By Devon Chang
Congratulations, we’ve made it. A period of time to ride through the final weeks of the school year will look different for each one of us. Perhaps some will enjoy a celebration of making it through the year as we inch closer to summer. Or maybe more realistically, something a little less blissful: the daunting thought of our end of year PBAs inevitably creeping up closer behind the corner.
I hope that whenever this piece finds you, no matter where you feel you are, will give you something to ponder on in any attempt to find some balance and create healthier living for yourself.
As a student, I find it incredibly easy to sink into some hole of darkness, to carry some persona of an overly fatigued and stressed self, and to be just utterly engrossed in it. I have been quite guilty of putting up a kind of front in the depths of my junior year. At times I’ve learned to recognize the need to pause and reassess the reality of the moment: As stressful as the thought of completing this assignment may be, how daunting, truly, is the task itself? I’ve grown to understand that minimizing your perception of whatever may be at hand will lessen the size of the bump in the road and soon you will be smooth sailing. Your mind is truly the core of everything you do, and you hold all the power to mold it in whatever way you see best. Remember that!
Recognizing this power unlocked my dedication to taking charge over my mental wellness, and to seek ways to creep out of this pit with the greater hope of claiming more positivity in my everyday life.
Unfortunately, the perception of living “well,” at least on social media, has been reduced to some performative aesthetic of “ultra wellness,” the absolute precision of a clear cut, clean, and pristine lifestyle that shys away from much of what comes before ever achieving balance. And even so, it is only half of the story.
The commonly referenced “that girl” niche social media feeds presents, the utter personification of a healthy lifestyle that feeds off of pure aesthetics. It is “that girl” who sips on green juice at the start of every early morning, takes daily trips to overpriced cycling classes, and frequent visits to Whole Foods. The whole notion of health has redefined itself in a completely unrealistic highlight reel of “that girl” who makes it look all so seemingly effortless, when to a general viewer, it feels quite unachievable. Call it, helpless glamour.
Simultaneously, it is incredibly significant to recognize the subjectivity of health, that to be “well” is not directly synonymous to looking the part, in the ways it seems to be defined. Wellness can be accessible, and within a whirlwind of media influences, learning to develop and incorporate your own healthy habits is key.
Defining your “healthy lifestyle,” hopefully will serve to pull you into some balance, and aid in making some days feel a little more approachable.
At the start of 2022, I began my journey with “The Five Minute Journal.”
Prior to having in my hands a more “official” journal, I recognized the power of transferring my thoughts in different mediums, to a place perhaps more tangible. For me, that always meant writing. In moments when life seems to spin faster than I can handle, I find that pouring every overwhelming thought onto an empty Google Doc, or a sheet of paper serves as a great tool to reground myself. Here, you have the opportunity to see more visually, what it is exactly that feels so unbearable.
It is not with the intention of discovering some profound solution to whatever dilemma rests at hand, in fact, what I like best about it is just how low-stakes it is. You are writing, not performatively, but simply for yourself. No one will see this but you. (Unless you choose to share with someone, of course). Whatever words come to mind, write it down in just the way you hear it in your head. One rule: never delete or erase! Give it a shot.
However if that doesn’t feel right for you, the Five Minute Journal is a great place to start. It is a non-intimidating, (hence the “Five Minute”) more guided approach to committing to a daily journal entry. Divided into two sections, enter “The Morning Routine” and “The Evening Routine.”
At the start of the day it asks you to reflect on 3 things you feel grateful for. For me, it might sound something like this:
- Waking up to the sun (it’s finally spring!)
- Cutting open the perfect avocado
- Oat chai lattes
Beginning the day with gratitude, even on rough mornings, will push you to recognize the small details that bring you joy, and be immersed in the very present. Acknowledging minor moments like these will aid you in growing your happiness into something so much bigger. “It is the antithesis of a bad-hair day or waking up on the wrong side of the bed. No matter where you are and what your situation is, your focus can be shifted to something positive.”
At the end of the morning routine entry, it asks that you write one self-affirmation, “a simple statement that defines you as you want to be.” It can be both broad or specific, but an affirmation should always begin with “I am.” Not “I hope,” or “I want,” but “I am.” I am an active listener. I am productive with my homework. I am comfortable in my own skin. “With consistency, you will begin to create that change from within.”
By the end of the day, you revisit your journal, perhaps after dinner, or before you go to sleep. It asks for you to recall three “Highlights of the Day.” It is a moment dedicated just to reflect on all the unexpected happy moments you encountered, both big and small. Put in practice, subconsciously, you begin to acknowledge and become more aware of these fulfilling moments as you go about your day. Having a “macro goal” of living more positively does not come without taking account of the “micro” moments that come along the way.
At the core of it, wellness is about listening to yourself, and providing the tools you need to recover and rejuvenate. It is something that can be purely subjective, and requires reflection, experimentation, and finetuning. Creating a well lifestyle starts with identifying small, do-able habits that ultimately build into a series of rituals to guide your daily living. Coupled with an open-mindset, putting these habits into practice will bring you to wherever you want to be.
If you are interested in attempting your first Five Minute Journal entry, access the template linked here!