SANAYA ATTARI, Arts & Life Editor Emeritus—In today’s stress-driven work culture, it’s no surprise that many college students are having a hard time caring for their emotional well-being. In light of this issue, Denison University hosted a Day of Mindfulness to allow students a day off from prior commitments to take some time out for themselves.
The event was hosted on Saturday, October 12, from 12 pm to 7 pm. It was organized by Elizabeth Toigo ‘20, a psychology major with a neuroscience concentration from Loveland, Ohio, who believes that mental health is a college-wide epidemic that has not only plagued the Denison community but other college communities around the country as well.
“This day was about the Denison community coming together and learning mindful strategies to help combat their mental health struggles, both on campus and beyond. I was able to witness students taking the time to do something for themselves, which many of us forget to do with our seemingly endlessly busy schedules,” says Toigo.
After sharing her own mental health issues, Toigo teamed up with University President Adam Weinberg, certain academic departments, student groups, therapy dog volunteers, varsity coaches and more to provide Denison with an opportunity to come together and support one another with mental health struggles.
The day began at 1 pm with an opening ceremony at Swasey chapel, featuring a live performance by the Hilltoppers and a welcoming speech by Dr. Laurel Kennedy, Vice President of Student Development. Participants were then given free t-shirts and a schedule with a list of events taking place around campus. Every hour, there would be five to eight different activities hosted by student organizations or faculty members, where participants could choose which event to attend based on personal interests.
“After participating in some of the activities, I felt at ease and more relaxed than before. I hadn’t realized how much I needed this time to reflect on myself and my current state of mind,” says Adrianna Culotta ‘20, a French and international studies double major from Baltimore, Maryland who partook in the Day of Mindfulness along with many others on campus.
Some of the activities included a meditation practice over green tea with President Weinberg, painting the graffiti wall with the student art collective, and cooking classes with the culinary club. Around 4 pm, folks gathered at Swasey Chapel for Stories of Resilience, an event where student volunteers read stories submitted anonymously by members of the community on facing mental health issues and their battle against it.
“I was able to see students interacting with others from the Denison community that they may not have otherwise met, and form a bond with them as they worked together to reflect on their own stories. I saw students be brave, courageous and curious throughout the day as they began to capture what mindfulness truly is. That is why the day was a success,” says Toigo.
When students are given a space to have insightful discussions on self-care and mental health, it encourages them to tackle these issues in a healthy and refreshing way.
As a community, it gives people an outlet to let go of their worries and reassures them that they are not alone in this fight.