, we are exposed to a number of toxins, even in our own homes. The EPA states that indoor air pollution is one of the greatest risks to our health. Cleaning supplies, candles, beauty products, cookware, smoke, and other sources, release neurotoxins into the air, which can harm our brains. All plants clean the air, but NASA has shown that certain plants are particularly effective at removing toxins.  
  7. Houseplants reduce your number of sick days: Studies have shown that patients recover more quickly from surgery when their hospital rooms have plants. Patients with plants in their room had lower blood pressure, lower ratings of pain, less anxiety, and less fatigue than patients without plants in their room. One researcher has pinpointed an airborne compound that has antifungal and antibacterial properties, called phytoncides, which we absorb when nearby.  
  8. Houseplants teach us the importance of a holistic approach: Caring for houseplants requires patience. Shortcuts won’t work with plants, just as they don’t work with our own health. When a plant is unwell with shriveled brown leaves, we can’t simply paint the leaves green and call it a day. Instead, we ought to look at the whole picture, taking our time and getting to know what amount of sunlight and water the plant needs to thrive. Learning to care for our houseplants more holistically can help us care for ourselves more holistically, instead of opting for quick fixes.  
  9. Houseplants teach us to slow down : Our brains are chronically stressed, because we’re stimulated all the time these days. Taking time out of your day to slowly water a plant and carefully check its leaves gives your brain a needed break from the constant stimulation. 
  10. Houseplants improve sleep: Quality sleep is crucial for overall health. Houseplants naturally purify the air in your home, so having a few in your bedroom will improve the quality and quantity of your sleep. Simply looking at plants makes us feel more calm and less stressed, which will put us in the right mindset before going to bed. To get the most out of bedroom plants, choose a plant that continues to release oxygen even at night (most plants do not), such as a snake plant.  

 Joe Doherty, Wellness Coordinator, Wellness Coaching  

  Watch this video to plant your own succulent and start reaping the benefits!


Keeping Ourselves & Our Planet Well During COVID-19

COVID-19 has brought many lifestyle changes, like increased hand-washing and use of disposable resources. It may seem challenging to live both safely and sustainably during a pandemic, but it just requires some creativity. Below are several tips to help you make lifestyle choices that prioritize not only your health, but the health of our planet.

Walking and biking are ideal, if you live close enough to your destination. This will boost your immune system with great exercise, allow you to physically distance from others, and won’t pollute our air. In fact, according to a recent study, if everyone switched to biking for their daily commute, the decreased air pollution would save 449 years of life annually in just one county! Also, compared with those who drive or walk to work, cyclists are exposed to the least amount of pollution during their daily commute. After walking and biking, riding the bus is the next best option, because this puts fewer cars on the road. Whether you ride a CABS or COTA bus, be sure to wear your mask.

Grocery Shopping
When it’s time to buy more hand sanitizer, go for a larger container to refill the smaller one you received in your welcome kit. This will use less plastic, save money, and result in fewer grocery trips. As for grocery bags, the best option is reusable, next best is paper, and the last resort should be plastic. Some stores do not allow reusable bags during the pandemic, so be sure to follow your store’s guidelines. You can always ask the cashier if they’re comfortable with you stocking your own bags, so they don’t have to handle your reusable bags. If you do use reusable bags, clean them weekly. If you use plastic bags, bring them back to the store for recycling. For products that you use often, like laundry detergent, do your best to buy eco-friendly products. If you grocery shop online, make less frequent, large orders to limit how much packaging is used. Finally, an incredible campus resource is the Buckeye Food Alliance, which is a free food pantry that any student can safely use.

Potable (that is, drinkable) water is one of the earth’s most valuable resources, and there are small changes that everyone can make to make a difference. If you shorten your shower by 1-2 minutes, you can save about 150 gallons/month; if you keep it to 5 minutes or shorter, you can save 1000 gallons/month. Turning off the water while you’re brushing your teeth can save 4 gallons/minute! Plugging your sink while shaving can save 300 gallons/month. Only wash full loads of laundry and dishes, and be sure to reuse your towels. Be sure to tighten those faucets to reduce leaks in your sinks and bathtubs. And if you see a leaky faucet or toilet, complete a campus maintenance request (or check your off-campus lease) to have them repaired.

Disposable masks must be placed in the trash and cannot be recycled, because they are considered biohazardous materials. Wearing reusable masks that can be laundered many times is very sustainable. Be sure to follow the instructions for washing them; when in doubt, wash the masks in cold water with detergent and let them air dry. And above all, do not throw the masks onto the ground. Litter is hazardous not only to humans, but also to fish and other wildlife.


Let’s do our best to keep ourselves and our planet healthy.

  • Joe Doherty, Wellness Coordinator, Wellness Coaching
  • Tom Reeves, Director, Energy Management & Sustainability




Staying Green During COVID-19 

Sure, we’re all inside more often than usual, but this doesn’t mean that our connection with nature needs to diminish. There’s still a beautiful, green world out there that we can connect with.  

