Samantha Huggins on Her Wellness Regimen, Openness Versus Vulnerability, and Mental Health in Schools

Samantha Huggins is a marketing consultant and adjunct professor based out of New York. I met Samantha when she brought in her students from Yeshiva University who were studying Enterpreneurship to WeWork for a hands-on exploration of the subject, and where I had the pleasure of speaking to her students about my experience starting my own company. I was moved by her clear sense of nurturing and concern for her students, and we soon developed a rapport. We have since collaborated on a lecture with a lens towards entrepreneurship for the Business Organization and Management course at NYU, and I have asked Samantha this time to lend her voice to the wellness conversation as someone who has a lot of insight to share and with one foot in the commercial world and one foot in academia. We talk about her wellness regimen, mental health in schools and educational institutions, and vulnerability.

Name: Samantha Huggins  
Title/Role: Marketing Consultant & Adjunct Professor 
Based in: New York 
Age: 42

1. In your words, who are you?  

I’d like to believe that when it comes to me who you see is who you get.  I am a woman that strives to be my authentic self at all times, ever evolving and changing.  Funny enough, often I’ve been told by people “you aren’t what I expected you to be and it’s been a pleasant surprise.”  

2. Give us a day in your life. 

Samantha: On this particular day I woke up at 7:30 AM,  I dressed and was at the entrance of Prospect Park by 8 AM.  I ran the inner loop of the park and returned back home by 9 AM.  I had breakfast at home, which I enjoy because I like making breakfast for myself, two scrambled eggs, 2 slices of turkey bacon and a cup of coffee.  I checked my work and personal emails while creating my “to do list”. For most of my adult life I’ve created a to-do-list. It helps me to keep track and prioritize the things in my life.  At 10 AM, I had to meet with my real estate agent in regards to a sale of a property. The meeting lasted for an hour and a half. The next two hours are spent working on any projects that I am consulting on, returning emails, and completing a few things on the to-do-list.  Then, for the next three hours I had to prep for my graduate class. What they don’t tell you about teaching is besides the actual hours that you spend in the classroom there are far more hours spent prepping. At around 4:30 PM I started getting ready for work to make it to my 6:20 PM class in the city.   The class ends around 9 PM and I’m home by 10 PM. When I get home this late I tend to simply have a light dinner while catching up on my recordings or the news. Over the past couple of years I strived to create a work life balance. I choose to describe this day because it was neither strenuous nor overly exciting for me, it was a good balance.  

3. Describe your wellness regimen if you have one. What are some actions you take to keep yourself well (mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually)?  

Samantha: After I wake up in the morning I try not talk to anyone for at least and hour.  I take this time to be quiet, to plan my day and to set my mind on my intentions.   This hour can include activities such as meditating, going for a morning run or simply sitting alone on my balcony.   I really enjoy the quiet time. Since I set my own work schedule this works best for me and may be difficult for others.  I’m also aware a lot of my female friends with other obligations wish they could do the same. I know I’m not going to have the luxury of my single lifestyle forever so I’m grateful for this season.

4. How do you feel about talking about mental health? Is it something you comfortably talk about with friends or professional colleagues in person?

Samantha: I am extremely comfortable speaking about mental health with others, and I encourage others to talk to me about it as well.  I believe mental health is often the cause of a lot of human issues. I’ve been blessed to have an inner circle of friends, male and female, that feel the same way.  However, I’ve seen up close what poor mental health can do to a person and his/her community. I believe in the African American community, seeking professional help has been considered something that other people and cultures do, and it’s unfortunate.   Speaking with a professional has personally been beneficial for me, that is why I am an advocate for anyone seeking help.   

5. Do you have a daily/weekly regimens to be well? What is it? 

Samantha: I am a runner, it’s the thing that clears my head, it’s what I do when I’m about to make a life altering decision.  Lucky for me, as a bonus, it keeps my body in shape and physical health under control. If a week goes by and I haven’t ran I honestly start to feel bad about myself.   

