A Thursday with Meg: Making Health a Priority

For the past two weeks, I’ve been battling my first nasty cold of the winter season. I’m surprised it took me until mid-March to catch one, considering I’m always exposed to sick students at school and at work. But it finally hit and it’s hitting hard: laryngitis, cough, runny nose and now a sinus infection. I’ve practically rubbed my nose raw from all of the tissues I’ve used in the past week! (I’m sporting a bright red schnoz, just like Rudolph.)

I visited my campus health center on Tuesday morning, hoping to get some sort of medication to help clear this thing up. All the doctor could tell me was that I needed to wait it out, drink lots of fluids and get plenty of rest. I looked at her in disbelief, thinking to myself, “I don’t have time to get better! I have things to do: assignments, presentations and work!”

I realize this is how I, and so many other Americans, approach illness. We expect to go to our doctor and leave with a miracle prescription to instantly cure whatever is ailing us. We want results and we want them now. We live in a culture that values time as money: missing work or class due to illness for an extended period of time is not “acceptable.” We place our health on the backburner in order to get the most bang for our buck. Health becomes secondary in the grand scheme of our lives, yet we forget that in order to accomplish anything in this life, we need to maintain a health body and mind.

Even though I felt frustrated when I left the health center, I realized the doctor was right. I couldn’t expect my cold to be instantly cured. Too often, I forget that our bodies are perfectly capable of fighting off some of these illnesses, as long as we provide them with the rest, nutrients and care they require. Doctors can’t go handing out antibiotics at every cold they see—not only because of the antibiotic resistance that is plaguing this country, leading to ineffective medical care and weaker bodies due to the elimination of good bacteria in our system (yes, there is such a thing); but also because antibiotics can’t cure every ailment (think viruses!). A miracle pill simply doesn’t exist.

Yet, taking the week “off” to recover left me feeling immensely guilty. Not only did I miss my presentation for a class (kind of hard to do when you have no voice), I also missed meetings with professors and had to put projects on hold. I felt like my health wasn’t a “good enough” reason to miss school or work because my lifestyle had convinced me that making myself a priority was selfish. I know people who have bragged about going to class with the flu, who have never missed a day of school despite their illnesses. But what does that accomplish? Personally, I can’t concentrate in a class when my head is throbbing and I’m blowing my nose every 2 minutes. Plus, I risk exposing my classmates to my cold/flu/virus, which only perpetuates the vicious cycle of sickness.

So while I debated going to class this morning as my head throbbed, I coughed up mucus and my nose ran like a faucet, I took a moment to evaluate the situation. Was it going to be worth it? Should I try to fake my way through a class when all I would be preoccupied with was when I could get back in bed to rest? Would I want to be interrupting class with my constant nose-blowing and coughing? Most importantly, did I feel up to it? Nope. I had to remember that I am my number one priority: without my health and happiness, I can’t accomplish much. I come first in my life, and I need to treat my body with the care and respect it deserves so it can serve me for many, many years to come.

-Meg :)

 

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The Allie Way – Losing the Motivation Sensation?

Motivation is a huge part of being a leader. Leaders are not only motivated themselves, but they also have to continually motivate other people. But we all know that nobody’s perfect, and we can’t all be completely on top of the game all the time.

So what happens when your motivation falters? When either you don’t want to push forward anymore, or don’t know if you can? It is bound to happen at some point, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up! Personally, I’ve found that it’s easier to handle motivational issues when I am actively trying to be more self-aware. Some things to explore when your motivation seems to go missing… What is causing your lack of motivation? Why now? Is it because you feel that you no longer believe in your project, you no longer believe in yourself, others no longer believe in you, or none of the above? Are there unrelated factors that are causing your motivation to go down? Could it possibly be a physiological cause? Do you think taking a break would help you rest up and reinvigorate you, or do you think it would cause you to sink further into your lack of motivation? What could happen that would cause your motivation to come back, and how can you work toward that? Is your current state having an impact on other people as well? Do you feel like you have gradually been burning out, or was this sudden?

And there are bunches and bunches of other questions you can explore. There’s no need to interrogate yourself all at once, but keeping questions like these in the back of your mind can help you spot solutions more easily. Also, one thing that I like to do is to look at my situation when I AM feeling particularly motivated to do something.  I try to think, what happened to make me feel this way? What’s working? What factors are influencing my positive motivation more than others? Sometimes it can be hard to remember why you used to feel positively when you are currently feeling negatively, so making a mental note of why things are going well when they are might actually help you out down the road, if you do happen to start feeling drained or lacking in some way.

One thing that I have also learned about motivation—and I’m sure any young leaders can relate to—is that it comes and goes with time. We are all different, and therefore different things will make us feel more or less motivated. Some days I feel like I am on top of the world and I could do anything. I just sit at my computer and crank out e-mails, papers, readings, etc. Other days I feel like I can’t even bring myself to get out of bed and go to work, let alone do anything that requires much brain power or commitment.

Sometimes the future helps and sometimes it hurts, so be careful. When my friends or I start struggling with a lack of motivation, I know some people who always say things like, “Just look to the future; it will all be worth it in the end!” And very often that is indeed inspiring and thinking like that is how I’m able to get through some tough times. But sometimes, a lack of motivation is caused by the feeling that everything we are doing is going to fall apart in the future. If that’s the case, you may need some other positive thoughts to help you through, besides just that one. But having said that, looking for positive outcomes in the future can be a beneficial way to get through the day, if your motivation is at a lower level than usual.

