Wellness Wednesday – Brain Fuel! Mindfulness and Success During Online Finals

Hello DePaul Family,

Today, we held our last Wellness Wednesday session via Zoom. Wellness Wednesday was started in a response to a primarily virtual campus due to Covid-19. Never could we have guessed that on top of having to adjust to online classes and exams, our students would also be faced with increased levels of stress, fear, and increased social unrest due to the nationwide outrage against Minneapolis PD in their killing of George Floyd along with the countless numbers of Black lives that have been lost to police brutality. DePaul has announced a plan to formulate some sort of university standard for faculty regarding final exams, but as of right now students should plan to take their exams as originally scheduled.

Today’s Wellness Wednesday revolved around how to succeed in the already stressful finals period with the increased difficulties of an online format and the distress resulting from the current environment. The main points that HPW wants to hit on are reducing stress from finals, tips and tricks to succeeding in the online format, and ways to practice mindfulness to manage stress of both our academics and our mental health. The link for the recorded session can be found at



Tips for coping with finals:

  1. Schedule a time to focus on studying! By designating a specific time, you can push yourself to study for that allotted time without making excuses to not study.
  2. Make sure you’re eating and sleeping enough.
  3. Don’t forget to figure in personal time. It is important to maintain a balance between school work and taking care of yourself so that your brain can rest!


Taking online exams:

  1. Prepare ahead of time! Make sure you understand the test format and procedure.
  2. Check your computer! Make sure you have the write tech to run the exam – we cannot assume that professors will accept technological issues as an excuse and be understanding, unfortunately.
  3. Try to carve out a quiet place where you can focus to take the exam – it can be difficult, especially if you are home with your family but do your best to let others know that you need to focus.
  4. Keep an eye on the clock during the exam. Because it is a different format than you are probably used to, you may move through the exam at a different pace.
  5. Make sure you don’t leave the test page! Opening a new tab or even refreshing the page may interfere with your exam.

Tips for Taking Online Exams

Practicing mindfulness:

There are many ways to incorporate mindfulness in your daily life, and it is an especially useful practice during a time such as now due to the benefits of decreasing stress and improving mental focus (both useful during finals week). Try to practice your mindful breathing – focusing on inhaling and exhaling for a certain period of time. You can also practice a walking meditation, and focus on your steps as you move around.

As always, the Office of Health Promotion and Wellness is available for 1:1 support if you need resources, or just want someone to talk to. University Counseling Services and the Center for Students with Disabilities are also available to support students and the Dean of Students Office will be available to approve accommodations related to attendance or course work negatively impacted by current events. Please take care of yourself as we move through these uncertain times.

Body Image and Quarantine – Fighting Against the Productivity Myth

Body Image and Quarantine: Navigating the Productivity Myth

Content creators across their various platforms have jumped at the chance to publish cutting edge material designed to set them apart during the Covid-19 pandemic, and fitness influencers are no different. It feels nearly impossible to log onto any one of your various social media platforms without seeing a new post about some sort of “quarantine diet”, at-home workouts, or posts with an underlying tone of shame for not embracing all of this new “free time”. A consistent theme throughout Covid-19 messaging is the theory that everyone should be taking advantage of the stay-at-home orders by learning new skills, starting new businesses, and taking steps to “improve” one’s body by taking up new workout routines or dieting habits.


These messages are multi-faceted: with the closure of gyms and studios, there are people who are genuinely looking for fitness alternatives. However, the insistence that everyone needs to be using this time to “better” themselves is not fair and is ignorant of the circumstances that most of our fellow community members are facing. With the constant and ever-present expression that now is a time for productivity and achievements, people may begin to question their successes and efforts made during their time in quarantine. This can be especially true when it comes to issues of body image and the messaging we are exposed to regarding our bodies and how to treat them and how they should look during this time.


In short, you are not “lazy” for not being able to or not wanting to use your free time at home to exercise. For many people, the idea of having “more free time” is not the case at all due to increased need for childcare, the continuing job expectations for essential workers, and the innumerable other responsibilities and stressors placed upon people during this time. The idea of “hustle” mindset comes from the ingrained capitalist frame that we can “increase” our worth through productivity and subsequently are led to believe that if we do not use this time at home in a productive manner, we are failing in some way.


This mindset can be particularly damaging when it is targeted at fitness and body image during quarantine. For people whose regular routines were entirely changed by the pandemic, exercise routines and gym plans where most likely pushed to the wayside. When met with content insisting that one must push themselves regardless, it can turn into damaging rhetoric reflecting on a person’s self-worth and their feelings towards their body.

