Getting Busy (Doing Nothing)

Have you ever noticed how many things require your attention?

School. Family. Work. Friends. Homework. Clubs. Papers. Post-graduation. Wait, me? Oh yeah. Me. Or you. Us, really.

It’s really easy to forget to give ourselves attention when all these other things are happening around us. Think about sleep. When was the last time you cheated yourself a little sleep? Or a lot of sleep? What about meals? Ever find yourself pushing those back further and further in the day?

No one’s saying it’s easy, but it is important to be sure we take a little time to ourselves to do absolutely nothing.

Nothing.

But how do YOU do nothing?

Maybe you’re taking a break to do nothing and you start watching some Netflix. Or maybe you pick up that new book – finally. Or maybe you just take a few minutes to check your updates: Facebook. Twitter. Instagram.

But this isn’t nothing.

Photo by Jason Howie of Flickr Creative Commons
Photo by Jason Howie of Flickr Creative Commons

A great blog by Nicole Liloia explores the difference being busy doing nothing and actually, truly, really really doing nothing. Liloia talks about how we tend to feel overwhelmed by all the “something” we have to do that when we take time to do nothing, we don’t truly allow ourselves to do nothing. Sometimes, when we’re worn out and overwhelmed, binging on Netflix doesn’t seem to recharge us at all.

This is being busy doing nothing: giving into the subconscious guilt that we should always be doing something – anything.

The times at which we do nothing are essential for recharging our bodies and our minds. When we really allow ourselves to do nothing, we give ourselves time to reconnect with ourselves and to enjoy our thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

By keeping ourselves busy – even if it’s only Facebook – we are distracting ourselves from ourselves. We are losing focus of the most important person in our lives: us.

So let’s give ourselves a fair chance, shall we?

In 2003 Amitay Tweeto created the quiet place project, an online site where you can “choose quiet.” It may see a bit counter-intuitive, but look at is as a first step in one of many to get yourself back to you.

The quiet place project uses several different ‘rooms’ to guide you through the process of reconnecting and doing nothing. It’s a judgment free place – a place free of social media and cell phones and advertisements. There aren’t even capital letters!

In the quiet place, you are invited to shut off all your devices and absorb yourself into a guided conversation with yourself for at least 30 seconds. Another ‘room’, the thoughts room, is a place where you can get out all of your thoughts and feelings and stress using a status bar, and watch your words burst into stars. Finally: the dawn room. The dawn room is extra special because it’s a place to go when everything seems too hard. As you navigate through this area, you are bombarded with kindness and encouragement to get you through whatever hardship your dealing with.

Though this isn’t technically doing nothing, it is a good step. The quiet place project is space where you can learn to do nothing, to connect with your thoughts, feelings, and emotions, and begin to enjoy them.

“i’m gong to say goodbye soon.

and let you get back to your notifications

but before that, i just want to give you some advice

from time to time

stop everything you do

and go to your quiet place

goodbye.”

Take a Break! Hey, Take 10

Tar Heels, if you’re still hanging around the general vicinity of North Carolina this summer, you don’t need me to tell you it’s hot, but…OMG it’s sooooo hot! If you’re anything like me, a long string of hot days might make you complain a lot and think less clearly than you might otherwise.

Also, while the pictures on my Facebook feed tell me that this is vacation time for a lot of people…it might not feel like vacation time for all of us. Yes, NECESSITY, as well as our culture that socializes us to ideals of BUSY! and ACHIEVEMENTS!, can chase us down even into these summer months.

So, please allow me to be your Captain Obvious right now and give you a loving reminder:

Here is a comfy pink chair in the forest a person might sit in if they were taking a break.
Here is a comfy pink chair in the forest a person might sit in if they were taking a break.

Take a break.

