Welcome back HSC!
Let me officially introduce myself. My name is Layne Hitchcock and I am the new BeWell Coordinator. As many of you may or may not know, Jen Randall Reyes, resigned in the middle of December and with her departure came an opportunity I could not pass up. As someone with 10 years of clinical experience and a passion for mental health, making a difference, and helping others improve their own quality of life, this role spoke to me. I'm passionate about assisting rising professionals in addressing their own health and wellbeing, with primary focus on resilience, self-compassion, and self-care. My hope for BeWell is to bring these areas of focus to Health Sciences. I have big plans for BeWell, but let's be honest, smaller steps at first will help us make an impact on a larger scale later on.
Ask yourself, how can we make an impact on a smaller scale? We can focus on ourselves. We can focus on being kind to others. We can focus on new and improved, healthier habits. Here are a few suggestions for smaller habits to focus on this year:
- Express gratitude daily. WVU has an online tool for expressing gratitude daily. It is called the Chillpack. The data that emerged from those completing the chillpack daily over the course of a month is astonishing! Students reported feeling 30% more productive. Can you imagine feeling 30% more productive in your academics, research, clinical rotations, grant-writing, etc? Try it out here: https://well.wvu.edu/resources/stress/chillpack
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Water is obviously good for your health. When we are less worried about our health, we can shift that attention to other areas of our lives.
- Stay physically active. Research tells us that exercising 5 times a week for 30 minutes a day is directly connected to improved mood, reduced anxiety and stress, improved motivation, and feeling less fatigued. Exercise doesn't have to mean running a 5K or joining a gym. Exercise simply means staying physically active. Consider yoga, walking, swimming, rock climbing, hiking, running, HIIT workouts, pilates, Zumba, at home workouts, cycling...the options are endless.
- Connect with others. The pandemic has drastically altered out ability to connect with others. As humans, we crave connection, and a sense of belonging and purpose. Connecting with others might mean engaging in a safe, socially distanced activity. It might mean having a virtual game night or gathering with friends over zoom. Connecting with others is as simple as making a conscious effort to text, call, or socialize with friends, family, or peers.
- Volunteer. Whenever we can volunteer in an area we are passionate about, those efforts can lead to a sense of accomplishment. When we feel accomplished, we are more likely to experience increased motivation afterward.
- Start a new hobby. There is a thing called a temperature blanket. Look it up, I dare you!
- Practice mindful, self-compassion. Dr. Kristin Neff has a wonderful website, filled with free resources. These resources are aimed at mindful, self-compassion, which in a nutshell means being more intentional with yourself. It helps you talk kinder to yourself. Find out more on her webpage: https://self-compassion.org/
- Ask for help. We all need help, support, and to lean on others. Whether this is asking a friend for help, a peer, a colleague, a mentor, a faculty or advisor. Reaching out for help is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength. Channeling my inner Brene Brown, she quotes "Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren't always comfortable, but they're never weakness". If you are uncomfortable leaning on someone you might know, consider reaching out to BeWell for support. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com for an appointment or consultation.
The list is small and basic, and I am sure you've heard of these before, but there is evidence to support how each of these daily practices can improve quality of life, manage stress, and take care of your mental health - all of which are needed to live a more improved life and succeed as a professional student. Let's not avoid the elephant in the room. Our country is in shambles. This last year has brought about a pandemic, drastic changes to our lives, racial injustice, attacks on our democracy, and political divide. Now more than ever, we all need a growth mindset. Now more than ever, we need to come together, demonstrate love towards one another, and help each another. Let's be kind in 2021, to ourselves and to others. Let's focus on healthier habits. Let's focus on being real with one another. Here is to 2021!