Mindful Wellness Club: AUSB’s New Resource for Health Promoting Techniques

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Campus student clubs provide a well-rounded college experience resulting in friendships, new networking opportunities, and enhanced work-life balance. Antioch University Santa Barbara, has a new active club on campus! AUSB students, Hannah Armer (me!) and Nick Kormos, along with Undergraduate Academic Advisor Kevin McDonald, launched the Mindful Wellness Club (MWC).

The club meets weekly to promoting physical and mental health to encourage individuals along with community growth. Members have the freedom to:

  • Heighten awareness of their thoughts and behaviors 
  • Gain tools for optimizing their wellness 
  • Incorporate techniques into action in their own lives 
  • Increase their understanding of the inherent commonalities that connect us all 
  • Be part of a safe, respectful, and inclusive environment in which all AUSB students are welcomed 

The mission statement of the MWC states that the club is designed for students to take a step away from their stressful weeks and find balance in themselves. Each Thursday from 4-5 pm the club meets on Zoom for a short meditation and reading, followed by peer support and a student-led discussion. In addition, seminars and workshops are planned and scheduled with Antioch professors who will promote the awareness and integration of wellness systems. Students can increase connections with the staff as they expose themselves to their expertise in health-promoting concepts. 

“The club meets a lot of our needs. We have many students who are interested in the field of psychology. More generally, we have many students who are interested in mindfulness meditation, as well as other alternative and complementary techniques for well-being outside of the traditional biomedical model. I also think students need the social outlet and connection with each other outside the classroom.” —Kevin McDonald, Faculty Club Advisor 

In recent meetings members have discussed readings of philosophical leaders like Pema Chodron, breathing exercises involved with polyvagal theory, and methods of how to combat negative cognitive distortions through cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) approaches. A student expressed their disappointment in missing out on their idyllic graduation ceremony while receiving support and understanding. It has been a wonderful experience connecting with classmates that are like-minded in their efforts to better themselves through wellness and therapeutic techniques, especially during this irksome time of the novel coronavirus outbreak. 

The Mindful Wellness club was designed to launch this Spring quarter in-person, but the campus was shut down due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. At first, our classes were to be instructed online through April, and then later, the entire spring quarter. Many people are either out of work (temporarily or permanently), working from home, or have been designated as essential workers. As the pandemic looms on, financial pressure for many households is escalating. Fear of getting infected (either ourselves or a loved one) lingers in our minds. With all of the unknown factors churning around us, and new ones revealing themselves every day, it can be incredibly daunting and stressful. Despite many new changes and stressors in these unusual times, AUSB students continue to pursue their educational and career ambitions. Therefore, the student leaders of the MWC felt it was important to offer guidance and support to each other through online systems during this time. 

“Zoom has been wonderful in meeting the club’s needs, and it serves as a way to connect club members while we are all sheltered in place. At the same time, I look forward to the club meeting in-person on campus. Being in a room together has a comfort and energy that is hard to replace.” —Kevin McDonald, Faculty Club Advisor 

Although Zoom meetings are not ideal, students can still receive the positive benefits of the MWC in the comfort of their homes! During this extraordinary time of the coronavirus pandemic, it is particularly important to prioritize self-care to cope with the strange new changes in our lives. The stressors of this time is an opportunity to observe our thoughts, cravings, and behaviors. It can be easy to feel alone during this ominous period, but thankfully that is not the case. The MWC leaders want every Antioch student to feel a sense of community, despite the absence of social outlets. 

Photo by Neil Thomas on Unsplash

Even in the best of times, everyone struggles in some form or another. We can all benefit both individually and collectively by investing in our mental and physical health. We can find peace within ourselves, uncover purpose and gratitude in our hardships, and share that serenity with others. We can inspire by being open to working with our vulnerabilities as we combat shame-filled environments. When the contagion of panic, fear, and anger surrounds us, we can utilize our wellness tools to persevere. When we need help, we can turn to our support systems to uplift us. The Mindful Wellness Club at Antioch University Santa Barbara is a community where we can bolster each other to not only survive but thrive together. 

To be part of the MWC email KevinMcDonald1@antioch.edu for more information and a weekly Zoom link.

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About Author

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Hannah Armer

Hannah Armer has lived in Santa Barbara since 2011. Previously a marine biologist, she is a scientist at heart. She is finishing her BA in Liberal Studies with hopes of continuing into a master's in clinical psychology program. Her goal is to help facilitate positive, long-lasting changes in people's lives. She is interested in psychedelic psychology, holistic medicine, and entrepreneurship.

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