Take a break! There are many ways to take a break today, this week, this month, this summer, even if you’re jamming out in Summer Session II and can’t afford a beach condo for the next decade. Here are some ideas to get your creative break-making juices flowing:

  1. Finish reading this blog post and then turn off whatever screen you’re looking at for at least 5 minutes. Feeling brave? Do it in silence. Feeling tense? Think about relaxing each part of your body, starting with the toes and working your way up. It’s just 5 minutes. You can do it. Too easy? Make a summer resolution to do this every day and see what happens.
  2. Call a friend you haven’t talked to in a long time and catch up.
  3. Commit to listening to an entire album you haven’t heard ever or haven’t heard in a long time. Do it in one sitting. Invite some buddies over for a listening party.
  4. Find a path you’ve never walked and walk it. (If you’re in Chapel Hill, consider these!) Find some flowers and sniff them.
  5. Take a social media hiatus. Y’all. I haven’t been on Facebook for 3 days and I feel like a new person right now.
  6. Drink some water. It’s hot.
  7. Do something you haven’t done since you were a kid. Is there a swing set at your apartment complex? Can you get your hands on a pool noodle? Are there old board games for sale at PTA Thrift Shop? Where are those crayons your roommate was waving around? Can you YouTube your favorite old cartoon?
  8. Plan a day trip to a swimming hole or a waterfall.
  9. Cook something for dinner tonight that you’ve never cooked before. Never cooked at all? Then this assignment has NO LIMITS!
  10. Read a book…for fun. When was the last time you read a book for fun??

Other ideas? Do share in the comments!

FLASHBACK FRIDAY: Avoiding the Stress Competition and 6 Other Tips for Surviving Finals

This blog was originally posted on April 30, 2012 and was written by Sarah Weller. Also check out this post by Bob Pleasants for more study tips or The Learning Center for finals week services like Study Boot Camps, Academic Coaching and Peer Tutoring!

Finals period! Oh what a wonderful time of year!

Sike. Let’s just be blunt. Finals. Period. Sucks. It’s a stressful time of year. End of story. There is really no way that a 2 week period testing your knowledge on ALLLL the things that you learned during the past 14 weeks could be anything but a little stressful.  But there are some ways to make it suck less, and maybe to even harness some of that stress for good.

  Above all- Don’t Engage in the Stress Competition at all costs!!!

Person 1:“I’m so stressed. I have 2 papers, and 3 finals to go. I’ve been up since, like, 6:30 this morning.”

Person 2: “Uh, me too. I’ve had like 6 cups of coffee today. I only got like 3 hours of sleep.”

Person 1: “Oh yea, I only got like 2.5. I had to finish that take home we had due for biochem.”

How often have you been hanging out with friends during high-stress times like finals period and suddenly found yourself in a similar conversation, wherein, one person’s stressors just feeds off the other’s. BEWARE! While this might seem like simple commiseration, it only serves to perpetuate an atmosphere of stress! In fact, let’s all actively FIGHT the stress competition. When you find yourself beginning to engage in a Stress Competition, immediately say something nice. Something positive. Do jumping jacks. Make a scene. ANYTHING but engage in the stress competition- for serious.

Oh and here are 6 other handy tips for finals times…

1.       Make a Schedule: Sound familiar? You’ve probably received this advice on repeated occasions, but it’s a good suggestion, so it bears repeating. Many times, stress stems from trying to squeeze too much into too little time. By setting out a schedule, you help to structure your time, ensuring that you’re not left at the 12th hour with 20+ pages to read/write. (Bonus: By creating a schedule and using your time wisely you have more time for #3 and #4!)

2.       Prioritize: Much like making a schedule, prioritizing helps you to avoid that last minute cram.

3.       Avoid Productive Procrastination (Or Procrastination At all): Personally, I often try to do smaller easier tasks, while ignoring my looming larger assignments, something a friend of mine calls productive procrastination. While this might seem like at least I’m getting something done, it really just causes me extra stress when I have to scrabble to finish the BIG assignments in the end. Those little assignments aren’t going anywhere, and they’ll be just as easy when you’re done with the big one. Same thing for procrastination at all. It’s only going to sneak up on you in the end. Facebook, Twitter, that trip to Taco Bell will still be there when you’re done (and can even serve as a pleasant reward for finishing!)

