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Cat in the Stax: What’s Scarier than Halloween?

By Ethan Shea


Halloween is about confronting our biggest fears. Usually this means coming face to face with a killer clown, giant spider, or blood-thirsty vampire, but in this week’s “Cat in the Stax,” I want to talk about something even scarier.

Sometimes the most frightening things are everyday occurrences. Social anxieties stemming from a fear of failing tests, speaking to crowds or eating lunch alone are very real concerns that you are more likely to encounter than a menacing circus performer. Since the days are becoming a bit shorter, it’s also important to keep the risk of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in mind.

To combat these fears, I want to list a few strategies and resources that will help you enjoy a (mostly) scare-free Halloween.

"Villanova University Health Services Building"

Villanova University Health Services Building

Villanova University Health Services

Perhaps the most obvious mental health resource is Villanova University’s Health Services, but there may be some helpful information you weren’t aware of. For example, did you know that services at the Counseling Center are completely free to current students? Counseling can help with just about anything, from concerns about depression, shyness, or just adjusting to college in general.

Personally, I think everyone should have some sort of counselor or therapist, even if you think you’re feeling great. We routinely see doctors for check-ups on our physical health, so why should mental health be treated any differently? Additionally, I find these Health Services mental health infosheets to be extremely helpful and informative, so be sure to check them out!

Academic Resources

Another common concern is academic anxiety. Counseling can be helpful in dealing with this sort of stress, but I also believe it’s helpful to know there are people here to help you with your studies. Keeping that in mind, make sure you make time this semester to visit the Writing Center in room 210 of Falvey Library and the Mathematics Learning Resource Center (MLRC), which is close by in room 204. These resources are here to say you’re not alone. College is a team effort!

What’s SAD?

Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is more commonly known as SAD, is a clinical depression that occurs during the winter months. Although we are not quite there yet, the weather is cooling down, and the days are becoming shorter. It’s important to be proactive with mental health and to anticipate potential problems. Especially since we live in the Northeast, SAD is something that should be on your radar. Only 1% of people in Florida get SAD, while 10% of people in New Hampshire do, so the further north you travel, the greater the risk.

As a preventive measure, make sure you routinely exercise, sleep well, and expose yourself to sunlight. Even during the winter months, I know going for runs or walks outside makes a huge difference in my mental health. The sunlight and crisp air always has a positive impact, but bundle up!

I know doing everything at once, having fun, doing homework, and getting adequate amounts of sleep may seem impossible at times, but that’s why the aforementioned resources are available. With cool weather and fun activities like pumpkin carving and apple picking, there’s plenty of good times to be had, so don’t let the season’s scares bring you down!

Headshot of Ethan SheaEthan Shea is a first-year English Graduate Student at Villanova University and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Memorial Library.



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Cat in the Stax: Running to the Library

By Ethan Shea


Running is a hobby I’ve had for a while now, but during the past couple years, I’ve become very passionate about the sport. Aside from the obvious physical benefits of exercise, running has been essential to maintaining my mental health. There’s truly no better feeling than finishing a long run on a crisp October morning.

The most difficult part of being a runner, at least for me, is motivation and consistency. Its easy to fall into a rut where you begin running less frequently, and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing lately. New trails, schedules, and opportunities have made the last month exciting, but coping with the loss of my treasured running routes back home hasn’t been easy.

Here at Falvey, we know the best motivation is found in a good book, so I recently ran to the library for help with getting my running back on track. If any one else is planning to hit the track or trails, here are a few books I’d recommend.

"Once a Runner"

Once a Runner by John L. Parker Jr.

Once a Runner by John L. Parker Jr.

This is one of those classic running books your dad would probably recommend to you. Published in 1978, this novel thrived off the energy of the first running boom in the 1970s. It channels the gritty mindset of a runner who wants to be the best and is willing to do anything, even 60 consecutive quarter mile repeats, to achieve his goal.

The athlete in question is a fictional collegiate runner named Quenton Cassidy. Cassidy is a top-of-the-line athlete and four-minute miler, but he has lots of work to do before competing against John Walton, who holds the world record in the mile with a blazing time of three minutes and 50 seconds.

Admittedly, Once a Runner isn’t the most eloquent book I’ve ever read, and it will probably be most appealing to those who are already into running, but that’s what makes so called “cult classics” special. There’s just something about this story that stuck with generations of runners. The copy of this text I own was actually gifted to me by a former semi-pro runner I used to work at a running store with, so maybe I’ll continue the tradition and hand it off to another eager runner a couple decades from now.

"Advanced Marathoning"

Advanced Marathoning by Pete Pfitzinger

Advanced Marathoning by Pete Pfitzinger

Pete Pfitzinger is a former Olympic marathoner with a personal best time of 2:11:43 over the 26.2 mile distance (that’s about five minutes and two seconds per mile). Needless to say, Pete is fast, and that’s why I trust his training advice in Advanced Marathoning.

This book isn’t the most exciting read if you’re not a running geek, but it provides a lot of valuable information that any runner can benefit from. It really digs into the science of marathoning and the physiological changes that your body undergoes during training. The training plans provided are fairly advanced, but that doesn’t mean everyone can’t apply their principles to their own routines.

If the marathon isn’t your favorite event, Pfitzinger also has a book titled Faster Road Racing that provides similar sorts of information as Advanced Marathoning but focuses on distances from 5k to the half marathon. I’d say if you want to nerd out over some running science, Pfitzinger’s books were written for you.

