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

Barbara Cathcart

As evidenced by our seminars this semester, there are several very good reasons to abandon the traditional mind/body dualism and to accept a more holistic view of human existence. Because Bryn Mawr College is such an academically focused environment, it is a common trend among students to neglect their physical well-being in order to achieve greater intellectual success. On the whole, we do not sleep enough, skip meals, fail to exercise regularly, and endure a great deal of stress throughout the academic year. We seem to think success in one area requires sacrifice in the other. By becoming aware of the fact that the mind and body have a symbiotic, rather than opposing, relationship, we realize that such a lifestyle is counterproductive to the ends we desire. Not only does it harm our bodies, it hinders success in intellectual areas.

It is generally agreed that one of the guiding principles of life is balance. If we come to accept that the mind and body are dependent on one another and that they are both equally constitutive of our identities, we must begin to find a balance between our academic requirements and our bodily concerns. Perhaps an all-nighter isn't worth that extra point on the exam; perhaps eating a full meal will be more helpful in preparing for a test than jamming in another fifteen minutes of studying. The seminars on sleep deprivation and exercise, especially, help us to see how important taking care of our bodies is to our success in academic endeavors. Another positive side effect of this view toward the mind/body relationship is that it encourages us to take greater responsibility for our physical welfare. Illness is often something beyond our control, but living a healthy lifestyle is not. Having a positive attitude toward exercising and eating well is essential to improving one's physical well-being.

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