Before UNH’s newest Wildcats — members of the class of 2022 — arrive on campus in late August, they have some homework to do.
All students have been assigned “The Mindful Twenty-Something” to read before the first day of classes. This is not the typical summer reading assignment, however. The book is a tool to help students maintain balance during the rigors of college life. Dr. Holly Rogers, the book’s author, is a psychiatrist, teaches mindfulness at Duke University and is one of the developers of Koru Mindfulness, an evidence-based mindfulness training program for college-age adults.
Ted Kirkpatrick, senior vice provost for student life and dean of students, describes how mindfulness has become a focus at UNH.
The impetus for bringing awareness about mindfulness practice to campus "stemmed from a concern among many deans, faculty and staff to provide better coping skills to handle life’s everyday stresses, big and small,” Kirkpatrick says. “In the spring of 2017, we brought Holly Rogers to our campus to talk with about 100 faculty and staff about her work at Duke with Koru, a mindfulness practice.”
Those who attended were impressed with what they heard. “We decided to start our effort with last year’s entering class,” Kirkpatrick says. In addition to reading the book, he explains, "All new students in our residence halls last fall went through mindfulness practice sessions early in the semester. When we surveyed our freshmen mid-fall in 2017, 85 percent responded that it helped them considerably in their personal lives and academic work.”
With that feedback in hand, the class of 2022 will also be able to start the year off right.
“The takeaway is for students to be introduced to a daily, relative quick practice to center and balance themselves as they begin hard coursework and meet new people on our campus,” Kirkpatrick says.
The majority of students who practiced mindfulness last year reported that with an investment of two minutes per morning, they were able to improve their overall wellbeing as well as their performance on assignments and exams.
As Kirkpatrick puts it, “Daily mindfulness practice takes a couple of minutes, a small investment that produces significant emotional and cognitive dividends.”
More resources for mindfulness practice are available through UNH Health & Wellness.