4.       Take Care of Yourself: I CANNOT repeat this enough. If your body is not well, your mind is not well. Deprive it of the essentials– sleep, nutrients from good food– it’s just not going to perform the way you want it to, and you’re not going to perform the way that you want to. So treat your body right. Take care of yourself.

5.       Don’t Forget Balance: Staying balanced during finals period can be hard. But don’t forget to intersperse some of the activities that really make you happy in between papers and study sessions.

6.       Set Realistic Goals: Know what you can and cannot do. Finishing an X page paper in X amount of time might be realistic for some, but not for you. Use this knowledge to help guide you in #1 and #2.
Any other great suggestions on avoiding finals time stress?

WORKOUT WEDNESDAY: A Beautiful Body is a Masterpiece. Your Masterpiece.

The following fantastic article was written by Jordan Lee for the UNC 2015 Body Beautiful Project. Jordan is a Fitness Graduate Assistant for Campus Recreation and is a second year master’s student in the Exercise Physiology program.

A beautiful body is a masterpiece. Your masterpiece.
A beautiful body is individual and unique in that it literally can’t be like anything else. It is original and independent. It has no loyalty to the preordained, finds joy in the potential for change, but exists as a delicacy.
A beautiful body always juggles its strengths and weaknesses. It admires room for improvement but doesn’t injure itself with intentional pain. A beautiful body is a canvas for development, decorated with the impact of both disasters and dreams.
A beautiful body seeks and explores its limits, but is conscious of absurdity. It is both nourished and occasionally indulgent, but lacks intention to seek drought as balance. By the grace of self-perseverance, a beautiful body salutes dangerous frontiers.
A beautiful body collaborates with both the extravagant and the mundane. It is creative and curious, learning the lessons of mistakes and the glory of discoveries. It does not gloat in the spotlight nor undermine it’s own success. It is able to step up or step aside, but never surrender.
A beautiful body grits its teeth and lies perfectly still. It is dedicated to challenge itself as a precious machine, yet it finds peace and repair in the silence of nothing.
A beautiful body is attentive to the vivacity of laughter and the depths of tears. It is thankful for the repair reflected in scars, but does not dismiss or forget their birth. A beautiful body is dynamic and malleable, experiencing the pull of a strong-will and the tremors of fear. It brims with self-purpose, even when mute.
A beautiful body is bold but patient. It seeks novelty and endures struggle, but never abandons its intrinsic flame. It venerates opportunity and obligation, even in the face of mystery. Without excuses as a crutch, it takes a conscious oath to respect, nurture, grow and protect the fragile life beneath the skin.
A beautiful body is inextinguishable, thriving, and is an entity of its own. It is everlasting. Granted with the most precious privilege there is, a beautiful body holds itself accountable. For its own sake and not for you or me.
Because responsibility is the cornerstone of beauty.

Compete to WIN a $1,000 GRAND Prize at LDOC HeelFest–Auditions start this Week…

That’s RIGHT–your or your student group could win $1,000 at the very first LDOC HeelFest!!!

LDOC HeelFest will be an end-of-year talent show extravaganza. This is the first year UNC is doing this event and it is a collaboration among multiple campus departments and student groups. It will be held at Ehringhaus Field from 4-8pm on LDOC, which is Friday April 24th. The talent show will feature a showcase of UNC student talent, and the students at the event will get to vote on the winning performer/group. The Grand Prize will be a cash amount, TBD.

Come to auditions this week and next…Let’s see what you got!

