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


I would like to first talk about food and diet, a topic that really ought to have been included in the Women Living Well lecture series. Perhaps mentioning this first and most prominently in the paper will be more effective in getting this topic included in following semesters. This is an especially important issue for college students. I realize a Nutrition class does exist that can be taken for Physical Education credit. However, given that Bryn Mawr's dining hall is all-you-can eat, our students are more likely not to eat healthily. Lately I find myself not eating as much as I should because I find the food unappetizing. Sometimes I will skip meals altogether to get more sleep or to work on assignments. I came to BMC (this is my first year) underweight, gained eight pounds in my first semester, and am still underweight. So, to get to the point: my situation is hardly unique. Eating habits should be a part of the discussion series. And now on to answering the actual question.

Talking about lifestyle habits as inter-related made them more relevant for me. Learning about the compounded effects of bad habits on the body was more affecting than just hearing about what each bad habit does individually. Everyone knew even before the lectures that not exercising and continuously not getting enough sleep are bad for you. These are the most prevalent health truisms out there.

The lectures were effective because we found out that lack of exercise doesn't just hurt you in physical ways. Exercise is a form of stress relief that I had never really considered. I'm a fairly skinny person, and so never needed to exercise to lose weight. From the lecture on exercise, I learned that not exercising also leads to lethargy. I had always figured that whenever I was feeling lethargic, I was just bored. I would usually take a nap whenever I felt this way. From another lecture, I learned that napping in these situations is the exact opposite of what I should be doing. But, did I actually follow through and start going to the gym? I swam three times in one week, skipped one week of exercise, and then did three days the next week in the Fitness Center. I did not go at all for the next couple of weeks. My body did feel different (better) after each time I had exercised. I felt more awake, experienced the feelings everybody does after exercising. The week after I stopped going because I had a paper and a major exam due.

The lecture on Migraine Headaches, while related to another health issue - stress, was not all that relevant to my life since I do not suffer from headaches. "Women and Addiction" also was not so meaningful to my life, though I am the better for having attended both lectures. I better understand these issues that are so central to the lives of a lot of people. Should I start getting headaches, I will know that something serious has triggered the onset. I know to visit a specialist rather than my family doctor.

A lecture that I found helpful was Earl Thomas' on anxiety. Anxiety, about social situations and also about my schoolwork, is something I deal with everyday. A point the lecture stressed continually was the need to see a doctor for help with the problem. Medication was made to seem a very viable means of getting rid of anxiety. I feel that the lecturer should have mentioned possible long-term effects on the brain of anti-anxiety and anti-depression drugs. The lecturer did mention the unfortunate tendency of doctors to over-prescribe anti-anxiety medications. It would have been nice to find out exactly why everyone should not be taking Paxil et al.

Thank you very much for this informative lecture series! Being geared toward women, it has helped me learn a lot about which habits I should avoid.

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