“Biophilia” is the idea that there’s an instinctive bond between humans and nature. We may have lost some of this bond as a society, but regaining this connection can lead to several benefits. For instance, researchers have pinpointed a microbe called M. vaccae, nicknamed “outdoorphins,” which is found in soil and works as a natural antidepressant. These microbes boost your mood by releasing cytokines, which then leads your brain to produce more serotonin. So, simply by digging in the soil and spending time outside, these outdoorphins flood your body and boost your mood! Free therapy – pretty cool 

Here are a few tips to help you regain that connection with nature: 

  1. Get at least 15 minutes of fresh air per day: Hike, walk around, or simply sit in the sun. Even 5 minutes outside has been shown to boost mood. Given that we’re driving and flying less, our air is currently quite clean, so be sure to capitalize on that nature therapy. If it’s too cold outside, try sitting in your car to get some direct sunlight, or sit in front of a south-facing window in your living space.  
  2. Get some houseplant friends: I could go on and on about the benefits of houseplants, but coming from someone who has nearly 20 in my home, that’s no surprise. Studies have shown that because plants increase the amount of oxygen in your home and remove toxins, they improve concentration, memory, reaction time, and creativity. Certain plants continue to emit oxygen throughout the night, such as a snake plant, making them perfect for your bedroom. Another research study demonstrated that geraniums helped individuals recover faster and more completely from high stress situations. 
  3. Subscribe to a local CSA: Right now it’s especially important for us to support local business and to eat nutritious food, and subscribing to a local CSA does both! CSA stands for Community-Supported Agriculture, and it works by consumers (you and me) paying for a weekly or monthly box of locally grown food, and many will even deliver right to your door! You are helping famers stay in business, and you’re getting seasonal food that’s as fresh as it gets. A win-win. Here is a list of Columbus-local CSAs.  
  4. Start an herb garden: This can range from an indoor window garden, to a container patio garden, to a large garden in the ground. You’ll want to wait until around May 1 to plant outside, but until then, you can start seeds on a south-facing window sill. You can even use the cardboard centers of TP to start the seeds in, and then plant the whole thing directly in the ground once they’ve sprouted a few inches. The cardboard will decompose without harming the soil. You can also plant the seeds in egg cartons. Your outdoor garden will not only provide you with fresh herbs, but will also attract pollinators like butterflies and bees, which are keystone species that our entire ecosystem depends on to function properly.  

 These are just a few ways to connect more with the natural world. We could all use a little more nature.  

Enjoy those outdoorphins! 

-Joe Doherty



Eco-Friendly Self-Care

So often ‘self-care’ conjures images of full bathtubs, lots of plastic products, or a huge stack of journals. These are fantastic self-care methods but aren’t the most environmentally friendly. Caring for yourself and caring for the environment don’t have to be mutually exclusive!  

Here are some eco-friendly self-care strategies you can use, even in this time of social distancing: 

  1. Spend a few minutes outside. Obvious, right? The wonderful thing about self-care is that it can be done anywhere! Practice grounding or breathing exercises out in the sun or on the grass. Take a book outside or just listen to the birds chirp. Just appreciate the natural environment around you! 
  2. Get active. You don’t have to become a marathon runner or speed walker. Try hiking or biking one of Columbus’ many Metro Parks trails or at one of Ohio’s State Parks. Yoga is a popular meditative practice. My personal favorite? Bouldering! 
  3. Focus on your physical space. Sometimes cleaning and organizing your space is the best self-care. Take some time to do your laundry, wash your dishes, and pick up your room. Bonus points if you limit the amount of water you use, turn off lights you aren’t using, or use eco-friendly cleaners.  
  4. Thrift. One common stress response is to buy new things (guilty!) The fashion industry is notorious for the textile waste it produces. Thrifting gives clothes and other items a new life (yay, recycling!), reduces carbon emissions, and is great for your bank account.  
  5. Give back to the Earth. Go plant something! No matter your skill level, experience, or space constraints, there is something you can grow. Trees are a great choice if you have some space. Urban and mini gardens can be grown in multiple small planters. Houseplants count, too – and can help clean the air indoors. Just be sure any indoor plants you have are non-toxic to your pets.  
  6. Cook something. You don’t have to use all organic ingredients. Whatever your self-care food is, making it at home will reduce carbon emissions needed to transport it and the packaging the food comes in. The environment, your stomach, and your mood will thank you! Check out the Fuel for Life blog for inspiration. 
  7. Hang out with your pets. Whether it’s playing outside or hanging out on the floor, time with your pet lowers stress hormones and gives you a mental break. And we love them. Need I say more?  
  8. Put your devices down. Connection is great. But constantly checking your notifications can cause a significant amount of stressTry disconnecting from your devices for a few minutes. Check out this video for more digital wellness tips! 

All forms of self-care are wonderful and valid. It’s important to find whatever works best for you. Remember that wellness is a balance of all the dimensions, including environmental wellness. What’s your favorite self-care strategy? Let us know on social media! 


– Cate Heaney Gary