A new program called HIT RESET has been added to the Menlo agenda to help students combat their stress. It is scheduled to begin on Wednesday, March 3 during the Student Life time block. According to Dean of Student Life Programs Eve Kulbieda, this program was created because of student and faculty concerns about needing more downtime. “We noticed from the [Student Wellbeing Survey] that between Thanksgiving and Christmas, students were reporting feeling stressed and overwhelmed,” Kulbieda said. The Student Wellbeing Survey is part of a quarterly survey program hosted by Panorama to understand students’ social-emotional well-being and school experience.
Teens across the United States have been facing increased levels of stress during the pandemic. According to a 2020 study by the American Psychological Association, more than two out of five teens aged 13 to 17 (43%) say that their level of stress has increased over the past year. Eighty-one percent of teens attending school reported that they have been negatively impacted by the school closures; they feel less motivated to do schoolwork, less involved in school extracurriculars and as if they do not learn as much. High levels of stress can impact sleep, mood and bodily health. Within the Menlo community, many teens are feeling the impacts of stress on their daily lives. “I feel like we go through these long school days and then just zone out,” junior Simone Adam said.
HIT RESET will focus on three main components of stress reduction: exercise, meditation and creativity. According to an article by the Mayo Clinic, doing physical activity such as walking or running can promote chemicals that enhance well-being, and meditating can improve attention and instill a sense of peace. Creative activities, such as playing an instrument or drawing, can also provide a good mental distraction for stress. “Without breaks to reset, stress hormones course through our bodies and brains in quite damaging and unsustainable ways,” Director of Community Engagement Chris Young said.
There are many activities that students can participate in through the HIT RESET program. For on-campus students, there are activities such as running, walking, gardening or coloring. Students can also participate in is swimming: eight students will be able to sign up to swim laps in their own lanes in the Menlo pool. Not only is this a program intended for on-campus students during hybrid learning, but off-campus students can also participate in self-guided activities such as biking, journaling or laying under a tree, according to an activity spreadsheet sent out to students. Students will also have the opportunity to just relax. “It’s nice to have some budgeted time where you’re not allowed to think about school and homework,” sophomore Sydney Fish said.
While this time is not strictly regulated for off-campus students, Kulbieda highly encourages everyone to participate. Unlike tutorial, this is a time designed for both students and faculty to do activities unrelated to schoolwork. “We need a critical mass of students who get it and want to take this time for self-care,” Kulbieda said.
This program also seeks to provide the necessary time to socialize and bond with teachers and peers. “Not only is healthy socializing a major way to relieve stress, but it also has all kinds of other benefits — a sense of belonging, connections that can turn into friendships or collaborations [and] increases in self-confidence,” Young said.
Another goal of the program is to support students in their learning of the physiology of stress. “Each time [the program occurs], I’m going to be sending out a little bit of science of what stress does to the body,” Kulbieda said.
Menlo is a challenging school, athletically, artistically and academically. In all aspects, HIT RESET is intended to provide the link between a strong emphasis on school and the importance of maintaining a balanced and positive lifestyle. “This [program] is the key to keeping in healthy balance the many pressures of being a Menlo student or faculty member,” Young said.