LDOC HeelFest audition schedule
LDOC HeelFest audition schedule

“Guys Nights” and “Girls Nights” (time with friends) are Good for Your Health

I know a lot of couples who do everything together and never hang out much with friends outside of their relationship. I also know couples that only hang out with friends of one of the partners in the relationship, or only engage socially with other couples. I have also noticed since becoming a parent that often social engagements can center around children and events with other parents. Some fathers, mothers, and partners may feel guilty about participating in things like “Guys Nights” or “Girls Nights” or “sports nights” or “movie nights” outside of their relationship, and I have heard people say that they cannot understand why their partner would want to do things without them. These scenarios can lead to tension, unhappiness, pressure, poor communication, and even resentment, none of which facilitate a healthy relationship.

"Ishod, Theotis, & Elijah" by  mor gnar... ,flickr Creative Commons
“Ishod, Theotis, & Elijah” by mor gnar… ,flickr Creative Commons

Turns out however, that hanging out with friends is not only fun and rewarding, but actually helps you not get sick, can actually increase life expectancy , and benefits seem to happen for both men and women. You can check out the links, but the gist is, hanging out with friends increases beneficial hormones, boosts immune function, reduces stress and depression, and improves overall mental and physical health. It also appears that these benefits occur when the socializing occurs with members of the same sex, and part of this could be due to biological hormonal differences (oxytocin vs testosterone) and likely are also due to shared experiences of what it means to be a man or woman. I am certainly not suggesting that all members of the same gender have the same life experiences, but society certainly treats men differently than women, and sometimes people need a space to be with others who have similar experiences and interests. Hanging out with members of the same gender also can remove some of the pressure associated with socializing with members of the opposite gender.

So time spent with the same gender is good, but there is an important caveat. Male bonding, “Guys Nights” or “bromances” if you will may be good for health, but not if they are promoting hegemonic masculinity, or somehow reinforcing male privilege and a gender hierarchy. Guys can hang out together and do “guy things” and not have this result in devaluing typical “feminine characteristics.” Not being a woman, I will not speculate about “Girls Nights” but it is important to makes sure that either gender’s bonding is not causing resentment of the opposite sex. The socializing is about recognizing that, whether socially constructed or biological, there are differences between people and those differences are ok and do not need to be removed.

"Smiling at the sunset (friends)" by Sarah Ross, Flickr Creative Commons
“Smiling at the sunset (friends)” by Sarah Ross, Flickr Creative Commons

Which brings me to my final point. Hanging out with friends, whatever gender or sex they are, is healthy and does not devalue a relationship. The idea of “partner social exclusivity” (I just made up that term but I kind of like it) seems ludicrous, and I believe it is unreasonable to expect one person to meet every single need that you might ever have. People are dynamic and multifaceted, and so relationships should be the same. I also want to say that though the paragraph above is somewhat heteronormative with regards to life experiences, same sex couples also include people with varying experiences and interests and time outside of the relationship can help to validate those experiences and interests.

I do know couple friends who seem to have the exact same interests and are completely happy doing everything together, but I think these are few and far between and part of most healthy relationship is still holding onto individuality. It is about finding that balance between time together and time apart, and the time apart can be a sign of strength, not a deficit in the relationship. So go hang out with your friends. Have a “Guys Night” or a “Girls Night” or a “whatever your interest is night.” It is good for you, and part of finding the balance between partnership and individuality, and also about respecting and valuing both commonalities and differences.

New Year’s Resolutions: Where Are You in Meeting Your 2015 Goals?

New Year's Resolutions
Resolving to Write More—A Worthy Thought by Carol VanHook, Flickr Creative Commons; https://flic.kr/p/iPsgF2

Can you believe it? It’s now February. You are now almost a month into the spring semester. A month into your new classes, a month closer to graduation, and, for us graduate students out there, one month closer to obtaining your master’s, doctorate, or professional degree and entering the job market. You are now also a month into the New Year and potentially a month into your New Year’s Resolutions. Most of us do it. Actually, in a recent survey conducted by CheapFlights.com, over 60% of Americans reported that they make New Year’s resolutions. Resolutions to eat healthier foods, work out more, quit smoking, spend more quality time with friends and family, and resolutions to get organized, keep up with course readings, and get better grades. These are all great goals to work towards; however, we may not always stick with the goals long enough to meet them. Typically, almost all people (around 90%) are able to practice their New Year’s resolutions for a week but only about 70% of people stick with their resolutions for a month or longer. That leaves 1 out of every 3 people less likely to still be working on their New Year’s resolutions right now. But don’t fret! There are easy steps you can take to make sure you fall into the 70% instead of the 30%.

