Taking steps to ensure healthy, balanced lifestyle


Staying active, enjoying the moment and thinking good thoughts are key to leading a balanced lifestyle. Most importantly, be human. Remember that vitamins matter, too. Don’t forget to include them in your everyday routine.

Alyssa Stencavage, L&A&E Editor

It’s the same routine again and again, for most at least. Get up, eat breakfast, get dressed, go to classes, head home or to work, then do homework and go to bed. Until the next time. Most of the time, it seems, schedules become so hectic, people forget to take time for themselves. Of course keeping up with the pace of life is important, but so is making sure we can do so effectively without running ourselves to the ground.

Here are some elements to keep in mind through everyday life:

Health and Fitness/Well-Being

Physical activity functioning as a stress reliever is nothing new. Author James Cleere talks about creating habits around existing ones, but doing this based on the end result, and this is something that Adventure Coordinator Jill Price admires. This might mean dedicating excess time while partaking in a given activity to something else that will help overall well-being.

And have you ever noticed how incorporating this into your lifestyle makes you feel better? Price labels it as “catchy,” with the notion that feeling good enables better choices.

“The proof is in how you feel,” she said.

She said it creates a shift in mindset, making it feel good to burn excess energy. With all of the stress we carry, no matter what form it takes, at some point we have to shake it. We have to find what works for us to bring ourselves back to a centered individual.

Price said she’s currently very fond of the quote “Confidence is just displayed ability,” and that to gain the confidence that comes from living a healthier lifestyle, we simply have to start doing. If we want to do things, we will always find the time to do them. However, what we have to be cautious of, Price advises, is saying we have a desire to do something when in reality, we don’t.

It’s not difficult to engage in something we enjoy doing. But Price said when we don’t keep the promises we make to ourselves, we steal confidence and lose trust, which in turn makes us feel bad internally. For this reason, she said if the desire isn’t there, it’s almost better just to admit that.

“I think physical wellness is about finding something that you like and really want to do,” Price said.

On the same token, even while trying to accomplish this, don’t worry if you’re not going all out all of the time. As long as you’re applying the 80/20 rule, you’re probably OK. This generally means making smart choices the majority of the time, but also leaving some room to be the humans we are intended to be. Speaking from experience, Price said even though she tries to maintain a healthy, balanced lifestyle, sometimes sitting back and relaxing is very appealing, and that’s quite alright.

Being human also means realizing that not everything is perfect. Price observes that people are too hard on themselves.

“We don’t take the time to just check in with ourselves,” she said. “We get stuck and forget about the responsibility we have to ourselves, and that we have total control over what we do, put in our bodies, how we act, how we react. We give so much of that power away, and it ends up working against us.”

There are a couple of problems that Price sees with students, and they are self-sabotage and pressure. When we classify things as “have to’s” instead of “want to’s,” we are making activities a chore, which should be avoided.

“This is our one go at life,” Price said. “We get to choose what we do with it and in how great we make it.”

This goes hand-in-hand with the idea of pressure. Nothing is perfect. If you fault one day, step back and ask yourself: “Do I want to do this?,” “Can I forgive myself for being human?,” and “How can I get back on track so that this is just a minor setback as opposed to an epic fail?”

Doing this can put things into perspective and help one come to the conclusion that life is meant to be lived. As Price puts it, it’s about knowing what’s important to you and fighting for that. Make smarter choices, and realize that only you get to control what you share with the world.

Follow Price’s advice and remember, “Do what you love, and don’t complain about the results.”

Meditation/The moment

While staying active might be important, it’s not the only factor in keeping a healthy, balanced lifestyle.

Dr. Linda Paul considers this lifestyle to be one that allows for both intellectual pursuits and physical activities, but she also notices what she calls “contemplative activity” getting pushed aside. On the meditative side of things, this aspect quiets the mind and the internal chatter that most of us are probably all too familiar with.

Slowing this mind talk down, or at least dealing with it in an objective way, and learning to relax, Paul said, is good for the immune system and lessens the stress we experience.

“When we can do this, we see things in a clearer way and deal better with all of those various things we have to deal with,” she said.

Buddhist mindfulness, the form of meditation Paul is most familiar with, is where focusing on the moment comes in. When we pay special attention to the current moment, our breathing can become the center of our attention, which in turn allows us to become more aware of how our moods and other things are operating in the mental and physical system.

When we give our undivided attention to the situation we are in at the moment, we can begin to see everything as it is, which may lead to a change in attitude or to the conclusion that there are forces we cannot change, but simply knowing this can make a difference.

This paves the way to rational thinking and being able to assess the factors a given situation presents, and often helps determine where to go next. A realization can begin to emerge regarding our emotional response and the reality of the situation, because sometimes we let our emotions get the best of us, which foregoes our ability to think about what’s going on with an open mind.

Why is having a good-quality lifestyle so important? It’s simple, really. As Paul said, we suffer less, both mentally and physically. And don’t forget, other people are also affected by what you put out. Happiness allows for healthiness, and happy people mean happy people.

Paul said she feels the society we live in is to blame for people not understanding why a lifestyle of this nature is actually essential.

“I think the hardest thing is that our culture doesn’t really encourage it,” she said.

What she means by this is that in our culture, “doing something” doesn’t include taking the time to be with ourselves and reflect, as much as that is so important for our overall well-being. But even with this, just as Price said, making lifestyle changes has an incremental effect. We’re not going to wake up one day having become the person we wished to be the day before. It takes time, and we can develop habits.

Another problem Paul sees is the fact that we are constantly distracted. She said it’s what we do, and we’re good at it. Because we’re surrounded by so many things that allow this distraction to take place, making a conscious effort to step away from them is necessary. We have to allot times to various things, make smart choices about what we’re paying attention to and put aside what can wait until later. We need to consider our values and act accordingly.

“Think about what you want to achieve with the various practices you engage in,” Paul said. “Develop these practices now, and that will benefit you later on too.”

Finally, don’t discount others as a positive influence. Think of them as a source of motivation.

Thoughts/The mind

Finally, we come to the chatterbox itself and all that takes place inside of it.

Thoughts also have a huge impact on the quality of our daily lives, and we are largely responsible for them.

Like many things that are interconnected, our thoughts are part of a chain reaction as well, and Campus Counselor Susan Biskup turns to the theory that describes changing our thoughts in order to change our behavior, also known as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She said this approach works very well for students with anxiety and depression.

However, even if someone doesn’t experience anxiety or depression, it’s important to remember thoughts do still matter.

“Thoughts affect our feelings and feelings affect our behaviors,” she said. “Therefore, working to change our thoughts to be more rational, less perfectionist, and less critical can greatly increase our capacity to lead a reasonably happy life. It is challenging to change our automatic thoughts. However, with motivation, hard work and often through therapy, it can be done.”

Biskup also advises referencing David Burns on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

Remember that to live a healthy, balanced lifestyle, we have to find time for us. This is especially true for students. If you’re feeling stressed or questioning whether you’re living the life you want to be living, ask yourself this question: are you taking the time to be human?