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 –

Practicing Mindfulness Throughout the Day

Mindfulness has become a buzz word in a lot of health and wellness circles. We see this idea of mindfulness online, in classrooms, on tv, in ads…it is basically everywhere. But what is ‘mindfulness’ exactly?

There are lots of ways to define mindfulness but what it comes down to is being fully present in the moment, aware of both your surroundings and how you are feeling.

Mindfulness is the opposite of multitasking, it is practicing focus and awareness throughout our days, and giving ourselves time to process our emotions and feelings. Practicing mindfulness on a regular basis can have many positive benefits to both our physical and mental health. This includes decreased depression, increased emotional regulation, reduced anxiety and stress, better memory and concentration, improved sleep, and more.

When we think of what mindfulness is, it can be easy to generalize this concept into thinking of yoga, meditation, mantras, or breathing exercises. And while all of these things can and do support the idea of living mindfully, they are not for everyone. Below you will find some simple changes that we can make in our daily routines to practice mindfulness throughout the day.

Morning Routine:

  • What is the first thing you do when you wake up? Do you immediately reach for your phone? If your answer is yes, you are not alone. Research shows that 1 in 4 Americans reach for their phone less than a minute after waking up. Instead give your body and brain a chance to wake up! Take this time for a mindful moment and check in with yourself – Do you feel well rested? Are you hungry or thirsty? How are you feeling emotionally about the day?

Bedtime Routine:

  • We’ve all heard about how blue light can impact our ability to fall asleep, stay asleep, and get quality sleep. Replace screens and TV with gentle stretching and give our brain a chance to actually relax before heading to bed. Try reading a book or magazine rather than doomscrolling until you fall asleep with your phone in your hand.


  • Meals are a time to connect with others and fuel our bodies. But with busy daily schedules, it can be easy to grab something processed and eat on the go. When planning out your weekly schedule, set aside time eat day to eat balanced meals. And take the time to enjoy the food as well as the company around you.
  • Practice intuitive eating – pay attention to what your body needs, are you hungry or full? Are you enjoying your meal? Really pay attention to the taste, textures, and smells of your food.


  • A large part of mindfulness is being present in the moment. In our interactions throughout the day, try to practice active listening skills. Be fully present when listening to others and listen to understand rather than to respond.

Mindfulness While You Wait:

  • While you are waiting in the dining line, waiting for an exam to begin, or waiting at the bus stop, practice mindfulness. Rather than jumping on your phone for a quick distraction, instead take a few deep breaths and notice your surroundings. Give your brain a break from being in front of screen and connect with those around you.

Build in time for Joyful Movement:

  • Being mindful means intentionality in our actions. Building in time for movement in your day can increase productivity and attention, even a short walk around the building can make a difference!
  • When finding time for movement in your day remove the idea of ‘should.’ This places exercise and movement onto the list of chores rather than an activity that brings us joy. Instead listen to what your body needs and find the movement that feels right to you in that moment.

This is not an exhaustive list of all the ways you can build mindfulness into your day. But it is a good start! Challenge yourself to try one or two of the above strategies. Notice how you feel and what kinds of changes it brings about.

If you are looking for additional support in incorporating mindfulness into your routine, schedule an appointment with the Student Wellness Center’s Wellness Coaching team.

-Jordan Helcbergier, Wellness Coordinator


What are the benefits of mindfulness? (

Mindfulness exercises – Mayo Clinic

Survey: 1 in 4 adults checks phone less than a minute after waking up – Study Finds


Spiritual or Religious? What is the Difference?

Spirituality and religion are often used interchangeably to describe someone’s faith or existential views; however, these two words hold very different meanings. They share similar qualities and can certainly be talked about together, but they still consist of different concepts.

Religion is defined as “the belief in and worship of a superhuman power or powers, especially a God or gods, and as a particular system of faith and worship”. Religion tends to follow more specific or outlines rules, rituals, or traditions that members follow. Members of the same religion typically identify as a community. While people within the same religion can have differing beliefs, they are related by common factors that the particular religion has to offer.

Spirituality is more difficult to define and is more abstract as far as practice and implementation. The dictionary definition of spirituality is “the quality of being concerned with the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things”. Other definitions and interpretations include “the personal quest for meaning in life” and “anything involved in feeding the soul of the practicing person”.

