Are you feeling stressed? Do you need a quiet space for a group project, homework, or maybe just for a moment to yourself? Do you want to learn about safe alcohol use, mindfulness, the power of sleep, or countless other aspects of health? Walk straight past the dome, into St. Liam’s, up the stairs, and into the McDonald Center for Student Well-Being!
Commonly known as the McWell Center, this place is an amazing health resource on our campus that doesn’t get nearly enough attention. It has countless valuable services including an alcohol education program, wellness workshops, restorative spaces, and much more.
Their mission is to “foster a culture of well-being and empower students to maximize their potential through the synergistic cultivation of heart and mind,” and they aspire to do so “through strategic innovation and intentional focus on the intersecting dynamics of well-being, because living well has the transformational power to create a better future for all.” I was very impressed to see that they even have a strategic plan for well-being at Notre Dame as well as assessments and data showing their progress!
They have a dedicated staff with an array of impressive degrees to help our progress towards physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being. For example, Dr. Jessica Payne is addressed as “ND’s own renowned sleep expert” and has initiated a program to improve cognitive performance, emotional well-being, and physical health through sleep. The website attests to positive results including an average gain of an entire extra hour of sleep per night as well as improved sleep hygiene habits and an increase in naps (which are actually the best thing ever for you!).
Another great program in McWell is the Koru Mindfulness Series, which consists of a 75-minute session every week for four weeks during which you will partake in the nationally-known, evidence-based mindfulness program that is Koru. They have tons of different times and days as options and the best part is that along with everything else in McWell, it’s free!
One aspect of McWell that I think might be the most valuable of all is their workshops. They have sessions on everything from stress to redefining Notre Dame’s drinking culture, and if there’s a workshop you want but don’t see, students are encouraged to request workshops or even to lead their own!
So why doesn’t every student take advantage of McWell? I learned about McWell when we took a field trip there in my Moreau class freshman year. We all know Moreau was a joke, but I can confidently and unironically say that I got something valuable out of the class on the day we went to McWell.
Besides everything I already mentioned, they have tons of free snacks, coffee, all kinds of tea, and sometimes even fresh berries!!! On the day I first visited, they were having an event for essential oils and had a table covered in different types. We were encouraged to read what each was used for and make our own little vial with a combination of different oils, and my energizing mix of orange and peppermint went everywhere with me for the rest of the year.
Now when I’m at the pharmacy in St. Liam’s picking up my skincare prescription (Derma-E) every month, I refuse to leave without taking a moment in one of McWell’s Restorative Rooms to drink a cup of tea. Even if that’s all you ever use it for, a moment to relax in a quiet place will improve your whole day!