Mindfulness: Mental De-Cluttering for Spring

Ah, springtime in Urbana-Champaign… the ice is melting, we’re pulling our cutest summer outfits out of storage, and some of us may be participating in the time-honored tradition of spring cleaning. Here at the UGL, we’ve been working hard to keep our study spaces clean for you!

Snow White sweeps a dusty house with help from many small animals

We love a good, old-fashioned spring cleaning, but this year we’re approaching it a little differently. As you’re purging the fridge of long-expired condiments or tackling that pile of laundry you’ve been putting off for way too long now, why not take a moment to turn that energy inward? Just like old takeout containers or mismatched socks, anxieties and negative thoughts have a tendency to accumulate. Mindfulness can help us take stock of what’s going on in our brains so we can decide what we want to hold onto and what can be tossed out.

"I'm so excited because I love mess", by Marie Kondo

According to the Mayo Clinic, mindfulness is “a type of meditation in which you focus on being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling in the moment, without interpretation or judgment,” and clinical studies have shown that practicing mindfulness can reduce stress and anxiety. While taking care of mental health should always be a priority, it’s even more important than ever as we mark one year of living in a global pandemic. Reported rates of anxiety and depression have risen dramatically in the past year, and a recent study found that these issues particularly affect college students.

When someone asks you how your night went..... "Didn't get much sleep, but I did get a few hours of anxiety in."

With midterms coming up, we know that finding time for mindfulness might seem impossible. Incorporating mindfulness and meditation into your schedule doesn’t have to be stressful, though! 

Schitts Creek reference, "Who has time amidst all this chaos?


Here’s a brief introduction to some of the (many) resources out there that can help you start the mental de-cluttering process at your own pace.

  • Apps: Smartphone apps can be an excellent way to learn more about mindfulness or to make it a daily practice! You can find guided meditations that range from just a few minutes to longer sessions, and some—like UCLA Mindful or Smiling Mind—are completely free. Other options, like Headspace or Insight Timer, offer some free content but require a subscription for full access. Liberate is a meditation app designed by people of color for people of color.
  • Books: The library has access to hundreds of books focused on mindfulness. Some helpful introductions to the topic include Wherever You Go, There You Are and The Miracle of Mindfulness.
  • Podcasts: If you’re more of an auditory learner or are sick of staring at screens, a podcast may be the way to go! When you’re looking for a quick break. Meditation Minis and The Daily Meditation Podcast offer episodes around 10 minutes each. More in-depth podcasts include the Mindfulness Meditation Podcast and The Rubin Mindfulness Meditation, which approaches mindfulness through discussions of visual artwork.
  • Counseling Center: This semester, the UIUC Counseling Center is providing some amazing virtual services for self-care. Try checking out the Daily Mindfulness Drop-Ins or the Recognition, Openness, and Insight Series!

Looking for even more resources? Head over to our Tech Wellness Guide to find more suggestions for prioritizing mental health while learning online.

Now it’s time to take a deep breath, drink a glass of water, and get started on that spring cleaning! Best of luck from all of us at the UGL.

Deep breathing

Written by: Hannah
Edited by: Ryan


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March Mania

Yay for spring! As February turns into March, we are excited about the warming of the weather, and also about March Madness. Whether or not you’re a sports watcher, it can be fun to make a bracket (even if it’s wiped out by the quarterfinals).GIF of orange text:

It will be different this year as we all know because of the pandemic, but we can still keep up the tradition. But for those of us who are not sport fans, your sports brackets can become book brackets. One way of doing a battle of the books is through March Book Madness, which was created by two teachers in Ohio. The tournament is broken into young adult and younger novels.

But March is also Women’s Month!

