Sophie Matthews said the idea for “The Well Being Podcast” started when a FITWELL staff member overheard her and a friend talking about self-compassion at the gym.
The encounter led to a discussion between her and the staff member on how a podcast could help inform students about the available health programs on campus.
“We got onto this topic, how could we reach students on campus about programing, yoga, nutrition,” said Matthews, a fourth-year psychology student and host of the podcast. “It was just an idea that was thrown out there.”
Matthews discussed the idea with two of her friends, who she knew would be interested in the project. From there, they started to work on the project in the fall. The student-run podcast went on hiatus from February to March, but has recently returned with the April 1 release of a podcast on womanhood. The podcast serves to inform listeners about different means of attaining physical and emotional wellness, Matthews said.
The podcast hosts took the hiatus in order to take time the streamline logistics of their show, including types of topics to cover and frequency of publication. With the new podcasts, the team aims to release two episodes a month. Each episode lasts 20 minutes and features different guest speakers which include students, UCLA workers and outside professionals, said Bethanie Atinuke Sonola, a third-year psychology student and the social media and marketing director of the podcast. One upcoming podcast will discuss mindfulness, an interdisciplinary means of self-care in which an individual engages in self-reflective activities.
“We want our listeners to engage with the content we put out. It’s a knowledge bank in a way,” Sonola said. “When I know more about (the content), it’s like knowing more about myself, knowing more about other people.”
In order to create a podcast, Sonola starts by contacting potential guests and individuals who have already reached out to the podcast. If a topic is specific, such as the accessibility of mindfulness, Sonola requests that the guest send materials that can help the members prepare, such as links or videos, which Matthews reads up on to create guiding questions.
The podcast members decorate their recording rooms, which are usually study spaces such as the ones in Rieber Hall or the Young Research Library, said Angaea Cuna, a fourth-year design media arts student and the art and design director for the podcast. To create a homier atmosphere, members bring items such as posters, a selection of teas, mugs, pillows and candles, she said.
Ryan Deboer, a fourth-year linguistics student and a past guest speaker for the topic of rest from a Christian perspective, said the decorations were unexpected but created a relaxing experience when he went in to record with the podcast hosts. The overall atmosphere calmed his nerves and helped make the interview feel more like a conversation between friends, he said.
In each interview, the members take time to get to know the guest speakers and have them settle in, Cuna said. Sometimes they become so involved in the conversations that one of the members has to halt the discussion and actually start the recording, she said.
“We want to keep it organic; that’s our thing. We want it to feel like a natural conversation,” Matthews said.
Members of the podcast try to invite a variety of guests to get a diverse perspective on how other individuals define the term “well-being,” Sonola said. Other upcoming podcasts will discuss topics including the importance of rest and its different forms, Cuna said.
“We don’t want to present something that’s completely foreign and meaningless,” Cuna said. “I hope that when people listen to these podcasts, it’s a feeling of connection, … feeling motivated to keep on listening and also hopefully motivated to connect with us, maybe share their narratives.”