A life management course is being offered to students at all 10 University of California campuses. Life 101 helps students manage everyday stress and find ways to improve their quality of life through self-care techniques.
The two-unit course is available online at all UC campuses for the first time this winter quarter. UC students earn college credit by learning strategies on how to craft a healthy mind and body.
Dr. Mahtab Jafari, a UC Irvine professor of pharmaceutical sciences, invented the Life 101 course in 2013. She tells Inside the Issues she developed the course to give students concrete methods to boost their mental health and emotional intelligence while attending college.
“The very first topic that we cover in this course is about changing habits and adopting better habits,” she said. “Then we get into stress, recognizing stress, managing stress and teaching students some practical tools to recognize their stress.”
She says recognition is the first step towards managing a stressful environment. Once that is achieved, the class focuses on topics such as nutrition, sleep, exercise, drug use and mindfulness.
Currently, there are 600 students enrolled in the course across all 10 University of California campuses, but Jafari hopes Life 101 will continue to be expanded in the future.
“My goal is to hopefully grow the course and offer it to every UC undergrad student because I have seen the value of this course,” she said.
The pharmaceutical professor is also reworking Life 101 into a massive open online course, or MOOC, so everyone can access the education for free on the internet.
She says the information is particularly useful for students during this pandemic. Studies show that stress levels have skyrocketed among college attendees as they deal with greater financial and mental health struggles due to the COVID-19 crisis.
“A student who is not healthy mentally or physically healthy, they’re not going to be academically successful,” Jafari said.
Jafari adds that even before a person starts college, it’s important for parents to teach children self-care practices at home.
“The notion of self-care is not universal and I don’t think it is ever going to be across the board,” she said. “Now the question is, how can I as a parent, what can I do to help my child? I would start by saying empathize on the mental health of your children more than anything else.”
Jafari explains intense focus on GPA and other academic numbers of success are less important than the overall well-being of an individual. She hopes her life management course gives students the tools they need to be happier and more mentally healthy as they balance collegiate academics.
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