AAU students missed out on learning to strengthen their mental fitness with philosopher, lecturer, and event organizer, Sudhakar Dass, which could be why students were unaware of it, as the majority of attendants were adults from the faculty or outside of AAU on Tuesday night, September 26.

The seminar was held in one of the largest classrooms on campus, 2.07, but only half the chairs were full. Students and adults alike struggle with mental health and concentration, but students especially would benefit from learning manage stress better. Dass reached out to Events Coordinator, Marek Šourek, to spread the word, but either students were not interested, could not attend, or did not know about it.

Dass outlined eight steps that everyone can take to improve their mental fitness. However, because of the low student turnout — coffee, late nights, and sleeping in may continue to be many students’ preferred methods.

Photo by: Ela Angevine

“I knew about the Mental Fitness seminar, but I wasn’t interested in attending because I have other things to do during that time and ways that I manage my stress. The poster didn’t draw me in. It didn’t seem like something that would be very useful. I could learn it elsewhere,” said AAU student Hayley Gallaher.

When it comes to scheduling and advertising AAU events, normally they are posted to the AAUNet page under the Journalism (SJMVA) and Humanities (SHSS) section (there are no event links under the other programs’ AAUNet pages). Posters are also distributed around campus, including a digital version on TV in the main building on the first floor. Finally, a few days ahead of the event, they email invite and remind students, according to the SHSS and SJMVA schools coordinator, Asya Kibko. This event in particular was advertised through social media and posters on campus.

“From what I’ve heard, many events are not very well attended, which is sad! I really want to make events work and be meaningful and attractive for students,” said Kibko. 

The solutions for increasing turnout for events vary. Šourek highlights using an established student organization to connect the administration and students.

“The way to get more students to participate is to use the Student Council more to promote the events, since they are closely knit with the student body.… And sometimes it’s just the fact that the students just want to go about their day and not attend anything, no matter the topic,” says Šourek.

Sudhakar Dass spoke about how to develop the intellect to regulate our unruly minds, using personal stories and relatable examples. For instance, when your alarm goes off, do you allow your mind to win and press snooze, or do you get up right away, exercising your intellect over your mind?

“Are you able to manage your mind? That is the main factor between us, success, and peace—our own mind,” said Dass.

Photo by: Ela Angevine

Recognizing the signs that you need to work on your mental fitness is the first step. Pain, tightness, and unrest suggest that the physical body is unwell. The body feels that something is missing. When overworked, the mind is agitated, and this manifests as stress. When you have an emotionally draining day, the mind is agitated, and this can manifest in unwarranted irritation towards another person.

“Mental unfitness is the mind’s pain at agitation level… Just as the body feels pain, the mind feels agitation, stress,” said Dass.  

Of course, this is easier said than done. Dass recommends starting with our mind, as in our choices. Our mind (what Western ideology would deem the heart or soul) does not pause; it flows. The mind has likes and dislikes with no logical reasons, according to Daas. For example, what is your favorite colour? Dass asks, “Why?”

The mind’s default program is to get pleasure quickly. It does not think of the consequences. Our intellect is what thinks of the consequences and regulates our minds. It reasons, judges, and decides. This is strong mental fitness: our intellects manage our minds.

“We are constantly in a space when we need to decide mind or intellect,” said Dass. 

As students, we are constantly studying and trying to pay attention. When, with glazed eyes, the class starts nodding off, professors say, “Everyone, it’s time for a break. Go get some coffee and meet back in 15.” Coffee is said to be a student’s best friend, but there are other ways to manage focus.