6. How long have you been teaching? What do you find is a primary concern revolving around students’ minds today?

Samantha: I am in my third semester of teaching.   Most of my students are Millennials and their primary concerns are about the state of the economy, their growing debt and competition for jobs after graduation.  Many believe that they have gotten the short end of the stick when it comes the the economy. They worry that they won’t be able to fulfill their dreams of getting a good job, starting a family and buying a home as “easily” as they believe their parents generation did.  

7. In your opinion, are today’s educational institutions built to support conversations amongst youth such as mental heath or inclusivity? Are there sufficient guidelines in place for professors, directors? 

Samantha: I do believe that today’s educational institutions are built to support conversations amongst youths about mental health and inclusivity.  There are far more resources for students than when I was in school at the time. In one of my classes I recall spending the first half of the sessions discussing mental health and university outlets for the students if they needed any.   I think credit should be given to this generation for that change. They have been at the forefront of mental health and more accepting of the concept than their older cohorts. As for the faculty, there are mandatory training courses for Diversity and Inclusivity for Professors and Directors.  We have to take these courses and be “certified” every year before the school semester begins. This is all geared to be of better service to the student body. With that being said, I don’t think there is enough mental health support for the faculty. That is something that can be improved. 

Are youth equipped with the support to navigate modern living and constant connectivity (when people used to be connected to on average ~100 people, and with technology, that number being in the 1000+ number now)? How do you feel that’s affecting wellbeing? 

Samantha: I do think today’s youths are overly concerned about the number of “likes” and “followers” they have on social media.  Technology has made the world smaller and instant. But the reality is, this is their normal and we have to accept it.  Unless something catastrophic happens, the world isn’t going to get any less connected than it is now. So we all have to learn to navigate this new world.   I have faith that with life and maturity our youths will learn what’s truly important just like the generations before them did. Despite all the distractions our youths are still doing amazing things out there, I haven’t given up on the generation and there really is no reason to. 

8. Is there is such a thing as being too open?  

Samantha: I believe there is a difference between being vulnerable and being open.  To me being vulnerable means allowing yourself to have a human connection, being open means over sharing.  I do think there is such a thing as over sharing, especially in today’s social media era. Ironically there are many people being open but not emotionally connecting.   I do not however believe that there is such a thing as being too vulnerable because having human connections with each other is why we are here.   

9. What is a brand, organization, or an item in the wellness space that you are in love with? 

Samantha: I’ve recently discovered NATIVE.  I use the brand for their deodorant.  For a while I have been looking to replace my old faithful Secret antiperspirant deodorant for a brand that does not include aluminum in their ingredients.   I am loving that they have a variety of fragrances to choose from, so much so I haven’t been able to settle on a scent.  

Editor’s Note:

“There is insufficient evidence to support the belief that using antiperspirants/deodorants increases the risk of getting breast cancer or Alzheimer’s.  The American Cancer Society (ACS) states that the main risk related to using these products is that they can cause skin irritation if a razor nick or cut becomes infected. The myth that deodorant causes cancer has been circulated via emails, on websites, and even in newspapers.  The story varies from source to source, but contains some or all of the following elements:

  • Aluminium-containing antiperspirants prevent toxins from being expelled by the body.  These toxins clog up lymph nodes around the armpits and breasts and cause breast cancer.
  • The risk is higher for women who apply deodorant after shaving.  This is because nicks in the skin increase absorption of aluminium and other chemicals.
  • The aluminium in deodorants is absorbed by the skin. It affects the blood brain barrier and has been linked with the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

Reputable organisations like the American National Cancer Institute, Cancer Research UK, the American Cancer Society and most other major authorities suggest the link between deodorant or antiperspirant use and breast cancer is unconfirmed, or simply a myth. Studies show that there is no relationship between antiperspirant use and Alzheimer’s disease. Humans are exposed to aluminium from food, packaging, pans, water, air and medicines.  From the aluminium we are exposed to, only minute amounts are absorbed, and these are usually excreted or harmlessly stored in bone.  At any one time, the average human body contains much less aluminium than an antacid tablet.  The Alzheimer’s Society states that the link between environmental Aluminium and Alzheimer’s disease seems increasingly unlikely.6” –

By Susan Im

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