S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Before jumping into how to stick to your New Year’s Resolutions, let’s consider how to effectively set goals. S.M.A.R.T. goals are goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

  • Specific: Simply written and clearly defined

    SMART Goals
    Goal Setting by Paula Naugle, Flickr Creative Commons; https://flic.kr/p/dGvAay
  • Measurable: Able to measure progress
  • Attainable: Goals are realistic and can be achieved
  • Relevant: Goals matter to you
  • Time-bound: Goals have a specific time frame for being met

An example of a S.M.A.R.T. goal or resolution would be “I will go to the gym for one hour three times a week for the next four weeks.” The goal is clearly defined, measurable (three times a week for one hour each day), it is realistic, it matters to me, and I’ve set the time frame for my goal to four weeks. Using this strategy makes it more likely that you will both stick to your goals as well as achieve them.

Remind Yourself Why the Goal is Important To YOU 

Inspiration Board
Inspirational board by Moni, Flickr Creative Commons; https://flic.kr/p/3caUMp

As time passes, it’s easy to lose sight of why New Year’s resolutions were ever made and why they are important to you. When you’re struggling to find the time and energy to go to the gym and cook balanced meals, it may become more difficult to keep in mind why eating healthier and exercising more were important to you before the New Year. Maybe there’s a pair of jeans you want to fit in, you want to have more energy, or there’s a special event coming up in a few months when you want to look and feel your best. Having physical reminders of your goals and the motivations for achieving those goals are a helpful way to keep yourself on track with your resolutions. This can include making inspirational boards—a creative way to visualize your goals and stay focused on why you set them in the first place.

Keep Yourself Accountable…and Invite Others to Do the Same

Telling yourself that you are going to be better organized this semester is one thing—having others remind you of that resolution is something different! This is where a good support system comes in. Having friends and family either remind you of the resolutions you had set back in December OR working along side you to meet those goals is an excellent way to keep you accountable. You’re less likely to break those resolutions if you have someone who cares about you reminding you of your goals.

With these steps, you cannot only make it pass this one-month mark—you can incorporate these short-term changes into your regular habits, turning New Year’s resolutions into lifetime behaviors.

How to Get the Most of Your Winter Break

Spring is Here
“Spring is Here” credited to LadyDragonFlyCC, Creative Commons

Study for exams. Check. Finish finals. Check. Pack up to leave campus for a month. Check! After a long semester of papers, presentations, and tests, you have been waiting for the moment when you can walk off of this campus, suitcase in tow, for a month-long vacation. You are ready to catch up on sleep, Netflix, and quality time with loved ones, but as we all know, break is over in a blink of an eye. Before you know it, you have to buy your books, re-pack your suitcase (maybe more crammed now than before), and prepare to say goodbye again to family and friends. Spring semester has sprung up on you and now you face the dreaded question: how am I going to get back into the swing of things? Well, there’s a way; actually several ways to avoid this semester shock as well as get the most of your winter break. Here’s a few things you can do right now to be a proactive winter breaker: Continue reading

How to Overcome Inbox Overload

“Ding,” goes my computer.
“Whirrr,” goes my vibrating smartphone.

Without even thinking about it, like one of Pavlov’s dogs with a bell, I instantly check my email. It might be 9am and I just got to work, or it might be 9pm and I’m watching television with my partner. I just can’t help myself.

When I went to the beach for vacation this summer, I tried something I had never done before. I turned my work email account off on my phone. To some of you this may seem like no big deal, but I’m willing to bet there are others of you out there that understand the terrifying moment when you choose to disconnect from this mega form of communication.

