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Women Living Well: Mind/Body Connection - 2002
Student Papers
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The Mind-Body Connection: When Women Will Really Be Able to Do Anything

Greta Tessman

The importance of thinking of the body-mind connection is especially relevant for women. The pressures of work, friends, activities, significant others, and children demand that our bodies are constantly on the go—causing many women to turn their attention away from their own mental health. Unfortunately, because these two entities have such a strong relationship, many women do not feel as healthy as they should. With the current health and fitness craze, many women remember they need to make time for their bodies in the form of exercising and eating properly. Where is the current healthy mind craze? As we have seen in the past seven weeks through these lectures, having a healthy body is only a small part of overall well-being.

Until I went abroad to Australia last semester, I too was one of those women constantly on the go without a thought about the state of my mind. I ate properly, exercised regularly, and occasionally got the recommended amount of sleep. But by the end of sophomore year, I knew something was missing. There were very few days that I felt "really good." Why? I was not ill. My body was present in the classroom, the gym, and parties...but I was not completely there because I was neglecting the mind-body connection. My semester abroad in Australia was spent focusing on me. I did the activities I enjoy, learned the importance of their "no worries" moto, and reevaluated what made me a happy person. "No worries" became part of my daily language and action—it means don't stress. What is so important it is worth making yourself sick or unhappy over? With this attitude, I was able to focus in class, studying and take exams, and relate to people socially in a way I had not for a while. My goal for coming back to Bryn Mawr was to continue this state of mind. Although I must admit I am not as carefree as I was in sunny Melbourne Australia, I am much happier than before I left. I feel "really good" the majority of the time now. At Bryn Mawr "no worries" means getting enough sleep, going for a walk if I feel overwhelmed, and thinking about my overall health as much as I do about my studies. We get caught up in the academic pressure, fast-paced lifestyle, and being the best at Bryn Mawr. It is only when we can appreciate ourselves both physically and mentally that we are able to truly have a successful career at Bryn Mawr. I will not look back at Bryn Mawr in 10 years and remember my graduating GPA or that test that I didn't do well on. I will, however, be able to look back and remember how healthy I felt, how much I appreciated my friendships, and how I was able to benefit from my mind-body connection.

We are only young once. We are at the critical age where our decisions about how we treat our minds and bodies will have lasting consequences. We pride ourselves on "being able to do it all." Work, kids, significant others...being successful at all of these. This takes more than a Bryn Mawr diploma, more than a Ph.d, and more than looking good while you're doing this. For women this means taking time out of your busy schedules to satisfy your mind-body connection. As the seminars have emphasized, these satisfaction requirements are different for each woman. It may mean taking a swim, yoga, reading your favorite book, going to a spa, or talking to a friend. It means being physically active and mentally sound. We need to remember check on the status of our body-mind connections every once in a while. We go for physicals once a year, why not reevaluate our overall well-being at least this often as well. Are we getting frequent migraines, losing your temper with you kids, depressed, or perhaps abusing a substance? It is within our power to change your lifestyle habits, practices, and choices.

What is the classic message at Bryn Mawr? Women can do anything. Women are Olympic athletes, key political figures, and sitting on the Supreme Court. However, it is not until we are able to recognize the importance of the mind-body connection and act accordingly, that we will truly be able to do anything and enjoy all that we are doing.

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