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

The Mind Body Connection

Shanti Mikkilineni

It was easier to understand, through this seminar, how much more interrelated mind and body are. It is very easy to think that an affliction of the body only takes its toll on the body and vice versa. I noticed that this is not necessarily true when I looked at my own sleeping patterns. I realized that my work was greatly affected when I did not get enough sleep. I also realized that the later I was up, the harder it was to focus and the poorer quality my work was. The lesson for this came the hard way when I was up way too late one night studying for a final. I didn't think that a lack of sleep could affect my body's ability to function. Yet I learned first hand, that my mental health relies on my physical health.
I've learned to also take more care of my body. I used to think that people who told me to exercise just wanted me to get in better shape. I would go with a friend to the gym once in a while but then I started playing soccer. By playing a sport I realized that there is more merit to exercise than just getting in shape. All that oxygen I was taking in during the game helped me focus more on my work, it curbed my appetite, and in general made me more excited for the things that were going on.
After hearing the seminars on exercise, sleep, and mood, I realized that my well-being depends on multiple factors and that I won't just feel physically better if I get more sleep. By relating mind and body experiences, I've attempted to work out more and to get more rest. At this point, I've realized that I definitely need those 8 and hours of sleep to function properly. I've set myself up on a more rigid schedule and have imposed a bedtime on myself. I also have tried to stop letting my grades become such a stress to me. The more stress I put on myself, the harder it was to work and the more physical strain I would feel. I was able to offset that strain in part with exercise but I realized that to truly feel well, I would have to put my mind and body first and if need be sacrifice some work.
Living here at Bryn Mawr among so many intelligent and competitive women, it's easy to get caught up in work or to let that be the only goal in your life. I've stopped worrying so much about things in general. I learned quickly after coming here that a lot of the things that I saw as stresses where just stresses that I imposed on myself. After I attempted to change my lifestyle here, I kept it changed even at home. I found that I had more energy to keep up after my younger siblings and I was still alert and capable of talking to my parents when they came back from work. I was sleeping better so I was yawning through my day but instead was enjoying the time that I had with my family.
By thinking of being well in a more holistic sense and realizing that my mind and body work together, I was able to achieve more relaxation. In the past, I would stop doing work but would still feel physical stress, or I would stop working out but would still feel pressure or anxiety about schoolwork. I've learned to put the two together and to really appreciate the connection between mind and body. They are both part of my body and make me capable of being healthy and active. From this seminar I've realized, the I will not feel well if I punish one part of my body while releasing my mind. Mind and body are simultaneous experiences, which need to be taken care of and given attention.

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