Photo "Dangerous Inbox"  by  Recrea HQ, Flickr Creative Commons
Photo “Dangerous Inbox” by Recrea HQ, Flickr Creative Commons

For the first 12 hours I found myself checking that little notification bubble, and, I will admit, was actually let down when it remained fairly low. I felt tempted to turn on that Outlook® account again, just to make sure I wasn’t missing anything important. It was so hard to let go of the satisfaction of being connected and the anxiety of a cluttered inbox. Never mind that this time was supposed to be about relaxing, spending time with family, and disconnecting from the work world- I felt like I still needed to know what was going on.

And why shouldn’t it? The Radicati Group, a technology market research firm, found that the average person who uses email for work (and I would count being in college as “work”) sends and receives about 110 emails per day. That study was conducted in 2012, so I would not be surprised if the number is even higher today. Email is a form of communication we have grown to rely on; it’s a fast and easy way to get answers and pass along information without having to speak face-to-face or over the phone. But the flip side of this convenience is that people are able to reach us at any time, and the lines between school/work life and personal life grow more and more tenuous.

In a global media study conducted by faculty at The University of Maryland, they found that college students all over the world actually exhibited physical and emotional signs of withdrawal when asked to go 24 hours “unplugged” from technology. Other studies have shown that “email overload” can contribute to stress, decreased productivity & concentration, and is connected to feelings of burn out.

So, what can we do about this? Even as I write this blog, that little red notification bubble has continued to increase. Here are a few tips for managing inbox overload–or the “email beast”–that I’ve found useful:

    1. Empty your inbox. As emails come in, filter them into organized folders. This can help prevent the “inbox buildup.”
    2. Be the boss of your email. Set boundaries that work for you. This can be as simple as “I don’t check my email during class,” or not checking email after a certain time of day. Hold yourself accountable with some reinforcement, such as rewards for sticking to your goal for a set amount of time.
    3. Control the flow. Similar to emptying the inbox, control the flow of emails by setting a window of time each day that you concentrate solely on responding and sorting emails. Don’t let yourself get caught in the frantic email answering between classes—rather, sit down and focus only on the task at hand.

      Photo Ready to Start This Friday  by  Jabiz Raisdana, Flickr Creative Commons.
      Photo Ready to Start This Friday by Jabiz Raisdana, Flickr Creative Commons.
    4. Unsubscribe like your life depends on it. Remember at Fallfest when you signed up for every listserv for every organization you might ever want to join? I’m willing to bet your inbox has doubled with emails since that wonderful night a few weeks ago. Now that you have had time to settle in to the semester, go back and unsubscribe to the listservs that you haven’t read at all. You can also set up filters so that these emails automatically go into folders you can read later if you aren’t ready to un-commit yet.
    5. Take time to disconnect. While it might not be realistic or even desirable to go a day without email, set aside time to disconnect. Put up an away message, or simply turn off your email notifications until you are ready to focus on giving those messages the responses they deserve. Instead, use that “ding” or “buzz” free time to have coffee with a friend, take a walk around campus, or go to a performance you’ve been dying to see.

The Forgotten Dimension of Wellness?

What do you think of when I say Wellness? I’ll tell you what comes to mind for me….

Organic  food. Yoga. Happiness. Feeling healthy. Balance.

The list goes on…

Here at Student Wellness, we like to think about wellness holistically; here are nine dimensions of wellness:

8dimensions

Whew! NINE dimensions. This goes way beyond organic food and working out. If you are like me, you might notice one dimension that doesn’t seem to get as much attention as the others, but may actually have a bigger impact on your wellness than any other: Spirituality.

 

What is spirituality?

There is no easy answer to this question. Different people define spirituality differently. Generally, spirituality involves the search for meaning and understanding in life, transcending the physical world, or connecting to something larger than or outside oneself. For some, spirituality is grounded in their religious belief or faith in God or higher power. For others, spirituality may involve developing respect and awe for life, the world, and our interdependence. Spirituality is something that evolves; it is a way of being, a process, rather than a goal. And how you define spirituality in your life is up to you.