Throughout this unprecedented time, it is more essential now than ever to be kind to yourself and your body. Do what feels right for you – a home workout may be just what you need! But if you feel yourself being negatively affected by the content you are taking in related to what you should be doing with your body, you do not have to feel bad about unfollowing fitness or “wellness” accounts whose impact have the opposite effect. Feel free to contact the Office of Health Promotion and Wellness, and follow our social media for more information as to how to stay mentally well during a pandemic.


For more resources about pressured productivity, check out these websites for more information:




Wellness Wednesday – Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Hello everyone, and welcome back to another edition of Wellness Wednesday with the Office of Health Promotion and Wellness! Today’s theme was centered around SAAM, otherwise known as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. As you may have heard, April is the month to raise awareness of issues surrounding sexual violence, support survivors, and speak out about the issue of sexual violence and its impact in all of our communities. The recorded Wellness Wednesday Zoom session can be found and watched at this link:

In today’s Wellness Wednesday session, our guest of honor was the esteemed Hannah Retzkin, a case manager in the Title IX office here at DePaul University. Hannah provided an introduction into the world of supporting survivors and everything that the reporting process entails. There are an extensive amount of options for a survivor to pursue at the University should they choose to disclose their experience. In the Office of Health Promotion and Wellness, professional staff members are Survivor Support Advocates. This signifies a safe space for students to express as little or as much information as they choose, without the expectation that they must file a report against the perpetrator. This is an amazing resource for students to learn about their options and turn to someone for support without having to follow through with the University or legal process if they do not wish to do so. Survivor Support Advocates differ from other professional staff members or faculty at the University, as these professions are classified as mandated reporters. If a student discloses an experience related to sexual violence to a mandated reporter, the employee will be required to inform the Title IX office of the student’s experience.

For students who do wish to file a report documenting their experiences, there are several paths one could choose. A student could disclose to a mandated reporter, as they will be directed to the Title IX office. A student could also go directly to Title IX and begin the University process. Generally, a student will be given a set of options as to how they wish to proceed. Students will be placed in contact with the Sexual Assault Prevention Specialist in the Office of Health Promotion and Wellness. As previously mentioned, this staff member is a confidential resource and provides a space for students to talk through and thoroughly understand their options.

The Title IX office, located within the Dean of Students Office, is tasked with protecting against discrimination on the basis of sex including sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, sexual violence, domestic violence, and stalking. These protections stem from DePaul University’s commitment to valuing the dignity of all people, and seeks to implement best practices related to education, prevention, and holistic support of survivors. Through Title IX, DePaul will not tolerate sexual and relationship violence on any level and will work to address incidents and reports swiftly and equitably, according to DePaul’s Sexual and Relationship Violence Prevention and Response Policy, which can be found in University Policies and Procedures.


There are three main processes available to survivors who wish to report. The processes include the University process, the criminal process, or a civil lawsuit. The criminal process involves reporting to the police and proceeding with a criminal complaint. With this option, a survivor may also choose to obtain a protective or restraining order from the court. A civil lawsuit, which does not require criminal charges to be filed, may be used as an opportunity to recover damages, such as compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain, suffering, and emotional distress. If choosing to follow the University process, Title IX will start an investigation into the incident in order to determine if University policy against sexual violence was violated. If so, disciplinary sanctions may include probation, suspension, or dismissal from the University. Disciplinary procedures through the University seek to always provide prompt, fair, and impartial processes and be conducted by officials who receive training on sexual and relationship violence from a trauma-informed perspective. Additionally, the Title IX coordinator will seeks to remain mindful of the survivor’s wellbeing and take ongoing steps to help create a safety plan and protect the student from further harm. Protective measures will be available to the student regardless of whether or not they seek help from the police, and other resources will be provided such as advocacy, mental health services, and legal assistance.


For students who seek resources from HPW, it is our goal to provide care from a trauma-informed approach. When supporting survivors, it is important to listen non-judgmentally, provide affirmations, and respect the choices of survivors while also empowering others with information, resources, and choices.

It is our hope that this week’s Wellness Wednesday provided helpful information related to sexual violence response plans on campus in the context of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Any remaining questions can be directed to the Office of Health Promotion and Wellness where we will be more than happy to answer questions related to sexual violence on campus, advocacy, survivor support services, and more.