Five women dressed as Rosie the Riveter, flexing their arms

Below is a book battle that will help you read more female writers this month. These items are available at Champaign Public and Urbana Free Libraries and through the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Library system. These items have been published in the last two to three years, although Ark Angels is a series of books, beginning in 2005, but the most recent addition to the series was published within the last two years (we included the first book in this list, rather than starting at the most recent.). This book battle has many options, spanning multiple genres, including romance, science fiction, memoirs, and LGBTQ+ topics.

Cartoon woman drinking coffee and reading at a cafe

Book cover of Hood Feminism

Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall

Today’s feminist movement has a glaring blind spot, and paradoxically, it is women. Mainstream feminists rarely talk about meeting basic needs as a feminist issue, argues Mikki Kendall, but food insecurity, access to quality education, safe neighborhoods, a living wage, and medical care are all feminist issues.


Book cover for Before She Disappeared

Before She Disappeared by Lisa Gardner

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Gardner, a propulsive thriller featuring an ordinary woman who will stop at nothing to find the missing people that the rest of the world has forgotten.



Book cover for Blink of an EyeBlink of an Eye by Iris Johansen

Delilah Winter is one of the hottest pop stars on the planet, so how in the world was she kidnapped right in the middle of a show at the famous Hollywood Bowl? If anyone can figure it out, it’s Dr. Kendra Michaels, who works with local and federal authorities on only the most impossible cases.



Book cover for The Burning GirlsThe Burning Girls by C.J. Tudor

Welcome to Chapel Croft. Five hundred years ago, eight protestant martyrs were burned at the stake. Thirty years ago, two girls disappeared without a trace. Two months ago, the local vicar killed himself. Reverend Jack Brooks, a single parent with a 14-year-old daughter and a heavy conscience, arrives in the village for a fresh start and some peace. Instead, Jack finds a town mired in secrecy and a strange welcome package: an old exorcism kit and a note quoting scripture.

Book cover for Start HereStart Here by Trish Doller

Willa and Taylor were supposed to spend the summer after high school sailing from Ohio to Key West with their best friend, Finley. But Finley died before graduation, leaving them a 25-foot sailboat, a list of clues leading them to destinations along the way, and a friendship that’s hanging by a thread. Now, Willa and Taylor have two months and 2000 miles to discover how life works without Finley, and to decide if their own friendship is worth saving.


Book cover for Ark Angels

Ark Angels Graphic Novel Series by Sang-Sun Park

Three young girls. The three girls, Shem, Ham and Japheth, are sisters from another world. Equipped with their magical powers, they are charged with saving all the creatures of Earth from becoming extinct.



Book cover for AlienationAlienation by Ines Estrada

This book is about Elizabeth, an exotic dancer in cyberspace, and Carlos, who was just fired from the last human-staffed oil rig, attempting to keep their romance alive.




Book cover for Upright Women WantedUpright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey

Esther is a stowaway. She’s hidden herself away in the Librarian’s book wagon in an attempt to escape the marriage her father has arranged for her–a marriage to the man who was previously engaged to her best friend. Her best friend who she was in love with. Her best friend who was just executed for possession of resistance propaganda. The future American Southwest is full of bandits, fascists, and queer librarian spies on horseback trying to do the right thing.


Book cover for Broken Places and Outer SpacesBroken Places and Outer Spaces: Finding Creativity by Nnedi Okorafor

Nnedi Okorafor was never supposed to be paralyzed. A college track star and budding entomologist, Nnedi’s lifelong battle with scoliosis was just a bump in her plan–something a simple operation would easily correct. But when Nnedi wakes from the surgery to find she can’t move her legs, her entire sense of self begins to waver.


Book cover for A Long Petal of the SeaA Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende

In the late 1930s, civil war gripped Spain. When General Franco and his Fascists succeed in overthrowing the government, hundreds of thousands are forced to flee. Among them is Roser, a pregnant young widow, who finds her life irreversibly intertwined with that of Victor Dalmau, an army doctor and the brother of her deceased love.


Happy March Madness!

GIF of Belle from Beauty and the Beast in the library

Written by: Simone
Edited by: Nicole

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