Mindful Honors Gators

Exams, involvement and volunteering, oh my.

With so much constantly going on at school, mental wellbeing can be left by the wayside. A new club was started this fall to help UF students find time for themselves, despite their crazy schedules.

Morgan Browning, a sophomore at UF, recognized how few students make time for themselves and started “Mindful Honors Gators” to help fellow students make time for mindfulness and mental wellbeing, not just academic success. The club targets students in the Honors Program, but it is open to anyone who is interested.

Mindfulness is an awareness of one’s feelings and self that leads to being more present in the moment or experience, and it is often used as a therapeutic technique. Helping members achieve mindfulness is the goal of this new club.

Browning first had the idea for the club over the summer after picking up yoga and meditation. She had previously heard about mindfulness from her mom but was skeptical about its importance until she saw how it helped her own life, Browning said.

“I saw the benefits in myself when I got more confidence, could live in the moment, and had a better body image,” Browning said.

Yoga helped her get in touch with herself, and Browning began to think more about the spiritual and health benefits that mindfulness provides. After she realized how much making time for her own wellbeing helped her mentality, Browning wanted to help other UF students feel the same.

“So many people say they don’t have time to take care of themselves, but that’s exactly why I started this club,” Browning said. “You should make time.”

With the help of Dr. Mark Law, the director of the UF Honors Program, and Kristy Spear, an academic advisor for the UF Honors Program, Browning further developed her idea and made the club a reality. The first event was a meditation session in Plaza of the Americas Sept. 21.

“It doesn’t do any good to get so stressed out that you can’t handle your academic responsibilities,” Law said. “I’m glad to see a club that helps students handle the stress.”

Browning said yoga and nature are the biggest focuses of the club activities right now, but she wants to grow it to include art and music. Taking advantage of the Gainesville community by visiting nature trails, attending the Butterfly Fest and going to the Harn Museum of Art are ideas she has for future events.

The club also emphasizes leadership skills, and Browning said she sees this club as a new, different way for students to get involved and learn how to lead.

Browning wants members to take initiative and plan events. Students are encouraged to lead their own sessions and teach other members about their passions and hobbies.

Expanding the club events to include a range of hobbies and fun activities will help reach out to students with different areas of interest.  Members sharing their hobbies will diversify the events, and will help the club draw in new members.

Finding a niche on campus is overwhelming, especially for students who are reserved, but this club is intended to help them find their place, Browning said.

“I’ve been there, I’ve been that shy and quiet kid,” Browning said. “I know what it’s like.”

The club provides students with a way to continue doing the activities they enjoy, and meeting people to do them with, too.

“I want to help people make time for things that are good for their happiness and health,” Browning said.

Kalynna Thompson, Septermber 26

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