Lifestyle is everything

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Welcome back from Thanksgiving break, Marquette! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday, a relaxing, rejuvenating break, and some much needed family time. My short break was all of those things and more, just not long enough. But that brings me to my next thought though, there’s only a few weeks left of the semester. Less than two weeks of classes, and then we are into finals week. I cannot believe how quickly it has gone by, and I am sure you are thinking the same thing. And with that thought, comes some impending anxiety about the last push. In my case, all of the projects and presentations, all of the papers, and all of the exams. Maybe for you, all of the grading, or all of the other deadlines approaching.

I know I have said it before, but it is more important now than ever: step back and destress. Now crunch times can be stressful for anyone, but having anxiety can make deadlines and pressure all that more stressful. We are lucky to have some wonderful campus resources for dealing with anxiety, and other mental health struggles. Now, I completely understand that even thinking about talking to someone about anxiety would just give you even more anxiety, but I assure you, it shouldn’t. There are a lot of misconceptions about anxiety (or any mental health concern in general) that give it a stigma, making it seem like a bad thing, like struggling with mental health makes you weak. But these misconceptions are just that, they are wrong, and it is worth talking about. And, according to David Spiegel, Stanford University’s associate chair of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, “avoidance is not a good strategy.” Even I could have told you that, but when it comes from an expert on the subject, it reassures the idea even further. I have spent a lot of time running from my anxiety, but when I recognized and acknowledged it, I was then able to also recognize and acknowledge some great ways to help live my everyday life more fully and freely.

I am a big advocate for making lifestyle changes in order to deal with health related issues. This includes my struggle with an autoimmune disease, depression, and anxiety. And a lot has changed since I wrote that first blog over a year ago. I have come to terms with what I can do for myself through my lifestyle. There are more connections between lifestyle and health and wellness than people realize. When your body is given the proper care it needs and deserves, it is amazing what it will return to you. Eating healthy, exercising, and taking care of your spiritual and emotional wellness won’t solve everything, it isn’t a miracle cure. It seems as though many people expect it to be, and that makes it difficult to follow through on a lifestyle change. It can be disheartening to start eating healthy or to begin a new exercise routine and to not see results right away. It can take a while, but I assure you it is worth it. You may not see immediate changes in your health or how your body feels. In fact, you may even feel worse for a while, maybe you will be tired and groggy, or you will get headaches since your body is used to a lot of sugar, and other harmful ingredients. So, in spirit of what I assured at the beginning of the semester, let’s do this together and make this our best year yet with a lifestyle change.

You don’t have to do anything crazy or drastic if you don’t want to. Start off small to make it easy. Make a small change: eat more fruits and vegetables, cut your daily bowl of ice cream to once a week, get up in the morning and go for a walk or do some yoga, and don’t be afraid to get help from others, because we are not on this earth alone and we do care. Have a productive, but stress-free week, and I will talk to you next Tuesday.

Alicia Diedrich

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