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Barrett students at the downtown campus gathered at the Health South kitchen on a recent Monday evening to cook easy-to-recreate recipes with each other while learning about mindfulness. The event, which was the first Mindful Monday of the 2019-2020 school year, was put on by Barrett’s student event coordinators, with senior nursing major Jasmine Cura as the lead planner.
Mindful Mondays are designed to offer students a structured time and place to relax and unwind, while getting in touch with how they feel and what they need to be happy, healthy and successful.
“The goal of Mindful Mondays is essentially just finding ways to be able to take a break from, you know, the obligations that you have in your day to day routine, especially for college students,” said Cura. “We can get so easily wrapped up in our studies.”
For many students, mindfulness is a new or foreign concept. In a spring 2018 survey of 1,304 ASU students by the American College Health Association, 56.3 percent of respondents rated their overall level of stress during the last 12 months as more than average or tremendous. In that same study, 42 percent of ASU students reported using mindfulness practices to manage stress.
“For me personally, I really do believe it's just understanding that there's more to your experience as a student here than just going to class and going home, or going to class and going to your room or going to work,” said Barrett project coordinator Rafael Esquer. “Being mindful is preparing yourself for the future in the best way possible. Whether that's ensuring that your health is in a good state, your mental health is in a good state, or even spiritually you're in a good state, whatever it is that you need in the moment to allow yourself to build the foundation you need for your future, that's essentially what we're trying to do here and I think that's the most important part.”
Cura’s organization of the event was inspired by a nutrition class she took at ASU. She was connected to ASU Nutrition Coordinator Victoria Alanis through a professor, and Alanis provided recipes and a basic lesson on the importance of nutrition for the event.
“I just thought that the event would be a great way for the Barrett students to be able to kind of have a time where they can meet new people while creating food,” said Cura. “It’s exciting to have students be able to create something and then eat at the end. Everybody loves that.”
According to Alanis, nutrition can be an important part of being mindful and connected to one’s full self. “I think students should not make huge changes from one day to another. I think they definitely need to listen to their body and their hunger cues,” said Alanis.
She noted the impact that social media can have on students’ impressions of what they should be doing to maintain their health through nutrition. Alanis cautioned that students should not believe everything see on social media and be willing to accept help when needed.
“They should seek help or registered dietitians help, not just go based on what they see on social media. So apply that critical thinking there and maybe just seeing what fits best for them.”
When students arrived at the kitchen, they were met with five stations, each equipped with a stove, oven, sink, kitchen tools, and the ingredients required for their recipes. Three to four students worked together at each station, making lemon arugula zucchini pasta, banana oatmeal pancakes, burrito bowls, brownies, and cold peanut noodle salad. The students were instructed on how to properly wash their hands and use kitchen knives, then got to work on making their dishes.
Freshmen Ethan Rosales and Tahnee Klewicki and sophomore Taylor Payne worked together at the brownie station, using a food processor to combine the ingredients, spreading the batter out on a pan to bake, and cleaning up their workspace before digging into their creation with other students.
The group agreeed that they struggle with finding balance in their day-to-day lives as they manage heavy class loads, jobs and time spent with friends, but that events like the Mindful Monday cooking class made connecting with themselves and others a little easier.
“I came today because I wanted to learn something new. Being a peer mentor, I thought it would be fun to do something with everyone,” said Payne. “If we’re doing mindfulness Monday, that's something I should be doing anyway, why not force myself to do it with others?”
Some students, such as Rosales, already frequently practice mindfulness as a part of their lives. For Rosales, the event was about connecting with others while doing something he enjoys.
“Mindfulness, and just activities, have always been a very big part of my life just because I’m a very high stress person. Cooking, listening to music, going and sitting outside, getting some quiet time, stuff like that, and e ven cleaning like I'm doing right now, has always been very therapeutic for me,” Rosales said.
After the event, students said they would like to come back to more events like Mindful Monday in the future. “You’re going to get from Barrett what you give into Barrett and if you don’t go to these kinds of events, you’re not going to get to experience all of Barrett,” Payne said. “So going to something different that you might not always do, it’s going to be really beneficial for your education.”
Story and photos by Greta Forslund, a Barrett Honors College freshman majoring in journalism.