This semester I took part in a program called RADical Health which was run through the Student Life office in the Lower Level of the Barone Campus Center. I found out about the program through Fairfield’s weekly updates emails during the first semester. It was advertised as a four-week program that was specifically designed for college students, which consisted of weekly meetings to discuss mental health, self-care, stress, and a couple other topics. 

As a first-year, this program seemed really interesting to me and decided to look more into it. I followed the email to a website where I answered a couple quick questions on why I wanted to take part in RADical Health and then input the times and days that worked best for me. I found out I was accepted into the program after I got back for winter break. My group met every Tuesday for four weeks. We would spend roughly an hour going over this week’s topic and watch the videos RADical Health provided us. Although it may seem like a class, it was actually a guided group discussion with other students who were as interested in the program as I was. 

A main theme discussed throughout the program was different forms of mindfulness. Being mindful of what’s going on in the world, being mindful of relationships in our lives and being mindful of how we feel and what we’re going through. This program offered another outlook on how to handle my mental health, stress, my interactions with others and overall looking at situations in another light. 

The videos RADical Health provided often starred famous entrepreneurs, singers and songwriters, authors and many other people who have a story to share with others. It is inspiring to hear others’ stories and experiences. In a lot of ways it reminds us how truly similar we all are. The guided group discussion after the videos really helped to talk about what my group just wanted in a confidential manner. The proctors created an accepting and respectful environment where my group and I could discuss the topics in depth without the fear of judgment.

Self-care was a big topic that was touched upon. When I thought of self-care the first thing that came to mind was doing a spa night. I would go through my entire skin care routine, do my nails, my hair, have a hot tea and do whatever else I thought was necessary to ‘relax.’  However, I was missing two key parts to my self care regimen: consistency and being in touch with my mind. Before getting involved with the program I didn’t understand how much meditation could really affect my health and wellbeing. Taking those mental breaks to focus on my breathing and try to alleviate all the thoughts from my brain actually made a difference in my stress levels and how I dealt with situations. 

Another change I implemented was a healthy diet and regular exercise. Now I’m sure most of you have heard that before but it’s true! I really did start to see a difference in my mental health and focus. I started going to bed earlier and really getting good sleep. During my first semester I barely got five hours a night. I woke up exhausted and completely relied on caffeine to get me through my day. I was not eating enough to really sustain me throughout the long hours I was working through and it only started hurting me in the long run. Lately my personal goal is to be asleep by midnight and wake up between 8 to 8:30 a.m. to get my day started. I found that my time management was horrible. I used to stay up for hours on end doing nothing but now I’ve been taking steps towards staying on track better. 

Making these changes is difficult to say the least. I started using my google calendar and mapping out my week, like when I’m going to eat, how long I am going to spend in the library and most importantly when I’m going to have time for myself. Another thing I’ve been working on is actually sticking to that schedule, waking up early and finishing what needs to be done. Of course I still have my nights where I’m up till 3 a.m. writing a paper or doing my excels only running on ramen and having a secret relationship with my roommates keurig. 

RADical health’s message and purpose is extremely beneficial and informative. They share positive vibes and want everyone to understand the importance of mental health, creating connections, self-care and so many other important topics that need to be addressed more frequently.

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