Anyone can be spiritual, religious, or both, and the method of practice for either is always a personal preference. If you are interested in becoming spiritual, religious, or both, you do not have to follow any set rules to be a part of either and are allowed to practice in a way that works best for you. Some ways to learn and get more involved include:

  • Talking to people you trust about their thoughts and experiences and what they do for spiritual wellness
  • Doing research: reading books, watching movies or documentaries, exploring websites or group meetings for spirituality or certain religions
  • Figure out what spirituality and religion mean to Self-reflect and think about your values and what you want to gain from spirituality or religion
  • Having mantras or positive affirmations that help make you feel good
  • Try and be more aware of the things and people around you, acknowledging the life that we are all apart of and sharing

Key Takeaways

Religion: organized, typically community/group based, specific practices, common belief in a higher power

Spirituality: less structured/organized, typically individual based, more abstract concept, variety of practices and ways of engagement, centered around peace/the mind, body, and soul, existentialism view

However you choose to be, spiritual or religious, it should feel comfortable and uplifting for you. What feeds your spirituality may not work for someone else, and vice versa. Remember to be kind to yourself and remind yourself that finding spirituality or religion is often a lifelong process, and the only “right” way to do it. We all have unique perspectives of the world and have the freedom to interpret it whatever way works best!

-Alison Reynolds, Graduate Student Assistant



What is Spiritual Well-being?

The word “spiritual” refers to that core dimension of you – your innermost self – that provides you with a profound sense of who you are, where you came from, where you’re going and how you might reach your goal. You may not think much about spiritual well-being and what role it plays in your life, but its significance is stronger than you may believe.  

Spiritual wellness may mean different things to different people. For some, spirituality may be synonymous with traditional religion, while for others it relates primarily to the quality of personal relationships or love for nature. A foundation for spiritual wellness may be the sense that life is meaningful, and you have found your place in it. The search for meaning and purpose in human existence leads one to strive for a state of harmony with themselves and with others while working to balance inner needs with the rest of the world. 

To discover what spirituality means for you and how it can play an important role in your life, consider the questions below. Your answers may provide clues to enhance your own spiritual wellness.  

  • What gives your life meaning and purpose?
  • What gives you hope?
  • How do you get through tough times? Where have you found comfort?
  • What are your 3 most memorable experiences?
  • If you belong to a religious community, how are you connected to this group?
  • If you have survived losses in your life, how have you done so?
  • Describe a time or instance when you felt comfortable and that all was right with the world.
  • Describe a time when your life was filled with a sense of meaning or when you experienced a sense of awe.

Looking for support in your spiritual wellness? The Student Wellness Centers, free, peer to peer Wellness Coaching service can help. You can meet with a coach to reflect on the questions above and set goals to enhance your spiritual wellness. Additionally, there are many student organizations focused on spiritual wellness. You can search and find these on the Student Activities website 

National Coming Out Day & LGBTQ History Month Resources

Celebrate National Coming Out Day on Monday, October 11th and LGBTQ History Month with Student Life! It is completely your decision when to come out, whether to come out, and who to come out to. Everyone’s experience is unique, and the Student Wellness Center is here to support you no matter what. Check out the following events and resources for National Coming Out Day and LGBTQ History Month: 






Strengthening Your Spiritual Compass 

Resources for Identifying & Practicing Your Beliefs 

Whether you call it God, Universe, Nature, or aren’t quite sure which word to use, it’s important to feel connected to our belief systems. You may consider yourself religious or spiritual, Christian or Muslim, this or that, but regardless of your worldview, we all deserve to have a community to help us sift through the big questions and practice the traditions we hold dear. 

We are lucky to have a wide range of resources on campus for helping us strengthen our inner compass and connect with those whose compass looks similar to ours. Below are several resources to explore. 