A lack of motivation can be very frustrating, and can really get in the way of taking charge and becoming a leader. But it’s certainly not a reason to give up. And while everyone will have to find their own unique solution, I do believe that self-awareness can be helpful to almost anyone who is struggling. And no matter what the cause of losing your drive may be, just keep faith in yourself and know that it will come back! From my experience, it always does if you just hang in there. :)

-Allie, LeadHer Intern, Campus Calm®

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Wendy’s World: The Importance of Flexibility

Many organizations and articles state the importance of being flexible for professional progression, but during my study abroad experience in Jordan, I have realized the importance of being flexible for your own happiness as well.  The expectations that you set for yourself and how you handle and react to certain situations truly have an impact on your experiences.

Jordanian and American culture are very different in that Jordanians do not always understand the concept of having alone time.  It is a communal society where people are normally with their friends or family and are very rarely alone.  Furthermore, it is a more conservative society, especially for girls.  I and most of the other female students in my program have a curfew somewhere between 10-11pm.  Adding in the fact that you are living in a large city without full familiarity of your surroundings or all of your typical conveniences such as a car or reliable internet makes daily living a bit trickier.  On top of the culture, I am also on a program where we have a language pledge.  In other words, outside of speaking with friends and family from back home, I can only speak and listen to Arabic.

I admit that there are times when I am thriving in this environment and other times when I am having a hard time, but I know that my level of patience and flexibility has a significant impact on my experiences.  Arabic is very difficult for me, and there are plenty of times when not being able to understand everything is tiring and frustrating.  However, I know that at the end of this experience, my Arabic will be much stronger, even if it feels like I am not making any progress.  I could also complain about the unreliable transportation, the curfew, or the difficulties that come with living in someone else’s home, but by being flexible, open-minded, and respectful, finding a balance and a way to be happy in this environment will be easier.  In fact, rather than being resistant, trying to follow a different way of living can also provide me with other learning experiences.

Although this post is primarily about being flexible in the context of living in a new culture and country, I believe it can be applied to your daily life as well.  As a student, I know that there are times where I stay up way too late doing homework and get caught up on the little details of work and life.  Taking everything in stride is important.  Getting a B on a test or in a class is just a very small part of your educational career and your life.  Furthermore, there may be situations where the professor is disorganized or you do not agree with how your boss runs the department or organization.  Rather than letting it bother you, try to take it in stride, be proactive and view it as a learning experience.

At the end of the day, life is short.  Do not let external factors command your life but instead, take control of how these factors affect you and learn to dictate your own experience.

–Wendy Tran

Lead Her Intern, Campus Calm®

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Mondays with Meg: The Paradox of People-Pleasing

 

Hello again Campus Calmers! I’m glad to return back to my usual blogging day after a loooong break. Unfortunately, school work and my master’s thesis finally caught up with me and I needed to devote some serious time to planning all of that out. That being said, I took some time to reprioritize my life and I’m happy to be posting once again. :)

I want to touch on a subject that I know I’ve talked about before: the need to please others. It’s a theme that seems to be reoccurring in my life and something that I continue to grapple with. The idea of pleasing others isn’t necessarily “bad.” Bringing happiness and joy to people I care about is one of the most fulfilling experiences I’ve ever had. Yet, I find that I believe that I need to make sure everyone is happy, even if it means sacrificing my own personal happiness.

It’s the same idea behind saying “no” to people. There are times when I just can’t seem to do it, even though my schedule is booked. Why? Because of this need to please, this need to make sure someone isn’t mad or disappointed in me. It’s not easy for me to say “no” to someone I care about or someone I’m hoping to impress. But is it worth taking on another task, another favor, another assignment just to win someone’s approval? And why do I even need their approval?

Ultimately, I think my own people-pleasing drive comes from a source of insecurity. As a recovering perfectionist, I am still very self-critical and usually seek out the approval of others to legitimize my decisions, thoughts, and actions. But I’m realizing more and more that the only approval I need is my own. I need to accept myself and be confident in the decisions I make. The approval of a friend, classmate, colleague, or a professor may be a “confidence booster,” but ultimately, I am the only one who can manifest and maintain my own personal confidence. It starts with me, with making myself happy.

We spend so much time trying to make other people happy and accommodating for others, rather than focusing on our own personal happiness. We juggle schedules, push things aside and rearrange our lives to bring happiness to others. What would happen if we could do that for ourselves? What if we legitimized our own life events and recognized their importance? What would that life look like?

Making personal happiness a priority has changed the way I live. It’s still a very new concept for me and there are times when I “slip up” and put others before myself. The approval of others–our parents, our friends, our professors–is not the key to a happy life. But making the time to say “yes” to yourself–even if it means saying “no” to others–allows you to build the inner harmony that is necessary to personal well-being, confidence, and happiness.

Happy Monday :)

-Meg

-Meg Rindfleisch, Lead Her Intern, Campus Calm®

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Overstressing Achievements

At the beginning of the semester I was offered an opportunity to take a class where if I achieved the highest grade, I would be awarded with a special distinction in that class. Although a small number of students achieve the highest grade, I knew that I could meet the requirements to attain that distinction but I simply didn’t find the class to be stimulating and it wouldn’t help me to develop news skills. Saying no to an accolade can be hard for perfectionists, but I was at peace with my decision and I didn’t hesitate to tell my professor that I wasn’t interested in the prospect of getting a distinction.

When we are constantly motivated by achievements we can forget how to be present. We focus on what that achievement will bring to us in the future and torture ourselves with missed opportunities of accomplishing something in the past. Sometimes those accomplishments are not in alignment with our own goals and they can take us further from a place where we want to be. When attainment is not aligned with our core aspirations we don’t feel content.

For about a week I tested myself to see if I would start to think that I made a wrong choice. To be honest, I was slightly surprised how uninterested in it I was. There are different places where you can learn and grow and the one where you can be honored with an award might not necessarily be the best place. Keep an open mind and try not to overemphasize accolades.

-Danica,
Lead Her Intern, Campus Calm®

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