USC promotes wellness with Happy Hour and the Calm app

Students practice yoga during Happy Hour, hosted by the Office for Wellness and Health Promotion. The Fall 2017 Happy Hour schedule includes a yoga class every weekday, including Kundalini, Vinyasa, and Intro to Yoga.

Staff Writer

The majority of college students are stressed out. They barely get enough sleep to function and attempt to repress their anxiety about the the countless assignments on their to-do lists. Stress seems to be unavoidable, but USC is now offering a few new innovative methods to help students deal with it.

Two resources on campus have managed to fly somewhat under the radar: the Calm app and Happy Hour with Office for Wellness and Health Promotion. These programs are intended to promote self-care and relaxation, two core components of reducing anxiety in college students. However, of the forty-four thousand students attending USC, the majority do not take advantage of these resources at their disposal.

Happy Hour with the OWHP consists of yoga and tai chi classes that promote both physical and mental health. USC’s goal in creating Happy Hour in Fall 2014 was to build an environment that fosters and enhances community, health, and well-being.

Lisa Toft, USC’s Director for Disability Services & Programs, teaches Flow & Restore yoga during Happy Hour. She has been practicing yoga since the late ‘90s, and has been a certified yoga teacher since 2015.

“My relationship with yoga has definitely evolved over the years. Originally, it was simply a physical practice. I liked feeling bendy and flexible, as well as strong and balanced,” she explained. “Then, when I found my first studio to join, it became more cognitive. I started talking with one of my regular teachers, and bit by bit found that my practice changed again– this time to be more about mental/emotional and spiritual health and growth.”

Toft is not alone in this mental journey, as yoga, tai chi, and meditation have helped many others in their attempts to manage stress. Students don’t need to register for classes before attending. The schedule of classes can be found online.

The Calm app can produce results similar to the inner tranquility found in practicing yoga, and is optimal for those not interested in the physical aspects involved in Happy Hour. A premium subscription to the app usually costs up to $12.99 per month, but Undergraduate Student Government appealed to USC and the full app is now available for free with a USC email account. Students can sign up for their subscription at

“Days I don’t meditate I can really feel it,” remarked Casey Klecan, a senior computer science major. “I’m more stressed, my muscles feel tighter, and I stay up late worrying about things that don’t matter much in the grand scheme of things.”

This app offers many different meditations, guided breathing techniques, and sleep stories. “Even if you aren’t into meditation and the actual idea of changing your thought process, it really relaxes you when you focus your attention on the stories and what is being said,” expressed senior business administration major Jourdan Johnson.

These resources are readily available to any student who decides to utilize them. Managing stress can be incredibly difficult, but USC is working hard to provide students with opportunities to release that stress and become the happiest, calmest, and healthiest versions of themselves.

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