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

Emiko Saito

As I come upon the end of my undergraduate career, it is apparent to me that the connection between my mind and body are closer than I first imagined. The series of lectures in 'Women Living Well' has been a more tangible and professional approach to what I feel most students learn at the end of four years at an institution like Bryn Mawr College. The path to the realization of self-care and the connection between the mind and body, without the aid of such a class, often comes at a dear price later in the academic undergraduate experience. Unfortunately, the path to such realizations is often a difficult one and long in the making. Commonly, students contact a point where there is no other alternative than to let their studies fall by the wayside of emotional and physical health. Such a point is often difficult and overwhelming. In that sense, I feel that a class such as 'Women Living Well' is beneficial to those beginning the process of learning to take care of one's self before it becomes a necessity further down the line.

I feel that it is unfortunate that I came upon this class so late in my time here at BMC. I know that it would have been influential in the choices I made, had I been exposed to a forum in which topics such as depression and sleep deprivation were discussed with my peers. The opportunity to openly discuss the lifestyle choices that are frequently made at BMC, in reference to the academic and emotional workload that seems to overburden most, would have helped me to observe the larger context of my own choices.
It is important to note that Bryn Mawr College is a place that is surreal. It bears little resemblance to the environments in which most of us will settle further down the line. This point is significant in that it touches upon the idea that most of us have realized that there is a strong relationship between how well are bodies are treated and how well or hearts and minds function. However, we also tend to prioritize the need to accomplish before most else, including health. I don't feel that BMC would be the academically-charged environment that we 'enjoy' without a studentbody that strives to achieve. I have always wanted to exercise, eat right, and sleep enough, yet I have always convinced myself that once I finish school, there would be ample time to relax and treat myself well. I had always been a believer in the concept that one has to experience the dreariness of rain in order to appreciate the warmth of the sun.

In general, I have always hoped to treat my body well, knowing that it is an integral component of a healthy mind. I have attempted on numerous occasions to begin exercise plans, eat regularly (versus one a day), sleep at least eight hours a night, keep my anxiety levels low, avoid any overwhelming demands of my time and effort unless necessary. I suppose the key term in that statement is the word, 'necessary.' At some point in my life, I had prioritized the responsibility of self-care as something with which I could not be bothered. I am aware that the human body is a resilient machine, and as a student, I have pushed it to the limits. It seems a common trait among Mawrters to be accustomed to a high degree of suffering. There really is no other term to describe what we put ourselves through.

Suffering: physical, mental, emotional strain that borders on the unbearable at times. Is there a reason to put one's self through this? Yes. There is a sense of achievement, accomplishment, knowing that you have pushed the envelope further that you had hoped. What also needs to be understood, in reference to self-care and the trials and tribulations of BMC, is that there is a very strong reinforcer as a result of being an overachiever and not giving full consideration to one's health. It feels great to achieve and to do well. When Karen Levin discussed addiction, I feel as if she should have touched upon the topic of achievement as a form of addiction. After a week of no sleep, little food and no exercise in order to finish and perfect one research paper, there is an amazing feeling that courses through one's body and mind. For the Mawrter, perhaps it is this feeling that connects the mind and body the most?

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