Huffington speaks at Northwestern about importance of sleep, decreasing stress


Nathan Richards/Daily Senior Staffer

Arianna Huffington addresses students in Harris Hall on Sunday night. Huffington’s talk, presented by A&O, touched on topics including the role of stress and burnout in today’s society.

Tyler Pager, Assistant Campus Editor

For most of her career, Arianna Huffington never prioritized her own health. But when she realized that lifestyle was not sustainable, she refined her goals and set out to spread her new message.

“If we’re lucky, we have 30,000 days to play the game of life and how we play it will be determined by what we value, and what we value will be determined by how we define success and how we define a good life,” she said. “That is a conversation that is really wonderful to be having at your age rather than waiting and be having at my age.”

Huffington spoke Sunday night to about 120 individuals in Harris Hall about ways to reduce stress and about the importance of sleep. Huffington was joined on stage by McCormick junior Jon Feldman, Weinberg senior Nancy DaSilva and Weinberg junior Arianna Yanes. Alicia Menendez, the anchor of Fusion’s “Alicia Menendez Tonight,” moderated the discussion.

Feldman discussed his struggles finding a summer internship as an environmental engineering major, which led to Huffington offering him a position to work for The Huffington Post’s “Green” section this summer.

Huffington’s talk was sponsored by A&O Productions and the Office of the President. Huffington is the editor-in-chief, chair and president of the Huffington Post Media Group.

Huffington’s perspective on life changed in April 2007 when she woke up in a puddle of blood after hitting her head when she collapsed at her desk from exhaustion and lack of sleep. She was left with a broken cheekbone and a cut above her eye.

“I thought to myself, by a conventional definition of success, I’m successful, but by any sane definition of success, if you’re lying in a pool of blood in your office, you’re not successful,” she said.

The experience was the catalyst for her new book, “Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder.” Huffington said the culture of sacrificing sleep for work needs to be changed.

“You are congratulated for working 24/7, which is really equivalent to being congratulated for coming to work drunk,” she said. “We now take better care of our iPhones than we take care of ourselves.”

Although the event was not part of A&O’s scheduled programming, spokeswoman Rosalind Mowitt said the group was happy to collaborate with the Office of the President to bring Huffington to NU.

“I think mental health on campus is a really important issue, and I thought it was really nice to shed some light on that,” the Weinberg senior said. “I’m super proud of A&O because it didn’t necessarily fall in the vein of general entertainment and it was a little heavier.”

McCormick freshman Annie Kopp said she has long been a fan of The Huffington Post and was excited to hear Huffington speak.

“She was so easy to relate to and everything really hit home for me,” she said. “The idea of taking time for yourself especially because when she says people brag about how little sleep they get, I kind of fell into that first quarter and I got really sick. So, for me, hearing her say that you have to take time and sleep was really important.”

Huffington said she has tried to visit as many colleges as possible as part of her book tour to spread her message because millennials are known as the “stress generation.”

“It was clear from the conversation how many students do feel burned out and stressed out and it’s not that you can completely eliminate stress, but you can put it in its place and not have it overwhelm your life and lead to some many dangerous practices,” she told The Daily.

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