 

How do spirituality and religion intersect?

There are a myriad of definitions of spirituality and religion. Generally, spirituality is viewed as a more general term that involves finding meaning in life, transcending the physical world, and connecting to others. Religion provides a vehicle for spiritual practice, through faith in God or another higher power, core beliefs, rituals or practices, and fellowship with others.

Spirituality and religion can overlap, but the extent to which they overlap may differ for different people. Some people may view their spirituality as synonymous with their religious beliefs and practice, but a growing number of people, especially young people, in America identify themselves as “spiritual but not religious.” Here are some recent survey findings from the Pew Research Foundation:

  • 37% of respondents identify as “spiritual and not religious”
  • 32% of respondents under 30 list “no religious affiliation”
  • 68% of respondents believe in God

These findings are reflected in U.S. Census data on religious affiliation in America:

2008 (1990): Christian Other None
  76% (86%) 4% (3) 15% (8)

Compared to 1990, an increasing number of Americans identify None” as their religious affiliation, and those identifying as Christian has gone from 86% in 1990 to 76% in 2008.

Why is spirituality important?

“Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.”
Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

College is a time of exploring and affirming identity, and this includes your spiritual identity. This may mean deepening the spiritual practice or religious faith you grew up with; or it may mean looking at spirituality in a new way and redefining it yourself. UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute has conducted a 7-year national study on spirituality among college students, and they have identified 10 dimensions of spirituality and religion:

Which of these areas most resonates with you? Which area would you like to focus more time and energy on? Examining these dimensions of spirituality and religion can help guide you in growing spiritually. And growing spiritually can positively affect other areas of your life.

Check out these findings from the UCLA study:

  • Among college students, spiritual growth is associated with better psychological well-being, higher GPA, and a commitment to promoting racial understanding.
  • Practices that promote spiritual development – especially service learning, interdisciplinary courses, study abroad, self-reflection, and meditation – have uniformly positive effects on traditional college outcomes, like retention and satisfaction.
  • Although religious engagement declines somewhat during college, students’ spiritual qualities grow substantially.
  • Exposing students to diverse people, cultures, and ideas through study abroad, interdisciplinary coursework, service learning and other forms of civic engagement helps students value multiple perspectives as they confront the complex social, economic, and political problems of our time.
  • Self-reflection and meditation are among the most powerful tools for enhancing students’ spiritual development.

Spirituality is linked to better health outcomes not only among college students, but also across the lifespan. Research examining spirituality’s role in health care shows that patients with a strong sense of spirituality have lower mortality, better coping skills, and higher resilience.

 

What does spirituality look like at UNC?

Well, we have some hard data on what religion looks like at UNC, or more specifically, religious affiliation, and UNC students mirror the national trends when it comes to religion:  72% Christian, 2% other, 19% none.

Here is a breakdown of the most common religious affiliations reported by UNC first years:

Religion at UNC[1]

But UNC students identified many more religious affiliations, including:

Buddhist, Eastern Orthodox, Episcopalian, Hindu, Jewish, LDS (Mormon, Lutheran, Muslim, Presbyterian, Quaker, Seventh Day Adventist, United Church of Christ, and other religion.

Additionally, 83% of UNC students report regularly attending a religious service.

But what I had a hard time finding was what spirituality looks like at UNC. Fifty-five percent of students said that developing a meaningful philosophy of life (aka spirituality!) was “essential” or “very important.” But how does that translate into practice?

So, here’s where we need YOUR HELP.

If you are looking for ways to develop your spirituality or connect with others that share your religious and spiritual beliefs check out our website for organizations on campus and in the community. Also, check out the UNC Mind-Body-Spirit webpage for events and resources for exploring spirituality.

Do you know of a local or campus group that is not listed on our website? Please LET US KNOW, and we will add it.


[1] 2009 UCLA Higher Education Research Institute, Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP) annual Survey of Entering Freshmen.