Welcome to our special section, Thrive on Campus, devoted to covering the urgent issue of mental health among college and university students from all angles. If you are a college student, we invite you to apply to be an Editor-at-Large, or to simply contribute (please tag your pieces ThriveOnCampus). We welcome faculty, clinicians, and graduates to contribute as well. Read more here.
Growing up, I always had an interest in activities such as meditation and yoga, but I couldn’t quite articulate why I was so passionate about these practices. How is it that a 10-minute guided meditation can generate long-term substantial impacts on mental health? And why was yoga such a fun activity for me as a child? I suspect I viewed these activities as extracurriculars, peripheral interests accompanying what I was mainly passionate about (being my studies or other involvements, like singing, rowing, and dance).
When I entered high school, I joined the Manhattan Women’s Varsity Team at Row New York. RNY is a non-profit rowing club that provides athletics and academic support to inner-city youth. Prior to my freshman year, I was not athletic in the slightest — I detested any type of contact sports. Needless to say, it was challenging to adopt an athlete’s mindset, pushing myself beyond my physical boundaries and learning to put the teams needs before my own priorities.
In efforts to better assimilate into my new persona as a high-school athlete, I turned to social media as an outlet to self-assess my rowing journey. I created an Instagram account, “Everyday Endorphins,” which initially served to document my experiences as a rower. I also blogged about the types of foods I’d eat pre-and post-practice, shifting my perspective around food to view it as nutritious fuel enabling me to perform at the highest level I could.
Since then, my passion for health and wellbeing has only continued to grow despite no longer being a competitive rower. Although Everyday Endorphins still exists as a creative outlet for me, its purpose has transformed.
On October 1st, 2020, I launched the Everyday Endorphins Podcast, which discusses health, well-being, and happiness. As a student of neuroscience and psychology, I’ve been exposed to research that indicates endorphins make you happy, and I firmly believe that wellbeing is deeply connected to happiness and generating a positive mindset. My goal with this podcast is to provide young adults practical advice for ways to live with greater intention and spark joy and happiness in day-to-day life. Through discussing the mind-body connection with my guests and approaching health from a holistic perspective in conversation, I hope that my listeners can feel inspired to take ahold of their own health and wellbeing.
Previous conversations with guests range from speaking with my peers at WashU and academic experts in the field, to pro athletes and yoga instructors. Having these discussions not only excite me, as I am curious to learn more about the emerging research in the fields of health and well-being, but they also empower me to discover answers to those questions I asked myself as a child.
For example, I’ve now learned that counting my breath during a guided meditation helps generate neuroplasticity and physiologically alters the rate of your heartbeat, thereby decreasing anxiety. And practicing yoga is just another form in which mindful strategies can manifest, an activity that is fun and can be engaged in a social setting.
Through these discoveries, I’ve now come to understand how well-being is not just about physical fitness and cannot be assessed simply by outward physical appearance. It is deeply internal, a sense of intuition between your body and your mind. It’s about having the ability to learn when to say no, and to understand the pattern around statements in which you’re excited to say yes. Generating positive well-being is about being mindful, cultivating awareness and practicing gratitude to embrace joy in the mundanity of life. As a rower, I felt that health was directly tied to physical fitness. Although there is some truth to this statement, starting my own podcast has enabled me to understand how health extends beyond exercise and nutrition. Health is holistic in nature, and the way we utilize the power of our minds plays an incredibly large role in shaping our own health.
Subscribe here for all the latest news on how you can keep Thriving.
More Thrive Global on Campus: