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Mindfulness and Stress Management

Adapting to the impacts of a pandemic has certainly not been easy, but the technology we have available has aided this adaptability in many ways. Many of us now spend most or part of our days hopping from Zoom meeting to Zoom meeting. Our phones and messaging apps ding into the evening hours and with a swipe or tap we can instantly reply. We connect through stories and newsfeeds, texts and TikToks. Nearly instant and seemingly constant– we are plugged in and connected.  
But this form of connectivity can still leave many of us feeling disconnected in other ways. We no longer can strike up conversations with students as they wait for class to begin. There’s no small talk in the elevators. We don’t catch up with our co-workers as we ride the bus, or while getting a cup of coffee in the break room. These brief interactions serve as ways to take breaks, to connect, and to de-stress, yet they do not easily translate to Zoom meetings, Teams chats, or emails. It’s become an element of disconnection within a world of constant connection. And even for folx working in person, there is also the understandable distancing that is needed.
Much like students report feeling disconnected and longing for the day-to-day interactions with others, it’s often that faculty and staff share similar experiences. Recently, the Mental Wellness Task Force of the Senate Committee on Benefits and Welfare has explored this dynamic and are offering several virtual groups in April and May. These are open to faculty and staff to foster connections and support during this challenging time including a group on stress-management, difficult conversations and de-escalation, and several mindfulness group options.  Learn more about the Mental Wellness Task Force initiative, including registration information, dates and descriptions. For more information or questions about the programs, contact Linda Tashbook, the chair of the Mental Wellness Task Force (tashbook@pitt.edu).
If you are looking for a non-virtual way to connect, plogging may be your answer! Plogging is a fitness activity where you walk or run while picking up any trash you see along the way. Pitt’s Plogging Club is holding a virtual plogging 5K from April 16 -18. The focus of this event is to get people outside and moving to support mental any physical well-being, while also supporting our community by helping to clean up the streets. Participants or small groups can register for time slots, and there are several routes available in Oakland to ensure participants can safely distance.  Participants log their time through the Strava app. Prizes to be awarded! Gloves, bags and hand sanitizer will be provided. Mask are required. The event is free but there is an option to donate, with proceeds to go to mental health program in the Pittsburgh area. Register for the first annual Plogging for Mental Health Run/Walk.
This piece was written for the Student Affairs Sustainability Committee monthly newsletter. Faculty and staff are encouraged to subscribe to the newsletter.