"Born to Run"

Born to Run by Christopher McDougall

Born to Run by Christopher McDougall

This is without a doubt one of the most influential books about running out there. The true story follows members of the Tarahumara Native Mexican tribe as McDougall himself learns how the community is able to run distances of over 100 miles without injuring themselves.

One of the more controversial takes found in this book is McDougall’s belief that modern cushioned running shoes cause injuries. He points to the minimalist shoes worn by Tarahumara runners as evidence of the inferiority of traditional running shoes. The popularity of this book even led to a minimalist running craze. You may remember those Vibram foot-shaped shoes that people were running with a few years ago. Those are (unfortunately) an indirect result of Born to Run. Interestingly enough, minimalist running is not the main focus of this book. The text only spends a couple chapters talking about the benefits of minimalism, and the rest explores other aspects of training with the Tarahumarans.

I could go on about why I passionately disagree with McDougall’s opinions on running shoes, but I’ll let you read and make a decision on your own. Shoes aside, this story captivated millions, and it’s certainly worth reading if you’d like to dive into the running shoe debate for yourself.

Headshot of Ethan Shea

Ethan Shea is a first year English Graduate Student at Villanova University and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Memorial Library.

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Foto Friday: Positive Inspiration

Photo courtesy of Joanne Quinn, Director of Communication and Marketing.

A special thank you to whoever left this little piece of inspiration on the path near the old Falvey patio!

It’s been a tough year, and with final exams approaching, its imperative that you don’t neglect your emotional, psychological, and social well-being. The Villanova Counseling Center is available to help you with personal and emotional concerns. All services are free of charge to students and appointments are typically available within a week upon request. Appointments are flexible and staff will work with your class schedule.

As we move towards the end of the semester, continue to make time for those activities that help you stay positive—phone calls with family and friends, a long walk, meditation, listening to your favorite album or podcast, etc. Mindfulness Meditation will continue on Mondays from 1-1:30 p.m. throughout the spring semester. The events offer a virtual, comfortable space where you are guided and encouraged to stop and focus on the “here and now.”

Sarah Hughes, Nursing & Life Sciences Librarian, and Merrill Stein, Psychology Librarian, compiled a few resources for positive well-being:

Kallie Stahl ’17 MA is Communication and Marketing Specialist at Falvey Memorial Library. 





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‘Cat in the Stax: Don’t Stress Meowt

We may have survived midterms, but it seems as though the deadlines just keep coming, especially with a shortened semester and no fall break. It’s a lot easier said than done to close the computer and really take time away from studying and assignments. This past Saturday, Oct. 10, was Mental Health Awareness Day, a day recognized internationally to emphasize the importance of taking time for yourself and showing that everyone deals with stress in some capacity.

This week, I’m back with some more tips, this time about ways to stay relaxed and take care of yourself during a crazy semester in the middle of an even crazier year. 

#1 Do something active. It can be so easy to end up stuck inside all day on Zoom classes and Netflix, but getting outside and getting active can give you new energy and change up your day. Even a 10-minute core or leg workout can do wonders for changing the trajectory of your day.

Although many of us aren’t walking from class to class as much as we used to, take some time to get outside and go for a walk with a friend or two. Take some time to get outside and clear your head, especially with this gorgeous fall foliage and cool weather. 

#2 Read a book. I don’t know about everyone else, but even with my blue-light glasses and computer filters, my eyes are still tired of looking at screens when the end of the day rolls around. Try something different and pull a book off the shelf (or get it off the shelves of Falvey!) or listen to an audio book. Forget all the stressors of the “real world” by immersing yourself into a different time period or a completely fictional world.

Check out my book club, Read with the (other) Jenna, where you can read Angela’s Ashes along with me.

#3 Listen to a podcast. Podcasts are a great way to learn something new and random, while also working on mundane tasks that need to be done. I personally always listen to podcasts when I’m putting away laundry, making food or driving in the car. It helps me take a step back from all the thoughts swirling around in my head and learn something interesting.

One of my current favorites is the NPR podcast called How I Built This, which talks about how successful business owners, like the founder of Patagonia, got to where he is today. If you have any podcast recommendations, definitely share them below. 

#4 Take a nap. Remember how before I said it can be helpful to be active? Taking a nap is also a completely valid and important way of taking care of your mental health. It’s hard to shut off your brain when you have so many to-dos and sometimes the only way to stop thinking about those is to go to sleep. If you’re a napper, make sure they’re productive and don’t leave you feeling even more drowsy than when you laid down in the first place.

In the same vein, getting a full goodnight’s sleep is also super important for your stress levels. Don’t be afraid to call it a day, go to sleep early and start fresh in the morning.

#5 Attend Mindfulness Mondays. Every Monday this fall, Campus Ministry and Falvey invite the Villanova community to join them on Zoom from 12:30-1 p.m to stop and focus on the “here and now.” Mindfulness is proven to reduce stress, and I’m sure we could all use a stress reduction at this point in the semester. You can find more information and the Zoom link here:

Ultimately, taking time for your mental health is going to look differently for everyone, so you need to find what works best for you. What’s your go-to way to relax in the midst of a busy schedule? Let us know in the comment box below!

Jenna Newman is a graduate assistant in Falvey Memorial Library and a graduate student in the Communication Department. Current mood: Sore from my last stress-reliever workout. 








Last Modified: October 14, 2020