People often describe college as “the best four years of your life.” While that may be true for some people, no one can deny the inevitable stress that comes along with the fun. Oftentimes, people do not know how to handle this new dosage of stress and can feel lost on how to find reprieve. That is exactly what Student Health and Wellness is here for; they not only assist with physical needs, but they also have great programs meant to help students with their mental health. If you don’t know where to start, I recommend stopping by Intro to Mindfulness.
The stress on the importance of mental health is growing by the day, but people don’t know ways of self-care besides therapy — an approach that may be too intense or intimidating for some. If you are one of these people, Intro to Mindfulness lessons are held in the Arjona building, where you can meet with Hannah Melanson or Janna Blackston, two UConn senior graduate students who work as interns for SHAW.
In her lesson on Nov. 1, Hannah introduced us to a breathing exercise to use when we feel the need to recenter ourselves. As she allowed us to practice the exercise, she read a description of the exercise and what it was meant for. The exercise was intended to remind us that “our breath is our anchor” that can be used as a convenient calming tool.
The second exercise Hannah introduced us to was one called “Leaves in a Stream.” The leaves represent our thoughts and emotions and the stream represents our minds. We cannot force our minds to block out or pursue certain thoughts or emotions if we do not feel truly connected or ready to face them. If we let this happen naturally, we can reduce our stress and feel centered.
If you come to these Intro to Mindfulness sessions, you will likely be in the hands of people who genuinely care about the work that they are doing. Janna expressed how this was “the first job where [she does] not dread coming into the office.”
The student-interns advise that students use Intro to Mindfulness as a starting point in their journeys to improving their mental health.
Hannah also expressed her passion for mental health by defining mindfulness as “living in the moment.” Though that can be taken as a cliché saying, she elaborates on the notion by talking about how people are constantly worrying about the future. Whether that future is in five years or five minutes, rarely do people release those stressors and “worry” about the now.
Each Intro to Mindfulness session is typically the same, with interns also distributing pamphlets that have information on other mental health resources around campus.
One such outside resource is the Mindfulness Club, which meets Wednesdays at 7 p.m. This is not to be confused with the Intro to Mindfulness workshops, which run Monday through Thursday from 1 to 2 p.m. in Arjona 403. Janna explains how the Mindfulness Club is great if you want a commitment that will progress with time; however, Intro to Mindfulness would be useful for those seeking guidance in their understanding of mental health.