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Women Living Well: Mind/Body Connection - 2002
Student Papers
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The Mind/Body Connection

Ashley Garrigan

After finishing this lecture series, I find it very interesting that mind and body are often thought of as distinct aspects of human experience. Looking back on the first question posed to us at the forum, "What is wellness," I have reconsidered my answer: "I guess I would say that wellness entails eating well as trying to do right by your body and mind." Now, I would not hesitate and "guess" that a state of wellness derives from a mind/body connection. Instead, I may say with absolute certainty that an acknowledgement of the mind/body connection is necessary to achieve a state of wellness.

The six topics we have covered in this course have been well thought out as to draw upon the importance of this mind/body connection. All of our presentations have been intricately related to each other: sleeping habits affect depression while depression affects sleeping habits; depression is a hallmark of addiction; stress may help us fulfill our goals, but an overblown anxiety may be dangerous. Additionally, I have realized the importance of the healthy body for the functioning of a healthy mind, as nearly every presentation has focused on the importance of exercise as a method of achieving a harmony of the mind and body. Exercise can decrease stress, which can decrease headaches; exercise releases endorphins, which can help elevate our "moods"; by being more attune to our body though exercise, we may be more able to recognize what is good for our body and, conversely, what is not; exercise can help regulate our sleep patterns, decreasing stress and uplifting our moods.

Now that I am attuned to this mind/body connection, I am more liable to make changes in my lifestyle that reflect this symbiosis. I realize now, for example, that consistently substituting a large cup of coffee (or its equivalent) for that extra hour or two of sleep is not only not a reasonable substitute, but also that, in doing so, I am putting myself at risk for unnecessary headaches, as well as bouts of depression, and poor performance from lack of sleep. Relieving anxiety or "taking the edge off" are not served well by a cigarette or drink - tying stress to addictive substances only leads to further problems. Instead, when I feel overwhelmed by a situation, perhaps I should divorce myself from its immediacy by taking a run or doing something similarly healthy for my body.

Being at Bryn Mawr, we all know how easy it is to feel overwhelmed by our surroundings, our friends, and our work. These lectures may particularly speak to us as college students and women. It is especially important that we recognize the connection that the mind and body share, so that we may obtain an overall sense of wellness in such an intense environment. Are those extra 30 minutes of studying really necessary when we won't remember the material anyway, thanks to our consistent lack of sleep? Would we be better served by engaging in some sort of ritual that makes us unwind after a long and busy day at the Mawr? I think so. Not only can these activities ward off the headaches, the anxiety, the depression that plague so many people here, but they can actually improve our moods and make us more ready to battle that ever-increasing load of work. I think that we would do well to put into practice the words of our presenters.

Knowing what I do now, I am able to take the advice of the experts we have had access to, and I hope that I will. I know I could certainly use a de-stresser and mood enhancer on a regular basis. If we are capable of doing it naturally by attuning ourselves to the connection between the body and mind, we should certainly take advantage.

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