Campus Resources for Identifying What You Believe  

 Campus Resources for Practicing What You Believe   

  • Prayer & Meditation Rooms 
  • St. Thomas More Newman Center  
  • Religious Holiday Calendar  
  • Chadwick Arboretum & Learning Gardens 
  • Horticultural Therapy Garden  
  • Student Organizations 
    • Being Centered (Columbus campus) 
    • Buddhist Study & Practice Group (Columbus campus) 
    • Buckeye Bible Study (Columbus campus) 
    • Buckeye Catholics (Columbus campus) 
    • Catholic Medical Association (Columbus campus) 
    • Campus Outreach (Columbus campus) 
    • Conscious Ohio State (Columbus campus) 
    • Coptic Club (Columbus campus) 
    • Hillel Graduate & Professional Students (Columbus campus) 
    • Hindu Youth for Unity, Virtues & Action (Columbus campus) 
    • Faith & Fitness (Columbus campus)  
    • Kedma (Columbus campus) 
    • Kesher (Columbus campus) 
    • Muslim Professional Student Association (Columbus campus) 
    • Muslim Students’ Association (Columbus campus) 
    • Jewish Law Students Association (Columbus campus) 
    • Faith Works Chinese Student Club (Columbus campus) 
    • ISKCON Yoga Circle (Columbus campus) 
    • International Justice Mission (Columbus campus) 
    • Latter-Day Saint Student Association (Columbus campus) 
    • Mindfulness Meditation Interest Group (Columbus campus) 
    • Native American and Indigenous Peoples Cohort (Columbus campus) 
    • Secular Student Alliance (Columbus campus) 
    • Sikh Student Association (Columbus campus) 
    • Tzu Chi Collegiate Association (Columbus campus) 
    • Witches & Witchcraft (Columbus campus) 

-Joe Doherty, Wellness Coaching Coordinator

Improving Physical, Emotional and Spiritual Wellness through Yoga

Yoga is an ancient wellness practice rooted in Indian and Egyptian cultures. For thousands of years, the practice has been proven to positively influence individual’s holistic wellbeing. Developing a yoga practice can positively benefit multiple dimensions of wellness.  

Let’s learn about the many benefits of yoga below:  

Physical Wellness:  

The physically well person gets an adequate amount of sleep and a balanced and nutritious diet, engages in exercise for 150 minutes per week, attends regular medical check-ups and practices safe and healthy sexual relations.  

Yoga benefits the physical body through:  

  • Increased flexibility  
  • Increased muscle strength and tone 
  • Improved respiration, energy  and vitality 
  • Maintaining a balanced metabolism  
  • Influences weight reduction  
  • Improves cardio and circulatory health  
  • Improves athletic performance 
  • Increases protection from energy  

Folks interested in yoga for their physical wellness might consider the following yoga styles: Ashtanga, Power Vinyasa, Vinyasa, Slow Flow Vinyasa, Hatha  

Emotional Wellness:  

The emotionally well person can identify, express and manage the entire range of feelings and would consider seeking assistance to address areas of concern.  

Yoga benefits emotional wellness through:  

  • Restoring energy, stimulates blood flow and releases endorphins 
  • Helping relieve depression  
  • Can help relieve anxiety by increasing resilience and stress-coping abilities 
  • Reducing stress and can increase a sense of control 
  • Creating better mind-body awareness 
  • Can enhance the mind-body connection, improving positive body image 
  • Increasing positive outlook on life 
  • Helps manage and decrease feelings of hostility  
  • Can improve social skills  

Folks interested in yoga for their emotional wellness might consider the following yoga styles: Ashtanga, Power Vinyasa, Vinyasa, Slow Flow Vinyasa, Hatha, Restorative, Yin 

Spiritual Wellness:  

The spiritually well person seeks harmony and balance by openly exploring the depth of human purpose, meaning and connection through dialogue and self-reflection.  

Yoga benefits spiritual wellness through:  

  • Increasing consciousness of self
  • Teaching you to be okay with stillness 
  • Increasing connection to the universe and a higher sense of being  
  • Can lead to a broader sense of hope, well-being, love and inspiration within us 
  • Developing a stronger focus on the present  
  • Can increase individual and collective sense of purpose  
  • Improving intuitive wisdom  

Folks interested in yoga for their spiritual wellness might consider the following yoga styles: Hatha, Restorative, Yin, Yoga Nidra, Meditation  

Whether you are initially interested in yoga for the physical, emotional or spiritual benefits, over time it can improve all 3 of these dimensions in wellness in your life. If  you’ve tried yoga and the past and it didn’t seem to work for you, maybe consider a different style of yoga.  


-Ivory Levert, Program Manager