Recreational activities to help maintain mental wellness

Photo by Abbey Nimegeers

With almost a year of living during a pandemic under student’s belts, people have begun to find ways in which to navigate around the communities safely and efficiently. 

The switch to online learning has drastically changed the way students interact with one another and their professors. It has also impacted students’s mental wellness, which has been one of the most concerning issues with online learning.

Although our screentime has significantly increased since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, students have found ways in which they are able to get outside and safely interact, while maintaining a safe distance with one another.

“I found that I actually spend double the amount of time on homework now than I did a year ago before COVID started,” said senior general business, entrepreneurship and marketing major Matt Mirel. “My teachers load up our coursework a significant amount because they tend to think that we have much more time than we used to, which is not even close to being the case […] and it gets overwhelming.”

Mirel is one of the many students on campus who are facing difficulties with maintaining their mental sanity during a trying time. However, Mirel has proven that getting outside and safely engaging in recreational activities has greatly improved his mental wellness. 

The Cycle Learning Center (CLC) on campus has played a huge role in aiding students’ well-being by encouraging them to get outside and ride bikes, according to Manager of the CLC Gabe Finkelstein.

Finkelstein has noticed the many ways in which students are renting bikes during this time, and are actually keeping them during the winter months, which is unusual for this time of year.

“Oftentimes, we have students return [bikes] over the winter months […] but we’ve had none of them returned, which means that everyone is holding on to their bicycles,” Finkelstein said. 

The CLC also provides winter services for students who are looking to get their skis and snowboards waxed or tuned.

“I’ve heard students mention things about being able to keep their sanity, with as much screen time as they’re having, and balance that with getting out on the trails, and they say the same about getting up to ski and snowboard,” Finkelstein said.

[Photo of a person fishing in the Boise River.]
Photo by Abbey Nimegeers | The Arbiter

Bogus Basin has been a vital resource for maintaining Boise State students’s mental well-being. In the beginning of the fall 2020 semester, students were required to be in a much stricter quarantine, which took a detrimental toll on mental health.

However, throughout the winter months, as the COVID-19 restrictions slowly become less strict, recreational activities both on and around campus have gained immense popularity among the student population. This has allowed students to get fresh air and take in some necessary vitamins from the outside world, away from their computer screens.

The General Manager at Bogus Basin Brad Wilson commented on the increase of Boise State students and the effect that this participation has had on Bogus’ sales since its re-opening. 

“We’ve really seen an uptick in our night visits and that’s where we see a whole lot of college students,” Wilson said. “It gives people an opportunity to come up and ski during the last daylight hours and so it’s really remarkable […] how many people have decided that night skiing is cool.”

Night skiing season passes have encouraged many Boise State students to get outside and enjoy the fresh air up at Bogus Basin.

“We’re really excited about continuing to get people up here and [especially] in these times when we have plenty of room for them,” Wilson said. “I think nights have been terrific and will present an opportunity for people to come up for a lot less money.”

Mirel has experienced some challenges throughout this new online learning environment, in regard to balancing mental wellness, education and a job, similar to many other students at Boise State. 

“It’s definitely been a very difficult balance,” Mirel said. “Living life to the fullest is a little bit more difficult, but I do not think that I’m the only one that is experiencing this.”

Mirel also works as the sales supervisor at the Bogus Basin ticket office in downtown Boise. Similar to Wilson, he has noticed a significant increase in young adult and adult pass purchases, which illustrates the fact that recreational activities are becoming more financially and physically accessible, thus aiding in the mental wellness of a younger demographic. 

From skiing to mountain biking, Mirel utilizes the mountain year round. Although difficult, Mirel finds ways to balance work downtown, attend school online and engage in recreational activities up at Bogus. 

“It’s a perfect therapy for anybody that loves being around people and being outside,” Mirel said. “It’s the perfect way to spend your time and it’s a great mental escape from all the chaos in town because you’re up above everything, including the clouds, so you are physically separated from reality, in a sense.”

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