Happy Life series: Wellness center with Julia Chang

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    Chang sits down in the Wellness Center to share how the staff helps students maintain a balance of work and self care. Photo: Morgan Keller.

    This is the first installment of the Happy Life series, a collection of stories dedicated to exploring how students can cultivate a life of balance and positivity.

    As the year comes to a close and the stress of finals begins to take its toll on Palo Alto High School students, the Wellness Center staff continues to encourage students to participate in ways to keep positivity in their lives and take time to take care of themselves.   

    The Wellness Center opened in late September of this year and offers a place where students can take a break from schoolwork and relax.  

    According to outreach worker Julia Chang, who helps run the Wellness Center, there are many reasons why students should take at least an hour a week to push their worries to the back of their mind and focus on themselves.

    “Self-care is super important, especially in a highly productive environment like Paly,” Chang said. “Allocating time to take care of yourself and to decompress is important to maintain sustainability.”

    Students need to make sure there is a balance between work and “play” in order to maintain productivity and happiness; this is something that the wellness center staff advocates for everyday, according to Chang.

    Self-care is something that can easily be incorporated into a student’s busy schedule.  Even splitting the time into 10-minute sections each day can help improve their mental and physical health.  

    Outside of school, something as simple as going outside, calling a friend or taking a hot bath can make a huge difference in one’s overall happiness and eliminate stress. This helps students relax and separate the stressful aspects of their life with the relaxing parts, according to Chang. 

    “It’s going to be different for everyone,” Chang said. “Some people like to use face masks and others enjoy reading in the library.”

    Even though this relaxing time looks different for everyone, the Wellness Center staff still tries to offer different options to students throughout the day in order for them to take time to care for themselves.  

    The Wellness Center offers coloring books, books to read and a chance to disconnect and unplug through the staff’s no technology policy.  However, there are also more activities the staff offers outside of the center.

    “Since the Wellness Center is new, we have been trying to create programs and outreach, by promoting self-health and wellbeing here at Paly,” Chang said.

    Since finals are coming closer, the staff has noticed that students begin to neglect their own health and happiness more and more, according to Chang. To try and solve this problem, the staff offers self-care activities on the quad in front of the office.  Last semester, they offered an event where students were able to make DIY bath salts with oils and mason jars.

    “We had about 60 to 70 students pack the Tower Building then,” Chang said. “They were able to take [the bath salts] home and use it in the bath to just relax.”

    Chang hopes to promote more of these activities as the year comes to a close.

    On May 23, the staff will hold another outreach activity on the quad during lunch.  There will be tables with sleep care products, eye masks and tea packets.

    “It’s something really easy to do and can be incorporated in everyday lives,” Chang said. “Its a simple way to be reminded during the school week that there should always be time to unwind and decompress.”

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